Lobby Meeting Talking Points

Please express concern publically or privately to State Department and Israeli officials over settlement construction, the separation barrier route and restrictions on movement.

·      Israeli government policies in the West Bank expropriate land needed to make a future Palestinian state. The continuation of these practices could doom a two-state solution.

o   In April 2013, an Israeli committee decided to build a section of the separation barrier surrounding the Salesian Catholic Nuns’ Convent and Primary School the Cremisan Valley from three sides and confiscating most of the convent’s land, owned by The Vatican.

o   The route of the wall deviates significantly from the Green Line. While the security of Israel is of vital importance, the route of the barrier in the Cremisan Valley transgresses into land that should be part of a future Palestinian state, consolidating Israeli settlements and further isolating Bethlehem, in the West Bank, from Jerusalem.

How it will advance peace: Like all sovereign states, Israel has a right to create security measures along its border that it deems necessary for the protection of its citizens.   However, Israeli confiscation of land on the Palestinian side of the 1967 borders significantly complicates the prospect of a two-state solution. Contiguous land and freedom of movement within it are vital components of a viable future Palestinian state. Decisions like the one in the Cremisan Valley breed resentment and mistrust, making the possibility of a negotiated solution less likely. Speaking up on this important issue will help keep the goal of two democratic and secure nations living in peace a reality.

 


Please support legislation and letters that are balanced in their support of the peace process.

·      Unhelpful legislation includes H.R. 252 (currently in committee): “A bill to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel.”

o   The status of Jerusalem should be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians. CMEP has long advocated for a shared Jerusalem that would be a haven for peace and would be open to all people of the three faiths that call it holy: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.   We believe Jerusalem should be simultaneously recognized as the capital of Israel as well as a future Palestinian state. Congress in 1995 already voted to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and unilaterally designate Jerusalem at the capital of Israel, but three successive presidents – Clinton, Bush, and Obama – have invoked executive power to block implementation of the law, as it infringes upon the constitutional power of the president to set foreign policy.   A further vote now to move the embassy prejudices the negotiations and the United States’ standing as an honest broker in the peace process. Please oppose this bill.

·      Helpful legislation includes H. Res. 365, which supports a two-state solution and continued U.S. diplomatic engagement.

How it will advance peace: By supporting balanced legislation and letters, you help further the image of the United States as an honest broker that both parties can trust to negotiate with in good faith. The alternatives hamper peace efforts, prejudice the outcome of negotiations and diminish the reputation of the U.S. in the region.


 

Please support continued economic aid in the West Bank without holds and punitive measures.

·      Sixty percent of U.S. economic support funds go to USAID projects that bolster governance, civil society, health, education, social services, economic development and humanitarian assistance.

o   These funds are heavily vetted to ensure they will not be used to support violence or terrorism. According to the State Department, USAID’s West Bank/Gaza program has the most comprehensive partner vetting system for foreign assistance throughout the U.S. government.

o   USAID helps fund many vital programs run by Christian institutions. For example, money from USAID supports the Episcopal Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City that serves marginalized and vulnerable poor Gazans irrespective of religion, social class, gender and political affiliation. 

o   Catholic Relief Services used a USAID grant to train youth in conflict resolution, promote tolerance and prevent violence. CRS says that the participants served as role models for children, as sources of empowerment for women and as vital links between religious and secular groups in Palestinian society.

o   The Israeli government has warned U.S. lawmakers of the perils of reducing American aid to the Palestinians.  

How it will advance peace: United States assistance to the Palestinian people is an essential part of the U.S. commitment to a negotiated two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis. It is in the interest not only of the Palestinians, but of Israel and the United States as well, to ensure these efforts continue to help build a more democratic, stable and secure region.


 

Please show your support for the Christian community in the Holy Land by meeting with them on your next visit to the Holy Land

·      The Christian communities of the Holy Land – which exist in Jerusalem, Israel, and the Palestinian territories – represent a significant and consistent voice for moderation and peace in a region desperately in need of such voices.

·      The Christian presence in Jerusalem has declined precipitously in recent years, and Christians are nearly extinct in Gaza. The reasons for each of these demographic trends are complex, but what is essential is that western leaders support this small but dynamic community in meeting the challenges of daily life and serving as a touchstone for moderation and peace.

·      Ultimately, only a negotiated peace agreement that provides peace, security and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians will strengthen this community and allow it to flourish.

·      Please contact CMEP if you would like to meet and worship with Palestinian Christians.

How it will advance peace: Palestinian Christians constitute a necessary element in the development of a secular form of Palestinian governance. Christian churches often emphasize the importance of nonviolence and reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and the three Abrahamic faiths. The presence of Christians and Christian institutions is an essential part of the rich history and common future of the land where Christianity began. Your solidarity brings attention to their plight.

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