News Release

Washington’s Mideast Talks

Amb. EDWARD L. PECK
Available for a limited number of interviews, Peck was chief of mission in Iraq and Mauritania and deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration. On May 31, he sailed from Athens aboard the M/S Sfendoni as part of the flotilla taking humanitarian supplies to Gaza; the ship was assaulted in international waters by Israeli forces, which took it and its passengers to Israel under armed guard.

He said today: “Everyone is talking about ‘the peace process’ or ‘ending the conflict’ — but there’s no war going on, it’s an occupation. Everyone is talking about ‘negotiations,’ which implies two sides in relatively equal positions to affect decisions, but Israel is the jailer and the Palestinians are the prisoners.

“It is, unfortunately, unrealistic to expect anything significant to occur. No one in his or her right mind — and we all recognize that not everyone qualifies for inclusion — wants anything bad to happen to a single Israeli, or Palestinian — or American, but the terrible truth is that terrible things have happened, are happening and, I fear, will happen to all three groups because of [what] is and what is not happening in Palestine and Gaza. Please note that I very much do not want to be right.”

ALI ABUNIMAH
Abunimah recently wrote the op-ed “Hamas, the I.R.A. and Us ” published in the New York Times, which states: “The United States insists that Hamas meet strict preconditions before it can take part in negotiations: recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by agreements previously signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which Hamas is not a member. These demands are unworkable. Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right of return for refugees?

“As for violence, Hamas has inflicted a fraction of the harm on Israeli civilians that Israel inflicts on Palestinian civilians. If violence disqualifies Hamas, surely much greater violence should disqualify the Israelis?”

He also recently wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times titled “Enthusiasm for Palestinian prime minister isn’t shared by Palestinians: Salam Fayyad’s embrace by the U.S. and Israel doesn’t change the fact that millions of Palestinians languish under occupation and in poverty.”

Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website and author of the book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

JOSH RUEBNER
KHALILA SABRA
KHALILA SABRA, cell: (919) 345-8105, khalilahsabra@yahoo.com
Ruebner is national advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He said today: “Without the United States compelling Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and UN resolutions, it is impossible to envision how these negotiations can lead to a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. By failing to insist on guiding principles and a timeline, the Obama administration sets itself up for another failed round of talks.” He recently wrote a piece titled: “Top Ten Reasons for Skepticism on Israeli-Palestinian Talks” in The Huffington Post.

Sabra serves on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and directs the Muslim American Society’s Immigrant Justice and Legal Clinic. She recently returned from a trip to the region, which included a peace conference and meetings with an Israeli Knesset member and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. She said today: “Today, Palestinians remain in the position of supplicants to Israel. It’s so similar to what African Americans experienced prior to civil rights.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167