News Release

Mideast Peace Process?

Today, the UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal regarding sanctions on Iraq. On Wednesday, talks begin between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syria’s foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa. These are among the analysts available for interviews:

RANIA MASRI
Founder of the Iraq Action Coalition, Masri said: “A year ago, UNSCOM head Richard Butler pulled the weapons inspectors — which the U.S. had used for espionage — out of Iraq just before the U.S. began Desert Fox…. The continuation of sanctions against the people of Iraq — as well as the continued U.S. bombings — further erode the possibility of democracy, human rights or genuine stability in Iraq. The British-Dutch UN proposal does not, as many have claimed, provide for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq — merely for their potential suspension. The proposal disregards the extensive work already achieved by the inspectors, and the head weapons inspector will not have to follow the recommendations of the inspectors on the ground. Even if all goes well with this proposal, the soonest that the sanctions would be suspended is a year from now, so it’s a death sentence for 60,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, since UNICEF reports show that approximately 5,000 children die every month as a result of the sanctions.”
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BARBARA LUBIN
Founder of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, which has supported a clinic in Majd al-Shams, a village in the Golan Heights, Lubin said: “Good friends like Bassam Shakir, former mayor of Nablus, who had his legs blown off 18 years ago by Israeli agents, are now under house arrest by Yaser Arafat. When Arafat started making dubious deals with Israel, he didn’t give a second thought to the Syrians, the Jordanians or anyone else. Now the Palestinians are left in a lurch… The Golan Heights is not about Israeli security, it’s about the taking of the land and very much about water. There has been substantial resistance to the Israeli occupation there…. The Golan is a place where children have to be careful where they play since villages are surrounded by Israeli land mines.”

ALI ABUNIMAH
Vice president of the Arab-American Action Network, Abunimah said: “The conventional wisdom is that Syria and the Palestinians are being played off each other by Israel. But the real issues remain to be resolved — Israel has the power to squeeze the Palestinians, but the question is whether it has the strength to make a just peace… An Israeli withdrawal from the Golan would be good news for the tens of thousands of Syrians who would be able to go back to the towns and villages that they were forced from in 1967. That would be a very good precedent for the Mideast, particularly the Palestinians — to show that being a refugee is not a permanent condition.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020