Open letter to the US Congress on Palestinian Refugees
March 20, 2000

Dear Congressmen,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern that 52 years after the
creation of Israel, Palestinian refugees are still denied the right to
return to their homes of origin and restitution of all their property. These
rights are laid down in international law.

However, the United States has consistently prevented application of
international law. The conduct of the United States within the United
Nations and its treaty bodies are counterproductive to international law and
human rights norms.

As a condition for its admission to the United Nations, Israel formally
agreed to accept General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of 1948 which
resolves that Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homes.
Nevertheless, the government of Israel has expressly repudiated Resolution
194 (III). Therefore, Israel has violated its conditions for admission to
U.N. membership and thus must be suspended on a de facto basis from any
participation throughout the entire United Nations System.

The American votes for Israel, to protect at all costs a country which has
violated the conditions for its admission to U.N. membership and has
systematically violated international law and human rights treaties, do not
exactly give the United States the reputation of a country committed to
respect for human rights.

The United States has consistently resisted UN efforts to criticise Israel's
human rights record and has vetoed numerous Security Council Resolutions
demanding Israeli compliance with international law. There is every reason
to believe that the US government will continue working hard to undermine
any opportunity to enforce the rule of international law in further efforts
to protect Israel from criticism and accountability.

Israel receives annually $5 billion in assistance from Washington, making it
by far the largest recipient of US bilateral aid, and making the USIsrael's
largest provider of aid. Despite the opportunity that this assistance
provides the US administration to influence Israel's human rights practices,
no US administration has publicly suggested that the aid should in some
fashion be conditioned on curtailing Israeli violations of human rights of
Palestinians living in occupied Palestine.

Such linkage is warranted by US law (Section 116 and 502B of the Foreign
Assistance Act) which states that "no security assistance may be provided to
any country the government of which engages in consistent pattern of gross
violations of internationally recognized human rights" unless the President
specifically requests an exception to this provision.

By neglecting this, the US has become complicit in a pattern of Israeli
human rights violations and violations of international law through the
continued unconditional provision of extensive assistance.

Yours Sincerely,

Arjan El Fassed