APN to Obama: Help Prevent Escalation between Israel and Lebanon, Gaza

For Immediate Release

Americans for Peace Now
Contact: 

Ori Nir (202) 408-9898
onir@peacenow.org

APN to Obama: Help Prevent Escalation between Israel and Lebanon, Gaza

WASHINGTON - Americans for Peace Now (APN)
today called on the Obama Administration to act quickly and resolutely
to prevent an escalation of tensions and military action on the
Israel-Lebanon border and between Israel and Gaza.

APN President and CEO Debra DeLee commented:

"This morning's violent clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border come
close on the heels a recent uptick in rocket fire from Gaza and
retaliatory air strikes by Israel.  With both of these fronts heating
up, the situation is painfully reminiscent of the period that led to
Israel's military engagements in both Lebanon and Gaza in 2006.  At that
time, the Bush Administration chose to sit on the sidelines, viewing
the dual crises as a "moment of opportunity" to change the Middle East
landscape.  In doing so, it deliberately allowed fighting to careen out
of control into full-scale war, to the detriment of the thousands of
Lebanese, Palestinians, and Israelis killed and injured in the conflict.

"The Obama Administration must not repeat this fateful mistake. 
Now is the time for urgent, resolute engagement to prevent an escalation
of hostilities on both fronts, bringing to bear the full force of US
influence on all parties involved, and pressing US allies in the region
and around the world to do the same.    "Israel has a right to
defend its territory and citizens.  While it is not yet clear what
precisely happened on the Israel-Lebanon border this morning, and debate
is ongoing over who in Gaza is responsible for the firing of rockets
into Israel in recent days, it is absolutely clear that the potential
for a tragic and devastating escalation on both fronts is very real.  It
is equally clear that if this escalation occurs, it will be
civilians on all sides who will once again pay the price, and that the
stability of the entire region will be at risk.

"Since taking office, the Obama Administration has made Middle East
peace one of its top foreign policy priorities.  Now it must recognize
that Middle East peace is not only a matter of pushing Israelis and
Palestinians to the negotiating table.  The Obama Administration must
recognize the potential for fighting on both of these fronts to escalate
into something much bigger and more dangerous - with the very real
possibility of clashes spreading to involve Syria and the of Iran using
its influence to escalate things further.  Such a situation would have
devastating effects not only on efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian
peace, but on the full range of US interests in the region and beyond.

"Finally, another stark similarity today to 2006 is the absence of
sufficient, or in some cases, any US communication channels to key
players in the region.  It is critical today of all days that the US be
able to engage intensively with Syria and Lebanon.  Unfortunately, the
Obama Administration's nominees for US Ambassador to Damascus and Beirut
have yet to be confirmed by the Senate.  In addition, the Obama
Administration has continued the Bush Administration's policy of
refusing to communicate, directly or indirectly, with Hamas and
Hezbollah.  As we suggested in 2006, the US may need to reconsider this
policy, or at a minimum, work to set up channels using Arab and European
allies as intermediaries - not as a reward for terror but as
responsible policy to
protect vital U.S. national security interests."

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APN is America's leading Jewish organization advocating for Israeli security through peace.

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