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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Obama at the UN


DIANA BUTTU, [currently in NYC]
A Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and former Palestinian negotiator, Buttu said today: "Obama 'urges' an extension on the settlement moratorium rather than 'demand' a complete settlement reversal. The message to Israel is clear: continue violating international law. No one will stop you." Buttu on Twitter

Bennis is director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She has written extensively on the UN and the Mideast. Bennis said today: "Obama's UN speech calls on the international community to mobilize behind the U.S.-led 'peace process,' calls on the Palestinians to 'reconcile with a secure Israel,' calls on the Arab world to implement the Arab Peace Plan's proposed normalization with Israel without ever mentioning the Plan's understanding that ending Israel's 1967 occupation must come first, and calls on Israel to -- talk nicely.

"He said that Israel's settlement moratorium 'should' be extended, but specifically went on to say that the talks should 'press on until completed' with no linkage between the two points, and no recognition that the current 'moratorium' has allowed continued building throughout Arab East Jerusalem, on existing housing construction and huge infrastructure projects throughout the settlements. And while appropriately condemning the 'slaughter of innocent Israelis' he said nothing about the U.S.-backed siege of Gaza or last year's Israeli assault that killed more than 1,400 Gazans, the vast majority of them civilians including over 300 children.

"The speech seems to reflect the view that the endless 'peace process' is, for Washington, a reasonable replacement for any real accountability for Israeli violations. It is the exact opposite of U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's strong position on Sudan and Darfur -- when she insisted that sending Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court was necessary regardless of its consequences on the fragile ceasefire, because accountability must come first, that justice comes before peace.

"It seems that so far, the Obama administration is making its decision that 'no change' is the only thing we can believe in when it comes to U.S. policy on Israel-Palestine."

Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, Bennis said: "Despite some anecdotal improvements in a few countries, the MDGs as a global effort to end extreme poverty by 2015 have failed. That's not surprising. When you define something as a 'goal,' there are no consequences when the goal is not met. Oh sorry, we missed the goal. We'll try harder. We'll try again. It's no one's fault.

"The MDGs should have been identified from the beginning as 'MDRs' -- Millennium Development RIGHTS. When rights are violated, someone is held accountable, someone can go to court or demand redress another way. That's why the U.S. has refused to ratify things like the Universal Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights -- if it did, things like jobs and health care would be RIGHTS in this country, not just goals and aspirations."

Background: The Global Policy Forum reports that the U.S. has not signed or ratified a series of international treaties. The U.S. unsigned the International Criminal Court in 2002; it never signed the Land Mine Treaty (even though a U.S. citizen, Jody Williams, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on it); the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001. The U.S. signed but never ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on Discrimination against Women and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


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