Four Questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give two major speeches in Washington, DC.  The first is Monday at the conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  The second is on Tuesday before the U.S. Congress.

Tuesday’s speech has been generating headlines, with more than 30 Members of Congress reportedly declaring that they will not attend.  But despite the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress, the policies of his government are what deserve real scrutiny.

Here are four key questions that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have to answer while he makes the rounds in Washington, DC: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Who will be silenced next?

MuradBy Alicia Koutsoulieris, Case Coordinator for Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian Authority

Freedom of speech has suffered a tragic start in 2015.

As the world calls for the release of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, there is another person who also deserves our support.  While you read this, Palestinian Murad Shtewi sits in an Israeli prison.  His “crime?”  Daring to protest the Israeli military occupation that his village lives under. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Israel/Palestine Conflict: Why now is the time to change to a human rights approach

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City
The same day Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, visited the Gaza Strip saying, “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations” was the root cause of latest escalation in violence, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People hosted a lecture by Noam Chomsky in the UN General Assembly Hall on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.

It couldn’t have happened at a more pivotal time. Significant movement is happening globally and with Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the Quartet (the U.S., the U.N., Russia and European Union) are meeting this Friday in Brussels, it’s time for the international community to finally end the status quo.

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How Long Will the U.S. Turn a Blind Eye to Its Role in this Bloodshed?

Palestinian boys walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli strikes on their way to school in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City on September 14, 2014 on the first day of the new school year. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian boys walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli strikes (September 14, 2014). (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

As the UN General Assembly begins its meeting today in New York City, Amnesty International is delivering 187,563 signatures to the White House in a global call to cut off weapons that fuel abuses in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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Does the New York Times Know the Difference Between a Rocket and a Bomb?

Ziad Assam walks on rubble inside an apartment complex where he used to live on August 13, 2014. It was heavily damaged in fighting between Israel and Hamas during four weeks of fighting in northern Gaza strip. (Photo credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Ziad Assam walks on rubble inside the apartment complex where he used to live on August 13, 2014. It was heavily damaged in fighting between Israel and Hamas during four weeks of fighting in northern Gaza strip (Photo credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images).

A prior version of this piece appeared in The Huffington Post.

At the time of writing, the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is set to expire at 5 p.m. EST today. Against the backdrop of Gaza’s destruction, no one can fully predict what is next for Israeli and Palestinian combatants.

In its coverage of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, the New York Times has used a daily chart that risks misleading readers about the firepower involved. The chart in question improperly compares the total Israeli “targets” struck in Gaza to the number of “rockets” launched at Israel by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

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‘We Are All Gaza’ – Palestinian Anger in the West Bank

Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014 as fatalities continue to rise everyday.

Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 59 Israelis have died since the war began on July 7, according to the New York Times (Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

By Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Across the city of Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) hang billboards and banners showing images of bloodshed and destruction alongside the words: “Here now, we are all Gaza.”

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The United States is Not Just a Bystander in Israel-Gaza Violence

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three  medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit:  Amnesty International)

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

This past week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes and other military operations that have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians not directly participating in hostilities.

The U.S., as the largest foreign supplier of weapons, munitions, police equipment and devices, as well as training and techniques to Israel, bears a particular responsibility for the deployment of the weapons it provides.

Amnesty International is calling for a U.N.-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.  Amnesty is also calling for a UN-imposed comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

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Natan Blanc is FREE

Natan Blanc released by JVPBy Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist for the Middle East Coordination Group

Natan Blanc, 19-year-old Israeli conscientious objector, was freed from detention on Tuesday and officially discharged from the Israeli army yesterday.

Our last blog on Natan Blanc’s case asked, “What Will it Take for the Israeli Military to Stop Imprisoning Natan Blanc?” We believed it would take Amnesty International members and other activists making their concerns known and taking action – and because you didNatan Blanc is now FREE after being forced to serve 10 consecutive prison sentences for his refusal to serve in the Israeli military based on his conscientiously held beliefs.

Natan Blanc’s father received a call on May 30th from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision follows a ruling by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not.

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What Will It Take For the Israeli Military to Stop Imprisoning Natan Blanc?

By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group

5/30/2013 UPDATE: Success! What does it take for the Israeli military to stop imprisoning Natan Blanc? It takes Amnesty International and other activists making their concerns known and taking action.

Natan Blanc’s father received a call from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision apparently follows a decision by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not. In practice, it seems to work as a mechanism for the IDF to rid itself of the problem of conscientious objectors who have been repeatedly imprisoned by declaring their ‘unsuitability’ based on poor mental health or discipline problems.

Natan is expected to be set free June 6th.  Thank you for taking action.  No further action is required at this time.

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