AIUSA Letter to George Mitchell

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In a letter posted today to newly dispatched Middle East Envoy, AIUSA made the following recommendations:

Amnesty International urges the US to support the establishment of a comprehensive independent international inquiry set up by the UN and preferably by the Security Council  into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups participating in the conflict. An international fact-finding team of qualified experts should carry out its investigations on the basis of the highest international standards. It must have powers to gain access to all relevant documents, other evidence and persons, and its report and findings must be public so that follow-action can be taken. The US must not fail to respond to domestic and worldwide expressions of concern that international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld in Gaza, that accountability for violations be established and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

In other news, President Barack Obama gave his first televised interview since entering office with the Dubai based TV station Al Arabiya. In his interview, he spoke directly to citizens of Muslim majority countries, and highlighted the importance of resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict. For a complete transcript of his interview, please see here

Obama Appoints New Mideast Envoy, Comments on Gaza

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President Barack Obama has earned early accolades for appointing former Senator George Mitchell to be his Middle East envoy.  Mitchell, the son of an Irish father and Lebanese mother, was the Senate Majority leader and served 15 years in the Senate.  Best known for his work on Northern Ireland and his most recent investigation on performance enhancing drugs in baseball, Mitchell is being praised by both Jewish and Arabs groups for his balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said Mitchell could be a “good and logical choice.” Laila Al-Qatami, the communications director for the Arab Ant-Discrimination Committee said, “George Mitchell is an exceptionally well qualified and highly respected public servant.”

Meanwhile, in a statement that shows Obama’s willingness to look at both sides of the Gaza crisis, he showed sympathy both for the loss of civilian life in Israel as well as the stifling poverty in Gaza. He said,

“Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians. I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days, and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza. Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care, and who have faced suffocating poverty for far too long.”