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March 20, 2001

By Ali Abunimah




Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) calls on all people of conscience to call, email, and/or fax the White House and State Department to express their concern about the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the United States, and to demand that the United States cooperate in bringing Sharon to justice on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before, during and after Israel's 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon.

The United States actively supported indictments against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, even while he was in power, as well as the international tribunal for Rwanda. Failing to apply standards of justice to Sharon and protections for the victims of the crimes of which he is accused would be evidence of a gross double-standard and a signal that the United States is willing to tolerate atrocities against innocent civilians as long as they are committed by the leaders of "friendly" states.

TALKING POINTS: *The U.S. government should investigate and pursue evidence that Sharon is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Such investigations should review the evidence that Sharon as defense minister in 1982 directly ordered the deliberate bombardment of residential neighborhoods of Beirut, Sidon and other cities in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion, killing thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians; directly ordered the siege of west Beirut, deliberately depriving civilian residents of food, water, safe passage and access to medical care; and that Sharon and other Israeli officers and officials were responsible for arming, training and protecting the perpetrators of the massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees in Sabra and Shatila camps in September 1982, including providing protection and illumination so that the butchers could carry out their work more easily.

* These charges, if proven, would constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

* The United States should help to assure that Sharon is brought to justice and given a fair trial if sufficient evidence exists to prosecute him, either under the laws of the United States or in an international tribunal.

* As prime minister for less than a month, Sharon has already ordered measures which further violate the Fourth Geneva Convention including blockades which have reduced the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories to extreme poverty and in some areas near starvation, and resulted in deaths due to deliberate deprivation of access to medical care.

* Three decades earlier, as a young military officer, General Sharon led an Israeli elite commando force, Unit 101, which carried out brutal raids against Palestinians. The massacre in the West Bank village of Qibya, on October 14, 1953, was perhaps the most notorious. According to Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, General Sharon's unit blew up 45 homes in the village, killing 69 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children.

* Sharon has appointed to his government at least one minister who openly espouses such crimes against humanity as forcing the entire Palestinian population of the occupied territories and other areas to leave.

* The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, including the United States, are required to hold those who violate the Convention accountable. Hence, bringing Sharon to justice is an urgent necessity. Failure to do so would send a signal that the United States condones war crimes and protects accused war criminals.


* President George W Bush
Email: president@whitehouse.gov
Phone: 202-456-1414
Fax: 1-202-456-2461

* Secretary of State Colin Powell
Email: secretary@state.gov
Tel: 202-647-4000
Fax: 202-261-8577

Please cc your correspondence to Al-Awda-Alerts@mail.com

Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition
P.O.Box 401
Hummelstown, Pa 17036
Fax: (717) 832-1123
E-mail: prrc@mail.com
WWW: al-awda.org

Ali Abunimah