Academics, politicians, activists, former UN officials and Nobel Laureates have united to sign an open letter calling on US President Joe Biden to bring an end to Israel’s institutionalised domination and oppression of the Palestinian people as they seek to defend their fundamental human rights. Published last Thursday, the letter was signed by 682 leading figures from around the world.
Under the heading “#NowIsTheTime: A global call to President Biden”, the letter specifically addressed the forced dispossession of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It pointed to those in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan specifically, as well as the Israeli security forces’ aggression against peaceful protesters and worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“[These events are] the latest evidence of a separate and unequal governing system,” said the signatories. “These policies unravel the social fabric of communities and undermine any progress toward a democratic, just and peaceful future.”
They also acknowledged the ongoing humanitarian crisis in blockaded Gaza following Israel’s 11-day bombardment last month that killed at least 257 Palestinians, including 66 children, and made many more homeless during a pandemic. “The logic driving [Israel’s policies] has led to the recent displacement of 72,000 Palestinians in Gaza who must also survive the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by a 14-year blockade.”
“A sustainable and just peace—for all people—will remain elusive if US policy holds to a political status quo devoid of justice and accountability,” explained the signatories. They called on Biden to deploy a consistent implementation of a rights-centred foreign policy in order to convey to Israel’s leaders that violations of international law will no longer be excused.
“Mr President, now is the time to set a new benchmark in American foreign policy that leads with justice and paves the way toward lasting peace,” they concluded.
Notable signatories include Mary Robinson, a former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human rights; Jan Egeland, Norwegian Refugee Council Secretary-General and former UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; and Kumi Naidoo, Global Ambassador for Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity and former International Executive Director of Greenpeace International.