Today I received an email from President Obama.
Before too long, I’ll be heading to the Capitol to report on the state of our union — and talk about the year ahead.
It’s one of the most important traditions of the American democracy, and it happens tonight.
President Barack Obama
I’ll be watching, Mr. President, but I doubt you’ll be saying much about Palestine or climate change. Those are the two issues I’m passionate about and I really wish I could count on you to be as committed.
Please, just tell Americans the bottom line. We need to move off of fossil fuels decisively and very quickly. No more diddle-daddyling around. We need to end the fossil fuel tax breaks and implement a carbon tax PRONTO! And you, Mr. President, need to shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline (all of it) from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.
I understand billionaire green investor Tom Steyer and his NextGen Climate Action PAC will run an ad before your State of the Union address calling for the rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Come on Mr. President! Just say no!
And here’s what I want you to say about Israel and Palestine.
My fellow Americans, Members of Congress, and World Leaders (especially Netanyahu and Abbas),
The occupation must end. The siege on Gaza must end. The United States is going to chart a new course in the Middle East — beginning today.
Israel’s future and Palestine’s future are inextricably intertwined; neither can live without the other as much as their leaders might wish otherwise.
Let there be no mistake, the United States has supported the State of Israel since the day it was created to the present. We will continue to support Israel.
We have supported Israel financially. In addition to the $3.1 billion per year promised as part of a 10-year aid package, Congress included an additional $284 million in the budget in December for joint U.S.-Israel defense cooperation.
We have supported Israel in the United Nations. Many resolutions have been introduced in the U.N. Security Council critical of Israel’s occupation and siege of Gaza, but the United States has vetoed every single one. In November 2012, I instructed our representative to oppose Palestine’s bid for statehood at the United Nations, despite overwhelming support from the rest of the world. Why? Because I believed the “only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties.”
We have supported Israel during negotiations with the Palestinians. Even though no one believes the U.S. is an honest broker for peace, and the parties know which side we favor, I believe Secretary Kerry has made a valiant effort to resolve the differences. However, it’s clear that effort has failed.
Clearly, the situation is deteriorating rapidly. The United Nations reports that Gaza will be unlivable as soon as 6 years from now. Recent flooding in the Gaza Strip has displaced hundreds of families, the fuel shortages have thrown 1.7 million Palestinians back into the dark ages. Most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have never been able to travel outside; they are stuck as if in an open-air prison.University students finish their studies with no hope for any meaningful employment. Their economy has shattered and is wholly dependent on UNRWA and outside aid.
Our policies in the Middle East are unsustainable. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that the U.S. is actually undermining a future peaceful resolution to the conflict. We are offering no hope to the young people in the region, leaving them no choice but to act in desperation.
Tonight, I’m announcing a new path forward. The details will be shared in the coming days.
- The U.S. will no longer embrace a policy of shunning democratically-elected leaders, such as Ismail Haniyeh.
- The U.S. will not be the broker of a peace agreement between the parties, but instead we will defer to the United Nations to play that role.
- Within the powers granted to me, our country’s financial and military aid to Israel will be suspended until a final, mutually-agreed upon settlement has been reached.
Let me be clear.
The United States is not going to allow any nation or people to endanger the security of Israel. We will remain vigilant against any aggression by anyone against Israel and we will take any action necessary to defend our friend.
However, our friend’s future depends on ending the occupation of Palestinian lands, and coming to a just and equitable resolution with her Palestinian neighbors. I won’t predict what form that final agreement may take; that is for the parties to decide, not the United States. But I predict that the final agreement will be signed, sealed and delivered before the end of my Presidency or the future existence of the State of Israel will surely be in doubt.