The announcement of the Israeli government on August 31 to confiscate 1,000 acres belonging to four Palestinian villages near Bethlehem is like pouring salt on the fresh wounds of Palestinians. Israeli officials say this act of land confiscation is in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli settlers. Was not the war on Gaza which resulted in the death of over 2,000 men women and children, the injury of over 12,000, the destruction of thousands of homes, hospitals and schools and the displacement of over 250,000 Palestinians enough response to the kidnapping and killing of three settlers?
Mr. President, just telling the Israeli authorities that this move is counterproductive to arrive at a two-state solution is not enough! Your administration needs to take serious measures to stop this grave injustice. The confiscation of Palestinian lands is no less dangerous than Hamas's tunnels and rockets. Just as the Israelis need your political, financial and military support to protect them, so do the Palestinians.
Mr. President, you are fully aware of the great turmoil and harm that Islamist radicalism is causing throughout the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere in the world. The Israeli move to expropriate Palestinian lands and your administration's mild response to the Israeli violation, will surely add fuel to groups like the Islamic State (IS) and other Islamist radical groups. A mild response to this terrible violation will weaken the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and the moderates in the Arab world. Only your strong response to this Israeli violation will send a convincing message to radical groups and all Muslims that your administration is committed to a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Mr. President, if there is a time to act decisively and firmly on behalf of peace and justice in Israel-Palestine, it is today. I urge you to act before the radicals do.
Rev. Alex Awad
Pastor: East Jerusalem Baptist Church