Dear Madame Secretary:

I am writing to add my voice to those -- here in the U.S. and in Israel and
the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) -- who have called on you to
enhance your dedicated efforts to end and redress the acute violence that
is occurring in the OPT and within the "Green Line." According to reliable
reports from human rights monitors on the ground there, Israeli forces have
killed more than 60 Palestinians, including children, and have injured more
than 1,800 others.

I am sure that you are well aware of the scale and context of this
unprecedented violence. Specifically, I strongly encourage you to support
the establishment by the international community of an independent
committee to investigate Israel's use of excessive, indiscriminate and
lethal force against Palestinian and Israeli Arab civilians and to
prosecute those responsible.

As Program Director for Asia and the Middle East with the Robert F. Kennedy
Memorial Center for Human Rights, I gained an in-depth understanding of
Israel's repressive actions within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and
of its failure to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention. I continue to
track events there closely and am well aware of the intricacies underlying
the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is incumbent upon the United States government as a High Contracting
Party to the Geneva Conventions -- and in its central role as a mediator of
the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations -- to ensure the protection of
Palestinians within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to demand that
Israel immediately cease its aggression against civilians there.

I am sure that you share the belief that respect for human rights is
fundamental to the long-term sustainability of peace. In the case of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. government must correct the
perception that it is pursuing a political settlement through negotiations
at the expense of enforcement of international human rights and
humanitarian law standards.

Now is a critical opportunity for the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to
international law and mechanisms that will help to smooth the way towards a
just and lasting peace.

Thank you for your continuing efforts to make real that elusive peace.


Abigail Abrash
Visiting Fellow
Human Rights Program
Harvard Law School