Former U.S. Diplomats Discuss West Bank Visit
For Immediate Release
Discuss West Bank Visit,
Meeting With Arafat
12:00 - 1:00 pm
Monday, Aug. 2, 2004
National Press Club
A delegation of former U.S. diplomats recently returned from a week-long visit to the West Bank, hosted by the Palestinian American Congress. Along with 80 of their colleagues, they had signed a May letter to President George W. Bush urging that he reconsider American policy toward Israel/Palestine. Their visit included a two-hour meeting with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, The signatories previously had requested a meeting with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss their concerns, but received no response from the White House or State Department.
Members of the delegation included retired Ambassadors Andrew I. Killgore, Carleton S. Coon and Edward L. Peck; retired foreign service officers Richard H. Curtiss and Eugene Bird; J. Brady Kiesling, who resigned prior to the war on Iraq; and Washington Report on Middle East Affairs editors Delinda C. Hanley and Janet McMahon.
Delegates visited Israel’s separation wall and witnessed its effects on the lives of ordinary Palestinians; were turned back at Israeli checkpoints, forcing them to take circuitous routes from Ramallah to Bethlehem, where they met with city and religious officials; visited a farmer who, having won a court case protecting his land from settlement expansion, was now facing confiscation of the same land, allegedly for military purposes; and visited Hebron—whose historic city center now is closed off to all but a few hundred radical Jewish settlers—and Jenin, where they saw new housing being constructed for residents whose homes were destroyed in Israel’s deadly 2002 incursion.
The members of the delegation are convinced that the situation has serious implications for future U.S. security, and that if the American public comes to understand what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza, it will insist that our government try harder to achieve a fair and balanced resolution of the present conflict.
For additional information contact the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Magazine, PO Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062; phone (202) 939-6050 or (800) 368-5788; fax (202) 265-4574; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site http://www.wrmea.com.