Carter Center Backs Call for Probe on Alleged Israel Human Rights Violations

(Photo Credit: Annemarie Poyo/The Carter Center)Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President and founder of the Carter Center, listens to the U.S. national anthem during a visit to Havana Cuba on May 12, 2002.

The Carter Center is backing a call by 15 Christian leaders from various U.S. denominations who recently urged Congress to investigate allegations of human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians in violation of U.S. law.

The Center – which was founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter in partnership with Emory University – said it had long been concerned about "Israel's disregard for stated U.S. policy."

The Center said this is "demonstrated by an unprecedented massive increase in encroachment on occupied Palestinian territory, with illegal settlement expansion during recent years.

Former President Carter added: "This is precluding the possibility of a two-state solution and endangers a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

In early October, leaders of various denominations including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the President of the UMC Council called on Congress to tie U.S. military aid to Israel to human rights law compliance, citing the need for a government investigation into possible "misuse" of U.S. supplied weapons for crowd control.

While the church leaders said their churches have supported both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire for peace, they said they have seen the impacts of conflicts on both sides.

However the letter also faults "unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel," which the leaders say has contributed to deterioration of conditions.

Some Jewish organizations who have participated with Christian groups in the Christian-Jewish Roundtable have criticized the call, saying on October 17 that the leaders' letter to Congress "represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business as-usual approach."

The Jewish groups cancelled a Roundtable meeting last month and called for a meeting with the senior leadership of the Christian groups that joined the letter to Congress and have participated in the Roundtable in the past.

"The purpose of the meeting would be to communicate face-to-face at the highest levels and determine a more positive path forward for our communities," they wrote. The Jewish organizations calling for the meeting include the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Union for Reform Judaism.

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