Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Protect Rights of Palestinian Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Naomi Dann | media@jvp.org | 845-377-5745

Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Protect Rights of Palestinian Children
20 Members of Congress sign letter calling for a special envoy for Palestinian children’s rights

Washington DC (June 20, 2016)–A letter released today initiated by Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) and signed by 20 Members of Congress calls on President Obama to appoint a special envoy for Palestinian youth to report on, and advocate for, the protection of the human rights of Palestinian children. Jewish Voice for Peace, as a proud partner of the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, welcomes the leadership of Congressional representatives on protecting the rights of Palestinian children.

Forty-six percent of the nearly 4.68 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are under the age of 18. These children are essential to the peaceful future in the region, and they deserve to grow up without fear of repression, arbitrary detention and with the same rights to a fair and just legal system that treats them as equals to their Israeli counterparts. Appointing a special envoy for Palestinian youth would send the message that the United States is committed to a future with freedom, security and equality for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Rabbi Joseph Berman, Jewish Voice for Peace’s Governmental Affairs Liaison: “We are grateful to Representative Betty McCollum for her leadership on this important human rights issue. Jewish tradition teaches that each person has inherent dignity and worth and must be treated accordingly.  We see this letter as an important step towards protecting the human rights of Palestinian children and creating the conditions for a just and lasting peace.”

Each year between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in the Israeli military court system, which has a nearly 99% conviction rate. Mistreatment and torture of Palestinian children in Israeli military courts is widespread and systematic, and in direct violation of international legal norms. As of February 2016, there were 440 Palestinian children currently in Israeli military prisons.

A recent report by Defense for Children International-Palestine demonstrates that over three quarters of children detained by Israeli forces experience some kind of violence, whether that is abuse from soldiers, threats, and even solitary confinement, to induce confessions.

The United States gives Israel $3.1 billion per year in military aid, a figure that is likely to increase in the next 10 years. As one of the largest sources of support for the Israeli military, the U.S. is obligated to use its influence to stop Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights. Ending the practice of military detention for children is an important first step towards protecting Palestinian rights to freedom, dignity and equality and ensuring the possibility of a more peaceful future.

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Jewish  Voice for Peace (jvp.org) is a national, grassroots  organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace  according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for  all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP has over 200,000 online supporters,  over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an  Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S.  intellectuals and artists.



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