Negotiations nothing to be ashamed of, says War Resisters' International

Call for Lebanon negotiations

We have learned that Israel's massive bombing of Lebanon has now escalated into a full invasion, at the cost of (so far) hundreds of lives, most of them Lebanese.

We are the International Council of the War Resisters' International, meeting in Eringerfeld, Germany, following the "Globalising Nonviolence" conference of the WRI, which brought together 200-plus activists from every continent and from the Middle East. We believe that Israel's devastation of Lebanon will result in the destruction of not one, but two countries - that such is the inevitable law of violence. Israel's own history stands as proof: Fifty-eight years of violence have brought Israelis neither peace nor security. This most recent assault will only escalate the cycle.

We do not support Hizballah's incursion into Israel - nor Israel's long incursions into Mazrea' Shiba'a in Lebanon. Hizballah's killing of Israeli soldiers was preceded a month earlier by Israel's live ammunition exercises into Lebanon, killing three Lebanese shepherds. Hizballah's capture of Israeli soldiers took place against the backdrop of Israel's ongoing imprisonment of 10,000 political prisoners, including Palestinian women and children, as well as some Lebanese prisoners. It is clear that Israel is the initiator of this conflict. Nevertheless, we also absolutely oppose Hizballah's retaliation to this aggression, just as we deplore any killing. We reject the logic of war, of returning a blow for a blow.

We support the rights of all people living under occupation to resist that occupation. It is a principle of nonviolence that all injustice must be resisted. We of WRI know of many nonviolent groups in this region that could lead the way to just, peaceful and nonviolent solutions.

We fear the repercussions when a nuclear-armed power uses its vast military superiority to besiege Gaza, to build a wall that further isolates the already-occupied Palestinians, and now to invade a neighbouring country. Indeed the disparity of military capability between the two countries makes it impossible to call the invasion of Lebanon an even-handed conflict; it is certainly not self-defence. Unrestrained by the international community, or by a judicious reckoning of the inevitable consequences to itself, Israel is attacking the entire country of Lebanon, destroying the civilian infrastructure with US-supplied munitions, destroying or seizing precious resources, and killing civilians.

The awful magnitude and comprehensive destruction of these attacks leads us to believe that Israel had planned the destruction of Lebanon long before. It is also important to raise the question of the US interests possibly involved in this war, in the context of the current US occupation of Iraq and US statements regarding Syria and Iran.

Whatever the history, the immediate need now is for negotiations. "Negotiating - even in war - is nothing to be ashamed of," says Sheerin al-Araj, a Palestinian participant in the conference. "In fact, negotiations are the only way any war has ever ended." Because, again, of the vast disparity of military might, we believe that Israel requires a special urging toward those negotiations.

Therefore we call upon the US government to halt military aid to Israel and to stop protecting Israel from the UN and international law sanctions.

We call for Israel to initiate an immediate cessation of its attacks on Lebanon and to dismantle the Wall and the occupation of Palestine.

We call upon those who stand for justice and peace everywhere to provide humanitarian aid for the people of Lebanon, as well as of Palestine, and international support for those nonviolent groups on all sides struggling to bring peace to the region.

Finally, we call upon all people - especially the people of the United States - to oppose the military profiteers who alone will benefit from this war.

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