What Kerry Should do During his MidEast Trip

July 22, 2014

Over 560 Palestinians have lost their lives due to Israeli military aggression in Gaza in just three weeks, more than half of them in the past five days. Yesterday, President Barack Obama expressed “serious concerns” over civilian deaths in Gaza, dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry to Cairo to “push for an immediate cessation of hostilities” and announced $47 million in humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. Humanitarian aid is badly needed; so too is dealing with the roots of the conflict. Now that Kerry is in the region, what should he push for?

The stated mission of Kerry’s trip is to convince the Israelis and Palestinians to cease violence and salvage a ceasefire proposed by Egypt last week. Hamas officials said they will accept the ceasefire if the Israelis first lift the seven-year blockade of Gaza, which has created an “open air prison” for its more than one million residents, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. has been anything but a fair broker in this conflict. While the $47 million in humanitarian aid is a nice gesture on behalf of the U.S., it pales in comparison to last week’s Senate approval to send an additional $621 million to Israel for its military defense system. If Kerry wishes to be effective this time around in the region, he would do well to advocate for a just and peaceful resolution to this obscene conflict.

Kerry should push for three immediate actions:

  1. Any ceasefire agreed upon should be implemented immediately, with all Israeli Defense Forces and reservists removed from the border.
  2. Beyond the $47 million committed in humanitarian aid, additional aid must be guaranteed to allow for the rebuilding of Gaza’s infrastructure.
  3. The Rafah border with Egypt should be opened by Egyptians to alleviate the siege on Gaza and allow aid to be delivered to the tens of thousands who have fled their homes.

The loss of life in this recent conflict alone is appalling. Boilerplate talking points about the unrest and Israel’s right to defend itself will not fly. Kerry must be honest and assertive in his engagement in Cairo; anything less will lead to more death and destruction.


Call or email the public officials listed here, including the White House and the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, to urge them to take immediate action to end the suffering of innocent Palestinian civilians. Respectfully call for:

  • An immediate ceasefire before Eid Al-Fitr, which will allow the people of Gaza to mourn their losses and mark the holiday in peace. 
  • Tell your members of Congress that you want U.S. funding for protecting Palestinians. Israel is violating the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of American weapons on a civilian population.
  • Immediate humanitarian aid to help rebuild the vast number of homes and infrastructure destroyed by Israeli forces in Gaza.
  • Egypt to open the Rafah Crossing and allow desperately needed aid to get through.
  • An end to the siege on Gaza with a comprehensive and durable agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
  • A Congressional resolution expressing condolences and solidarity with the large number of children killed in this conflict.

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