Landmark Endorsement of Rep. Joaquin Castro for House Chair

Over 50 progressive organizations endorse Rep. Joaquin Castro for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). At the end of November, Democratic House members will vote on who takes leadership of this important committee. HFAC makes decisions on arms control and disarmament issues, international funding and aid, deployment and use of armed forces, drug policy, international sanctions, and global health issues, such as COVID.

Rep. Castro represents the kind of leadership we need to build a foreign policy that reflects the growing progressive calls for diplomacy, support of human rights, and justice. We welcome Rep. Castro’s commitment to ensuring that Palestinian voices are heard in the Committee and his recent statements pushing for accountability on Israel for violations of international law.
Adalah Justice Project

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Trump administration considers labeling top humanitarian groups ‘anti-Semitic’

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
and Oxfam are included

John Hudson, Washington Post, Oct. 21, 2020

The Trump administration is considering labeling some of the most prominent humanitarian organizations in the world, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, as “anti-Semitic,” according to two people familiar with the discussions.

A declaration by the State Department could come as early as this week, the individuals said, adding that it might encourage other governments not to support the groups’ work.

The proposal has prompted sharp opposition from career officials in the department, who say it would be a gift to authoritarian governments that have long sought to delegitimize human rights groups for their work exposing mass atrocities and crimes against humanity, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss future policy decisions.

The organizations deploy scores of workers in dangerous hot spots, where they often face resistance from local governments.

The State Department declined to comment on a pending declaration, which was first reported by Politico.

Pro-Israel advocates have long complained of bias by groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, saying they focus too heavily on the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

The groups, however, have a lengthy track record of spotlighting the mistreatment of individuals at the hands of governments elsewhere, including authoritarian regimes and Western democracies.

“It’s preposterous,” Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski (N.J.), who previously worked as Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said in a phone call. “They also document the treatment of the Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority. They are critical of every government in the world, including the United States. Yet the State Department under every previous secretary of state has relied on these organizations as credible sources of information and treated them as partners.”

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam each strenuously denied any accusation of anti-Semitism.

“Any insinuation that Oxfam supports anti-Semitism is false, baseless, and offensive,” Noah Gottschalk of Oxfam America said. “Oxfam and our Israeli and Palestinian partners have worked on the ground for decades to promote human rights and provide lifesaving support for Israeli and Palestinian communities. We stand by our long history of work protecting the lives, human rights, and futures of all Israelis and Palestinians.”

Over the years, the groups, especially Human Rights Watch, have criticized the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, deeming them illegal under international law. Pompeo reversed years of U.S. policy by declaring that the United States does not consider the settlements a violation of international law.

If the State Department moves forward on the decision, it is likely to be celebrated by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pro-Israel Republican donors and a wide swath of Christian evangelicals, who say human rights organizations disproportionately target Israel.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Boycotts Yitzhak Rabin Event

Yesterday progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was headlined in the Palestine news-sphere as word came out about her speaking at a Peace Now event memorializing former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

For Palestinians, this news was triggering. For us, Rabin is not known as the “peacemaker” as U.S. history memorializes him, but as a colonial military general who oversaw ethnic cleansing campaigns and violent tactics to suppress Palestinian protests.

Today AOC’s office let us know that she has officially pulled out of the event memorializing Yitzhak Rabin after learning about his true legacy. Rabin’s legacy is much more than his handshake with Yasser Arafat at the White House and his assassination by a right-wing Israeli extremist. In assessing Rabin’s legacy, it’s important to center on the people most gravely harmed by his actions, the Palestinian people.

Not all Nobel Laureates are heroes, not all peace deals are just. We need look no further than the arms-trade deals President Trump is trying to pass off as peace accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain to know this to be true.

Young people around the world are demanding we rethink the legacy of historical figures valorized and celebrated uncritically. Israeli leaders are no exception.

Thank you for listening to the lived experience of Palestinians, Congresswoman.

Adalah Justice Project is a Palestinian advocacy organization based in the U.S. that aims to shift public discourse and policy on Palestine. We work towards collective liberation. Adalah Justice Project is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

DNC Delegates Demand Apology from the Biden Campaign

Attacks on Palestinian-American Delegate Linda Sarsour

After DNC delegate and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour spoke at an official DNC event of the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly on August 18th, 2020, Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Joe Biden campaign, issued a statement saying,

“Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform. She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”

As Palestinian-American delegates and allies, we stand by our fellow Palestinian-American delegate Linda Sarsour and condemn any effort to exclude elected national DNC delegates from official DNC events. We reject efforts to marginalize and demonize the Palestinian narrative. We also call upon the Democratic National Committee to renew its commitment to its own core principles of equality and justice for all.

The DNC seeks to represent an inclusive and diverse population and should not discriminate against any segment on the basis of ethnicity, religion or political dissent. The vast majority of Democratic voters are calling for accountability, including BDS as a nonviolent form of curbing Israeli violations and challenging Israel’s impunity. The statement by the Biden campaign has willfully dropped the reference to freedom of speech from its platform language quote in the rush to malign, condemn and exclude Sarsour. Such an attack goes against the principles of the Democratic Party and the 2020 Democratic Party Platform to end systemic racism and to build a coalition.

While we recognize the prevalence of anti-Semitism, criticism of Israel must not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Israel has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law and human rights as well as American international aid conditionality. Moreover, Jake Tapper of CNN has a history of singling out Palestinian-Americans, Muslim-Americans and anyone who stands behind Palestinian human rights or criticizes the Israeli occupation.

This disavowal of Linda Sarsour reeks of misogyny, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry. It provides a false shield for Israel’s human rights abuses. The Biden campaign must not follow the lead of the Trump administration and should rise above these attacks and make a concerted effort to be inclusive and represent the collective vision for a truly democratic Party.

Palestinian-American delegates and allies demand an immediate retraction and apology from the Biden campaign that smeared a prominent Palestinian-American activist, undermined her constitutional right to free speech, and weaponized anti-Semitism to silence the just critique of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Sincerely,

Palestinian American Delegates
Huwaida Arraf, MI Delegate (CD-10)
Zeina Ashrawi Hutchison, VA Delegate (CD-10)
Samia Assed, NM At-Large Alternate (CD-1)
Summer Awad, TN Delegate (CD-2)
Sam Hindi, CA Delegate (CD-14)
Hatem Natsheh, TX Delegate (SD-25)
Emad Salem, TX Delegate (SD-10)
Murad Sarama, CA Delegate (CD-6)
Ibraheem Samirah, VA At-Large Delegate (CD-11)
Endorsed by the following delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention:
Abdul-Khabir, Kareema – CA Delegate, CD-8
Ahmad, Nadia – FL Delegate, CD-7
Alexander, Cory – ID Delegate, CD-1
Ali, Faiza – NY Delegate, CD-10
Alvarez, Roberto – CA Delegate, CD-38
Aszterbaum, Joey – CA Delegate, At-Large
Bagheri, Aaron – CA Delegate, CD-24
Baker, Dana – CA Delegate, CD-4
Beall, Elise – CO At-Large Delegate
Beichler, Amber – VA Delegate, At Large
Bellanca, Jay – NY At-Large Delegate
Bernal, Karen – CA PLEO Delegate, CD-6
Beyer, Timothy – CA Delegate, CD-43
Bignell, Mark – MI Delegate, CD-4
Bishop, Heather – OR Delegate, CD-4
Blochowiak, Patricia – OH Delegate, CD-11
Bonge, Sam – AZ Delegate, CD-8
Britto, Lisa – FL Delegate, CD-10
Brown, Michele – FL Delegate, CD-18
Caballero, Josie – CA Delegate, CD-53
Cea, Sergio – PA PLEO Delegate
Choudhury, Leila – VA Delegate, CD-5
Chrisliquori@gmail.com
Chu de León, Chris – TX Delegate, SD-13
Corley, Troy – CA Delegate, CD-26
Cramer, Gina – TX Delegate, SD-26
Culver, Jon – WA Delegate, CD-1
Davis, Mina – TX Delegate, SD 5
De Delva, Namcy – NY Delegate, CD-5
Dean, Amy – VA Delegate, CD-7
Derton, Robin – TX Delegate, PLEO Delegate, SD-5
Dinkin, Leah – CO Delegate, CD-2
Dlugosz, Anne – Delegate, Democrats Abroad
Dominguez, Silvia – MA Delegate, CD-05
Dunbar, Melissa – WA Delegate, CD-6
Dupont, Aimee – MA Delegate, CD-2
East, Shana – IL Delegate,
Enriquez, Ivan – CA Delegate, At-Large CD-46
Espinosa, Giancarlo – FL Delegate, At Large
Ester, Lesley – CA Delegate, CD-2
Evans, Stevevonna – CA Delegate, CD-33
Farokhia, Sudi – CA Delegate, CD-45
Farokhnia, Sudi – CA Delegate, CD-45
Fleming, Joanne – WA Delegate, CD-5
Foley, Linda – TX Delegate, SD-12
Garcia Centeno, Krystal – IL Delegate, CD-11
Garcia, Brandon – TX PLEO Delegate, SD-19
Giardinelli, Bryan – CA Delegate, CD-42
Gibson, Emily – OR Delegate, CD-2
Gloria, Ernesto – TX Delegate, SD-9
Gonzalez, Ana – CA Delegate, CD-35
Gonzalez, Elizabeth – CA Delegate, CD-46
Gordon, Patrick – IL Delegate, CD-8
Hassan, Syed – TX Delegate, SD-22
Hastings, Erika – TN Delegate, CD-8
Hernandez, Thomas – WA Delegate, CD-3
Hicks, Jared – MA Delegate, CD-7
Hill, Lauren – NC At-Large Delegate
Hoyt, Margie – CA Delegate, CD-43
Huntley, Paul – CA Delegate, CD-19
Huynh, Katherine – CA Delegate, CD-43
Ibarra, Antonio – IL Delegate, CD-11
Isak, Barbara “Babs” – UT Delegate, CD-3
Jiang, Zhenzhen – CA Delegate, CD-14
Johnson, Cavla – FL Delegate, CD-15
Johnson, Heather – CA Delegate, CD-31
Johnson, Valerie – TX Delegate, SD-9
Hanieh Jodat Barnes – CA Delegate, CD-45
Joyce, Rommy – CA Delegate, CD-19
Jun Nawabi, Aleena – CA Delegate, SD-52
Kain, Matthew – MI Delegate, CD-14
Kang, Mani – CA Delegate, CD-46
Kaur, Gurdeep – CA Delegate, CD-40
Kessel, Michelle – TX Delegate, SD-25
Khan, Varisha – WA Delegate, CD-1
Khoury, Kari – CA Delegate, CD-9
Klemmer, Isabel – WI Delegate, CD-6
Knight, Mary Ann – TX Delegate, SD-10
Langford, James – FL Delegate, CD-7
Larranaga, Chris – NM Delegate, CD-1
Lee, Briana – MN Delegate, CD-5
Lefebvre, Lyndsey – CA Delegate, CD-39
Lim, Cheng-Sim – CA Delegate, CD-28
Liu, Melanie – CA Delegate, CD-18
Ly, Ricky – FL Delegate, At Large
Lynch, Nita – CO Delegate, CD-1
MacLeod, Duncan – MI Delegate, CD-3
Manos, Michelle – CA Delegate, CD-29
Mansoor, Nabila – TX Delegate, SD-18
Maro, Anthony – CO Delegate, CO-5
Martin, Beth – WA Delegate, CD-9
Martin, Grayson – CA Delegate, CD-52
Martinez, Eduardo – CA Delegate, CD-11
McClain, Christopher – CA Delegate, CD-31
McCord, Kathleen – NM Delegate, CD-1
McGrath, Bob – CO Delegate, CD-7
McLain, Brian – IA Delegate, CD-3
Merritt, Madeline – CA At-Large Delegate
Meyer, Katie – CA Delegate, CD-53
Moffa, Jamie – MO Delegate, CD-1
Mohammed, Sabina – TX At Large Delegate, SD-22
Moran, Kate – WA Delegate, CD-46
Moreno, Gabriel – MD Active Alternate Delegate, CD-2
Moxley, Kyle – MI Delegate, CD-8
Nasrullah, Mohammed – TX Delegate, SD-11
Nguyen, Lisa – OH Delegate, At Large
Nygard, Dorothy – CA Delegate, CD-10
O’Hea, Justin – NJ Delegate, CD-12
Ocampo, Christina – CA Delegate, CD-8
Okuzumi, Margaret – CA Delegate, CD-17
Omeish, Abrar – VA PLEO Delegate, CD-11
Orgel-Olson, Shawn – CA Delegate, CD-20
Palma, Dayja – TX Delegate, SD-22
Parr, Andrew – VA Delegate, CD-8
Patterson, Kevin – TX Delegate, SD-30
Perkel, Leah – WA Delegate, CD-3
Pfeiffer, Mindy – CA Delegate, CD-27
Phillips, Gregory – FL At-Large Delegate
Pierce, Eric – CA Delegate, CD-28
Ramos Rios, Virginia – NY Delegate, CD-7
Ramos, Stacey – CA Delegate, CD-35
Rawson, Katherine – UT Alternate Delegate
Recendez, Denis P. – CA Delegate, CD-32
Rehmani, Tasneem – CA Delegate,
Reynolds, Samantha – CO Delegate, CD-2
Rizvi, Maha – CA Delegate, CD-42
Rodriguez, Maya – CA Delegate, CD-41
Rodriguez, Tisa – CA Delegate, CD-41
Roemer, Katy – CA Delegate, CD-13
Saines, Koran T. – VA PLEO Delegate, CD-10
Scoville, Carrie – CA PLEO Delegate, CD-44
Shaughnessy, Christian – CA Delegate, At-Large
Shepherd, Jeri – CO Delegate,
Shergill, Amar – CA Delegate, CD-7
Shimizu, Christine – CA Delegate, CD-30
Siddiqui, Aftab – TX Delegate, CD-6
Siddiqui, Zahid – CA Delegate,
Smith, Benjamin – TN Delegate, CD-02
Smith, Megan – ME Delegate, CD-2
Solomon, Norman – CA Delegate, CD2
Sondahl, Birrion – CO Delegate, CD-2
Stevens, Karen – CA Delegate, CD-26
Sukaton, Samuel – CA Delegate, At-Large
Sullivan, Maureen – IL Delegate, CD-3
Summervillle, William Moses – CA Delegate, CD-48
Talevski, Susie – IN Delegate, CD-1
Tatlock, Nina – FL PLEO Delegate,
Taylor, Tarah – TX Delegate, SD-15
Terpening, Stephanie – MI Delegate, CD-4
Terrazas, Stephanie – CA Delegate, CD-39
Thompson, Victoria – CA Delegate, CD-7
Torres, Nelly – PA Delegate, CD-11
Touati, Khalid – TX Delegate, SD-16
Toy, Shirley – CA Delegate, CD-6
Ty, Yaddi – WA Delegate, CD-2
Uddin, Nazim – NC Delegate, At-Large
Usman, Sameena – CA Delegate, CD-17
Valladares, Victor – CA Delegate, CD-48
Vazquez, Juan – CA Delegate, CD-10
Verhey, Molly – WA Delegate, CD-08
Wang, Anlin – PA Delegate, CD-3
Ward, Kenneth – ID Delegate, CD-2
Weekley, Dakin – FL Delegate, CD-26
Wells, Marley – FL Delegate, CD-1
Williams, Susana – CA Delegate, CD-9
Winograd, Marcy – CA Delegate, CD-24
Wong, Audrey – CA Delegate, CD-33
Woodhall, Adam- FL Delegate, At Large
Wright, Lissette – Delegate, Democrats Abroad
Wunderly, Maggie – IL Delegate, At Large
Youngblood, Brandon – CA Delegate, CD-9
Zaman, Rubina – TX Delegate, SD-11
Zeisel, Jodi – OR Delegate, CD-3

Artists condemn Israeli raids on Palestinian cultural centres

Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (Ahdaf Soueif for PalFest)

Massive Attack, Steve Coogan, Peter Gabriel, Maxine Peake, Philip Pullman and Benjamin Zephaniah are among 60+ cultural figures to put their names to an open letter condemning attacks on key Palestinian cultural centres.

The letter says the attacks are ‘part of a well-documented campaign of harassment and intimidation, arrests, home demolitions and forced evictions’ by the Israeli government.

Brian Eno says: ‘These raids … seem designed to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture’

The artists call for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’ against Israel.

Signatories to the letter include:

  • Musicians Massive Attack, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Matthew Herbert, Jonathan Ofir, Jocelyn Pook, Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Filmmakers, actors David Calder, Julie Christie, Steve Coogan, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake, Leila Sansour, Harriet Walter
  • Writers Carmen Callil, William Dalrymple, Inua Ellams, A.L. Kennedy, Sabrina Mahfouz, Ruth Padel, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Rose, Thomas Sleigh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif
  • 2019 Turner Prize winning artists Lawrence Abu Hamdam and Tai Shani

In an open letter published today (copied below) more than sixty musicians, artists, writers and filmmakers say that the ransacking of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM), the Yabous Cultural Centre and the Shafaq Cultural Network in occupied East Jerusalem, and the arrest of their respective directors, ‘threaten to extinguish cultural life for thousands of artists, students and people in wider society’. (1)

The British Consulate in Jerusalem expressed its concern over the raids, via Twitter. (2) However, the artists say that expressions of concern are not enough. 

The letter says that the raids are linked to Israel’s ongoing annexation of Palestinian land. It calls on the British government to take action to halt Israel’s latest round of aggression towards Palestinians . The signatories say: ‘Palestinian civil society organisations are calling for ‘targeted and lawful sanctions’, that relate to trade, arms sales and security co-operation. Britain should support them.’ 

Composer Jocelyn Pook, best known for scores for films such as Eyes Wide Shut, The Merchant of Venice and The Wife, said: ‘These raids strike a blow against music and a blow against education. No government which cared about culture would inflict them. No person who cares about culture should tolerate them.’

Pioneering musician Brian Eno argued: ‘These raids are part of a new series of assaults on Palestinian lives and livelihoods and seem designed to break the morale of the Palestinian people, to deny them the last thing that they actually own: their culture. It is essential that our government ends its silence, condemns Israeli actions and takes practical steps to stop the raids.’

Ahdaf Soueif, novelist and founder of the Palestinial Festival of Literature said: ‘Israel is using the familiar tactics of an authoritarian state – night-time raids, trumped-up charges, arbitrary arrests – to kill the cultural institutions that Palestinians have created. Western governments have the power to stop this intolerable use of force. They should use it.’

The British Council said on social media that the Council is  ‘a long standing partner’ of all three cultural centres, which support ‘music and culture for young people’, and preserve ‘Palestinian cultural identity & community in Jerusalem’. (3)

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Faith Leaders Oppose F-35 Fighter Jets

Find inspiration and hope reading this full-page ad from the July 29 Wisconsin State Journal.

In an expression of moral solidarity, 39 leaders of local faith organizations clearly state why they oppose bringing F-35 Striker Force jets to our county and our country. Calling on our Senators to stop supporting these deadly war machines, these leaders call on us to demand state and federal officials oppose their deployment and find a new mission for the Wisconsin National Guard at Truax “more in keeping with the humane values of peace, equity, sustainability and concern for the health and security of our community.”

What you can do:

  • “Tell Leader Pelosi: NO COVID-19 relief money for weapons of war!” on Win Without War’s Action page.
  • Contact your House and Senate members and tell them to reject the Pentagon giveaways in COVID-19 relief.

Text of Wisconsin State Journal Ad, 29 July 2020 (PDF of scan):

We, the undersigned faith leaders, wish to publicly raise our voices in opposition to the basing of an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Force in the Madison community. For a number of reasons, we find this deployment morally offensive and feel compelled to speak out against it.

First, the F-35 is not just the most expensive weapons system in the history of our planet. It is also a critical component of our country’s new nuclear strategy. This plane is sometimes called the most dangerous weapon in the nuclear arsenal of the United States because it is designed to carry the B61-12 guided nuclear bomb, a bomb small enough to be considered “usable” in the minds of some war planners.

Starting with Barack Obama and continuing with Donald Trump, the horrifying idea of a “winnable” nuclear war has been revived as official policy and the F-35 is at the heart of this nightmare notion. Defense analyst Pierre Sprey has pointed out that the F-35 was mentioned eight times in the Nuclear Posture Review released by President Trump and the Department of Defense in 2018.

(See Nuclear Posture Review, Office of the Secretary of Defense, February 2018)

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Release Palestinian bodies for burial

Even in death, we are not free – we are held hostage in a frozen medical lab in Israel.

The Israeli military murdered Ahmed Erekat, a deeply loved 27-year-old son, brother, and fiancé, on June 23rd. He was shot and killed as he was running errands for his sister on her wedding day. His body is currently being held hostage at the Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine, which is part of Tel Aviv University. His mother and father simply want to say goodbye to their child and lay their son to rest, but the Israeli government is refusing to return him to his family unless they promise not to bring a legal case against the Israeli soldier who murdered their boy.

The L. Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine is part of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, which has a New York State/American program that is registered and accredited as a New York State medical school.

The Greenberg Institute is complicit in this crime, when they could instead force the Israeli government to return this body to the family by refusing to cooperate in holding it hostage.

This is an urgent call to faculty, universities, and all honourable people around the world to boycott and cut ties with Tel Aviv University & the Greenberg Institute until they end their complicity in this crime, and Ahmed and other detained Palestinian bodies are freed, without stipulation, to their families and loved ones for burial.

Please sign this petition, then share it on your social media profile tagging your academic institution and insisting that they cut all ties with the Greenberg National Institute and Tel Aviv University until they return the corpses of all detained Palestinians to their families for a proper burial and to cease the practice of withholding corpses of Palestinians immediately.

Currently, there are frozen corpses of 63 Palestinians withheld in the Greenberg Forensic Institute or other Israeli police morgues, without any promise for return.

This is not the first time the Greenberg National Institute is complicit in holding the detained dead bodies of killed Palestinians, often dissecting them without the family’s permission. The Institute admits a history of unauthorized removal of organs, bone and tissue from Palestinians’ bodies. And similarly, this is not the first time Israel withholds a murder victim to blackmail their families before allowing them to bury their loved ones.

Israel uses the Palestinian dead as ransom. Since the 1960s, Israel has killed and confiscated hundreds of Palestinian bodies and withheld them in clandestine cemeteries within closed military zones, refusing to return them. In September 2019, the Israeli High Court re-affirmed that the state has the right to withhold Palestinian bodies as a political bargaining chip.

U.S. and Canadian universities that choose to continue their partnerships with Tel Aviv University do so in full knowledge of how the Greenberg Forensic Institute is complicit with Israel’s entrenched occupation of Palestinian land and its degradation of human life — like Ahmed’s and the others who lay frozen in the Greenberg Forensic Institute.

Sign this petition, then share it on your social media profile tagging your institution and insisting that they cut all ties with the Greenberg National Institute and Tel Aviv University until they return the corpses of all Palestinians to their families for a proper burial and to cease the practice of withholding corpses of Palestinians immediately.

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