{mosimage}Palestinian activist Mazin Qumsiyeh penned the following letter to the US readership on Wednesday. PNN is reprinting it in full, including an article by former US President Jimmy Carter who was on hand to witness the Palestinian Presidential elections.

Due in part to your unprecedented opposition to anti-Palestinian legislation, the House leadership has unexpectedly removed H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, from today’s list of scheduled

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee has asserted its jurisdiction over the bill and will hold a "mark-up" session tomorrow, Wednesday, May 10th, to discuss possible amendments to it. You can watch the mark-up session live tomorrow online starting at 10 AM (EDT) using RealPlayer. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the important section of the resolution that
deals with visas.

As currently written, Section 6 of H.R. 4681 states that "A visa shall not be issued to any alien who is an official of, affiliated with, or serving as a representative of the Palestinian Authority" without a special waiver issued by the President. The resolution defines the Palestinian Authority to include the Palestinian Legislative Council, meaning that even non-Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, such as Mustafa Barghouti, Hanan Ashrawi, Nabil Sha’ath, and Sa’eb Erakat, could be banned from entering the United States.

Current U.S. law already prohibits the granting of a visa to a person belonging to a group, such as Hamas, which the United States considers to be a "foreign terrorist organization."

TAKE ACTION: Contact the House Judiciary Committee today through the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-355-3588 or directly at 202-225-3951 and tell the committee that the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act should conform to current U.S. law and only deny visas to members of a group the United States considers to be a "foreign terrorist organization." Ask the committee to amend the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act to include a provision that would continue to grant visas to Palestinian politicians who are not members of U.S.-designated "foreign terrorist organizations."

Also, if your Representative is on the House Judiciary Committee, please call them today as well with the same message.

House Judiciary Committee Members
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Chair, (R-WI-5), 202-225-5101
Rep. John Conyers, Ranking Member (D-MI-14), 202-225-5126
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL-6), 202-225-4921
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA-28), 202-225-4695
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA-9), 202-225-3861
Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT-3), 202-225-7751
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH-1), 202-225-2216
Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC-6), 202-225-3065
Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA-10), 202-225-3111
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL-24), 202-225-2706
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ-6), 202-225-2635
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4), 202-225-6365
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ-2), 202-225-4576
Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24),202-225-5811
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1), 202-225-3035
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-6), 202-225-5431
Rep. Mark Green (R-WI-8), 202-225-5665
Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN-8), 202-225-4636
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL-6), 202-225-4561
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC-4), 202-225-6030
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49), 202-225-3906
Rep. William Jenkins (R-TN-1), 202-225-6356
Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL-8), 202-225-2176
Rep. Steve King (R-IA-5), 202-225-4426
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), 202-225-3816
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16), 202-225-3072
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-3), 202-225-5716
Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA-5), 202-225-3411
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-8), 202-225-5635
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN-6), 202-225-3021
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-39), 202-225-6676
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-29), 202-225-4176
Rep. Debbie W. Schultz (D-FL-20), 202-225-7931
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), 202-225-8351
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21), 202-225-4236
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), 202-225-5341
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-35), 202-225-2201
Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC-12), 202-225-1510
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9), 202-225-6616
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL-19), 202-225-3001

The following article was written by former US President Jimmy Carter on 7 May 2006, which Qumsiyeh describes as "decent." [Former President Jimmy Carter is founder of the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization working for peace and health worldwide.]

Innocent Palestinian people are being treated like animals, with the presumption that they are guilty of some crime. Because they voted for candidates who are members of Hamas, the United States government has become the driving force behind an apparently effective scheme of depriving the general public of income, access to the outside world and the necessities of life.

Overwhelmingly, these are school teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, farm families, shopkeepers, and their employees and families who are just hoping for a better life. Public opinion polls conducted after the January parliamentary election show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel based on the international road map premises. Although Fatah party members refused to join Hamas in a coalition government, nearly 70 percent of Palestinians continue to support Fatah’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as their president.

It is almost a miracle that the Palestinians have been able to orchestrate three elections during the past 10 years, all of which have been honest, fair, strongly contested, without violence and with the results accepted by winners and losers. Among the 62 elections that have been monitored by us at the Carter Center, these are among the best in portraying the will of the

One clear reason for the surprising Hamas victory for legislative seats was that the voters were in despair about prospects for peace. With American acquiescence, the Israelis had avoided any substantive peace talks for more than five years, regardless of who had been chosen to represent the Palestinian side as interlocutor.

The day after his party lost the election, Abbas told me that his own struggling government could not sustain itself financially with their daily lives and economy so severely disrupted, and access from Palestine to Israel and the outside world almost totally restricted. They were already $900 million in debt and had no way to meet the payroll for the following month. The additional restraints imposed on the new government are a planned and deliberate catastrophe for the citizens of the occupied territories, in hopes that Hamas will yield to the economic pressure.

With all their faults, Hamas leaders have continued to honor a temporary cease-fire, or hudna, during the past 18 months, and their spokesman told me that this "can be extended for two, 10 or even 50 years if the Israelis will reciprocate." Although Hamas leaders have refused to recognize the state of Israel while their territory is being occupied, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has expressed approval for peace talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel.

He added that if these negotiations result in an agreement that can be accepted by Palestinians, then the Hamas position regarding Israel would be changed.

Regardless of these intricate and long-term political interrelationships, it is unconscionable for Israel, the United States and others under their influence to continue punishing the innocent and already persecuted people of Palestine. The Israelis are withholding approximately $55 million a month in taxes and customs duties that, without dispute, belong to the Palestinians.

Although some Arab nations have allocated funds for humanitarian purposes to alleviate human suffering, the U.S. government is threatening the financial existence of any Jordanian or other bank that dares to transfer this assistance into Palestine.

There is no way to predict what will happen in Palestine, but it would be a tragedy for the international community to abandon the hope that a peaceful coexistence of two states in the Holy Land is possible. Like Egypt and all other Arab nations before the Camp David Accords of 1978, and the Palestine Liberation Organization before the Oslo peace agreement of 1993, Hamas has so far refused to recognize the sovereign state of Israel as legitimate, with a right to live in peace.

This is a matter of great concern to all of us, and the international community needs to probe for an acceptable way out of this quagmire. There is no doubt that Israelis and Palestinians both want a durable two-state solution, but depriving the people of Palestine of their basic human rights just to punish their elected leaders is not a path to peace."

Calls many of you in the US made to your elected officials to stop the anti-Palestinian legislation did make a difference. For those in the US, please do this follow-up calling as stated in the alert below from the Council for National Interest.

 Hamas is no more equivalent to the Palestinian Authority than Likud or Kadima are equivalent to Israel. Further, boycotting all entities connected to the Palestinian Authority literally means mass starvation, boycotting government hospitals, emergency services, teachers, civil servants, etc.

 On the political front, why are the conditions only on one side (hypocritical): why is the Israeli government not required to allow Palestine to exist AND then recognize Palestine, why is that government not required to renounce violence, and why is it not required to accept all previous agreements (including freezing all settlement/colonial construction)?