When Israeli Communist Meir Vilner co-signed Israel’s Independence Charter on May 14, 1948, he, and the Jewish/Arab Palestine Communist Party he was representing, stressed the promise contained within the charter: to help implement the United Nations resolutions providing for two independent states, Israel and Palestine — a promise still deferred.

On June 5, 1967, Vilner was the sole Jewish deputy (joined only by fellow Communist Party of Israel deputy Tawfiq Toubi) to speak out in the Knesset against Israel’s aggression. Calling that day the darkest in Israel’s history, Vilner demanded an immediate halt to the Israeli invasion of Arab lands.

Recently declassified Israeli government documents show that Israeli policy analysts concurred: capturing Arab lands would be bad for Israel.

Forty years after that fateful war, the situation for Palestinians (and Israelis) has degenerated.

U.S. people can play a role in ending this crisis. Polls show overwhelming support by Israelis and Palestinian — and people worldwide — for a two-state solution. This would require the existence of a viable Palestinian state living in peace with Israel at its 1967 borders, a negotiated settlement for the Palestinian refugees, and the dismantling of the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Yet, since entering office, the Bush administration has done nothing but exacerbate the crisis, including its policy of isolation towards Fatah, Arafat and the PLO, its refusal to engage the negotiating process, the winking at settlement expansion and the withholding of aid to the Palestinian Authority.

The U.S. gives billions of dollars to Israel in military aid. This buys weaponry, not merely for the country’s defense, but for offensive attacks and continued oppression of the millions of Palestinians, including a huge wall — condemned by numerous international groups — that is cutting further into Palestinian lands and separating families. This military aid should end. U.S. aid should go to developing a two-state solution, not continued occupation and oppression.

This weekend people are gathering in Washington to demand an end to the 40-year occupation — a just demand that is in the interest of the people of the U.S., Israel, Palestine, Middle East and beyond.

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