Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 (capitol switchboard - ask for each Senator by name) and urge them NOT TO SIGN the Nelson-Ensign letter to Rice!


Hi, my name is [name] from [hometown]. As a Jewish constituent who supports Israel, I urge the Senator NOT TO SIGN the Nelson-Ensign letter to Secretary Rice.

This letter calls on Sec. Rice to ban contact with ALL members of the Palestinian Authority, including moderates like President Abbas, if the unity government does not meet the Quartet’s requirements.  This would greatly weaken Palestinian moderates, strengthen the extremists, and undermine Sec. Rice’s efforts to reinvigorate the peace process. This is not in the interests of the United States or Israel.  Please urge the Senator NOT TO SIGN this letter.

If possible, can you please send me a written response regarding the Senator’s position? Thank you.

After you have called, please let us know at

    Dear Friend of Brit Tzedek,

    Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and John Ensign (R-NV) are circulating a deeply problematic sign-on letter to Secretary Rice (see full text below) that asks her to promote a policy of banning ALL contact with Palestinian moderates such as President Mahmoud Abbas, if the new unity government does not explicitly agree to all of the Quartet’s requirements.  Senators will be faced with intense pressure to sign the letter early this week, leaving little time to consider its repercussions.  Call your Senators NOW and urge them NOT TO SIGN the Nelson-Ensign letter to Rice!

    This so-called “pro-Israel” letter suggests that the U.S., Israel, and the international community prohibit contact with ALL members of the Palestinian Authority if it does not meet the Quartet requirements: recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by previous agreements.  This would prevent diplomatic engagement with moderate Palestinians who seek peace with Israel, such as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who remains the key Palestinian negotiator in any unity government, and other Fatah and independent members of the Palestinian Authority.

    At a time when the U.S. should be supporting forces of moderation among the Palestinians, this letter weakens those forces and demonstrates to the Palestinian people that moderation brings them nothing.

    Moreover, this letter is in direct opposition to the wait-and-see approach taken by Israel and the United States. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert met with President Abbas on Sunday and plans to meet him again, and Secretary Rice is actively trying to reinvigorate the peace process. This is not the time to shut down critically needed diplomatic engagement.

    Now is the time to say "Let's Talk"! Call your Senators today!


    Diane Balser, Chair of Advocacy
    Steve Masters, Co-Chair of Advocacy
    Rob Levy, Washington Representative

    PS. Please share this Action Alert with family, friends, and colleagues, and tell them about Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.

    Full text of Nelson-Ensign letter to Secretary Rice
    (view PDF)

    The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
    United States Department of State
    Dear Madame Secretary:

    Securing peace in the Middle East between Israel and all of her neighbors has been a long-term goal of the United States- long before and quite apart from the current conflict in Iraq -- and we support your efforts to advance that important goal.

    We know how deeply the people of Israel long for peace, and we are mindful of all the avenues successive Israeli governments have pursued to achieve it: bilateral negotiations, multilateral negotiations, and unilateral actions. Unfortunately, those efforts have yet to bring a lasting peace, largely because there has been no viable Palestinian leader ready to negotiate an end to the conflict who has the strength and conviction to compromise and then to implement an agreement. This sad fact remains as true today as it has ever been.

    That is why, as you seek to reinvigorate the peace process, we believe it important to reinforce certain basic principles that have guided US Middle East policy that we know you share. First among these basic principles is securing the three very basic obligations put forward by the Quartet that the Palestinian Authority must meet in order for it to receive direct aid from the international community: recognition of Israel's right to exist, a renunciation of violence and terror, and acceptance of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.  So far, as a result of the international community's firm unity on these obligations, this policy has had a real impact, with pressure mounting on the Hamas led PA to do what is necessary in order for international assistance to resume.

    The pressure to form a Palestinian unity government is a manifestation of that impact.  We were deeply disappointed, however, that last month's Mecca agreement negotiated between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah failed to meet or even address the obligations of the Quartet.  Statements by Hamas leaders since the agreement was signed only reinforce that fact.  While the agreements might have brought a temporary peace between Hamas and Fatah, it had little to do with making peace with Israel and ultimately does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people.

    We know that there are already some in the Quartet who are pressing for direct aid to resume. That would be a huge step back from the peace process you seek to invigorate. We urge you to continue to hold firm and insist that these very basic international principles not change- no direct aid and no contacts with any members of a Palestinian Authority that does not explicitly and unequivocally recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terror, and accept previous agreements.

    We know that these are principles that you helped develop and certainly share.  It is our strong hope that they remain central to your efforts and to those of the Quartet as the process moves forward.



    Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
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