February 1, 2011
Geneva — The United States strongly opposes the possible convocation of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to single out one country, Israel.
The Geneva Conventions are universally respected and are indispensible to the rule of law in armed conflict. By singling out one country, such a conference risks undermining the integrity of the Geneva Conventions and the neutrality of their application. It is of the utmost importance that they not be politicized. A conference of High Contracting Parties focused on Israel would be politicized and harmful to Arab-Israeli peace efforts and to stability in the region at this critical point.
Ultimately, the best way to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza lies in the vigorous and ongoing efforts to bring about a comprehensive peace in the region through negotiation between the parties, with the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
The United States has conveyed our deep concern directly to the Swiss government. Those who are concerned about the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as the region as a whole, should focus on ways to support and advance ongoing peace efforts and to support the Palestinian Authority politically and financially. A conference of the High Contracting Parties will only undermine efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.
Last summer, Switzerland reported to the UN Secretary-General that there was not a dominant trend in favor of holding a conference, so this working group meeting does not represent a consensus way forward. We hope that states will join us in opposing movement towards what will be a politicized and unproductive conference, and instead work on fostering an atmosphere conducive to peace in the Middle East.