OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – A former U.S. marine is mobilizing up to 10,000 Westerners to be dispatched to the occupied Palestinian territories in September to act as international observers and help bring peace with Israel.
The P10K Force will “expose the truth about the conflict and document human rights violation”, Ken O’Keefe told a press conference in occupied East Jerusalem Wednesday, June 9, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“It will effect a ceasefire from the militant Palestinian resistance that uses violence and call for Israel to honor the truce in order to assure security for its citizens,” added O’Keefe, who also led the human shield anti-war movement in Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion.
The former marine said he had contacts with Palestinian resistance factions, including Hamas.
The 10,000-strong movement, to be financed through donations and to be sent to the Palestinian territories in September, would “compel justice, not vengeance”, O’Keefe asserted.
The observers will use non-violent means in working for the respect of international law, “thereby ending the unlawful (Israeli) occupation”, and bringing about peace, he said.
The Palestinians and several European nations have long called for the dispatch of international observers to the occupied Palestinian territories.
Their calls have remained unheeded, however, owing to the U.S. and Israel’s fervent opposition to such a force.
On March 27 , U.S. President George Bush rebuffed a request from his closest ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair to deploy a U.S.-led “monitoring force” to act as a buffer between Israel and the Palestinians.
Action, Not Words
O’Keefe said he was confident “the numbers of participants in P10K will swell, possibly beyond 10,000” despite Israel’s expulsion of dozens of foreign peace activists since the beginning of the Palestinian Intifada.
“Everyone is calling for a withdrawal from the Palestinian territories but P10K is set up to do something rather than calling for it,” said eloquent O’Keefe who joined the Marine Corps in 1989, when he was 19 .
O’Keefe, who fought in the 1991 Gulf War, said he would mobilize citizens from Europe and North America because “the truth is that Western nations are responsible for supporting brutal leaderships”.
He also went on to slam Israel’s “occupation that is responsible for violence resistance … and denial of human rights”.
Fending off criticism for his pro-Palestinian stance, O’Keefe insisted the movement would “save both Israelis and Palestinians lives” and bring peace to the two peoples.
Letter To Bush
On Tuesday, May4 , O’Keefe, the founder of the P10K, sent an open letter to Bush concerning the intended international peace force.
“It is my great honor to inform you of the P10K Force; a true peace keeping force without weapons, which has been created in order to fill the void left by inept and/or corrupt nation/state governments and the United Nations (U.N.).
“As you are surely aware, numerous public and legal requests by the Palestinian people through their democratically elected leaders in accordance with established legal channels have been made for an International Peacekeeping Force and/or International Observers to mobilize in Palestine in order to protect them against ongoing loss of life inflicted by the occupying power, Israel.”
He renounced his U.S. citizenship and burnt his U.S. passport in 2001 over strong “political disagreements”.