May 2, 2024
The Advisory Council of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) offers guidance to the U.S. government regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, with the aim to promote regional diplomatic and sustainable solutions for peaceful coexistence. These recommendations are forward looking while also acknowledging and decrying the historical traumas experienced by all sides of the conflict.

We are deeply troubled, in particular, by compelling evidence that the conditions in Gaza have been and increasingly are a textbook example for creating violent extremists and the likelihood of an unending cycle of violent conflict and despair if the situation is not addressed through an inclusive political process. We are no less troubled by the continued holding of hostages by Hamas.
We unequivocally condemn all forms of anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinian sentiment, and Islamophobia, whether expressed through actions or words. Criticism of the Israeli government, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies, or the actions of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) must not be equated with anti-Semitism. Hamas, as a terrorist organization responsible for the horrific violence on October 7, 2023, deserves condemnation.

Given varied perspectives of Council members, our objective was to identify common ground that could save lives, avert famine, halt violence, secure the release of hostages, ensure the safety of all non-combatants, and instill hope for the Palestinian people.


The U.S. government must overhaul its foreign policy concerning Israel and Palestine. Its approach to the Gaza conflict, West Bank, Israel, and Palestine, should be based on what we stand for, following guiding principles:
  1. Do no more harm: Take action to secure an immediate ceasefire to save lives, enable a massive humanitarian response, and prevent exacerbating regional tensions. This item is time sensitive, as it will save lives. Avoid further harming at-risk populations, as well as U.S. global interests and standing.
  2. Adhere to International Law: All parties to the conflict, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Iran and the United States, must uphold international humanitarian and human rights laws. Noncompliance by Hamas, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah does not justify Israel deviating from its own adherence to these norms. Reaffirming U.S. full commitment to these international standards, including in its relationship with Israel, serves U.S. national security interests.
  3. Comply with U.S. Laws: The U.S. government must comply with U.S. laws, including the Leahy Laws, which regulate the provision of military assistance to foreign security forces involved in gross human rights violations or operating with impunity. The U.S. should cease unconditional transfer of weapons to the IDF, particularly weapons that could be used to harm non-combatants in Gaza.
  4. Prevent a Famine: Prevent any deterioration in levels of acute malnutrition, particularly among children, to avert a famine and deliver massive humanitarian support. Israeli offensive operations in Rafah would result in unacceptable casualties, impede humanitarian interventions and increase the risk of mass starvation and death. This item has an immediate time frame as lives are at risk.
  5. Focus on the Future: Stop arguing about who did what to whom and shift focus from assigning blame to fostering a vision for a peaceful future for Israel and Palestine. Launch a comprehensive peacebuilding and conflict resolution initiative, involving civil society, with the common aim of securing safety and dignity for all through political means.
  6. Adopt Guiding Principles: The UN Security Council should establish guiding principles for the creation of a Palestinian state that include pathways to fair elections.

Saving Lives

To save lives the U.S. government must take immediate steps to improve the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip:
  1. Unconditional Ceasefire: Implement an immediate ceasefire on both sides to allow for unconditional delivery of humanitarian aid without delay.
  2. Secure Hostage Release: Make the unconditional release of all U.S. and Israeli hostages the priority, also without delay.
  3. Aid Worker Safety: The IDF and Israeli government must guarantee the safety of all aid workers. Gaza’s status as the most perilous environment for aid workers, with over 200 fatalities despite adherence to Israeli deconfliction protocols, must be addressed urgently.
  4. Increased Aid Volume: Ramp up the number of trucks and total aid volume entering Gaza to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. This immediate action can reduce the risk of a famine.
  5. Focus on the Children: Children and noncombatants on both sides have withstood the worst of the horrors of this war. The IDF must adopt targeting protocols that align with the rules on war in full compliance with international law. There has to be hope for the children and youth in Gaza and the West Bank.
  6. Support Humanitarian Infrastructure: With the external review finished, governments, including the U.S., should financially support UNWRA, UN agencies, and humanitarian aid NGOs operating in Gaza. Since UNWRA was not set up as a relief agency, it requires bolstered capacity to effectively deliver aid. This will increase its credibility and efficacy. Establishing a UN emergency relief platform in Gaza, under OCHA or through a UN equivalent of the U.S. DART approach, is imperative.
  7. Peacekeeping Mission: Advocate for a new peacekeeping mission, inclusive of civil society and women, to address the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, with U.S. support.
  8. Displaced Israelis: Promote efforts to reduce tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border so that displaced Israelis can return to their homes.

Political Endgame

  1. Timely Transition to Two-State Future: The Palestinian people urgently need a credible inclusive political process for a short-term path to statehood, including Gaza and the West Bank. Waiting for Israeli government approval is not an option. The U.S. should drop its opposition to UN resolutions that support creation of a sovereign Palestinian state living in peace with a secure and democratic Israel. Achieving a Palestinian state requires a regional alliance involving Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, with all parties recognizing Israel’s rights as a sovereign nation. This process can mitigate against any future role for Hamas and Hezbollah. Palestinians must have a leading voice in the process and its outcome.
  2. Combat Disinformation: The U.S. must combat disinformation regarding the conflict, both domestically and in Israel and Gaza. Independent journalists must be permitted to operate freely within Gaza to ensure accurate reporting.
  3. Reform the UN Security Council: Use the conflict as a catalyst for Security Council reform, including a change in voting rights, such as requiring the abstention from voting by parties involved in conflicts, such as the U.S. and Israel, or Russia and Ukraine.
  4. Address Political Tensions: The U.S. should not align itself with Israeli policies that run counter to U.S. interests and values and, as needed, apply pressure and policy ultimatums.
  5. Mitigate Political Risk: The crisis poses a significant risk to the Biden administration and may define its foreign policy legacy. Implementing the above principles, along with achieving an immediate ceasefire, securing the release of hostages, and a major humanitarian intervention, is likely to quell protests on college campuses and diminish partisan polarization.

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