On International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (November 29), peace remains an elusive and distant prospect. We must redouble our efforts to work towards a just and equitable resolution!
More than half a century, 54 years, have passed now since the disastrous so-called “Six Day War” led to Israel seizing and occupying the whole territory of Palestine – completing the vicious dispossession of the entire Palestinian people, underway since they were uprooted from their homes and land in the lead-up to the bloody foundation of the state of Israel. This monumental injustice, and the bleak existence of life as a refugee or stateless person, is a painful reality that generations of Palestinians have had to contend with – without any real progress being made towards a viable solution. Instead, the Israeli occupation continues and, along with it, the subjugation of the Palestinian people… A brutal occupation and subjugation without restraint or censure despite its seeming perpetuation before the very eyes of the international community.
Israel remains a colonial state enforcing the violent expropriation of Palestinian land; settler colonialism upon that same land, and an extremist colonialism at that; as well as the institution of an at-best apartheid system thereafter. It is no exaggeration to state that Palestinians are forced to live a separate fraught existence on the ever-dwindling “self-administered” territory that remains of their legitimate and inalienable birthright. Israel is a state that continually commits grave violations of international law, including that pertaining to long-recognised humanitarian tenets and human rights; denies the Palestinian people their right to national self-determination and an independent state in their homeland; and denies Palestinian refugees their right of return, rightful recognition of their legitimate land and ownership titles, or compensation for their losses. Furthermore, Israel constantly flouts international efforts and will to bring a just resolution to this long-festering wound in the Middle East by flagrantly violating all United Nations resolutions and conventions with respect to Palestine. And, Israel does so – and has always done so – without fear of any real rebuke or sanction from the international community.
To make matters even worse, many Arab states are taking the unconscionable step of normalising their relations with Israel – in complete disregard of the principle agreed within the Arab Peace Initiative that normalisation could only occur after a just and proper resolving of the Palestinian issue. Morocco has gone even further by signing a security cooperation agreement with the Israeli defence minister. Similarly, many African countries are unconditionally opening their doors to the Israeli state in return for investment and support, while also taking extreme measures against Palestinian organisations and currents under the pretext of “fighting terrorism”. This accords with Israel’s own policy towards Palestinian groups regardless of the nature of their activity or work – thus, we have witnessed at least six Palestinian NGOs be declared as illegal by Tel Aviv, in complete violation of international law.
Almost five years on from the disastrous coming to office of the Donald Trump administration – and a year on from its defeat and the election of its successor, led by Joe Biden – no tangible movement is being made to address the Israel-Palestine issue or even to at least reverse some of the harmful and regressive moves made by the Trump administration, despite yet another shameful onslaught waged against the Palestinian people by Israel with the whole world watching. Israel continues with its shameful behaviour and the international community rewards it by remaining cowed and silent in the face of such brazen crimes.
We have now reached the point where the two-state solution, which has long underpinned any serious initiative for peace and resolution of the Israel-Palestine issue, is in grave danger – having been completely undermined by Israel’s unrestrained policy of forceful eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes, annexation, and settlement-building in these territories… This is part and parcel of the blatant effort by Israel to “change the facts on the ground” and irrevocably alter the demographic balance by force in territories which would form part of an independent state of Palestine.
We believe that it is the duty of the international community – its governments, people, and civil society organisations – to properly confront and arrest these trends by Israel, and to take real deterrent and punitive measures accordingly. The continuing reluctance to do so not only constitutes a shameful abrogation of responsibility on the part of the international community, as well as a potentially fatal undermining of the core tenets to which we hold dear in the upholding of international law and justice in the long term, but also seriously threatens the prospects for achieving a real and lasting peace in the region and beyond. This inaction constitutes an abandonment of values and principles, and a retreat from a the long-held-aloft notion of a negotiated settlement based on the recognition of two states – independent and sovereign, calmly co-existing side by side – and the peace this would herald for the region.
We believe that the international community must take the necessary measures to confront and stop this injustice – to preserve the goal of establishing peace as well as a secure and viable future for the people of the region, including the Palestine and Israel, each in their own independent and sovereign state. In truly keeping with the essence and spirit of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People as a UN-organised observance, we specifically ask that the UN urgently seize upon this opportunity to declare and pursue an initiative by which an international summit is called regarding the agreeing of a concrete framework for the upholding and implementation of UN resolutions on Palestine as well as steps to ensure compliance from Israel and an end to its continued violations of international law.
Formal recognition of an independent Palestinian state, especially by those countries whose legislatures have already voted in favour of this, would be another major step towards ensuring that the political process for resolution of this issue and peace ultimately prevail.
A redoubling in the efforts and further strengthening in the resolve of Palestine solidarity campaigns; civil society groups; human rights advocates; as well as democratic, progressively-minded, and peace-loving people from around the world, will also go a long way in helping us move towards our objectives and achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East… A region free of foreign military forces; free of military and malign interference between the independent and sovereign states there; and free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, where peoples and nations address and solve any issues between them through dialogue, a political process, and peaceful means.
Nobody should be left under any doubt or misunderstanding… An end to the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and the establishing of a fully independent and sovereign state of Palestine within the borders as they stood on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the upholding of the legitimate right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland pursuant to UN Resolution 194, is the only possible solution.
Statement by The Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity and Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom)
Illustrations: Creative Commons/freesvg.org