Dec 01 2014

On the International Day for Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Published by at 12:01 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics


By Daoud Kuttab

In 1977, the UN General Assembly declared November 29 the international day for solidarity with Palestine.

Last year, the UN secretary general added to this, declaring 2014 the international year for solidarity with the Palestinian people..

As we observe one day and almost the end of the year, the two dates appear to be nothing more than empty rhetoric.

To be fair, at the time the UN leader had called for solidarity with Palestinians, a nine-month negotiating window had opened up.

That window has been closed since last April by Israel, which failed to honour its commitments (to release 104 prisoners); thus a state of war replaced the hope for peace.

The breakdown of the peace talks was followed by an increase in illegal settlement activities, a brutal war on Gazans, and Israeli leaders’ incitement against Arabs in Jerusalem, which led to violence and destruction.

The dangerous slide towards a possible religious war over Al Aqsa Mosque was averted at the last minute by Jordan’s recall of its ambassador to Israel.

In addition to the dangerous actions in and around Al Aqsa Mosque, we are now witnessing yet another aggravation, this time in the form of a racist Israeli law that is threatening the very basic agreements that were reached two decades ago.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation, a signatory to the exchange of recognition with Israel on September 9, 1993, declared that the change of the character of Israel will be seen as a negation of the recognition of Israel and “abolish the mutual exchange agreement reached in 1993.”

The PLO statement, issued on November 25 after a meeting of its central committee, stated that “the bill would legalise racialism and discrimination in all aspects of life and would constitute a continuation of [Israeli PM] Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to transform Israel into a country that is based on racism, seeking to exploit this bill, in the name of law, to perpetuate and justify racism at the exclusion of all others”.

The signing of the recognition documents by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin established the basis for the declaration of principles, or the Oslo Accords, which helped establish the Palestinian Authority and led to a partial Israeli military withdrawal from Palestinian populated areas.

This dual religion-nationalist campaign by an Israeli government beholden to the right-wing settler mentality is threatening the peace process and the virtually dead two-state solution.

While the situation on the ground leaves little hope for the year ending soon, solidarity with the Palestinian people, globally, is much different.

Sweden’s decision to recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders, followed by a historic vote in the British House of Commons and a vote in its Spanish counterpart point to the end of the pass given to Israel by the international community.

Washington, the remaining Israel ally on paper, is involved in an uneasy verbal war with Tel Aviv over Iran and the peace process.

Even the normally pro-Israel New York Times could not stomach the latest Israeli bill, titling its editorial: “Israel Narrows Its Democracy.”

“Having experienced the grievous legacies created when a government diminishes the rights of its people, we know this is not the path that Israel should take,” argued the Times.

If the world community were serious about honoring its commitments as articulated by the UN secretary general, it would move much faster to declare the state continuing a 47-year occupation a pariah state.

No decent and respectful member of the United Nations can honestly defend normal relations with a country that is blind to international humanitarian law, perpetuates a military occupation and a colonial settlement policy, and passes racist laws that will further alienate 20 percent of its population.

True acts of solidarity with the Palestinians must include showing real support to the people of Palestine under occupation while displaying no tolerance for the brutal occupiers.

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