Palestine Update 383
Call to comradeship
‘Première Urgence Internationale’ reminds the Israeli authorities of their duties and calls for urgent action to avoid greater risks of contamination. “The COVID-19 pandemic represents a serious threat for civilian populations all over the world, but especially in the occupied Palestinian territory. Under international law, the Israeli authorities are responsible for the protection of Palestinian civilians under their military occupation in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip”. Past reports and documentation have shown that the Israeli authorities systematically and institutionally violate this duty, and have been denying basic rights to the entire Palestinian population for several decades. This systematic oppression and blatant disregard of international law is particularly worrying as it goes on unabated even during the current pandemic, increasing the risk of infections for Palestinians, but also ultimately Israelis.
Christians in The Holy Land feel particularly vulnerable. “The fear of Christian leaders is directed “towards the future of Palestinian Christians” that do not see “hope of justice on the horizon” and are subject to constant “pressure” to flee abroad. It is “time to act” to “extinguish the destructive fires raging in the Holy Land”. And it is well known that “only a just peace will put end to hatred, to oppression, and the suffering of so many in the land made holy by God”.
The following articles show how Palestinians, in general, and Christians, in particular, fear their very existence and future. These fears emanate from the impending annexation as well as the way in which the Israeli government has acted to abuse and further alienate Christians in Palestine.
Pic credit: Student Christian Movement -India
Christian Palestinians living in fear of expulsion, survey finds
A Palestinian girl prays with family during
a broadcast from an Orthodox church in Beit Sahour
MOST Christian Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip feel deeply insecure about their future and believe that Israel’s goal is to expel them from their homeland, a new study has found. A poll of 995 people, conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), an independent non-profit body, found that 36 per cent of the Christians who responded had thought about emigrating. At the same time, 84 per cent were “worried about settler attacks, a potential denial of their civil rights, or an expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands”. Of those taking part in the poll, 67 per cent expressed worry about an Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories.
Given the Israeli government’s intention, one can see why Christian Palestinians’ are growing everyday. Head of PSR’s research unit, Walid Ladadweh, thinks that this is not the case. “I don’t believe that there will be a significant increase in the fear of expulsion due to annexation, more than already exists… “However, should annexation lead to a deterioration in conditions under the Palestinian Authority [PA], this may intensify a desire to emigrate.” Already, more than half (59 per cent overall, 72 per cent in the Gaza Strip alone) of those considering emigration give economic reasons as their main motivation. Of those polled, 58 per cent described their economic conditions as bad or very bad. Looking ahead, only ten per cent thought that economic conditions would improve, while 55 per cent believed that they would deteriorate.
The study also shows widespread dissatisfaction with social and political conditions in the territories. “Christians, like Muslims, do not trust the Palestinian government or the PA security services and the justice sector,” the study says. “Indeed, the majority tend to have no trust in the Christian religious leaders or civil society organizations. The majority believe that corruption exists in the PA institutions.” For their preferred solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, more than half the Christians polled would like to see the creation of a single state between the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and the River Jordan in the east, in which Palestinians and Israelis would have equal rights. Only three out of ten would prefer a two-state solution.
A two-state deal has long been the foundation of a hoped-for peace process. If Israel annexes significant parts of the West Bank, that option will effectively disappear. For this reason, the plan has drawn widespread international criticism. In one of the latest developments, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, have written to the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, and Boris Johnson expressing opposition to any move by the Israeli government to annex West Bank territory. They said that they “unambiguously support the fundamental right of Israel’s citizens to live in peace and safety, but these prospects can only be secured through negotiation rather than annexation”. Both Israelis and Palestinians should be free of the threat of violence from each other or other armed groups.
Christian leaders: Covid-19 overshadowing historical evils of the Holy Land
The Covid-19 pandemic has “diverted attention” from the issues of “justice and peace” to the problems of “life and death” and “we too share this global affliction” and “we ask God for mercy “. However, “we are worried about the old evils that afflict our land”, including the centenaries old dispute “between two peoples in one land”, write three emeritus leaders of the Churches of Jerusalem in an appeal. They do not hide their fears “for suffering and injustice” and appeal to world leaders to “act to help” the reconciliation process.
In a joint letter, the emeritus patriarch of Jerusalem Michael Sabbah, the Anglican bishop emeritus Riah Abu El Assal and the Lutheran emeritus bishop Munib A. Younan recall the appeals recently launched by the current heads of the Churches of the holy city. They ask for answers “to our univocal appeal from the Holy Land” so that “holiness, by applying international law and recognizing the basic rights of all its citizens” will be restored as a whole. The new executive, the result of an agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz, aims to move ahead with the annexation of territories and the regularization of the colonies. The Supreme Court rejected the project which was branded as “21st century Apartheid” by UN experts. The fear of Christian leaders is directed “towards the future of Palestinian Christians” who do not see “hope of justice on the horizon” and are subject to constant “pressure” to flee abroad. This is why it is “time to act” to “extinguish the destructive fires raging in the Holy Land”.
The holy city “is the key to this peace”, not only between Israelis and Palestinians but also among Christians, Jews and Muslims. Today it is not “a city of peace, but of struggles and conflicts”. It must become the place of “reconciliation, justice and equality” because a peace here will be transformed “into peace for the whole world”. Israel, they continue, must “ease tension and comply with United Nations resolutions”, because “occupation and colonization of Palestine is the root cause of the on-going conflict.
Holy See to US and Israeli:
Unilateral actions jeopardize peace in Middle East
The Holy See Press Office released a statement on Wednesday evening regarding a meeting that took place on Tuesday. Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin “met with the Ambassadors of the United States of America and of the State of Israel”, the statement reads. During the meeting, the Cardinal expressed the Holy See’s concern “regarding possible unilateral actions that may further jeopardize the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the delicate situation in the Middle East”.
The statement continues saying, “As already declared on 20 November 2019 and on 20 May 2020, the Holy See reiterates that the State of Israel and the State of Palestine have the right to exist and to live in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders. It thus appeals to the Parties to do everything possible to reopen the process of direct negotiation, on the basis of the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations, and aided by measures that can reestablish reciprocal confidence, so that they may have ‘the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity’ (Pope Francis, Invocation for peace in the Holy Land, Vatican Gardens, 8 June 2014).”
The Galilee First, if the world is serious about Israel and Palestine!
(A must-read narrative)
Sabri Jiryis (L) and Sam Bahour standing on the rooftop of the 113-year-old
St Elias Church in the Palestinian village of Fassouta in the Western Galilee
The horrendous reality of the Palestinian communities inside Israel — in places like Akka, Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa, and the Negev — is not about being regulated to sit in the back of the bus; they could only wish for such blatant racism. Here, racism is multilayered, ideological, well-camouflaged, state-sponsored, and non-stop. Anyone who thinks that stopping the next Israeli annexation of additional parts of the West Bank would bring peace closer would be well-advised to peel away the veneer of democratic façade, one that covers an Israeli plan with only one goal in mind — completing the campaign of ethnically cleansing Palestinians — on both sides of the Green Line — that started with the creation of the State of Israel.I witnessed the state of Palestinian citizens in Israel on a visit to Northern Israel in 2012. My trip took place on a beautiful fall day, I sat in a friend’s living room in the village of Fassouta at the northern tip of Israel, and adjacent to the Lebanese border, in the part of Israel called the Galilee. This is where the Palestinian citizens in Israel are concentrated. Five generations of Palestinians were sitting in the room. As expected in Palestinian society, within no time, politics was the focus of the discussion. But this political discussion had a different twist from what most of those following this conflict are accustomed to. The issues had to do with the Palestinian citizens in Israel and how the Israeli government systematically and structurally discriminates against them.