Palestine Update 379
Call to comradeship
Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame! No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash: your picture in the paper nor money in the bank either. Just refuse to bear them. (William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust)
‘Première Urgence Internationale’ reminds the Israeli authorities of their duties and calls on 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” 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”. 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”.
Many Palestinians feel, and with reason to feel so, that the annexation may come and go. The world will watch with contempt for what Israel does. But they will wake up the next day to just carry on with their lives leaving the Palestinians alone, desolate, and at greater risk of the worst.
The following two 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.
Christian Palestinians living in fear of expulsion, survey finds
A Palestinian girl prays as with her family she
watches a broadcast liturgy 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. While the findings have just been published, the poll was conducted in February and March, before Israel’s recently re-elected Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced his intention to annex about one third of the West Bank. Discussions on implementing the plan are set to begin in July.
Given the Israeli government’s intention, one might infer that Christian Palestinians’ fears would be even greater now than when the poll was taken. But the 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,” he said on Monday. “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. The two church leaders expressed their opposition to any move by the Israeli government to annex West Bank territory after 1 July. 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”; it was essential that both Israelis and Palestinians should live without violence or 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. It worries the Christian leaders of the Holy Land, who speak of “serious and catastrophic” politics, with the approval of the USA in the context of the controversial “Agreement of the century”.
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”. 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”.
For Emeritus leaders, 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. “.
The solution to the long-standing controversy has “already been identified many years ago” and is contained in the “numerous UN resolutions”. The majority of nations “already recognize both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine: our invocation is simple – conclude Christian leaders – apply what is recognized” internationally and “help Israel to have its security and Palestine their independence “, so that both” can live side by side in peace, justice, equality and democracy. No more hatred, no more death, only justice, equality, life”.