Non-violence and dialogue are best: But they have a shelf life too

Palestine Update 530
Editorial Comment

Non-violence and dialogue are best: But they have a shelf life too
People across the world who seek justice do what they can and must to respond to the plight of Palestinians who remain trapped in a deepening cycle of violence, humiliation and despair. Palestinians have called out to their brothers and sisters in around the world as their suffering proliferates. They shed tears as they shout in anguish: “Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.” Since that call, churches, civil society, the human rights community around the world have individually and collectively advocated for justice on an pressing basis. Yet, Palestinians suffer land theft, more settlements, forcible transfers, desecration of heritage and holy sites, random incarceration, killings and expulsions. On the other side, Israelis enjoy every single free gift on the land of historic Palestine, while Palestinians only receive statements of support from the international community. As if to pour unwarranted and added humiliation, Palestinians are encouraged to exercise restraint and accept incongruous solutions of which western countries are the architects. By contrast, Israelis collect real financial, military and political support from the same international community and a blind eye turned from the ruthless military aggression and infringement of the Palestinian rights. Even western aid to Palestine is not different opium. Its function is to attempt to silence Palestinians into silence and submission by focusing on survival needs, not a distant future rooted in freedom with justice. Palestinians recognize this but need to await their time to come. It will. It must.  Country leaders who visit the UN General Assembly every year and swear by peace have huge stakes in such a peace. But they must ask themselves: “Do we dare more than words”?  This may be the time when countries must find every way possible to bring Israel to the table for talks that are genuinely justice oriented. The Madrid and Oslo models have caused deeper suffering for Palestine in the name of a durable peace. Mediators pulled wool over the eyes of the Palestinians offering a fictitious peace formula in which Palestinians lose more and more with each passing day. In the asymmetry that divides Palestine from Israel, Israel is easily winning for now. Let us know this unarguable fact: ‘This is for now only’! Times will change’! A dear friend of mine and a global partner in the Palestinian struggle for justice recently wrote to me in response to an editorial in Palestine Updates in which I argued that Hamas might be the only bulwark between Israel and the subjugation and political extermination of Palestinians. He asked: Is there no space for an authentic global movement that can bring about spot-on justice in Palestine-Israel that is not a mere patchwork settlement? It was a question that deletes the notion that an armed struggle is inevitable. I was reminded of what Gandhi once told the British while they were into their most aggressive phase of colonialism. He said, we seek freedom through non-violence. But if you are cannot hear or comprehend our just claim, we know other methods too. Perhaps, non-violence has a shelf life that is not eternal. In Israel’s current mood, and with a weak, though committed Peace Movement, and a reluctant international community, this idea of a peaceful end to the occupation is somewhat farfetched. And yet, it may be the ideal conclusion. But then, there must be interlocutors who have the courage to stand for truth and justice in a fair manner. This is neither within the purview of US political interests, nor with Europe, for that matter.

A new set of actors – perhaps, even eminent citizen-statespersons- from different parts of the world- a group of people with high credentials of fairness and a deep understanding of history, religion, and politics of justice. Such a group will need an African, an Asian, Latin American, a Pacific Islander, a Caribbean citizen, and Europeans and North Americans. The way forward lies outside the box not in the comfortable options irrational and short sighted politicians will choose. It is possible to laugh at the notion and blow it off. The state of play in Palestine-Israel that Israel is playing now with the referee and linepersons on the side of Israel. There is no level playing field. Plus the goal posts are constantly in a state of shift.  It is simply unfeasible to have western regimes that have previously practiced colonialism step into the reconciliation arena.  Reconciliation requires justice as a precondition. Sadly, we miss a Mandela or a Tutu who would take us forward.

Ranjan Solomon

Palestinians do not need more statements, but practical measures
Foreign Ministers of Germany, Egypt, France and Jordan reiterated the commitment of their countries to achieving just, comprehensive and lasting peace regarding the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The Foreign Ministers stressed that they are looking for a solution based on the two states –Israel and Palestine. Any solution must fulfill “the legitimate rights” of all Israelis and Palestinians “in accordance with international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and agreed parameters, including the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Ministers raised their “concerns” about the “increasing tensions on the ground,” and called for “the urgency of the resumption of serious, meaningful and effective direct talks and negotiations.” They also highlighted the importance of “creating political and economic horizon … and improving living conditions of the Palestinians. They stressed on the need to refrain from “all unilateral measures,” including “the building and expansion of settlements, the confiscation of land and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes”. They called for stopping the eviction of Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods.

For decades, the Palestinian leadership, backed by the US, Israel and the Arab states, have been saying that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most complex in the Middle East. For this, they have been calling for an urgent, but just, comprehensive and lasting solution. The Palestinians have seen nothing more than theft of land, expansion of Israeli settlements, homes evictions, the desecration of holy sites, arbitrary and administrative detention, forcible expulsion, daily killing and right abandonment. On the other side, Israelis enjoy every single blessing on the land of historic Palestine. Palestinians only receive statements of support from the international community, in addition to calls for self-control, going for talks and accepting proposed solutions, while the Israelis receive actual financial, military and political support from the same international community, together with the backing of every single attack and violation of the Palestinian rights. In fact, the international community does not perpetuate the Israeli-Palestine conflict, but it is working to get rid of the Palestinians and move the ownership of their lands to the Israelis. This is the real international equation with respect to the worst conflict in the Middle East.
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Rapprochement with Israel after solving Palestinian issue: Saudi FM
Saudi Arabia said, Monday, any rapprochement with Israel will come after reaching a just solution to the Palestinian cause, Anadolu News Agency reports. “The priority now is to find an arrangement so that Israelis and Palestinians can sit together and have a peace process that can be worked on,” Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said in an interview with Israeli newspaper, Maariv, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “The integration of Israel in the region will be a huge benefit, not only for Israel itself, but for the entire region,” he added. The top Saudi diplomat said the lack of a political horizon for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis would “strengthen the most extreme voices” in the region.There was no confirmation from the Saudi authorities of the interview with the Israeli daily.

 Saudi Arabia has repeatedly reiterated its commitment of the Arab parameters for peace with Israel, expressed in the 2002 Saudi-proposed Arab Initiative, which calls for normalising relations with Tel Aviv in return for withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967. Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

Citizen-led petition calls Europe to ban trade with settlements
Petition calling on EU to boycott Israeli settlements receives support from over 100 civil society organisations and politicians

Activists have called on Europe to ban trade with illegal Israeli settlements, with a citizen-led petition receiving support from dozens of civil society groups including the New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Settlements unlawfully rob local populations of their land, resources, and livelihoods,” Bruno Stagno, HRW’s chief advocacy officer, said in a statement.

“No country should be enabling the trade in goods produced as a result of land theft, displacement, and discrimination.” The rights group signed a European initiative collecting signatures to petition the European Union to change its policy towards Israel and “end trade with illegal settlements once and for all”. The petition was submitted to the European Citizen’s Initiative, a lobbying tool set up to allow citizens to petition European institutions, meaning it can now start collecting signatures. It has already received backing from over one hundred civil society organisations, grassroots movements, trade unions, and politicians.

 The petition calls on European states and MPs to adopt laws banning the import of products made in illegal Israeli settlements and outlawing the export of EU products there. “This law will apply to occupied territories anywhere, among them the Occupied Palestine Territory and Israel’s illegal settlements there,” the petition says on its website.

 “The law will also send a powerful signal around the world that the EU will no longer reward territorial aggression with trade and profits.” The initiative comes amid growing calls from rights groups to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories.
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 Artists boycott Sydney Festival over Israeli funding
At least two headliners have withdrawn from what is often touted as Africa’s biggest street art festival in Cape Town, over the organiser’s ties to the Israeli embassy in the country, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) coalition in South Africa have said. Ismail Mahomed, the director of the Center for Creative Arts in Durban; and Mike van Graan, a notable South African playwright, pulled out of the first National Public Arts Conference scheduled to start on Wednesday in parallel with the festival. Baz-Art, the company which organises the International Public Arts Festival (IPAF), now in its sixth year, refused to end its partnership with the Israeli embassy. Activists allege the company has worked closely with the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) in bringing Israeli artists to the festival to create giant murals across the city.

In a statement, South Africa’s BDS coalition welcomed the withdrawal of Mahomed and van Graan and called on Baz-Art to stop receiving sponsorship from Israel. The coalition further urged “the City of Cape Town Metro, the Western Cape Provincial Government and the national Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to withdraw their support for Baz-Art and adhere to government pronouncements in support of Palestine….What better time is there for Baz-Art and the cultural community in South Africa to take a stand against apartheid Israel and refuse to normalise Israel’s apartheid regime?” the coalition said. “If we accept support or funding from the Israeli government or work with Zionist groups on cultural exchanges between Israel and South Africa, we are complicit in artwashing the criminal behavior of the Israeli state.”
Written by Azad Essa

Israeli settlers storm archaeological site north of Nablus
Scores of Israeli settlers Thursday early morning stormed the archaeological site of Sebastia, north of Nablus city, according to a municipal source. Sebastia mayor Mohammad Azzem told reporters that some 150 settlers forced their way into the site under the protection of the Israeli military, which declared the site off-limits for Palestinians. A large unit of Israeli soldiers raided the town and proceeded to close the site, preventing Palestinians from accessing it, to make room for the settler intrusion.

Located 11 kilometers to the northwest of Nablus, Sebastia is a small historical town located on a hill with panoramic views across the West Bank and has a population of some 3,000 Palestinians. A prominent settlement during the Iron Age as well as the Hellenistic and Roman eras, the town embraces a Roman amphitheater, temples, a Byzantine and Crusader churches, dedicated to Saint John the Forerunner, who baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, besides to a mosque built in honor of the saint. Christians and Muslims believe the town to be the burial place of the saint.

Israel has been attempting to take over the town, which has become a site of heated cultural conflict, preventing the Palestinian Authority from conducting restoration works at the site, prohibiting providing tourist services to visitors from around the world, and stealing antiquities from it. Palestinians complain that Israeli settlers have repeatedly attacked the town and fenced parts of its antiquities, where they hold religious rituals. Israel uses the Jewish nationalist name “Judea and Samaria” to refer to the occupied West Bank to reinforce its bogus claims to the territory and to give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.
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Oppressing the weak

JERUSALEM - OCTOBER 19: Israeli police arrest a Palestinian at Damascus Gate as Palestinian Muslims stage a march to mark the day of Mawlid al-Nabi (birth of Prophet Muhammad) in Old City, East Jerusalem, on October 19, 2021. Several Palestinians were arrested during the intervention. ( Mostafa alkharouf - Anadolu Agency )Cowards rely on conquering the weak in order to try to make themselves appear strong. This is what the Israeli occupation in Palestine does. There are frequent scenes of attacks against children, special needs people and women. The story of the brutal treatment and then the arrest of the innocent young man with Down’s syndrome, Mohammed Al-Ajlouni, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied Jerusalem, is neither the first nor the last in this context. The same happened with the child, Muhammad Shehadeh, 14, who was shot dead by the occupation forces in the town of Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, for allegedly throwing stones at them.

In addition, more than 700 Palestinian children are subjected to arrest and trial annually, and about 2,200 have been martyred by the occupation’s fire since 2000 up to now, according to the figures of human rights organisations. Despite the impressive documentation that these institutions carry out for such crimes against children, they have not been able to prosecute any Israeli official for them due to the complicity of the international community, on the one hand, and the inaction of the Palestinian Authority, on the other.
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