For Immediate Release
16th November 2000
United Nations Palestine Day
The Anniversary of International Hypocrisy
World Celebrates Anniversary of Israeli Apartheid
The world commemorates “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” by the United Nations, observed each year in accordance with mandates given by the General Assembly in Resolutions 32/40B of December 2nd, 1977, 34/65D of December 12th, 1979, 53/40 of December 2nd, 1988 and other relevant resolutions.
The date was chosen because it was in November 1947 that the General Assembly of the United Nations passed the famous resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan, which recommended the partition of Palestine into “Arab” and “Jewish” states, and an internationalized Jerusalem. The Jewish minority was to receive the majority of the land, as well as most of the fertile land. Israeli military analysts predicted that the refugees created through ethnic cleansing “would be crushed” and “die,” while “most of them would turn into human dust and the waste of society, and join the most impoverished classes in the Arab countries.” The annual commemoration of this day is therefore particularly ironic, given that it coincides with the date on which the international community first legitimised the occupation, genocide and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians which has continued to this day. When armistice agreements were finally signed after the ensuing war, there had emerged Israel, the Zionist state – but no Palestinian state or international Jerusalem, both of which were taken over and divided between Israel and Jordan.
The Palestinan people are still waiting, fifty three years later, to exercise their recognised rights. The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People marks the international community’s sense of historical responsibility in perpetuating this flagrant injustice whose legacy continues to unfold daily.
Unfortunately, in practice the commemoration of this day amounts to nothing but soundbites. The international community, while consistently giving lipservice to the rights of the indigenous Palestinians has done nothing to guarantee those rights. The latest Intifadah – was triggered by the provocative visit of Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon to the Al-Aqsa compound, accompanied by over a 1,000 troops to proclaim the area Israeli territory. It has been said as a result the “peace process” has collapsed. What is rarely indicated is that no genuine peace process designed to protect the rights of the indigenous Palestinians has ever really existed.
This stark but barely discussed reality has been noted by Jewish journalist Amira Hass in Israel’s most prestigious daily Ha’aretz, (18 October 2000). Seven years after the Declaration of Principles in September 1993, “Israel has security and administrative control” of most of the West Bank and 20 per cent of the Gaza Strip. Israel has been able,
“…to double the number of settlers in 10 years, to enlarge the settlements, to continue its discriminatory policy of cutting back water quotas for three million Palestinians, to prevent Palestinian development in most of the area of the West Bank, and to seal an entire nation into restricted areas, imprisoned in a network of bypass roads meant for Jews only. During these days of strict internal restriction of movement in the West Bank, one can see how carefully each road was planned: So that 200,000 Jews have freedom of movement, about three million Palestinians are locked into their Bantustans until they submit to Israeli demands. The bloodbath that has been going on for three weeks is the natural outcome of seven years of lying and deception, just as the first Intifada was the natural outcome of direct Israeli occupation.”
While the governments of both Rabin and Barak have declared that the settlement and construction programmes are “frozen”, in actual fact, as another Israeli journalist Danny Rubenstein observes, settlement has intensified. Rubinstein points out that,
“…readers of the Palestinian papers get the impression (and rightly so) that activity in the settlements never stops. Israel is constantly building, expanding and reinforcing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is always grabbing homes and lands in areas beyond the 1967 lines – and of course, this is all at the expense of the Palestinians, in order to limit them, push them into a corner and then out. In other words, the goal is to eventually dispossess them of their homeland and their capital, Jerusalem” (Ha’aretz, 23 October).
The fact of the matter, therefore, is that there never has been a meaningful and just peace process. In the words of Australian international relations specialist Scott Burchill, “no such process worthy of the appellation exists or has done for some time. Rather, the peace process simply describes whatever arrangements Washington and its regional client are seeking to impose on Palestinian Arabs”. (The Australian, 12 October) Indeed, the current process has merely involved the attempt to “persuade Arafat to sign an agreement that would confine the Palestinian population to a small number of scattered and isolated enclaves on the West Bank and Gaza Strip – the Bantustan-style model perfected by apartheid governments in South Africa.” (The Age, 18 October) Four cantons of largely unusable land “are surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel, which will remain in control of crucial water resources and the freedom of movement of the population between their disconnected enclaves. Israel has good reason to expect that under these arrangements the population will be a cheap supply of labour for its economy and tightly controlled by a brutal but ultimately compliant Palestinian government – hence the South African comparison.”
The comparison to South Africa has been widely recognised. The British press, for example, acknowledges that “If Palestinians were black, Israel would now be a pariah state subject to economic sanctions led by the United State. Its development and settlement of the West Bank would be seen as a system of apartheid, in which the indigenous population was allowed to live in a tiny fraction of its own country, in self-administered ‘bantustans’, with ‘whites’ monopolising the supply of water and electricity. And just as the black population was allowed into South Africa’s white areas in disgracefully under-resourced townships, so Israel’s treatment of Israeli Arabs – flagrantly discriminating against them in housing and education spending – would be recognised as scandalous too.” (Observer, Guardian, 15 October).
With the international community backing this process of Israeli consolidation, not only diplomatically, but in the form of ongoing financial and military support of the Zionist regime there remains little chance for peace. Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Massoud Shadjareh commented: “If the international community is serious about solidarity with Palestine, then they should cease their appeasement of Israel. Governments such as the United States and Britain, among others, should withdraw military aid and severe economic ties with the Zionist regime, which has established a system of apartheid over occupied Palestine. All talk of solidarity amounts only to hypocrisy without meaningful action.”
For more information on the above, please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 958 522 196, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.