Human Rights

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people

The Israel-Palestine conflict is often referred to as the ‘world’s most intractable conflict’. As the world recognizes 29th November as International Day of Solidarity with Palestine people, let us analyse the situation in Palestine.

Despite its media clout Israel has failed to cover up its crimes and the world recognises the wrongs done to the Palestinian people.

The conflict has its root paving back to 1880 when the Zionist movement was launched by Theodore Hertzel – a Jew with the declared objective of capturing Palestine and building Soloman Temple there due to the Jewish emotional appeal for the land. There were continuous efforts for this purpose since then and finally the objective was fulfilled during the First World War.

After First World War was won, in 1917 Dr Weisman was able to obtain from British government the famous document, which is known as the Balfour Declaration (named after Lord Balfour, the foreign minister of Britain) as a token of gift to make Palestine the homeland of Jews for their support for the war effort of England and France against Germany. America too supported this on 21 September 1922 by passing the Lodge-Fish resolution. The same day, the Mandate of Palestine was approved by the Council of the League of Nations. Since then the Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands is going on till date – not in a peaceful manner but with the persecution and expulsion of the Arabs residing in the land for around past 2,000 years. Arabs revolted against this barbaric act in 1936-39. Then, in 1947, the British Government decided to partition Palestine with a share of 55% to Jews who were migrants and 45% to Arabs who were the inhabitants of the land based on votes which were manipulated.

While the discussion on Palestine issue was still on in the General Assembly of UN, the Jewish Agency formally declared founding of the Israeli state on 14th May 1948. America and Russia were first to recognize this declaration. In November 1948, almost 77% Palestine was under Jews who had grown so strong under the united power of Capitalist system and Communist System that the help of five neighbouring Arab states to Palestine was in vain.

During the civil war of 1967, the remaining parts of Palestine, Jerusalem (Baitul Maqdis), the entire of Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights on the Syrian border were also occupied. Israel immediately began constructing Jewish-only settlements in the newly-occupied territories. The UN has condemned settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in multiple resolutions and votes, declaring them illegal under international law. But Israel continues to expand the existing settlements, as well as annexing more and more Palestinian lands to build new settlements. The number of settlers living in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank has grown to nearly 600,000.

To liberate the occupied lands, Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was formed in 1964 under Ahmad Al-Shuqairi. India was the first non-Arab nation to recognize it. Next year, Yasser Arafat and his colleagues started Fateh movement for the same purpose. But all the peace processes and efforts to end the occupation of lands as well as liberation of occupied lands were shattered by Israel.

In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon with the declared intention to eliminate the PLO resulting in large-scale massacre in the Sabra and Shatila camps. Later in 1988 the Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine. The Oslo Accord signed by Yasser Arafat with Israel in 1993 to regain at least the remaining 22 percent of the Palestinian territories which were occupied by Israel in 1967. But the accord collapsed in 2000 without being implemented.

Israelbegan building its separation wall in the occupied West Bank in June 2002, claiming that it was necessary for security. The wall, which has drawn international condemnation, cuts deep into Palestinian territory and has resulted in the seizure of large bands of fertile Palestinian land, the ghettoization of Palestinian towns and villages, and has cut off thousands of Palestinians from social services, schools, and farmland. On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that construction of the wall was contrary to international law and should be removed. However, Israeli officials insisted they would not accept the court's ruling.

In the year 2003 the Quartet of the US, EU, Russia and the UN proposed a Middle East Peace Road Map. It talked of two separate states for Palestinians and Jews but did not resolve long-standing issues like the borders of a Palestinian state or the status of Jerusalem. Nothing has materialised till date.

Annapolis Conference was held to resolve the issue in 2007 which also failed.

Israel, with the support of the US and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. In June 2008, there was a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The ceasefire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November 2008. When the Palestinians resorted to hijacking and suicide bombing, Israel used them to present itself as a victim of Palestinian terror.

Since the year 2000 there have been around 21 attacks by Israel on Gaza. In 2014 Israeli air strike claimed 2,300 lives and left over 10,000 injured (including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were left permanently disabled) while only 66 Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed and 469 IDF soldiers and 261 Israeli civilians were injured. Residential places, hospitals, mosques were the target of this so-called ‘Defence War of Israel’.

Between July 2016 and June 2017, Israeli authorities authorized construction work on more than 2,000 new housing units for settlers in the West Bank. Israel operates a two-tiered system in the West Bank that provides preferential treatment to Israeli settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. While settlements expanded in 2017, Israeli authorities destroyed 381 homes and other property, forcibly displacing 588 people as of November 6 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as part of discriminatory practices that reject almost all building permit applications submitted by Palestinians.

Relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14 May 2018 has added fuel to the fire resulting in clashes and protests along the Israeli-Gaza border. At least 58 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 injured in Gaza as deadly protests took place before, during and after the ceremony in Jerusalem, making it the deadliest day there since the 2014 Gaza war.

The stubborn, Israelis have always delayed peacemaking in Palestine and made it more elusive to find a solution to its problem. The way adopted by the Jews in achieving this land is illegal. Each day a new piece of land is occupied by the Israelis in most brutal manner without any concern for humanity or human life.

Hence the duty rests with the civilized world to provide a just, equitable and lasting solution to the Palestine problem in order not only to establish peace in the region but also to uphold the ideals of humanity and human values.

The author is based in Panaji, Goa