On November 26 2013, the UN General Assembly voted to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was requested to organize relevant activities in cooperation with governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, and significantly, civil society. The seven countries who opposed the proclamation were Israel, United States, Canada, Australia,Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. The vote was 110-7, with 56 abstentions.
I would ask that readers take some time to read the accounts of what has happened to Palestine and the Palestinian people since “ The Catastrophe”, the” Nakba, when in 1948 Israeli troops and gangs brutally forced out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the lands and houses they had lived in for centuries, killing many in the process .
This dispossession, 65 years later, is ongoing; each day more Palestinians are uprooted from their homes, their houses and orchards bulldozed and new “settlements for Israeli Jews only built over the rubble. The brutality, intensity and magnitude of the occupation is for some reason, a matter for silence by Western governments. Perhaps sharing in the guilt of the Nazis in the Jewish genocide in Europe, they turn a blind eye to the ghettoization of the Palestinian people. The victim of violence has indeed become the perpetrator. In the West Bank, the Israeli government have walled the population in , has carefully calculated the minimal calorific intake to keep each Palestinian alive, and has over many years reduced West Bank Palestinians lives to subsistence level, reliant on “illegal” tunnels supplying food from Egypt, while health , water and sewage systems crumble. This systematic policy is designed to force Palestinians to abandon their homeland to allow more Israeli settlement. What is urgently needed is for our New Zealand government to finally stand up to Israel and their US supporters and say “enough is enough” and permit international law to prevail. A separate Palestinian state is now no longer viable after 65 years. What is required therefore is, in the spirit of peace and reconciliation, a process of restoration of justice. Modelled on the Treaty of Waitangi process and the South African Peace and Reconciliation process, a unity government of all religions and politics across Israel and the rump of Palestine needs to be set up. This government would oversee the return of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been dispossessed over the past 65 years , the release from jail of the many thousands of Palestinian political prisoners (men women and children) , and the full compensation or return of lands lost since the occcupation.
Nelson Mandelas’ vision of reconciliation and hope for the future can result in an Israel/Palestine state that brings a message of hope to the Middle East. The alternative is not worth imagining..
2014: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: Richard Falk