“A promise from those who do not own to those who are not entitled.”
Words used to describe the Balfour Declaration which in 1917 gave Palestinian lands to the Zionists. One hundred years after that infamous declaration by the colonial power of the time, Great Britain, Palestinians are once again facing betrayal.
President Donald Trump has kept a campaign promise to have the United States of America recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist state of Israel. Unilaterally, Trump has gone against the majority of countries of the world and the United Nations in so doing.
His argument that this will advance the peace process is far from reality. In fact, it will exacerbate the tensions and unease felt in the region. It has brought home the reality that the United States is not an honest broker in the peace process. Far from being honest, Trump has only made it clearer that the United States stands even closer to Israel and cannot be trusted in any attempt to bring peace to the region.
Several Resolutions over 50 years at the United Nations have spoken to the status of Jerusalem. And very interesting is the fact that the United States supported or did not block with a veto these Resolutions as they usually do when it comes to Israel:
– Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967: Israel was told to withdraw forces from territories occupied in the 1967 war, which included the eastern part of Jerusalem.
– Resolution 252, May 21, 1968: Israel was told to rescind “actions that tend to change the status of Jerusalem,” including the expropriation of land and property.
– Resolution 465, March 1, 1980: Israel was warned to stop settlement construction and to disband existing settlements in territories occupied in the 1967 war, including Jerusalem. Such acts, the resolution said, amounted to “a flagrant violation” of the Geneva Convention’s protections of civilians in wartime.
– Resolution 478, Aug. 20, 1980: Israel was censured for having enacted a law declaring a change in the status of Jerusalem, which“constitutes a violation of international law.” Countries that had established diplomatic missions in the city were called upon to remove them.
– Resolution 672, Oct. 12, 1990: During the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, Israel was called “the occupying power” in Jerusalem and was condemned over the deaths of more than 20 Palestinians in violence at holy sites in the city on Oct. 8.
– Resolution 1073, Sept. 28, 1996: Israel was warned about archaeological tunneling near Jerusalem’s holiest site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
– Resolution 1322, Oct. 7, 2000: Israel was condemned over deadly violence arising from a visit to the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli opposition leader, which the resolution described as a “provocation” that had led to the deaths of more than 80 Palestinians.
– Resolution 1397, March 12, 2002: Both sides were called upon to halt violence and re-engage in peace talks with the goal of a two-state solution, “side by side within secure and recognized borders.” The resolution called on both sides to adopt recommendations of a fact-finding committee, led by the former senator George J. Mitchell, that included a freeze on Israeli settlements and cooperation to protect holy sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
– Resolution 2334, Dec. 23, 2016: Israel was condemned for settlement construction in occupied territories including East Jerusalem. The settlement construction“has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution”.
Israel continues to flout these UN Resolutions and others with impunity and with no consequences. Any other nation on earth which would even dare to follow a similar path would have felt the full brunt of international sanctions. While Trump’s actions should come as no surprise, his decision has been condemned by right thinking persons across the world.
Even Palestinians of all faiths have come out in opposition of such a move. Often-times, the Palestinian cause is equated to terrorism carried out by so-called “Muslim fundamentalists”. The reality, however, is that the Palestinian struggle against occupation is one in which all Palestinians and non-Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and persons of other faiths and no faith are involved.
Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent Palestinian activist and peace negotiator for years, is a Christian and she has made clear her opposition to the Trump’s administration decision. Writing in the New York Times, she states: “With his announcement…., Mr Trump has legitimized Israel’s illegal actions and sent the message that the United States no longer has any regard for international conventions or norms, and that might and power prevail over justice and the law.”
For those who have chosen to accept Israel’s legitimate right to Palestinian lands based on their Biblical interpretation, Ashrawi in a BBC interview countered: “I belong to the oldest Christian tradition in the world and I don’t believe that God ordained that the world has to be unjust to the Palestinians. We are the original Christians. We are the owners of the land. We are people who have been here for centuries. How dare they come here and give me Biblical lessons and treatises and absolute dispositions…!”
For many here in the Caribbean, the Palestinian issue is perhaps an abstract one, confined to the international news and having no direct impact on our affairs. But it is a struggle that should be understood and supported. It speaks to the heart of a people unjustly dispossessed of their lands, rights and freedom under the guise of an ancient right granted by God.
The more one understands this struggle, the more informed one can be in appreciating the daily extremely difficult life Palestinians are living under occupation. It defies reason,when one reads the harrowing accounts that Palestinians face at the hands of the Israeli occupiers, that in this 21st century, such would be the case.
Cuba from our Caribbean region has stood defiantly with the Palestinian people over the years. And a few weeks ago during the Palestinian Film and Arts Festival organized by The Caribbean Against Apartheid in Palestine, the Venezuelan Embassy here proudly hosted the event and extended all courtesies to the festival.
We can’t ignore prominent voices over the years who have spoken on the Palestinian struggle. Among them:
Malcolm X: “In short, the Zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history.”
Nelson Mandela: “When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians…”