by Clive Hambidge & Soraya Boyd
T here are many definitions of resilience. One such is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of threat.” In the face of Israeli persecution and contrary to international normative law, Palestinians have determinately developed to adapt and progress in recognition that resilience “is not a simple or static construct” but the human face of a conscious, ethnic, cultural, social, political, economic and spiritual project evolving in spite of Israel’s wilful belligerence. The focus of this determination, aside from endeavouring daily to lead as normal a life as possible whilst under the brutal yoke of the Israeli military rule, is nothing less than internationally recognised statehood for Palestine in 2017.
Few would argue the above is a substantial definition of resilience. To expand, in regard to the West Bank in general and Gaza in particular, testimonies passed down from generations of Palestinians attest to the acute suffering they have endured. The will to live and affirm one’s existence through such simple acts as tending lovingly to an ancestral olive grove, marrying, raising a family as enabled them to survive the longest and cruellest military occupation of modern times. They have not been found wanting. Collectively and individually they epitomise the very essence of resilience as practised daily under the most extreme of circumstances. The only thing that needs be said is that profound lessons in resilience, humility, simplicity and dignity can be learned from our fellow Palestinians.
Palestinian Statehood Bid
In 2014 a Palestinian statehood bid called for three things: firstly, Israel to withdraw from the occupied West Bank to include East Jerusalem; secondly, for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine within the 1967 borders by 31st December 2017 and thirdly for an end of Israeli occupation. The resolution got 8 votes. It was ultimately rejected by the UN Security Council because it was not able to meet the minimum requirement of nine ‘yes’ votes. The resolution which stressed the pressing need to reach “a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” within a twelve month period would have passed had Nigeria, which abstained, voted in favour thus securing the required nine ‘yes’ votes to be adopted by the fifteen UNSC members. Did the US apply undue or covert pressure on Nigeria? This was certainly yet another missed opportunity.
Samantha Power, US Ambassador, stated “We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table.” Such is the view of the broken broker. Hard compromise? negotiating table? Whose compromise and which table? No matter, we, in the international community, have a conscionable duty to support any and all political actions to establish this call for a 2017 internationally recognised Palestinian State.
Vatican Treaty in recognition of Palestinian Statehood
In 2012, the Vatican recognised the ‘State of Palestine’ soon after the UN granted Palestine a ‘non-member observer status’. Causing a stir, the Vatican recently announced that a drawn up treaty which re-affirms the recognition of Palestinian Statehood is in the process of being finalised in Rome by a working group called the Bilateral Commission of the Holy See in association with the State of Palestine.
The treaty “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.” Unsurprisingly the treaty drew criticism from Israel, one official declaring “Such a development does not further the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct bilateral negotiations.” Peace process? Sixty seven years of a protracted peace process with no end in sight! Bilateral negotiations? What about Israel’s decades long unilateral un-negotiated policy of land appropriation, house demolitions, arbitrary detentions, juvenile incarceration in military courts, continued illegal settlement building, and on and on, all this ever in plain sight for all to see to include pseudo leaders of the so-called international community.
The hyper vigilant David Horovitz of The Times of Israel thinks the Pope has not thought this one through saying “Even this philo-Semitic pope, this pope who cares about the Jews, even he doesn’t get it.” Well Mr Horovitz you may wish to reconsider. It is very likely that perhaps it could be you who doesn’t ‘get it’. A bit rich in light of Netanyahu’s statement. There will no Palestinian State under his watch. Take heed Ms Samantha Power: Israel has no intentions, neither has it never had any intentions to compromise or negotiate. Period. Simple research will confirm that former Israeli heads of state and other Israeli officials have all made it clear: there can never be a State of Palestine. Such simpe reseacrh will lead to readily available information. This information is in the public domain, and has been for a very long time. A visit to your Congressional library will provide much irrefutable evidence that a people lived, had lived, and were living in land with a people long before Israel created itself in the dead of the night on the back of murder and ethnic cleansing. Israel will never concede lest it be brought short and made to, particularly if leaders in the west were to enforce the letter of the law and especially the Geneva conventions in regard to ongoing war crimes for a start. Nonetheless, the momentum for a two state solution continues to grow exponentially. There will be a State of Palestine.
The European Eminent Persons Group on Middle East issues Letter (EEPG)
Over the last year the European Parliament as well as the UK, Republic of Ireland, Spain and France have all passed non-binding motions in favour of recognising a State of Palestine. Furthering the process, on Wednesday 13th May 2015, the Guardian published a letter from “A high-profile group of former European political leaders and diplomats” which was addressed to Federica Mogherini who is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission. The letter was also sent to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and was copied to Donald Tusk (President of the European Council), Jean Claude Junker (President of the European Council), Martin Shultz (President of the European Parliament), and John Kerry (US Secretary of State).
The published letter stated in part that “Mr Netanyahu expressed various views on Palestine in and around the recent election campaign, most of them cold to the concept of an independent Palestinian state. We are convinced in our own minds that he has little intention of negotiating seriously for a two state solution within the term of this incoming Israeli government. We also have low confidence that the US Government will be in a position to take a lead on fresh negotiations with the vigour and the impartiality that a two state outcome demands.” Straight forward. Spot on.
President Obama commitment to the Palestinian
In a wide ranging interview with the Pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awat, as reported by Mina Al-Oraibi, president Barack Obama said “I will never give up on the hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the United States will never stop working to realize that goal. As I said when I visited Ramallah two years ago, Palestinians deserve an end to the occupation and the daily indignities that come with it; they deserve to live in an independent, sovereign state, where they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity.” Well Mr President, is the price paid by generations of internally and externally displaced Palestinians not heavy or high enough?
Palestinians are not responsible for the pogroms. Palestinians are not responsible for the persecutions. Palestinians are not responsible for the holocaust. These atrocious acts were all historically perpetrated by white, European, Christians. Conversely Arabs, Muslims offered sanctuary, refuge and protection as well as high office to generations of fleeing white, European, Jews. Why are Palestinians made to bear the full burden of righting historic wrongs for which they bear no responsibility? Arabs whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish lived harmoniously side by side in Palestine prior to Israel’s creation.
A French resolution calls for the old 1949/1967 Jordanian armistice lines to be the basis for borders, as well as making parts of Jerusalem a Palestinian capital, in an attempt to find a “fair” solution for Palestinian refugees.” Tel Aviv is the official capital of Israel. Tel Aviv is where the embassies for the various nations of the world are located. Jerusalem whether in terms of the sum total of its cardinal parts or status under international law is and must not be altered. Israel’s forceful annexation has been rejected by a biding UNSCR252 (1968) re-affirmed with UNSCR 267 (1969) which provides that Jerusalem is in its entirety indeed an integral part of the oPTs of the West Bank, as stated below.
“1. Reaffirms Resolution 252 (1968);
2. Deplores the failure of Israel to show any regards for the resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council mentioned above;
3. Condemns in the strongest terms all measures taken to change the status of the city of Jerusalem;
4. Confirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which purport to alter the status of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties thereof are invalid and cannot change that status …
With minor changes, similar resolutions have been repeatedly and unanimously passed by the Security Council, albeit with occasional abstensions on the part of the United States. The norm is that the international community can be considered united regarding the legal status of Jerusalem. ”
When the UN General Assembly put forward a resolution GA/11317 which passed “overwhelmingly” to accord Palestine ‘Non-Member Observer State Status’ on the 29 November 2012, Vuk Jeremić, General Assembly President, said that in today’s interconnected world “what happens between the River Jordan and the shores of the Mediterranean have become the key to the security and well-being of [all] mankind.” Indeed since its creation, Israel has held the whole world to ransom. The problems which have beleaguered and continue to plague the world are intrinsically linked to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine as well as the ensuing military interventionism to balkanise the region in order to draw up a new map. In addition, the Balfour declaration was not a permission granting laisser faire but a mere statement expressing a favourable intent or sympathy. Nothing more. Nor was it was a legally binding document.
US support of Israel
Now it is more than time and more than lawful that Palestine is granted full statehood. It is further right that Israeli aggression and American connivance, as demonstrated by the US decades long provision of political, military, diplomatic, financial support to Israel, be put a stop to. Palestinians have suffered not just “indignities” since 1948 but have continued to suffer as a result of a cruel continuum which has led to the permanent process of ethnic cleansing of their native villages, home towns and cities as well as unnaturally causing separation from family members and loved ones living in other areas of Occupied Palestine. Israel continues to implement policies prohibited under international law. World leaders deplore or express concern. How about something stronger: embargoes, sanctions. Thank goodness civil society is making progress with BDS. And it is making a difference.
A modern Chronology of suffering
Marginalised and the victims of incessant Israeli bullying, generations of Palestinians have shown remarkably “divergent capacities to cope with the … risks and this, in turn, link[ing] to people’s experience of chronic versus transitory forms of poverty.” In addition and equally salient, “Chronic poverty (Israeli induced) [has] the cumulative impact of discrimination, risk, vulnerability and exclusion across an individual’s life cycle and between generations.”
Drawing on statistics from the World Health Organisation, the Electronic Intifada (EI) reported in 2006 “Interviews were held with 1008 Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Of the Palestinians interviewed, 25.6 per cent consider their life quality as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, and more than 21.2 per cent suffer ‘a lot’ or ‘extremely’ from physical/bodily health problems that negatively influences their ability to function, as well as their life quality.” Unsurprisingly, “Overall, about one in four Palestinians report suffering ‘a lot’ or ‘extremely’ from psychological strain. The reasons for this suffering are more than apparent: 28.5 per cent reported a close relative killed or imprisoned; 52.5 per cent have to cross Israeli army checkpoints to pursue daily life activities, such as getting to work, school, university or services; 26.5 per cent in the West Bank live close to an Israeli settlement, with 80.8 per cent reporting being negatively affected. Almost 19.8 per cent live close to the wall, with 87.2 per cent feeling negatively affected.”
According to the Palestinian Association for human rights, “the IDF arrest[ed] Palestinian children on a regular basis. Israeli Police, Israeli army and Israeli Secret Service personnel conduct the arrest and interrogation of Palestinian children on a daily basis. The arrests and subsequent interrogations in detention centres operate in isolation of any transparent rules, procedure or laws giving Israeli military personnel wide powers during this phase.” Such is the behaviour of the only democracy in the Middle East!
A 2008 report from The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) stated “About 90 percent of water supplied to Gaza residents is not suitable for drinking according to WHO standards, due to [this] infiltration of seas water … 28% of illnesses in the Strip resulted from poor water quality, and conditions have only worsened since.“ The report goes on “40,000 or so newborn babies born this year (2008) are at immediate risk of nitrate poisoning; the incidence of “blue baby syndrome” (methaemoglobinaemia) is exceptionally high.” Further “the General Department of Pharmacy in Gaza reported that 104 essential drugs-including treatments for cancer, heart conditions, kidney disease and psychiatric disorders -and 123 types of medical supplies had run out due to the Israeli blockade and ongoing closure of the crossings.” This represents collective punishment, prohibited under the laws of war, of Palestinian citizens, particularly in Gaza.
On 30th December, 2008 of that same year, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in the US issued a statement of condemnation based in law referencing the illegal bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israel where they plummeted into new depths of depravity by bombing children as they left school premises. “The dead included, men, women and children in school uniforms.” We find in the laws of war the prohibition where, “collective punishment and the targeting of a civilian population disproportionate to military necessity.”
The WHO reported in 2011 that “deep poverty in the Gaza strip increasing: the occupied Palestinian territory poverty rate in 2010 was 25.7% (18.3% for the West Bank and 38. % for the Gaza Strip), but estimated at 42.5% without humanitarian assistance for households. Deep poverty increased in the Gaza-strip from 21.9% to 23. %.” Shocking figures!
The UNWRA Gaza Situation Report (7-14 April 2015 16 Issue no. 88) published on 16 April 2015 stated in part that “UNRWA will serve all those who are assessed as eligible for food assistance; there is no maximum number of food aid beneficiaries. Currently almost 868,000 Palestine refugees depend on food aid from UNRWA – half of Gaza’s 1.76 million total population and 65 percent of the registered refugee population.”
Also in the same UNRWA Report, “Almost 2,700 more refugee families received support for home repairs or rental subsidies during this week. US$ 1.94 million in funding became available for UNRWA cash assistance for supporting home repairs of minor damages or transitional rental subsidies and will reach 2,698 families across the Gaza Strip this week. They will access the payments through local banks. These payments do not change the fact that only US$ 175 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which a total of US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 545 million.”
Israel holds on to the belief that it has its IDF boots firmly on the necks of the Palestinians because of its military superiority. It does because it can. But military superiority is all it has. Israel is morally, ethically and spiritually deficient. None of the leaders of the international community has forced them to stop. Even through the harshness of the continually inflicted physical, psychological, social, economic stressors and the devastating effects of the chronic grind of daily poverty that so affects their mental and physiological health, Palestinians survive. They are resilient. They are resistant to Israeli propaganda and its tortuous occupation. Vulnerable as they are in the early years of their tender lives, children, who are constantly exposed to a multiplicity of stressors, the levels of which are extremely high, age very rapidly, their innocence denied and childhood robbed by a violent military occupier.
A definition of resistance “The refusal to accept or comply with something.” All people have a legal right to resist an occupier using all and any means available to do so. In regard to the case of Palestine’s struggle for self determination this is no different. Members of the resistance in occupied France used everything they could to liberate their country from the Nazis. Resistance is as resistance does, “resisting authority, especially in an occupied country.”
In the case of the illegal occupier Israel, resistance can be defined as exhibibing a reduced mental capacity to embrace or accept change. This use of language neither addresses the collective pain of the Palestinians, nor the obdurate resistance of Israel to comply with international human rights law and the laws governing war Jus ad Bellum/Jus in Bello. Yet it, language, provides Palestinian supporters with a powerful tool based as rightly affirmed in international law.
Let us be absolutely clear Palestinians have the legal right indeed duty to resist as affirmed by the General Assembly Resolution 3246 (XXIX) of 29 November 1974:
3.Reaffirms, the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination, alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle; …
4.7.[also] Strongly condemns all Governments which do not recognize the right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably the peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people;
Further: United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978:
“2. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle;”
It is our duty to support the Palestinian struggle with all the peaceful means at our immediate disposal. Go to it. The bottom line is the internationally recognised fact that Israel has no legal case for its actions in the occupied territories.
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