Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Once Again Israel is Being Rewarded (by Samia Khoury)

May 12, 2010

The vote to accept Israel into the Organization for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) while it continues to violate Palestinian Human rights and to flout UN resolutions, indicates that something is very wrong in the values of the world community. But then politics have never had moral values, and that is why the world is in such a mess.

While the siege on Gaza has been allowed to continue for over 3 years simply because Hamas won the elections in a democratic process, and while further sanctions are being considered against Iran for its nuclear activities, Israel continues to enjoy a free hand in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. It also enjoys the privilege of not signing the non-proliferation agreement nor having its nuclear facilities inspected. Once again Israel is being rewarded.

Today Israel is celebrating Jerusalem Day according to the Jewish calendar. It is the day Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem after the June 1967 war as “The Eternal United Capital of Israel.”. Until 1948 West Jerusalem had a Jewish minority as it was the residential section of Palestinians who were evicted from their homes or had to run away out of fear for their lives after the massacre of Deir Yaseen. As if dispossessing the Jerusalemites in 1948 was not enough, Israel now continues to chase them out of their homes and property in East Jerusalem, where they have taken refuge or were they had always been living . Under different pretexts, and by unjust laws created by Israel and applied by its own court system, Palestinians are left helpless and homeless.

Our gift on this special day came through the announcement of the establishment of two Israeli settlements within East Jerusaelm One behind the YMCA and the American Consulate, and the other in the Old City near Al-Aqsa mosque. A special report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) was issued today as well, indicating that Israel has already confiscated 24,500 dunums of Palestinian land which is the size of one third of East Jerusalem. (4 dunums = 1 acre) During 2009 alone, Israel has demolished 80 homes leaving around 300 of their Palestinian inhabitants homeless. That is aside from the ongoing onslaught on the Sheikh Jarrah quarter and the Bustan area in Silwan.

Mr. Obama, in the meantime sends us harsh messages not to flout the indirect talks. It is yet beyond me why on earth did we Palestinians accept to pursue those negotiations when every member of the Palestinian Authority and the negotiating team had so adamantly announced earlier that there will be no negotiations unless the settlement activity stops. Of course Mr. Obama himself had to bow to Israel when its prime minister simply ignored the request, so did the Palestinian Authority think that they would be up to that challenge? Not Surprisingly, such a serious decision was not taken by a unanimous PLO vote but by a simple majority.

On the other hand why did we need the blessing of the Arab countries when they had already offered Israel a perfect deal in the 2002 summit in Beirut whereby all Arab countries were willing to recognize Israel and have diplomatic relations with it provided it ends the occupation. Had Israel been interested in peace, it would have jumped at this offer. That was a generous offer, and the American administration and Mr. Obama should have seized that opportunity to pressure Israel, instead of wasting more time, energy and money on Mr. Mitchell’s shuttle trips. Whether the talks are direct or indirect, they will continue to be futile as long as the component of justice is not there and as long as the right of return is not on the agenda. Over and above, they will be futile as long as Israel continues to be rewarded morally and financially for the dispossession of the Palestinians, and its effect on the whole region.

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