Ethnic cleansing as real as it was 70 years ago

The Palestine state must be recognised as Israel was and the illegal occupation must end without delay — 70 years of Nakba is enough, writes Ahmad Abdelrazek, Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek, Mission of the State of Palestine to Ireland.

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of over 800,000 Palestinians from their lands known as “Nakba”, the Arabic word for catastrophe.

For non-Palestinians, it is a term largely confined to the historical limits of 1947 to 1949, but for Palestinians, the Nakba is as real today as it was throughout its baptism.

While Israeli and American officials clinked glasses in Jerusalem on Monday, inaugurating the first American colony (embassy) on occupied Palestinian territory, their detachment from reality was the massacre of 60 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators a mere 40 miles away along the Gaza border.

More than 2,000 Palestinians were also targeted by Israeli occupation forces, with many demonstrators sustaining life-long debilitating injuries.

The United States has chosen to be a party to Israel, which makes the American administration irrelevant as a mediator for peace.

Today, Palestine’s Nakba is the five million refugees who are denied their right of return, the four million Palestinians living under illegal military occupation and the 1.7 million Palestinians living in Israel who are subjected to 65 different discriminatory laws.

The most blatant example of the existential threat the current Israeli government poses to the Palestinian people is their expanding colonial settlement regime.

The latest 2017 figures say there are an estimated 600,000-750,000 illegal Israeli settlers living in more than 250 settlements and outposts in occupied Palestinian territories.

The purpose of such settlements is to colonise and expropriate Palestine, and to suffocate chances of a future independent Palestinian state.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court clearly sets out colonial settlement building as a war crime.

It is also a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, both of which Israeli occupation forces continue to violate with impunity while under the wing of the current American administration.

Formal recognition of Palestine by the Irish Government, as called for in a 2014 motion unanimously passed by both houses of the Oireachtas, would send a message to Israel that Ireland’s position is clear — the question of Palestine should be resolved on the basis of international law.

Two million Palestinians living in Gaza have been subjected to an inhumane blockade by Israel which restricts the movement of people, food and aid by land, sea and air.

While Gaza has been repeatedly labelled as the world’s largest open air prison, it is predicted to be completely inhospitable as soon as 2020. What Gaza will be labelled after 2020 is at the mercy of the international community.

Popular and peaceful resistance in the form of the ongoing “Right of Return” marches have been met by a shoot-to-kill policy openly exercised by Israeli occupation forces.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the demonstrations, including six children, and more than 8,500 people have been injured.

Some media has sought to sway towards legitimising these civilian deaths by using words such as “clashes”.

It is not a clash when an unarmed demonstrator is executed by an explosive bullet, with exit wounds documented as larger than fists.

It is not a “clash” when international medical organisation MSF report they have treated more gunshot wounds in the first three weeks of these demonstrations than the number of patients treated throughout all of 2014, when Israel’s military operation Protective Edge was launched.

While only one party to the two-party pathway for peace is recognised, Israel can act with the privileges of international recognition while Palestinians are left to depleting means of resistance against the world’s oldest illegal occupation.

Over one million Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel since the beginning of the occupation.

Israel is the only country in the world to try juveniles in a military court. Today, 6,500 Palestinians remain in Israeli prisons and detention centers in conditions deemed unacceptable by several NGO’S, including Human Rights Watch and Addameer.

Israel operates an administrative detention policy, which imprisons Palestinians without trial on the basis of undisclosed “secret information” and this order can be renewed indefinitely.

In 2017 alone, 1,119 administrative detention orders were issued to Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Ireland has long held a special place in the hearts of Palestinians through a history reminiscent of Ireland’s own struggle towards peace, statehood and self-determination.

Palestinians have been greatly encouraged by the financial support of successive Irish governments.

As a leading example of how peace can be achieved, Palestinian’s are encouraged by the Irish Government’s position that the two-state solution is the only way forward towards achieving a lasting peace.

To now formally recognise the state of Palestine would be one such action that would solidify Ireland’s commitment to this solution.

The world is watching as Israel continues to openly colour outside the lines of internationally recognised geography and absolve themselves from their obligations under international law.

The continued scaremongering and labelling of people or governments opposed to any of the Israeli government’s policies as anti-Semitic serves no purpose but to divert attention from their own systematic violations of international and humanitarian law.

For 25 years, the PLO leadership has officially recognised, acknowledged and accepted Israel as a state along the borders of 1967 with the belief that Palestine and Israel can co-exist peacefully.

Israel has been recognised. The Palestinian state should now also be recognised.

The illegal occupation of Palestine must end. The time to act is now, 70 years of Nakba is enough.

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