SAEB Erekat, the Secretary General of the
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Chief Palestinian Negotiator, wrote the following
opinion article on Friday.
”THE US administration’s moral bankruptcy and complicity with Israel was never clearer than when Jared Kushner blamed the Palestinian victims for the massacre in Gaza. Last week, Palestinians marked 70 years since the beginning of the Nakba, the catastrophe, the continuous ongoing process of systematically denying Palestinian human and national rights. What began as the ethnic cleansing of at least 418 Palestinian villages and cities today takes a different shape.
The inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem while a massacre was taking place in Gaza only 40 kilometres away aptly demonstrates the complete US and Israeli denial of the Palestinian history of dispossession. What became known as the ‘Great March of Return’, an initiative to demonstrate for the internationally recognised rights of the Palestinian people, was savagely attacked by Israeli forces, under clear instructions from their political and military leadership.
Israel’s official incitement against the Palestinian people, summarised well by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s assertion that there are no innocent people in Gaza, was puppeted by US officials. That is why, in the preamble to the massacres committed against unarmed Palestinians in Gaza during the embassy inauguration, people like the US Ambassador David Friedman and envoy Jason Greenblatt became nothing less than spokespeople for the Israeli occupation.
The complicity between Israel and the US became strikingly clear when, while at least 40 Palestinians had been slaughtered in Gaza during the previous hours, the only reference to the Palestinian people during the embassy inauguration came from President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jerad Kushner: He blamed the victims for the massacre, in what has become a recurrent talking point used by pro-occupation officials and activists.
This is a morally bankrupt argument fully endorsed by the Trump administration. A new ethical low for Greenblatt, Friedman and Nikki Haley, who insist on encouraging Israeli apartheid rather than the implementation of the long overdue rights of the Palestinian people, as endorsed by the international community. US officials decided to conduct the illegal act of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem on the eve of Nakba Day. That showed their support for the occupation and provided recognition for Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.
This will eventually be part of the implementation of the so-called ‘ultimate deal’. And this, too, is what all the Palestinian people reject – the US attempt to force an Israeli-written agreement that crosses all of our red lines. We consider this embassy, mainly located in occupied territory, not only to be a violation of UNSC Resolution 478, but also as a natural extension of the Trump administration’s policy of encouraging Israeli violations of international law.
We don’t see a difference between this embassy and any Israeli settlement in occupied Palestine.
The Trump administration commemorates the Nakba by upending decades of international consensus. They have done so, according to President Trump, in order to ‘take Jerusalem off the table’. But Palestine, as Patriarch Michel Sabbah explains, ‘doesn’t belong to Mr Trump but to its people first, and we are its people, we are Jerusalem’.
The modern history of Palestine has shown that no matter the asymmetry of power, the Palestinian people will never settle for anything else than its legitimate rights. Moreover, the US supported the position, during the Madrid Conference and with its sponsorship of the Oslo Accords, that Jerusalem remains a final-status issue that can only be resolved in an agreement between the two parties.
The world community is facing one of the greatest challenges in our modern history.
As the Trump Administration and Israel encourage international anarchy by flouting established international norms, both countries seek to deny Palestinian rights indefinitely. Our people on the ground have made it clear that no Palestinian will accept anything short of what we are entitled to under international law, including a fully sovereign Palestinian state of our own on the 1967 border.
Peace is not built upon negating the rights of the other; rather, it must involve justice, accountability and respect for the rights of the other.
Washington’s gross insult and hostile act against the Palestinian people, symbolised in the split-screen reality of the embassy inauguration in Jerusalem while there was an ongoing massacre in Gaza, is not going to prevent us from talking about peace. On the contrary, it should serve as a reminder to the international community of the urgency to achieve a just and lasting peace.
• Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, last Thursday headed to Turkey’s capital, Istanbul, to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) urgent summit on Gaza and Jerusalem. Hamdallah headed a delegation of the Foreign and Expatriates Minister Riyad al-Malki, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan Husseini, Waqf and Religious Affairs Minister Yousef Ideis, Labour Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla besides to a host of high-ranking executives, according to a press statement by the Palestinian government.
Hamdallah attended the OIC summit on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, who underwent an ear surgery in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He was expected to meet Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, besides heads of other Islamic and Arabic countries in attendance and briefed them about the latest developments in the Palestinian arena.
The summit, called by Erdogan, whose country currently assumes the rotating presidency of the OIC, is expected to address the latest killing of over 60 Palestinians, the youngest being eight months old, during mass rallies along Gaza’s eastern border besides to the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
• Concern is high among Palestinian human rights organisations following the enactment of a new Israeli military law that gives the so-called ‘civil administration’, the Israeli military government’s arm in the occupied West Bank, powers to demolish Palestinian structures and deport residents in areas classified as ‘C’, which makes more than 60 per cent of the area of the West Bank.
The ‘civil administration’ was granted powers to remove new and old buildings in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military occupation, that were not completed and were not inhabited. It has also given extensive powers to demolish any building that was not completed within six months from the date of approval by the military order for the areas designated as ‘C’.
Issam Arouri, director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre, told Voice of Palestine radio last Thursday that a plan to deport Palestinian citizens living in areas classified as ‘C’ and the demolition of old and new buildings would lead to the deportation of 350,000 Palestinians living in 150 communities. He warned that this move threatens to demolish hundreds of houses and structures in these communities.
‘Israel has been conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing in areas classified as C,’ he said, allowing only a handful of building permits in these areas. The military order will go into effect on June 16, two months after it was signed by the military governor, and for a period of two years.