The removal of all illegal settlements is ‘prerequisite for a viable Palestinian state’ says Geneva Human Rights Centre Ambassador Jazairy

Palestinians demonstrate in Jerusalem against US president Trump after he announced the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem
Palestinians demonstrate in Jerusalem against US president Trump after he announced the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem

THE de facto annexation by Israel of East Jerusalem violates Palestinian rights and endangers the prospect of a two-state solution, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Ambassador Idriss Jazairy has warned.

Jazairy was speaking in observation of the 2018 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and went straight away on to appeal to the international community ‘to express solidarity to the endeavours of the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination’.

He also flatly insisted that such annexation ‘impedes the prospects of a two-state solution and hinders the realisation of regional peace and security’. Jazairy went on to stress: ‘The decision of several countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem, thus recognising the latter as the capital of Israel, contradicts the provisions set forth in the Arab Peace Initiative that calls for the normalisation of relations between Arab states and Israel once the latter cedes, inter alias, its military occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem,’ he said.

He continued: ‘The Arab Peace Initiative was adopted during the 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit. It was subsequently re-endorsed at the Arab League Summit held in Jordan from 23 to 29 March 2017. Therefore, he stressed: ‘The Arab Peace Initiative lays the foundation for the creation of genuine and long-term peace and stability in the Middle East and between Palestinians and Israelis.

‘A two-state solution – with the creation of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital – the return of Palestinian refugees in line with the provisions set forth in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948 and the return of occupied land are key conditions that must be fulfilled.

‘The Arab Peace Initiative is the blueprint for building a peaceful and stable Middle East. The decision to rubber-stamp the proclamation or recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a serious set-back to joint aspirations of Arab countries to achieve a peaceful resolution to one of the world’s most enduring and bitter conflicts.’

In this context, Jazairy stressed: ‘The enduring occupation of Palestinian land including East Jerusalem impedes the Palestinian people’s right “to decide their own destiny”. The current situation is deplorable as the occupation of Palestinian land is intensifying in force.

‘The Wall of Shame that has been erected to separate Palestinian Territories further restricts the Palestinians’ freedom of movement across Jerusalem. The Wall of Shame has now become the symbol of the 21st century’s Berlin Wall. The illegal occupation of Palestine must come to an immediate end.’

In addition, Jazairy added that the removal of all illegal settlements ‘is a prerequisite for the creation of peace and for the establishment of a viable Palestinian State in which its citizens can live freely without having their human rights violated on a daily basis – as highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, in his latest report submitted to the UN General Assembly.’

Therefore, in order to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jazairy appealed to the international community ‘to show greater determination and resilience in addressing the main issues impeding the realisation of peace and stability.

And he concluded: ‘Without addressing the question of Jerusalem, peace will not prevail. A two state-solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine remains a prerequisite for the creation of peace and for the establishment of a viable state in which the Palestinian people can live freely without having their human rights violated on a daily basis.’

Also on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity, Palestinian medical sources re-emphasised that 25-year-old Iyad Yousef Suleiman, a local resident of the city of Jabalia (which lies 4 kilometres north of Gaza City) Arabic-language Palestine al-Yawm news agency reported: ‘In early July 2014, Israel waged a war on the Gaza Strip.

‘The 50-day military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also wounded in the war. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.’

At the same time dozens of Palestinian boats have just held a sea march along the shores of the Gaza Strip against the nearly 12-year long Israeli siege. In fact tensions have been running high near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the occupied territories ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the coastal enclave on March 30. More than 240 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Over 23,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds. And the Israeli military has shot and killed 52 Palestinian children since the beginning of this year, a rights group says.

Then on June 13 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days ‘on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,’ including ‘recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism’. It also called for ‘immediate steps towards ending the closure and the restrictions imposed by Israel on movement and access into and out of the Gaza Strip’.

• Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that international organisations have disappointed the Muslim world regarding the issue of Palestine, urging freedom-seeking people to defend Palestinian struggles against the Israeli regime’s occupation.

Erdogan made the remarks in an address to the 34th meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul last Wednesday.

Muslims, Erdogan said, have pushed for solutions to the Palestine issue and wars, but international organisations have disappointed them. The Turkish president stressed, however, the determination of the Islamic world to stand by the Palestinian nation, and said: ‘As long as Muslims and people defend justice and freedom, Palestine will continue to exist.’

He also vowed to encourage his nation to visit Jerusalem al-Quds ‘so occupiers will not dim the lights of the holy city’. The US recognised Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s ‘capital’ last December and moved the American embassy to the occupied Palestinian city in May. Erdogan added: ‘We should not fall into trap of those who give more weight to a drop of oil than a drop of blood.’

And elsewhere in his address, Erdogan called on Muslim countries to use national currencies in their transactions as an important step ‘for liberation from imperialist shackles’. He went on to note that increasing trade among member states of the OIC’s economic cooperation committee makes them strong.

In another development last Tuesday, Israel’s UN ambassador said the US would present its so-called ‘deal of the century’ on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict early next year. As leading Palestinian groups pledged to reject the Trump administration’s ‘deal of the century’ following reports that the US is soon to publish the plan, Danny Danon told journalists that the ‘peace’ plan had been ‘completed’ and that the administration of US President Donald Trump had discussed with Tel Aviv the timing to release the initiative.

‘As far as we know,’ he continued, ‘they speak with us about beginning of 2019, which is coming soon. We don’t know the details of the plan but we know that it’s completed.’ While little is known about the plan, leaks have suggested that it regards Jerusalem al-Quds entirely as Israeli territory, whereas Palestinians view the eastern sector of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.

Earlier this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abba rejected the initiative, saying he would only accept a deal that secures ‘the independence and the sovereignty of the Palestinian people on their land in the 1967 territories with East al-Quds as its capital’.