What cannot be refuted is that there is no moral or legal basis for
the decades-long occupation of Palestinian land by the State of Israel,
none whatsoever. On the contrary, Israel’s occupation and treatment of
the Palestinians refutes the idea that international law is applied
equally and enforced without fear or favor. For a few select states,
international law is an optional extra when it comes to prosecuting
their interests, ignored when raised in defense of the weak and
vulnerable and cited when defending the indefensible.
expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land goes
on, which along with the theft of Palestinian resources leaves little
doubt that Israel resembles less a state and more a giant criminal
Compounding further the injustice being suffered by
the Palestinians is the inordinate efforts of the Israeli government and
its supporters to claim the mantle of victim within this brutal status
quo. For them it is their existence that is threatened, their rights
that are being trampled upon, and as such any measures required to meet
this threat and to protect their rights are wholly justifiable.
However, Israel’s right to exist is not the question, despite it being
consistently promulgated as justification for its policy of denying
Palestine’s right to exist. The question is whether Israel has right to
exist at the negation of another people. The mountain of lies,
dissembling, and obfuscation erected in the course of this unresolved
question is not only an obstacle to justice for the Palestinian people,
it is an impediment to Israel’s stability, security, and progress also.
Nelson Mandela was never more cogent than when he said, “Only free men
can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.”
cannot expect the Palestinian people to accept the daily humiliation
and degradation of occupation quietly. If peace is the objective then
they must be accorded recourse to justice via peaceful and legal means.
To deny them this recourse is to deny them their humanity and to drive
them towards violence.
Countless peace initiatives over the years
have been tried and failed, either vetoed by rejectionist and
intransigent Israeli governments or rejected by the Palestinians on the
basis of their attempt to enshrine the injustice they are suffering
rather than end it. Yet, all along the solution to this ongoing crisis
has been a simple one. It lies with the application of international law
on pain of economic sanctions.
The absence of justice for the
Palestinians is a grievous example of the double standards that passes
for international law in the eyes of Washington and its allies. It is
why, if and when a third intifada does erupt, the responsibility will
lie not with those doing the erupting, but those who have left them no
According to a recent survey by the Palestinian think
tank, Policy and Survey Research, the majority of Palestinians in the
West Bank support a return to armed struggle (intifada) against Israeli
occupation. Considering their ongoing plight nobody should be surprised.
There exists in our world such a thing as natural justice, and when it
comes to an oppressed people fighting for their rights against an
oppressor, natural justice dictates that they are justified in doing so
by any means necessary. This is the situation in which the Palestinian
people – both the 1.8 million locked up in the largest prison camp on
the planet, otherwise known as Gaza, and the 3 million living under
military occupation in the West Bank – find themselves today.
Their suffering is an indictment of an international community that,
rather than intercede to end the injustice that is visited on them on a
daily basis, has instead helped to facilitate it.
fixed checkpoints are manned by Israeli soldiers or armed security
guards throughout the West Bank, disrupting the commercial and
day-to-day life of its inhabitants. Long lines of people trying to pass
through are a common occurrence, as is the abuse of those trying to
cross them by the soldiers and security guards concerned. Reports abound
of old men and women being subjected to strip searches, pregnant women
being forced to go into labor at the side of the road because their
passage to hospital is impeded, and of people being denied the right to
pass upon the flimsiest of reasons.
A report from B’tselem (The
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories)
leaves us in no doubt of the scale of the problem:“The existence of
settlements leads to violations of many of the human rights of
Palestinians, including the rights to property, equality, an adequate
standard of living and freedom of movement. In addition, the radical
changes Israel has made to the map of the West Bank preclude any real
possibility of establishing an independent, viable Palestinian state as
part of the fulfillment of the right to self-determination.”
There is also the issue of the Palestinian prisoners to consider.
According to the Palestinian prisoners support group, Addameer, as of
August 2015 there were 5,520 Palestinian political prisoners being held
in Israeli prisoners. Of those 153 were children, while 350 were being
held in what is known as administrative detention, which in reality
means indefinitely without any due process of law.
What is not an
option is the continuation of the status quo, especially when it
involves the day-to-day reality of the aforementioned checkpoints
throughout the West Bank. It makes free movement impossible and with it
economic development, growth, and stability.