29 November 2002:
UN DAY OF SOLIDARITY with the Palestinian People

Racism, Refugees, and Apartheid

WHAT FUTURE for the Palestinian People?
WHAT FUTURE for International Solidarity?

November 29 marks an anniversary illustrative of
the international community's ambivalent
relationship with the Palestinian people. Fifty-
five years ago, the United Nations General
Assembly voted for a proposal to partition
Palestine into a "Jewish" and an "Arab State"
(UNGA Resolution 181/1947) in violation of
international law and against the express wish
of the majority of Palestine's inhabitants -
thereby violating the right of self-
determination of the Palestinian/Arab people.
Thirty years later, while still grappling with
the protracted "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" it
had helped to create, the same United Nations
declared 29 November the UN Day of Solidarity
with the Palestinian people and their right to
self-determination (UNGA Resolution 32-
40B/1977). Today, 55 years after the UN
partition resolution and subsequent UN efforts
at peace-making, the Palestinian people continue
to live in an environment characterized by exile
and forced displacement, increasing racism and
an emerging Israeli apartheid regime. What
future is there for the Palestinian people? What
future is there for international solidarity
with the Palestinian people's struggle for
freedom, justice and a durable peace?

Since the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David
peace summit between Israel and the PLO, Israeli
governments have renewed a campaign of de-
legitimization of the Palestinian people's
struggle for fundamental rights and the
implementation of international law and UN
resolutions. In February 2001, Israel's Sharon
government, encouraged by a passive and strongly
biased international community, set out to
launch an all-out military attack against
Palestinian infrastructure and the political
leadership in the 1967 occupied territories. By
November 2002, with only two more months in
office, this government has accomplished its
immediate objectives.

As of 29 November 2002, the 25th anniversary of
the International Day in Solidarity with the
Palestinian People, Israel's occupation army has
effectively re-taken direct military control
over all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a
result of a series of brutal military operations
(code-named 'Journey of Colors', 'Defensive
Wall', 'Chain Reaction', a.o.). Freedom of
movement between cities, towns and refugee camps
is virtually non-existent; around-the-clock
curfews have effectively placed under house-
arrest one million Palestinians in the West Bank
for most of the time since April 2002; some
250,000 Palestinian children have been unable to
reach schools since September 2002 (UNICEF);
between 60 and 80 percent of the population live
on less than US $2 a day; Palestinian
institutions, including many ministries,
hospitals and media are defunct or inaccessible
for the population; and, even the symbols of
Palestinian self-rule have vanished from the
ground.

Racial Discrimination

In the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories the
Israeli government continues to advance policies
and underwrite practices - including the
expansion of colonies (i.e. settlements),
confiscation of Palestinian land, destruction of
agricultural crops and demolition of Palestinian
homes - that aim to permanently alter the area's
demographic, ethno-national composition.
Palestinian civilians, moreover, have born the
brunt - in lives, injuries, damage to homes and
properties etc. - of Israel's military campaign
to suppress the Palestinian uprising and
struggle for freedom. There is no apparent
distinction between civilian and combatant in
Israel's self-declared 'war on terrorism,' which
has left approximately 1,800 Palestinians and
400 Israeli civilians dead, more than 20,000
Palestinians injured, and some 8,000 in Israeli
detention centers. Israel's profiling of an
entire population based on their ethno-national
character is not limited to the 1967 occupied
territories. Over the past year the Israeli
government has adopted policies that have led to
further isolation and marginalization of
Palestinian citizens of the state. These
policies include suspension of family
reunification; consideration of new laws that
further restrict Palestinian access to land; the
reactivation of a Council for Demography to
study mechanisms to increase the Jewish
population relative to the Palestinian
population; establishment of new Jewish
settlements to alter the demography in the
Galilee and Naqab; a.o. These policies are
accompanied by a campaign to target outspoken
Palestinian political leaders and an
unprecedented wave of incitement for the
expulsion of the Palestinian people: "Israel is
a country in which the streets are plastered
with posters calling for a population transfer,
and nobody bothers to remove them or to indict
those who put them up." (Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz,
9 September 2002).

Refugees

The outcome and continuing impact of Israel's
system of racial discrimination since 1947/8 has
been the creation of millions of refugees and
displaced persons. Today, it is estimated that
more than two-thirds (6 million) of the
Palestinian people are displaced. While
Palestinians owned over 90% of the land in
mandatory Palestine on the eve of the 1948 war,
today Palestinians have access to just ten
percent of their land in Israel and the 1967
occupied territories. The Palestinian people
constitute one of the largest and longest
standing unresolved cases of displacement in the
world today. Current Israeli "transfer" schemes -
whether implemented in the shadow of a US-led
war against Iraq or without such a war - must be
considered in this context.

Apartheid

Israel's system of racial discrimination has not
only engendered mass displacement and
dispossession of the majority of the Palestinian
people, it has also engendered a system of
physical separation characterized by segregation
and 'bantustanization.' First applied by a
military government (1948 - 1966) against the
Palestinian population that had remained in
Israel, this system was replicated in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip following Israel's military
occupation in 1967. Today, the West Bank is
divided into some 64 non-contiguous zones
surrounded by 46 permanent checkpoints and 126
roadblocks. Israel has introduced a segregated
road system transforming all major roads into
roads for Jews only. Since May 2002 Palestinian
residents need special permits, issued by
Israel's military government, for travel between
Palestinian cities and between the various
'zones' or 'bantustans.' The culmination of the
idea of segregation is unfolding in the form of
the separation zone ('wall') that is to
eventually close entry and exit to Palestinian
populated areas of the West Bank from the north
to the south. The Gaza Strip is already
surrounded by a similar fence.

What Future for the Palestinian People?

In the context of continued racial
discrimination and forced displacement the
Palestinians people is facing a future of life
and struggle under apartheid. While the
establishment of a full-fledged apartheid regime
might not constitute the preferred option for
many Israelis concerned about the 'democratic
character of the Jewish state', it is the most
likely scenario by default. Apartheid is the
future scenario, because neither will a future
Likud-led government (most likely) be able to
rid Israel of the presence of the Palestinian
people by military force, nor will a Labor-led
government (less likely) under former General
Amram Mitzna have the courage to radically alter
Israel's strategy and create the conditions
required for a two-state solution, i.e. a full
withdrawal from the 1967 occupied territories,
the dismantling of all Jewish colonies
containing some 400,000 settlers and the re-
admission, restitution and compensation of all
those Palestinian refugees choosing to exercise
their right of return (UN Resolution 194).

Apartheid is the future scenario of the
Palestinian people also because official
international efforts for ending the current
crisis and re-launching political negotiations
between Israel and the PLO continue to fail to
address the root causes (military occupation,
displacement, denial of the right to self-
determination) of the conflict between the
Palestinian people and Zionist Israel. Rich in
stages, time tables and demands for reform of
the Palestinian leadership, and promising
recognition of a 'temporary Palestinian state
without borders' by late 2003, the latest 'road
map' drafted by 'Quartet' (United States,
European Union, Russia, United Nations) is no
more likely to succeed than the earlier US-led
'Mitchell-Tenet-Zinni process.'  This because
also the Quartet's initiative avoids one of the
most important lessons to be drawn from
comparative research of international peace-
making, i.e. the fact that peace plans must
include clear reference to, and enforcement
mechanisms for, international law and human
rights conventions in order to have a chance
of success.

What Future
for International Solidarity?

Based on the above, only a broad and globally coordinated campaign against
Israel's brand of apartheid, including effective Israel-boycott campaigns
and campaigns for the indictment of Israelis responsible for war crimes, can
convey a clear message to Israel and official international actors and change
the unfavorable balance of
forces in favor of universal respect for international law as the foundation
for building a just and durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian co
nflict and Palestinian refugees. It is contingent upon all those interested
in a comprehensive, just and durable solution of this conflict to return to its
roots - i.e. the mass displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people
in 1948 and after. "
The refugee issue needs to be placed at the center of the process from where
it has mysteriously disappeared," state Israeli political scientist Ilan Pape
and his Palestinian colleague Karma Nabulsi. "All those involved in resolving
the conflict must have
the public courage to confront the Israeli
denial of the expulsion and ethnic cleansing at
the heart of the Palestinian refugee question.
This remains the single largest stumbling block
towards a lasting peace between both peoples."
(The Guardian, 19 September 2002).

BADIL Resource Center
29 November 2002

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BADIL Resource Center aims to provide a resource pool of
alternative, critical and progressive information on the
question of Palestinian refugees in our quest to achieve
a just and lasting solution for exiled Palestinians based
on their right of return.
PO Box 728, Bethlehem, Palestine; email: info@badil.org;
Website:www.badil.org
Tel/fax: -2-2747346; -52-360769.