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12. The Seminar noted that Israel's arrogant defiance of united Nations resolutions, international law and world public opinion had assumed intolerable proportions. Its decision to annex Jerusalem and to move its capital to that City, its unprovoked attack on Iraq and its indiscriminate bombing of Lebanon which had resulted in a large scale loss of life were condemned by the international community including most of the countries who are regarded as Israel's closest friends and supporters. The people of Lebanon as well as the inhabitants of the Palestinian camps in southern Lebanon have long suffered from the continued aggression and barbarous attacks launched by Israel. To put an end to Israel's intransigence, the Security Council was strongly urged to consider recourse action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Such action was required in view of Israel's persistence in ignoring the appeals to reason that have been addressed to it from all quarters. Israel's action was not only a serious obstacle to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East but a most serious threat to international peace and security. One reason for Israel's intransigence was the moral, material and political support it received from countries such as the United States. The efforts by the United States to achieve a partial settlement outside the United Nations framework and without the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization as well as the denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people have further aggravated Israel's intransigent attitude.
13. The opinion was expressed that, by furnishing sophisticated weapons and equipment to Israel, the United States of America was responsible for Israel's aggressive policies which had been internationally condemned. Israel's obvious motivation for its action was the consolidation of the expansion of occupation to large portions of the area, in violation of internationally established principles and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. To accede to such a situation would be to accept a change in the norms of international relations and to jeopardize international peace and security.
14. The Seminar was convinced that the process of changing the demographic Composition of the occupied territories through the establishment of settlements/colonies, the construction of the Mediterranean - Dead Sea Canal, the exploitation of scarce water resources for the benefit of the Israeli settlers at the cost of untold hardship to the Palestinian inhabitants, were all clearly intended to achieve complete annexation of the occupied territories in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a/ and of United Nations resolutions. Contrary to Israel's contention, these actions could not create a right.
15. The Seminar considered specific instances of the hardships resulting from the establishment of settlements/colonies in the illegally occupied Arab territories or confiscated lands owned by Arabs. Attention was drawn, particularly, to the grave situation that had arisen through the exploitation, by Israel, of Palestinian water resources for the benefit of Israel and of the populations of the newly established settlements at the expense of the Arab inhabitants. The use of Palestinian waters was linked with Israel's escalated designs for complete annexation of the occupied territories, and was categorized as a clear and gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
16. Several participants observed that the Camp David Accords represented a denial of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and the breakdown of this framework represented the failure of attempts to determine by unilateral or partial agreements the future of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 by Israel. No state had the right to undertake any actions, measures or negotiations that could affect the future of the Palestinian people, its inalienable rights and the occupied Palestinian territories without the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization on an equal footing.
17. Great stress was placed by the seminar particularly on the importance attached to presenting to the international public all the facts relevant to the question of Palestine in order that the issues would be viewed from a correct perspective.
18. It was recognized that considerable difficulty existed in overcoming the obstacles placed by vested interests in the dissemination of accurate information. These obstacles were mainly the result of a distinct bias against the Palestinian people and open sympathy for Israel shown by the major international news and media networks controlled by Western countries upon which many of the countries of the Third World had to rely for the international news circulated through their own press.
19. The Seminar was convinced that in order to counter the political and historical untruths and distortions which have so far misled world public opinion and accounted for misunderstandings on the situation in Palestine, every effort should be made to step up the widespread dissemination of information and to ensure reliable reporting and balanced coverage as a major contribution to the achievement of a just solution of the problem of Palestine.
20. The participants agreed that Asian public opinion is a valuable pillar of support for the Palestinian cause which forms part of the political ideals and objectives which Asian public opinion believes.
21. Over the years there have been important developments which have resulted in the strengthening of relations between the Arab and other Asian States, and a positive evolution of the attitudes towards the question of Palestine. There has also been a gradual growth in bilateral relations between the Palestinian people represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the people and Governments of Asian States. The growing effectiveness of information dissemination on the Palestine question through the adoption of scientific mass communication methods was a positive step which was evident in the response and the support emanating from all sectors and shades of Asian public opinion for the Palestinian cause. The participants hoped that the media in Asian countries would give more attention to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in order to enable the people of those countries to better understand and appreciate the basic elements of the question of Palestine.
22. It was emphasized that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the United Nations Special Unit on Palestinian Rights, and the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat, had an important role to play in the widest possible dissemination of information and in moulding public opinion through the presentation of all the facts pertaining to the question of Palestine.
23. The Seminar was provided with details of the origins and growth as well as the organizational structure of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its responses to the vicissitudes of political development in the Middle East. The Seminar noted that the Palestine Liberation Organization had unified a geographically and demographically dispersed Palestinian people and was channeling their struggles toward a common goal, the right of return, self-determination and independent statehood. The Seminar noted that an increasing number of countries had recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization and that besides enjoying observer status in the United Nations and its specialized agencies and being a full member in the League of Arab States, in the Conference of Islamic States and the Movement of the Non-Aligned countries, all socialist countries and a majority of the Third world countries as well as a member of West European countries had officially recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization. Successive Presidents of the European Council of Ministers, had met with the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a party directly concerned in any endeavour for the solution of the Middle East crisis. It was noted also that a vast majority of States had allowed the Palestine Liberation organization to open information and political offices in their capitals.
24. The Seminar concluded its work with an expression of appreciation by the participants to the Government of Sri Lanka for its assistance and co-operation in permitting the Seminar to be held at Colombo and for the hospitality and courteous services extended to them.
a/ United Nations, Treaty Series, Vol. 75, No. 973, p. 287.
I also bring you greetings and best wishes for the success of this Seminar from the Hon. Shahul Hameed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is unable to be present at this opening session today, as he has to attend the United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy in Nairobi.
The subject matter of the Seminar - "The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people" - is very close to the hearts of the people of my country. What the Palestinian people are fighting for - the recognition and restoration of their inalienable rights - is what many nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America fought hard and achieved. So we feel it is our duty to support and assist in whatever way we can the Palestinian people in their struggle to achieve their inalienable rights.
We have very recently witnessed in Lebanon, vividly and at such great cost in human life, the results of the continued denial of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. These events have also dramatically highlighted the serious implications for peace and security not only of the Middle East region but also of the world at large.
The denial of the rights of the Palestinian people has been a concern of the United Nations, from its inception. Many resolutions have been adopted acknowledging and reiterating the fact that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East requires a just solution to the problem of Palestine. The rights of the Palestinian people to a national existence and the right to possess a state are universally acknowledged. Yet, in spite of such universal acceptance, movement towards a just solution is imperceptible. And in this respect it is a challenge to the United Nations to live up to the ideals of its Charter, and not let it be only a cymbal which we beat in ritualistic fashion.
Working very hard to redeem the trust that is placed in the United Nations, in this regard, has been the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. This Seminar which is now being held in Colombo is a result of an initiative of this Committee during the 34th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
I note that this is the third in a series of Seminars being organized in the biennium 1980 - 1981. The first Seminar, on the continent of Africa was held in Arusha, Tanzania in July 1980, the second in Vienna, on the European continent in August 1980, and a fourth will be held on the continent of South America, in Cuba at the end of August this year.
We are very gratified that Sri Lanka has been selected as the venue of the Seminar on the Asian continent.
The Government of Sri Lanka recognizes the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people and their struggle for the realisation of these rights under the leadership and guidance of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Palestine question is at the core of the Middle East problem and there can be no solution to this problem without a just settlement of this issue. And, further, there can be no durable peace without the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in this process.
Sri Lanka has, to this end, extended its fullest support to the Palestine cause at all international forums and along with other states worked hard for according acceptance to the PLO in the processes for settlement of this issue.
These Seminars have a very useful service to perform. It is still very much an uphill task in giving people a true account of what happened in Palestine, how the Palestinians came to be dispossessed of their land and country, the utter degrading circumstances most of them live in, this new diaspora, and their great yearning to meet next time in Jerusalem.
We are all familiar with the biases of the leading media networks on many issues. Interested minorities with vested interests of their own dominate and slant the reporting of what happens in our countries. And we see this very clearly in the distorted views of Palestinian leaders and events they project worldwide.
The Seminar being conducted will provide a much-needed corrective, to straighten the record. These Seminars cover a very wide range of issues, both historical and current. And it will be most useful if these very valuable studies can reach as wide an audience as possible. If I may make this suggestion, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People could consider how wide publicity can be given through the United Nations information system, and through national information systems, to these very topical studies.
I wish you every success in this Seminar.
In convening this Seminar we continue to fulfil the mandate entrusted to us by the United Nations General Assembly at its thirty-fourth regular session in 1979. The results of our two previous seminars have only served to convince us, both of the usefulness of the exchange of views such as we are about to embark on, as well as the importance of the contribution our deliberations will make towards an understanding of the problem of Palestine.
The situation in the Middle East vitally affects not only international peace and security but the interests of the world community as a whole.
It is a problem that has engaged the attention and the energies of the United Nations ever since its creation in 1945. Today, over a generation later, it remains at the forefront of our concern. In that intervening period certain irrefutable propositions have emerged, chief among which are that at the core of the problem of the Middle East is the question of Palestine, and that no durable peace in the region can be envisaged without a just solution of that question. The international community clearly understands that such a solution is of overriding importance.
The history of mankind is replete with tragedies that have befallen peoples in all parts of the world. What we have met to discuss today is one of those tragedies. A tragedy which man has brought upon his fellow man.
In 1947 the General Assembly, in an early attempt to solve this question, adopted resolution 181 which recognized the right of the Arab people of Palestine to have an independent State of Palestine side by side with the Jewish people. Unfortunately, only part of this resolution was applied and only the Jewish State came into being. However, the validity of that resolution, as well as of Resolution 194, adopted in 1948, which decided that those who wish to return to their homes as soon as possible and to live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so, remains unquestionable. Nevertheless, obstacles to the implementation of these resolutions arose at the time of their adoption and since then, the historic development of the problem has only compounded the difficulties in which the Palestinian people find themselves - difficulties which created conditions which were unfavourable to the exercise of their right to self-determination. The dispersal of the Palestinians to the neighbouring States, the occupation by Israel, since 1967, of the whole of that part of Palestine which, under the terms of General Assembly resolution 181, rightfully belongs to the Palestinian people and the state of war between Israel and the Arab States - all these are conditions which have proved hardly propitious to the exercise of the right to self-determination.
Moreover, for many years the international community concerned itself solely with the humanitarian aspects of the problem. However, while this was an essential approach, it clearly was not enough. It is a credit to the indomitable will of the Palestinian people, no less than to the re-awakening conscience of the international community, that after 27 years the United Nations reverted to a serious consideration of the national rights of the Palestinian people. A reflection of this is the fact that, since 1974, several important resolutions have been adopted by the General Assembly which deal with the political aspects of the Palestinian problem. Prominent among these are resolutions 3236, adopted by the General Assembly at its twenty-ninth session, which reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and resolution 3375, adopted at the thirtieth session of the General Assembly, which called on the PLO, the representative of the Palestinian people, to participate in all efforts for peace made under the auspices of the United Nations, on an equal footing with other parties. These resolutions mark the turning point in the United Nations' efforts to restore to the Palestinian people its legitimate rights. When it became evident that its recommendations were not being implemented, the General Assembly established, in 1975, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to draw up and present to the General Assembly a programme designed to permit the Palestinian people to exercise the rights recognized in resolution 3236, taking into account in the formulation of those recommendations "all the powers conferred by the Charter on the principle organs of the United Nations".
From the beginning the Committee, of which I now have the honour of being the Chairman, set itself the task of looking into the question of Palestine and its evolution, impartially and objectively. It kept itself open to all sectors of opinion and attempted to restore equity by highlighting rights that have been overlooked in discussion and trampled on in practice.
In its work the Committee was guided by the following principles:
(b) The implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and to achieve self-determination, national independence and sovereignty will contribute to a settlement of the Middle East crisis;
(c) The participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, on an equal footing with other parties on the basis of General Assembly Resolutions 3236 (XXIX) and 3375(XXX) is indispensable in all efforts, deliberations and conferences on the Middle East which are held under the auspices of the United Nations;
(d) Inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the consequent obligation of Israel to evacuate speedily any territory so occupied.
In spite of the fundamental equity of those recommendations which have been endorsed by the General Assembly at its thirty-first session and at every subsequent session, their implementation has been consistently blocked mainly because of the failure of the Security Council to take decisive action due to the negative vote of a permanent member.
Discouraging as these obstacles may seem, the Committee continued to believe that all hope of a peaceful solution is not lost. We continue to maintain our faith in the ability of the United Nations. What is lacking at present is political will; but sooner or later, logic, if not an inborn sense of justice, must prevail. In accordance with the Committee's initiative, my Government last year requested the convening of an emergency session of the General Assembly devoted to the Question of Palestine to counter the obstacle placed by the exercise of the veto of one of the permanent members of the Security Council at a meeting on 30 April 1980. The results of that emergency special session which, incidentally, has only been adjourned and can be reconvened when necessary, was impressive. It demonstrated that a vast majority of the international community is firmly convinced of the need for the restoration to the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights. It demonstrated also that the majority of the Western European countries have begun to reassess their stand on this important issue and to adopt an impartial stance based on the facts that surround the question of Palestine.
An important element in bringing about this change has been the willingness of the media to give greater and more objective coverage to the development of the situation in the region. For many years biassed reporting had the unfortunate effect of always showing the Palestinian people in an unfavourable light or of completely ignoring them. This is no longer the case. There is a discernible change in the reporting of events in the region - a significant step towards better understanding of the problem. The Committee is convinced that it is essential to present all the facts surrounding the question of Palestine because there is no doubt that once these facts are known the resultant understanding of the question will convince the international community of the just cause of the Palestinian people.
Consequently, the Committee has made every effort to ensure that the facts reach not only those who are willing to listen but also those who have hitherto consistently refused to do so or have been denied access to those facts. It was on the Committee's initiative that, in 1977, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to establish within the Secretariat a Special Unit on Palestinian Rights which, under the guidance of the Committee and in consultation with it, would prepare and distribute studies on the question of Palestine in order to promote a better understanding of the problem. The Special Unit has prepared several studies and pamphlets which have proved most effective. Moreover, the Department of Public Information of the United Nations has produced, in consultation with the Committee, a film on Palestinian rights entitled "The Palestinian People Do Have Rights", which has reached a wide audience and won acclaim.
The importance which the Committee attaches to this question of information is reflected in the fact that at each regional seminar such as the one which we hold here today there is one panel which deals with the question of Public opinion.
The effectiveness of these efforts has become evident even in regions such as Western Europe where we have witnessed a radical change in public opinion on this subject. We must continue with our efforts to persuade the public in Western Europe and North America to keep an open mind and to look for the facts. This can only be done if the media presents the facts in an objective manner.
An objective presentation of the facts will not only lead to a proper understanding of the problem, but also make it abundantly clear that it is the intransigence of Israel that has made a just and durable solution to the problem impossible. Israel has continued to defy world public opinion and the numerous resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. Over and over again it has persisted in violating the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, through the establishment of new settlements in the illegally occupied Arab territories, through the expulsion of the Mayors of Hebron and Halhoul as well as the Judge of Hebron, and through repressive measures taken against the indigenous population of those territories.
The international community cannot stand by in silence in the face of such violation of international law and defiance of world public opinion. A solution of the problem of Palestine remains urgent. Absence of action on our part will make us equally guilty of the genocidal and colonial policies being followed by Israel.
We scarcely need to be reminded that Israel's defiance of United Nations resolutions, international law and world public opinion has assumed intolerable proportions. Its decisions to annex Jerusalem and to move its capital to that city, its unprovoked attack on Iraq and its savage bombing of Beirut have attracted the condemnation of people all over the world, including those who are regarded as Israel's closest friends and supporters. The international community has even been forced to consider recourse to action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter in an attempt to put an end to Israel's intransigence. Such action cannot be totally excluded if Israel persists in ignoring the appeals to reason that have been addressed to it from all quarters.
Our unceasing and tireless efforts must continue to be made to dissuade Israel from its policy based on arrogance as a result of which it now represents the most serious threat to world peace. Our seminars on the question of Palestine constitute one more step in that direction. What we do here will constitute a major contribution towards a better understanding of the problem of Palestine. These seminars help to shape world opinion and to draw attention to the extremely important question of Palestinian rights. In fulfilling the mandate entrusted to us by the General Assembly we are helping to achieve one of the tasks incumbent on us under the Charter of the United Nations, that of ensuring that the fundamental rights of one of the peoples of the world are recognized. Our participation in this seminar marks a further effort to ensure that the Palestinian people can one day enjoy its political and civil rights on its own soil. This is a noble task, and one of which we can all be justifiably proud.
On behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, I should like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you, particularly the Honourable Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs who has found time to be with us today, and to those of you who have devoted valuable time to preparing papers which will contribute to the success of this seminar. Thank you.
M. S. Agwani
But this is not the first time the world has been confronted with "facts of life" which the processes of history, articulated by man's quest for freedom and dignity, have subsequently debunked.
Time was when myths such as the "White Man's Burden" and the "Civilizing Mission of Imperialism" had been trotted out as "facts of life" only to be consigned to the dustbin of history in course of time. And what happened to Hitler's "master race" and its dreams of world domination? The same inexorable processes of history are now at work in Palestine disentangling the fact from the fiction and salvaging the reality from the myth.
Since its inception in the nineteenth century Zionism has thrived on two complementary myths: one meant for the Jew, the other for the non-Jew.
The Jews were told that they were the Chosen People cherishing "the loftiest of the spiritual ideals"; that unlike all other peoples they alone represented a synthesis of race, religion and political community: and that God had entrusted them with a "divine mission."
Ironically, Zionism borrowed these postulates from no other source than the racist philosophers of nineteenth century Europe who turned out to be the forerunners of Nazism and Fascism.
On the other hand, the European Gentiles, without whose active support the Zionists did not expect to fulfil their "divine mission", were told that just because the Jews were like any other people they too should have a land of their own. They pleaded that the ideal site for this purpose was Palestine which they alleged was "a land without people".
The liberal Westerner, eager to atone for the crimes committed by his own kinsmen against the European Jews, saw in this myth a convenient escape, and readily subscribed to it.
But Theodore Herzl, the self-styled prophet of Zionism, knew for certain that Palestine was not a demographic vacuum. Hence the careful entry in his private diaries: "We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us. We will try to spirit the pitiless population across the border... "
Such was the outline of Herzl's solution for the "Arab problem" long before Hitler began to talk about "the final solution" in an equally diabolic context:
Consider also the myth of the world Jewry's special connexion with, and hence, claim on Palestine. Here too the Zionists offer two sets of arguments: one meant for the consumption of the secular-minded Gentile, the other designed to stir the religious sentiment of the Jew.
The secular argument demands the resurrection of the kingdom of Judah on the specious ground that it had existed over two thousand years ago. In plain terms, this amounts to a plea for resurrecting ancient population patterns which, if conceded, would call for a redrawing of the world's political map restoring Britain and France to the Celts, Anatolia to the Greeks and America to the "Indians".
But the Zionist would promptly point out that his is a very special case backed by "divine promises" recorded in the Old Testament. And this lends an entirely new dimension to the whole myth. It implies that the Jews in diaspora have the right to return to Palestine at a time of their own choosing and regardless of the wishes of the then existing population of Palestine.
What is more grotesque, this line of argument attributes to God a proposition which is manifestly vile and immoral. It is, of course, quite another matter that the so-called "divine" right to return to Palestine did not prevent Theodore Herzl from persuading the Sixth Zionist Congress to accept British East Africa as a substitute for Palestine, albeit unsuccessfully.
Coming to a later period - that is after the Zionist had convinced the British Government that the Jewish "homeland" they desired to set up in Palestine would serve the British imperial interests in the neighbourhood of the Suez Canal, and the British had gratuitously conceded that demand in the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917 - one spots a far more fantastic myth. This was evidently necessitated by the fact that contrary to the message conveyed by earlier myths, the Western Press had begun to talk about strong Palestinian resistance to the influx of uninvited Jewish immigrants from Europe.
Zionist propaganda organs promptly came forward with a novel explanation that the Arab hostility to Zionism had been artificially generated. The ''ordinary Arab", it was argued, was not really interested in politics, but we were being instigated by "a handful of agitators" using Zionism as a diversion to secure their own feudal interests.
Here was a double-edged myth. The Zionist used it to cover up systematic expropriation of the Palestinians. He also manipulated it to pose as the "liberator" of the Arab masses from their "feudal exploiters" - an argument designed to hoodwink the liberal Westerner.
After 1948, this myth was further elaborated to explain away the woes of the dispossessed Palestinians. The latter were shown as being "caged like animals in suffering" to be used as "a deliberate political weapon" by the neighbouring Arab countries. In course of time, so the argument ran, they would refuse to go on being "caged" and insist on their resettlement in those countries.
This last myth had the added advantage of absolving Israel of any responsibility towards the Palestinians whose hearths and homes it had usurped. But the advantage turned out to be ephemeral. Recurrent wars waged by Israel against the Arabs together with its territorial expansion and dispossession of many more Palestinians, brutal suppression of the tiny Arab minority in Israel, and the reign of terror let loose on the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories, have reduced the credibility of its propaganda to a near-vanishing point.
It is, however, necessary to add that next to the Palestinians the peoples of resurgent Asia were the first to perceive the ominous implications of the Zionist onslaught on Palestine under the British auspices.
It is common knowledge that for more than a century and a half before the creation of Israel the driving force behind Britain's Middle Eastern policy was its imperial interest in India. Hence, it is hardly surprising that the Indian national movement should have played a leading role in the Asian peoples' opposition to both Zionism and British policies in Palestine. India's concern for Palestine was voiced by the Indian National Congress and its most eminent mentors, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Gandhi's credentials to speak on Zionism and Palestine were beyond reproach. He believed in the right of every people to live in freedom. In the early phase of his political work in South Africa, he had won the friendship and co-operation of many Jews. He deeply sympathized with the sufferings and hardships of the Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, and in sorrow described them as "the untouchables of Christianity".
In an article published in his own journal, Harijan, of 26 November 1938, Gandhi recorded his considered views on the Arab-Jewish question in Palestine and the persecution of Jews in Germany as follows:
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English, or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today, cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely, it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews, partly or, wholly, as their national home.
The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews, wherever they are born and bred.
As Nehru saw it, England was putting up "Jewish religious nationalism against Arab nationalism" so as to "make it appear that her presence was necessary to act as an arbitrator and to keep the peace between the two. It was the same old game we have seen in other countries under imperialist domination, it is curious how often it is repeated". 3/
Independent India's stand on the rights of Palestine people was rooted in the premises set forth by Gandhi, Nehru and the Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle. An elaborate exposition of the Indian viewpoint is contained in the special note submitted by the Indian representative on the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine.
The aforesaid document is of singular importance because it offers a sound analysis of the Palestine problem in the perspective of history. The Balfour Declaration, it said, had no legal validity because the British Government had no legitimate right to make it at the time when it was made. The Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration, contravened the Covenant of the League of Nations in that the Palestinians were not consulted in regard to the choice of the mandatory. Likewise the stipulation requiring the mandatory to ensure the well-being and development of the indigenous people of the mandated territory was totally disregarded.
Another grievous mistake was made when the mandatory permitted the Jewish Agency, an extraneous body, not merely to collaborate with the administration of the country but "to run its own educational, industrial and economic system for a portion of the population" amounting to "a parallel government". This encouraged the Jewish immigrants to magnify their original demand for a "national home" into the clamour for a full-fledged Jewish state reinforced by the ceaseless terrorist activities of the Haganah, the Irgun, and Stern Gang.
The Indian note also questioned the rationale of Zionism. Ancient association of a people with a land did not create political or legal rights in the present time. Nor is it reasonable to argue that profession of a faith by a person clothes him with any special rights in a country.
The document concluded that the destiny of Palestine should be decided on the basis of self-determination, a principle that forms the keystone of the United Nations Charter. 4/
The assault on the national rights of the Palestine Arabs was mounted by the British in the early twenties to be continued by the Zionists since the creation of Israel in 1948.
The story of the demographic aggression of Palestine under the British auspices is best told by official figures. The British carried out the first systematic census of Palestine in December 1922 which showed that its inhabitants numbered 757,182 of whom only 83,794 were Jews, the rest being Muslim and Christian Arabs.
With the opening of floodgates of Jewish immigration by the British administration the proportion of the Jewish Population in Israel steadily rose from 11% in 1922 to 16% in 1931, 27.7% in 1936 and 31% in 1947. In absolute terms, the number of Jews had increased sevenfold as against a twofold increase in the Arab population.
Zionist immigration in Palestine was soon reflected in the pattern of land-ownership. The area of Jewish-owned land increased from 594,000 dunums (1 dunum equals 1/4 acre) in 1922 to 1.5 million dunums in 1939. Some of this additional acreage came from state-owned lands which the British "rented" to the Jewish National Fund for nominal sums under 90-year leases. The rest was bought by the Fund from absentee owners living in Syria and Lebanon under French mandate.
On the face of it, the land thus acquired by the Zionists did not exceed 6.6 per cent of the total area of Palestine. But for a variety of reasons its real value far exceeded its size. First, this land was located in the most fertile parts of the country along the coastal and northern plains. Second, since a good part of this land was cultivable, the actual acreage under the Zionist control amounted to well over 20 per cent of the total cultivable area of Palestine. Finally, the land bought by the Jewish National Fund became the exclusive property of the Zionists which could neither be resold to the Arabs nor could any Arab be employed on it. 5/
Expropriation of the Palestinians between 1922 and 1947 was followed by outright expulsion thereafter.
The first round of expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland at the hands of the Zionists was initiated well before the middle of May 1948 when establishment of Israel was formally proclaimed. The entire operation was attended by well-orchestrated Zionist propaganda to the effect that the Palestinians left their homes at the bidding of the Arab leaders and "in the hope of returning later to wreak their vengeance on the Jew".
In reality, the Zionists forced the Arabs to quit their homes by unleashing a reign of terror in several parts of Palestine. A case in point was the massacre at Deir Yassin on 9 April 1948 in which 250 old men, women and children were savagely murdered and their mutilated corpses put on public display. The horrid drama was re-enacted at several other places including Huleh, Ramleh and Lydda. As a result of these grisly proceedings thousands of Palestinians were killed and some 800,000 were rendered homeless.
The second round of expulsion began during the June 1967 war and has ever since continued unabated. At the outset of the war, over 100,000 Palestinians were driven out of the West Bank. Senior officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported that in many cases the Israelis forced the Palestinians out by bombing the refugee camps. In several West Bank towns Israeli loudspeaker vans issued the dire warning: We cannot tell what will happen if you remain! 6/ In all, around 400,000 Palestinians were expelled from the newly-occupied Palestine lands - some of them for the second time since 1948.
Since then, the Israeli government has been pursuing a policy of creeping annexation in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It began with Old Jerusalem soon after the June war. And over the last 14 years, at least 133 illegal Jewish settlements have been established in the West Bank. It is to be recalled that even before the more aggressive Likud coalition had come to power in 1977 the then ruling Labour Party had earmarked 40 per cent of the occupied territory including 90 per cent of the arable land and almost all the water resources of the West Bank, for the proposed Jewish settlements. The Likud has implemented this plan with fanatical zeal on its own and by lending support to Gush Emunim (Faith Bloc), a militant organisation engaged in Jewish colonization of the West Bank.
To date, over 80 per cent of the arable land on the West Bank has already been confiscated from its Palestinian owners. And the number of Israelis already settled on the West Bank exceeds 200,000.
On top of all this, the Israeli military administration in the occupied territories has been aiding and abetting systematic pogroms against defenceless Palestinians. Its relentless campaign of expropriation, terrorization, and physical liquidation of the Palestine people is now too well known to permit complacency on the part of the outside world. Frankly speaking, the tormented land of Palestine stands littered with the Zionist versions of Belsen and Auschwitz.
Today, the PLO commands the allegiance and active support not only of the two million dispossessed Palestinians living outside Palestine but of the other million living in captivity.
Intensification of the Palestinians' struggle for their fundamental rights has been attended by a deepening of the world's consciousness about the urgency and justness of the Palestine cause. A tangible outcome of this development is the virtual rectification of the Security Council resolution 242 by an overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly.
It may be recalled that resolution 242 of November 1967 had failed to address itself to the core problem of Palestine which it erroneously equated with "the refugee problem". Seven years later, the UN General Assembly, on its own initiative, examined the whole question afresh. On 22 November 1974, it adopted a resolution affirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, including (a) the right to self-determination without external interference, and (b) the right to national independence and sovereignty."
In underscoring these positive development I do not wish to underestimate the role of negative forces. Curiously enough, a Great Power, which professes its concern for human rights, has been, in practice, sustaining the strangulation of human rights in Palestine. I, of course, refer to the United States of America.
It is common knowledge that America has been subsidizing the Zionist state at the rate of $7,500 a year for each Israeli family. Israel is also the chief recipient of sophisticated American weaponry in enormous quantities and at concessional rates.
Nor is this all. For the past eight years American diplomacy has been working overtime to create confusion and discord in the Arab ranks. In the beginning, the exercise was conducted under the plausible cover of "step-by-step diplomacy". This was followed by a marathon enterprise in dissimulation at Camp David. And the name of the latest game is "strategic consensus".
In conclusion, the struggle for the national rights of the Palestine people has now entered a decisive phase. The justness of their cause is recognized by people of goodwill everywhere. Even the votaries of realpolitik admit that there can be no peace in the Middle East without a just solution of the Palestine question and that a major war in the region will be catastrophic for the whole world. Above all, the United Nations stands firmly committed to restoration of the Palestinians' rights. In other words, necessary conditions for a real breakthrough do exist. The goal can be achieved by harnessing these conditions to a meaningful and co-ordinated endeavour.
I fervently hope the present seminar will help crystallize our thoughts in that direction.
2. Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography (New York, 1945), p. 417.
3. Jawaharlal Nehru, Glimpses of World History (Bombay, 1962) p. 789.
4. Official Records of the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine: Report to the General Assembly, Vol. II, pp. 24-47.
5. (Boston, 1957), pp. 330-31: and Fred J. Khouri, The Arab-Israeli Dilemma (Syracuse, 1968), p. 18.
6. The Guardian, 13 June 1967.
Indeed, one may affirm that by now an international consensus has been achieved in the community of nations concerning some fundamental aspects of the Palestinian question. This consensus may be summed up in the following manner:
I. Recognition of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and to return to their homes.
In 1969, the United Nations General Assembly representing all the members of the United Nations recognized the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine. In 1970, another resolution affirmed that the Assembly "recognizes that the people of Palestine are entitled to equal rights and self-determination, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations". On November 27, 1974 the Assembly passed Resolution 323 (XXIX) which declared that the Assembly "reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, including a) the right to self-determination without external interference; b) the right to national independence and sovereignty". This resolution went on to affirm "the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return".
Other resolutions have repeatedly reaffirmed these basic principles. Furthermore, the Non-Aligned countries, the League of Arab States, the Organization of African Unity and the European Economic Community have issued statements on various occasions confirming this consensus.
The United States Government and the State of Israel, two crucial parties to the conflict, so far refuse to accept this consensus. Yet there are indications that even in the United States, informed public opinion no longer supports Israel's contentions as blindly as it had before. Surveys of public opinion by important organizations such as Gallup, Harris and Patrick Caddell's reveal that nearly 60 per cent of those polled nationally since 1975 in fact accept the right of the Palestinians to establish their own separate and independent State and see this as a precondition to a settlement of the Near East conflict. The polls also reveal that even among the American Jewish community, opinion is by far not monolithic; approximately one third of this community believe that the Palestinians are entitled to self-determination and to the creation of their own separate and independent state. There are similar indications that in Israel itself, despite the re-election of Prime Minister Begin, a trend is now emerging, represented by the Peace Movement, that is willing to accept this consensus.
II. Another component of this consensus is the recognition that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Following the recognition by the League of Arab States and by the Summit of Arab Heads of State of this established fact in October 1974, the United Nations General Assembly invited the P.L.O. to participate in its proceedings as an observer. The P.L.O. is now recognized by nearly all international organizations as the representative of the Palestinian people. Its representatives participate in the work of specialized United Nations agencies such as UNESCO, WHO and FAO. Palestine Liberation Organization offices now exist in most Third World countries as well as in the Socialist and the European countries. An office exists in New York to work at the United Nations and an information office exists even in Washington, D.C.
Among the Palestinians themselves there is almost unanimous acceptance of the leadership of the P.L.O. Numerous attempts have nevertheless been made to bypass the P.L.O. and to create an alternate leadership. These attempts, encouraged by the United States, have failed. This failure is dramatically illustrated by the repeated declarations of Palestinian Mayors in the West Bank and Gaza, by opinion leaders, and even by school children that the P.L.O. is their only legitimate representative. At a great cost to their life, the Palestinians under occupation continuously affirm and reaffirm their support of the P.L.O. as their representative. Efforts by the various American Administrations to cast doubt on the representative nature of the P.L.O. have equally failed. Even in the United States, there is increasing recognition within the public as well as among the media and in the Congress that the P.L.O. does in fact represent the Palestinian people, and that the Palestinians are a reality that has to be accepted.
III. A third element of this international consensus is the recognition that no settlement may be achieved without the full participation of the Palestinian people and their representative, the P.L.O., in all discussions, negotiations or conferences. Furthermore, the Palestinian question is seen both at the level of political theory as well as in practice as the core problem in the Near East conflict. This is why the Camp David Agreements essentially failed; they failed to deal with this central fact and pretended that the problem may be settled through regional agreements between states or through minor territorial adjustments. It has by now become a truism that no peace may be achieved in the region without an honest attempt to deal with the core problem of the Palestinian people on the basis of resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly representing the will of the community of nations. As if to underscore this important fact, the recent Summit of Western leaders in Ottawa was completely dominated by the conflict in the Near East and more specifically by the Palestinian question. It is rather ironic that even with the posture of non-recognition that the various American Administrations have maintained toward the Palestinians, the undeniable fact is that every Administration since Mr. Nixon's has been consumed by the problem and endless hours are spent on how to deal with it.
It is our contention that the implementation of this consensus is simply a matter of time. The Palestinians will achieve self-determination in their homeland. The historical process is already in motion and the moral and diplomatic balance of forces has already shifted in favour of the Palestinians. The notable successes achieved by the Palestinians on the international level, their crucial participation in mediation efforts in the region - between Iraq and Iran for example - their success in establishing viable social, economic and cultural institutions, and above all ,their persistence in the face of adversity are crucial indicators that they can neither be willed away nor reduced to silence. The powers of the region as well as the major world powers will have to confront these facts and deal with them.
The failure of various American Administrations to accept the international consensus has encouraged Israel to seek a military solution to the problem. The resulting savagery with which Israel has escalated its attacks against civilian populations in Beirut and in the South of Lebanon may be partly due to the fact that the moral and diplomatic balance of forces has shifted away from them in favour of the international consensus. Isolated in the international community - and increasingly dependent on its only major ally, the United States - Israel steadfastly rejects the moral and diplomatic will of the world community and continues its violations of human rights, its settlement policy and its attacks against civilians in Lebanon.
Enlightened liberal opinion in the United States is now beginning to raise some serious questions about the nature of America's relationship with the State of Israel. A distinction is being made between supporting Israel's right to exist and supporting its colonial practices in the West Bank and Gaza or its wanton attacks against its neighbours. Furthermore, as the State of Israel is reduced, because of its isolation, to reliance on regimes such as South Africa or political forces such as the so-called Moral Majority - in the main quite an anti-Semitic group - its support in America begins to narrow to discredited circles. Alex Cockburn, writing in the Village Voice, June 21, 1981, expresses this trend in the following manner:
For the international consensus to become a reality, the Arab Governments must attempt to use their enormous political and economic leverage. So far, intra-Arab and intra-regional problems have side-tracked efforts to lobby for a forceful implementation of the resolutions of the international community. Rhetorical support of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination is no longer an adequate response to the facts established by Israel in contravention of the will of the community of nations.
If there is any well-established dictum in contemporary international affairs, it certainly must be the following: that peace based on a just settlement within the framework of United Nations resolutions is definitely in the interests of the countries of the region as well as in the interests of world peace. The Palestinians, in their homeland, restored to the community of nations, will undoubtedly contribute to the development of the region and to international efforts within the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.
A brief look at the evolution of Palestinian identity and consciousness as well as the development of Palestinian socio-economic institutions will reveal the extent to which the Palestinian people desperately want to assume their rightful place in the world. Rooted in the culture and history of the region, the Palestinians define themselves as Arabs who have shared with other Arabs their nationalist sentiments and their struggle for independence and unity. They participated fully in the early Arab nationalist movement and injected it with their secular vision. They fought against Ottoman domination, the British mandate and Zionist settler colonialism. They have steadfastly rejected all efforts at the division of their country as well as efforts designed to force them to assimilate in the region. In the contemporary period (from 1917 on) the Palestinians affirmed for themselves what Erik Erikson calls a "negative identity" and what others have called a "politics of rejection". This reaction was logical in view of attempts by the British Mandate and by the Zionist Movement to eliminate them from the history of the region and to reduce them to a minority in their own homeland. So the Palestinians to a large extent, were perceived - even by themselves - as a collection of negative attributes. They have rejected and condemned the injustices committed against them, the attempts to divide their country, their forced eviction from their homes, their exile, their torture, and the blanket of silence that condemned them, adding insult to injury, to non-existence.
The more recent period, following 1970 and the self-critique performed by the Movement, reflects a positive assertion of the self. Again the Palestinian problem assumed centre stage in world affairs. A new generation of Palestinians, highly skilled and politically effective, assumed the leadership of their people. They were better able than previous generations, to present their case to the world.
The evolution of this positive, assertive self was painful indeed; but it represents a massive victory of will against seemingly insurmountable odds. The P.L.O. created an institution which gathers all Palestinians regardless of their ideological differences in a common structure and a joint effort. The movement created representative bodies such as the Palestine National Council where all shades of opinion are reflected and freely expressed in a manner that stands in sharp contrast to the absence of such democratic institutions in the region.
Any meeting of the Palestine National Council, a broadly representative national body in the Arab world, actually debates important matters in a totally democratic way. The P.L.O., its executive committee, Mr. Yasser Arafat himself, and the rest of the leadership are subjected to minute, critical scrutiny. There is no Arab country in which such things can go on.
The P.L.O. has also created trade unions, an extensive social security apparatus which caters to the needs of the poor, the disabled, and the thousands of children of martyrs. They created schools, nurseries, clinics, hospitals, nursing schools, research centres, factories, farms, cooperatives, self-help organizations, and institutes of advanced learning. A team of educators, working through UNESCO, recently completed for the P.L.O. a feasibility study to establish a Palestine Open University. The project is so innovative and so far-reaching in its pedagogical implications that educational standards and curricula in the region will have to change in order to match it. The supreme irony is that at the time when the Israeli Air Force was bombing Beirut, many in the leadership were gathered to discuss, among other things, ways of establishing this Palestine Open University.
The resiliency of the Palestinians and their will to survive are little short of amazing. The politics of rejection is now superseded by the politics of hope and revolutionary transformation. From refugees they have transformed themselves into the most significant political, cultural and social force in the region. As one analyst says: "no Arab community has in so short a period of time - a little less than a generation - reflected so deeply and so seriously as a community on the meaning of its history, the meaning of pluralistic society given the dismal fate of multiethnic communities in the world, the meaning of national independence and self-determination against a background of exile, imperialist oppression, colonialist dispossession" 3/
Palestinian identity has been indelibly linked in various ways to the Zionist Movement and later to the State of Israel. But, unlike other liberation movements, the Palestinian resistance has had to contend with a unique phenomenon. The crimes committed against the Palestinians were done by the remnants of a tortured and persecuted people. The moral outcry against the holocaust in Europe over-shadowed the forcible eviction of Palestinians from their homes and massacres such as Deir Yassin. The State that was confiscating their land was making room for oppressed Jews from Europe. Later, the same State that treated them as third-rate citizens was a haven of democracy and freedom for its own people.
This cycle of contradictions, that enabled one persecuted group to persecute another in the shadows of morality was ultimately broken in 1967. Israel became an occupier, a colonialist power using the same Defense Regulations inherited from the previous colonial power against a recalcitrant people.
From Israel Zangwill, to the late Golda Meir, to Prime Minister Begin, Palestinians simply do not exist - meaning, of course, as a people with an identity. By contrast, the Palestinians fully recognize the reality with which they must deal. The Palestinians have offered a vision of secularism and democracy that includes the right of Jews, among others, to live in equality, peace and tranquility in the region. Furthermore, the Palestinians have carried on discussions with various segments of Israeli society that are willing to recognize their right to self-determination. But the openness of the Palestinians to dialogue is met by rigid denials of their right to determine their own destiny.
The Camp David Framework illustrates this denial dramatically. Instead of asserting the right to self-determination, the Camp David Framework talks about permitting the Palestinians to "participate in determining their own future". Earlier when Mr. Carter declared that the Palestinians need a "homeland" he abrogated for himself the right to cast the first ballot by announcing that such a homeland will have to be linked either to Israel or to Jordan. The failure of the Camp David Framework represents the ultimate failure of attempts to establish "Bantustans" or "reservations" for the Palestinians. Ultimately, there is simply no substitute - and this is coming - to recognizing fully and unambiguously that the right to self-determination without external interference is the key to peace in the region.
Self-determination, for the Palestinians, is no mere slogan that hides evil intent any more than a concept to be toyed with in the chanceries of the Great Powers. Self-determination is not a psychological concept that is designed to heal hurt pride and to offer the mere compensation of a flag, a passport, and a title. For the Palestinian people, self-determination has a particularly human and concrete dimension. So what does self-determination mean, at the level of everyday life, for the Palestinians?
Obviously, it means the end of an unacceptable status quo. There are now approximately four million Palestinians, of whom 650,000 live as third-class citizens in Israel - the first class being the Ashkenazi Jews and the second, the Sephardic Jews. One million live on the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli military rule. These people suffer on a daily basis the possibility of arbitrary arrest and detention without charge. The London Times, the Washington Post, as well as Amnesty International, and other international bodies maintain that torture of Palestinians is a systematic policy of the State of Israel. The State of Israel has confiscated nearly one third of the total land area. New settlements are created and approximately 20,000 settlers now live in nearly 130 illegal settlements. 4/ A Palestinian farmer wakes up one day and finds a barbed wire fence separating his house from his land, the source of his subsistence. His land is confiscated for alleged "security reasons". He has no legal recourse and no way to object. Nearly every family has had at least one person in prison or in detention over the last fourteen years of occupation. The blowing up of homes is done on a systematic basis. Economic discrimination against the West Bank and Gaza exists under a situation of nearly 170 per cent inflation and seems to be designed to encourage the exodus of Palestinians from their homes. Leaders of the community have been deported and others have been killed and/or maimed in an attempt to silence opposition. Universities at Birzeit, Bethlehem and Nablus are harassed and closed periodically. Teachers are restricted; the schools have to pay import duties on equipment and research materials contrary to the practice applied to Israeli universities; and the staff are constantly threatened with deportation. A recent military order 854 - there are obviously 853 preceding orders - makes it a crime to sing a nationalist song or to exhibit the colours of the Palestinian flag.
Another one million Palestinians live in Jordan. Nearly 75 per cent of them still live in refugee camps. Even though they are permitted to carry Jordanian passports they strongly identify themselves as Palestinians. Some half a million more live in Lebanon, again mostly in the camps or in the shanty towns. They suffer, along with the Lebanese, the daily bombings of the Israeli air force as well as the navy and artillery. The balance are scattered in Syria, in the Gulf States, and in North and South America.
All Palestinians share the experience of exile, uprootedness, and the desire to return to their homes. Those who live in Israel or under occupation suffer from internal exile - the feeling of not belonging even in their own homes. Their literature shows a deep, almost mystical attachment to their land. As Tawfiq Zayyad, a well-known Palestinian poet and Mayor of Nazareth says: 5/
Here we have a past
and a future
Our roots are entrenched
Deep in the earth.
Like twenty impossibles
We shall remain.
Whether a Palestinian is born in New York, in Beirut or in Kuwait, he will identify himself as coming from Haifa, Acre or Jerusalem. Nationalist identification is transmitted from generation to generation and sustains the Palestinian community in its perseverance. Furthermore, history seems to repeat itself with such consistency that the massacres of Tel Zaatar in 1976 become for one generation what the massacre of Deir Yassin was for an earlier one. The exodus of 1967 was a rerun of the exodus of 1948; in March 1978, following the massive Israeli invasion of the South of Lebanon, television produced a rerun of the same exodus. The notion therefore that, as the Palestinians become historically removed from their tragedy they will ultimately forget, is sheer nonsense. The idea that they might get tired and quit is another exercise in self-delusion.
Many of the Palestinians who live in the Arab World have achieved wealth and status. Yet, in their elegant flats in Beirut and elsewhere they keep jars of Palestinian soil to remind them of their roots. The problems of exile and dispersion notwithstanding, the Palestinians have achieved a highly united sense of their national self. To have galvanized their widely scattered population in a dynamic movement of national liberation is a clear indication that this people will not die and will certainly not be swept under the rug of history. For them, the right to self-determination ultimately means the right to live as decent human beings in their own homes, free from outside interference, free to choose their own leaders, and free to establish their own institutions. It also means the ability to alleviate the human suffering, to eliminate the countless personal tragedies, the betrayals, the discrimination, and the prejudice that keep them hovering between their dreams and their reality.
For the region as a whole, peace begins in Palestine and war begins in Palestine. A fair and equitable settlement of this tragic problem is not only imperative, it is urgent. Any settlement must, at the very minimum, honour the international consensus representing the will of the international community. This consensus must be implemented. It is our responsibility to work, each in his own capacity, toward implementing it as soon as possible. The cause of peace and the lives of so many depend upon it.
2. The International Status of the Palestinian People (New York: United Nations, 1979); The Question of Palestine (New York: United Nations, 1979); Israel's Policy on the West Bank Water Resources (New York: United Nations, 1980); The Status of Jerusalem (New York: United Nations, 1979).
3. Edward Said, The Question of Palestine (New York: Times Books, 1979) especially chapter 3.
4. Ann Lesch, "Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories", Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. VII, no. 1, 1977, pp. 26-47.
5. Enemy of the Sun: Poetry of the Palestinian Resistance, ed. Naseer Aruri and Edmund Ghareeb, 1970.
CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
There are at least three basic factors behind the success achieved by the resistance movement.
(a) The changes within the Palestinian movement itself. Up to 1973, the priority given to the military side prevented the Fedayeen organizations from engaging in more varied forms of struggle and from taking coherent action at the political level. The lack of any sort of minimal programme prevented the resistance movement, for a long time, from gaining new allies. Once such a programme was drawn up, PLO was able to win over to its cause the majority of Members of the United Nations.
(b) The next factor, which allowed the resistance movement to assert itself internationally, was the failure of the efforts made by certain Arab countries to impose a solution which, to a greater or lesser degree, suited their interests.
(c) The third and last factor, which explains the ease with which the resistance movement accomplished its diplomatic breakthrough, is the situation in the Western world since the start of the energy crisis. By identifying this crisis with the Israeli-Arab conflict, Western public opinion became aware, for the first time, of the existence of the Palestinian problem and thus gave Western Governments the chance of acting more freely than before with respect to Israel by establishing with the Arab world economic relations capable of mitigating the effects of the crisis. In order for this initiative to succeed without major difficulties, European leaders absolutely need to normalize their relations with PLO, since it is currently the only political force to be listened to by people in all the Arab countries. Through these three factors, the recognition by the vast majority of the Palestinian reality, its national aspect and the threefold claim to self-determination, to independence and national sovereignty and to return, was resoundingly confirmed.
In order better to understand the problem, we must go back in time. The decision of the United Nations General Assembly of 29 November 1947 on the partition of Palestine into two States - a Jewish State and an Arab State linked by an economic union - was the result of the situation which had arisen in Palestine after the Second World War (influx of Jewish settlers over the years, intensification of the clashes between them and the indigenous Arab population which went as far as open armed struggle). Jerusalem was considered as a separate entity.
Following the first Arab-Israeli war, the United Nations decisions on the partition of Palestine were not implemented. Part of the territories which were to have made up the Palestinian Arab State, as well as west Jerusalem, found themselves under Israeli control. This did not, however, mean that the United Nations decision on the partition of Palestine and on the right of Palestinian Arabs to their own State was no longer binding. Nevertheless, in the 1950s and 1960s, efforts were made in the international arena to reduce the Palestinian problem to a question of refugees. The well-known resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 also represented such an approach. After the defeat suffered in the first Israeli-Arab war, Palestinian Arabs were for a long time not in a position to fight for their own rights. At this time, they supported primarily the idea of the liberation of Palestine by the armies of the Arab countries.
In 1964, PLO was founded. The following year, the Al-Fatah Organization took up arms again. The rapid development of Palestinian military organizations goes back to the 1967 war and the military defeat suffered by the Arab countries. Palestinians were persuaded that Palestine could not be liberated by the Arab armies alone. The outcome of the national liberation struggles in the third world countries were also influential in this respect.
The following years saw the development of Palestinian national awareness. The Palestinian movement's success in opposing the Israeli attack at Al-Karameh in 1968 underlined the growing importance of the Palestinian factor in the Middle East conflict. A growing number of States considered that, if lasting peace was to be established in the Middle East, action aimed at solving the refugee problem was not enough. The adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1969 of the resolution confirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people marked a clear shift from viewing the issue as a problem of Arab refugees to viewing it as a problem of the people of Palestine.
The following year, the confirmation of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination represented a new step forward. Under the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 14 October 1974, PLO was recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people and was invited to take part in the work of the twenty-ninth session on the Palestinian question. It subsequently obtained observer status at the United Nations. The establishment of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the hard work of that body made for a global approach to Palestinian national rights and their inclusion in the recommendations of the thirty-first session of the United Nations General Assembly. The opinion submitted by the Committee at the thirty-fourth session of the General Assembly that the Camp David agreements did not take account of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and had been negotiated without the participation of PLO, in contravention of paragraph 4 of General Assembly resolution 33/28 of 7 December 1978, deserves attention.
The possibilities open to the Committee for achieving a just solution of the Palestinian problem are of course limited. The decisions taken on the subject in the international forum demonstrate, however, that, if account is not taken of national rights, the Palestinian question cannot be settled.
It may thus be said that numerous United Nations documents adopted by a large majority of States reflect the inalienability of the rights of the Palestinian people.
In this context, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are as follows:
First, the right to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent and sovereign State;
Secondly, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force;
Thirdly, the right of PLO, as the representative of the Palestinian people, to participate on an equal footing in the search for a just solution to the problem of Palestine;
Fourthly, the right of Palestinians who have been displaced and uprooted to return to their homes.
The right to self-determination is a fundamental element of the modern international political order established by the United Nations Charter. It is one of the basic factors of understanding among peoples and nations; in other words, it determines peace. No one can claim that right for one people while denying it to another. This right should be exercised without external interference. It is linked to the right to establish one's own independent State, in Palestine as an undisputed right equal to the right of all peoples to independence. It may be said that the right to establish an independent State is included in the concept of the right to self-determination. It is the duty and responsibility of the international community to enable the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination.
Any settlement must provide for the application of all the principles contained in the Security Council resolutions and, in particular, resolution 242 (1967) which establishes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States in the region.
Despite the decisions of the international community which reflect those resolutions and recommendations, Israel is continuing to strengthen its illegal occupation of the Arab territories and to apply measures aimed at changing the physical nature, demographic composition and institutional structure, as well as the status of the territories occupied since 1967, including the Holy City of Jerusalem. Resolution 478 (1980), unanimously adopted by the Security Council on 1 March 1980, affirms that the measures adopted by Israel in the occupied territories and in the Holy City of Jerusalem are considered null and void. Israel's policy of occupation will only increase Palestinian despair and lead to new acts of violence. There is no doubt that the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 is fully applicable to the occupied territories. The settlement policy is a flagrant violation of that Convention.
There can be no successful settlement of the Palestine question without the participation of the Palestinian people - a people whose sole legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization, should participate directly on an equal footing with the other participants in any negotiation dealing with the Middle East crisis or dealing, directly or indirectly with the question of Palestine.
One positive sign is that in recent years there has been a considerable increase in the number of people who recognize this right. This can be seen from a growing international interest in the Palestinian question, greater solidarity with the Palestinian cause and a constant increase in the number of votes in favour of United Nations resolutions calling for settlement of the question.
Poland supported the 1947 General Assembly resolution on the partition of Palestine. Like many States in the world, we recognized the political realities which existed at that time in the Middle East, i.e. that there were two peoples in the territory of Palestine unable to coexist peacefully within a single State.
The partition into two States seemed to be a sound solution. In the following years, Poland did not submit the problem of establishing the Palestinian State to the United Nations, in view of the unrealistic approach to the Palestinian question on the part of the Arab countries. However, we supported all initiatives aimed at avoiding tension in the region. We actively supported the rights of the Palestinian people when, in 1969, the matter was raised again at the United Nations. We have given our support to all resolutions recognizing the rights of the Palestinians.
Poland's position with respect to the question of Palestine stresses the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all the territories occupied in 1967, the restoration of the right of the Arab people of Palestine to self-determination, including the establishment of its own independent State, and the protection of the sovereignty and security of all States in the region. The political settlement of the question also demands that no one should take measures which might make it more difficult to achieve these goals and that no State should interfere in the internal affairs of the countries or peoples of the region.
The seriousness with which Poland takes this stand and its genuine interest in seeking an over-all and lasting solution to the problems of the Middle East can be seen not only in words but in deeds, through our active commitment. Suffice it to mention the honourable service of several thousand Polish soldiers in the United Nations forces in the region.
The problems concerning the use of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel deserve more attention than they have received in the Western media. They are linked with the dichotomy created by the claim of a people to "return" to a land, exercised at the expense of another's to live and develop in theirs. Some observers declare that the desert now "blooms", only because large tracts of once fertile Palestinian territory has turned into barren wasteland. This paper asserts that under international law the occupying power in Palestine cannot have a free hand to affect such a change.
Expansion and Dependence:
The use of the Palestinian waters by Israel is linked with the escalated designs of the occupying power for complete annexation of the occupied territories and turning them into satellites of the Israeli economy in ways more than one. The Israeli policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are geared towards reducing these areas to the status of "colonies". When these two areas were occupied in 1967, their economies were already under-developed and labour power greatly undermined by continuous emigration. The economy of the occupied territories became dependent on the dominant Israeli economy, and a dependent specialization was imposed on them. 1/ This specialization was based on products and labour most needed for Israel. A so-called "division of labour" similar to the one between the developed capitalist societies and the under-developed countries is created between Israel and the occupied territories.
This kind of relationship is true in trade, agriculture and industry. Trade between the two has produced an increasing surplus for Israel. The volume of Israeli exports to the occupied territories increased very rapidly. While Israel exported industrial consumer goods to them, it imported from them mostly products which depend on intensive cheap labour.
With regard to agriculture, the Israeli authorities imposed various restrictions on the export of a number of products to Israel while they pressured Palestinians to grow products needed by them. In addition to this unequal transfer of value in agriculture, Palestinian labour is directly exploited inside Israel, where the number of Arab workers is rising steadily. This channelling of Arab labour force to unskilled manual work is accompanied by discrimination in wages, health and other benefits. The rapid decrease in the number of productive workers employed in the occupied territories serves to illustrate the destructive effect of Israeli policy on the economy of the West Bank and Gaza. If there is an increase in the purchasing power of the population, this is not the result of the development of the productive forces in the occupied territories; it is on account of increased employment. But the income earned from employment in Israel is spent on purchasing Israeli goods. Most of the native people are without electricity and water.
Settlements and Palestinian Bantustans:
The occupation of the Palestinian territories and the transformation of their economic structure go hand in hand with colonial settlement. The Israeli authorities planned a full-scale settlement project, beginning with agricultural-military enclaves and followed by urban industrialized centers. In later stages, the Israelis concentrated on changing the demographic composition of the areas by establishing Jewish centers that insulate the Arab population of the occupied territories into smaller pockets surrounded by these new settlements. The Israeli authorities began a campaign of confiscating Arab land as well as cutting their water supplies. These policies, designed to alter the Arab outlook of the occupied territories, are diminutive of the character of Zionism. The destruction of Arab villages, forced deportations, collective punishments, systematic undermining of native culture, denial of basic human rights and confiscation of natural resources are all manifestations of the same character.
The Israeli Government promotes new settlements as a step toward annexation of the occupied territories. Following the first anniversary of the Camp David accords, an Israeli Cabinet spokesman had announced that occupied Arab lands would be made available for purchase by Jewish settlers. The plan for the sale of such territory is a slap in the face to all international conventions regarding the conduct of an occupation force. The promotion of settlements itself constitutes a violation of Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s policy seems to be designed to "create facts" to render impossible any solution other than incorporation of the west Bank and Gaza with Israel. The native Arabs, on the other hand, recognize the settlements as most threatening because, regardless of their location, size and stated purpose, they seem to be a euphemism for the theft of their land. Among others, Dr. Israel Shahaq, the former Chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights and Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, exposed several times the sort of "Palestinian Bantustans", which Israel intends to create on the occupied territories.
Palestinian Waters and the West Bank:
That concerns us here directly is that each new Jewish settlement has established a complete system, of irrigation besides big water reservoirs in the event of shortage. The water resources of Palestine are being exploited (a) for the under-ground aquifer which feeds the Israeli coastal plane and also (b) to supply the settlements which Israel has established throughout the occupied territories.
Palestine is situated between a sub-tropical rainy region in the north and a desert zone in the south. All the major water resources are concentrated in the north, the most important being the Jordan River and its tributaries, which assemble the rainfall of the Hermon basin.
The physical geography of Palestine is surprisingly complex. In the extreme north, the hills of Lebanon range continue without break to form the uplands of Galilee. The Galilee hills fall away steeply on the east to Jordan Valley, on the west to a narrow coastal plain and to the south at the Vale of Esdaelon. At its western end, the vale opens into the Bay of Acre, but narrows inland to open out again where it joins the Jordan Valley. The lowland area here has very fertile soil. In the north, the plateau erodes into valleys, some of which are fertile. This portion of the land centers on Nablus and Jenin. Further south, rainfall is reduced, streams are fewer and the landscape arid. Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron are the main towns. In the north-east, one reaches an area of semi-desert. In the extreme south, one finds the Negev, consisting of steppe or semi-desert, bounded by the lower Jordan Valley on the east and the Sinai Desert on the west. The low coastal plain stretches from Haifa to Gaza.
Most of the water in the West Bank flows into a huge natural ground reservoir underneath the western hills. Together with supplies from the Jordan River and smaller rivulets, the area has about 650 million cubic meters of water at its disposal annually. However, about 620 million cubic meters of this amount can be used. The rainfall on the western slopes of the West Bank highlands feeds the aquifer beneath the Israeli coastal plain, from where it is pumped to the surface. Approximately 30 percent of the total water Israelis use within the "Green Line", the old pre-1967 border, originates as rainfall in the West Bank. It is asserted that Israel would face economic catastrophe if it lost its access to this rainfall. Hence, a nightmare of Israeli water planners is an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, which uses its water potential for its own development. It has also been argued that one important reason for the Six Days War had been the Israeli desire to control the water resources.
Since 1967, Israel has drilled deep wells near the border of the West Bank, tapping underground water reservoir. An increasing amount of the West Bank reserves are thus being diverted to the territories occupied in 1948. Exploited to the maximum, any further pumping would put the water level below sea level and thus make it salty. The Palestinian peasants have to watch powerlessly as their wells and springs slowly become salty and finally dry up completely.
These resources are administered by the Israeli Water Commission, headed by the Water Commissioner under the authority of the Minister of Agriculture. The Commission is divided into a number of departments, of which Mekorot (Israel Water Company) is responsible for the construction of irrigation and water supply projects and Tahal (Water Planning for Israel Company) for the over-all planning of water development projects. Mekorot was established in 1936 by the Jewish Agency and the Histadrut. The Israeli Government currently has one-third share in the Mekorot. Tahal was established in 1952 as a company of the Israeli Government, which controls 52 percent of the shares. Where water supplies are not channelled through either of the two, authority rests with the Water Commission Department for Water Allocation and Certification. Since 1967, the Israeli Water Commission has directly controlled the water resources of the territories occupied at the end of the Six Days War. The pre-1967 Israeli water economy was integrated into a central National Water Carrier system, consisting of open canals (the Jordan and the Netupha Canals), tunnels (Menashe A and B, Shimron and Eilabun), water reservoirs (Tzalman and Eshkol) and a pipeline. This system carries water from the north to the southern areas.
Israel wants to continue this control both because of the danger to water reserves inside the Green Line and because it will be impossible to establish new settlements without such supervision. The use of water is necessarily connected with Israeli positions on aspects of so-called "autonomy" in the occupied territories. After returning from the Camp David talks in the Fall in 1978, Menachem Begin had appointed a committee to formulate Israeli positions in this respect. The committee received a memorandum from the Israeli Water Commission, stating that not only did a free hand in establishing new settlements in the occupied areas depend on continuing Israeli control over the water resources in any "autonomy" scheme in the West Bank, but also that Israeli water needs within the Green Line necessitated the same control. The Israeli Cabinet was likewise advised that Israel ought to have the final say in the use of waters in any kind of arrangement.
The gravity of the situation becomes more apparent when one remembers that the Israeli water consumption increases by 15-20 million cubic meters annually. The difference between the supply and demand is being met through over-pumping, one result of which is that the water resources of Palestine are now threatened by salinity. It is estimated that the future increase in urban population and in standards of living would necessitate the development of close to additional 400 million cubic meters of water toward 1990.
Israel's use of West Bank waters is a clear and gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. On account of such calculated Israeli position, many Arab villages and towns have lost their water. For instance, the banana and citrus groves around the Palestinian village of Al-Auja 2/ in the Jordan Valley have died. Al-Auja is situated near Ariha (Jericho), believed to be one of the oldest continually inhabited towns in the globe. Its inhabitants have been tapping water in the highlands and growing bananas and citrus fruits. These products provided, in the past, a decent living for farmers, most of whom are small holders.
However, the irrigation canals are now cracked; the pipe, built in 1954, to bring the water to the valley and the village, has completely dried up; the fruit trees are sunburnt, and the brown colour of even the pine trees indicate that drought is near. Even the UNRWA, the United Nations aid organization for Palestinian refugees, which runs a camp in this locality, has to get its water by tank car every day.
This radical change was inevitable, because the Israeli occupation authorities have drilled three wells around the water source that gave life to the Jericho oasis. Alongside the canal and also beneath the ground, there are two new pipes which supply water to the Israeli settlements. These pipes are fed by two deep lore wells, with two pumping stations equipped with electric generator and diesel pumps, sucking water at about 250 cubic meters an hour. The third deep lore well was sunk behind a low hill. Consequently, the Al-Auja spring, which irrigated fruit trees to a bright green, even on the hottest days of summer, is now dry. The loss of irrigation first killed about 375 acres of bananas and some 100 acres of citrus groves. The Al-Auja farmers were also used to plant three crops a year of melons and vegetables on 500 acres. But crops thrived in the new Israeli settlements of Gilgal, Na'aran and Yitav, built on confiscated Arab land. The Palestinians carry water on donkey back from the two taps which the Israeli authorities opened to provide limited quantities of water for home consumption. The inhabitants of Al-Auja appealed to the Israeli authorities to stop the pumping away of the water or permit the villagers to drill a new well. The military authorities have declined the suggestions. In the meantime, the Israeli settlements are becoming greener. Gilgal is a small kibbutz, comprising about eighty families. But Israel has made up plans for a total of 8,000 settlers in the West Bank by 1995. This figure is still very small compared to the Palestinian population there. But the settlers control about half of the land around Aoiha, and he who controls the water resources is sovereign over the West Bank.
Likewise, the villages of Bardala and Tal al-Baida 3/ have also lost their water. Bardala is a small hill village, five miles from the Jordan River and ten miles south of Beit Shean. Some of the inhabitants have fled, and those who have stayed depend on a well in the valley below. The well that the Israelis built in 1968 is much deeper than the Arab one and very close to it. The Arab reservoir is now dry, and the Israeli water authority suggested to the village mukhtar that Bardala be connected to the Israeli supply. As farmers, the Arabs cannot survive without adequate water. But they are reluctant to take a step that will make them wholly dependent on Israel.
The springs of a near-by village, Tal al-Baida, have been reduced to muddy ponds. Here, the village leaders have accepted connection to the Israeli system. The Israelis claim that they are helping the West Bankers by passing on their technical skills in irrigation. But this cannot compensate for the loss of water, which is their most precious resource. Prior to 1970, the central spring in the village of Tal al-Baida supplied 80 cubic meters of water per hour. By the summer of 1976, the output of the spring had declined to 5 cubic meters.
The same phenomenon is true with the villages of Jenin, Beit Dibs, Toubas, Salfit, Jiftlik and others. For example, on August 14, 1979, the citizens of Jenin in the West Bank asked for permission to dig wells in their area instead of depending on the well of the village in Arabeh. Their request has been refused. In the village of Beit Dibs, 80 percent of the cultivated land has become arid, while 90 percent of its inhabitants were dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. In a press conference held on January 23, 1980, Hashem Saleh, the Mayor of Toubas, warned of the grave dangers lying in the well-drilling activities of the Israeli authorities in the Toubas region. 4/ He said that over 140 water projects had been drawn up while Palestinian requests for permission to sink wells were almost invariably turned down. The Mayor elaborated that the Israeli authorities had sealed off 80,000 dunums of fertile land belonging to the Palestinian inhabitants of Toubas. Similarly, wells were being bored to supply a number of villages in the Salfit area, west of Nablus. In 1979, after refusing for twelve years (since 1967) permission for completion of the project, the Israeli authorities themselves finished it; but they have pumped it to the Jewish settlement of Alqana instead.
There are instances where official refusal to permit the improvement of Palestinian agricultural water supply can be explained only by determination to prevent the development of the native people. At Jiflik, in the Jordan Valley, the farmers are irrigating their crops by utilizing the traditional system of ditches. An American voluntary organization provided the funds to replace the open canals with pipes in order to conserve the water lost on account of evaporation. Although this project did not involve drawing more water, the Israeli Government refused the permit.
Nor is it only the villages that are adversely affected. The town of Ramallah has lost its main source of water, the spring at Ain Samiya. The political consequences are clear: it makes it even harder than it already is to envisage a future, in which Jerusalem and Ramallah will be in different countries. The west Bank municipality of Ramallah has been pressured into agreeing to take some water from the Israeli Water Carrier system. Many Palestinians resisted against this partial integration into the national Israeli water network, since this move constituted one more step in Israeli plans to integrate the occupied areas.
Since 1967, the Israeli authorities thwarted a number of attempts by the Ramallah Water Board to create an autonomous water supply system sufficient to meet the area's needs. For instance, when Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, the Jordanian Government was nearing completion of a project to increase the water supply to Ramallah by digging new wells twelve miles to the west at Shibteen. With occupation, the Israelis ordered the well diggings to stop. While the area became dry, many of the farmers turning to wage labour, the Israeli settlement of Kfar Shuba, within sight of the new desert, has received permission to bore new wells for their own use.
The Gaza Strip, the Golan and Litani River:
In Gaza as well, new Israeli settlements are diverting the water supplies. Israeli colonization in Gaza and the Rafah Approaches is heavy. In the former, there are five (Netzer Hazani, Kativ, Ganei Tal, Morag and Kfar Daron) settlements, additional ones in their way of establishment. In the latter, there are fifteen settlements, in addition to the city of Yamit. The Gazans owe their livelihood to agriculture, citrus production accounting for one-quarter of the GNP. But they are refused the permit to plant new citrus trees, even to replace the damaged ones. Some trees are uprooted as punishment for "offenses". 5/
An important project that will affect the future of Gaza concerns the construction of a Mediterranean-Dead Sea canal. This project is defended on grounds that it is the only effective way of salvaging the Dead Sea. But it also reveals the Israeli intention to annex Gaza. Although approved by the Israeli Cabinet in August 1980, it is not a new idea, Theodor Herzl having discussed the same in his diaries. Israel, however, has renewed investigations in respect to digging such a canal (a) either along the suggestion of Yogal Allon, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, designed to go from Haifa, through the Jezreel Valley to Beit Shean, to a point south of Lake Kinneret, (b) or to follow the northern mountain route from Palmahim to Kalia, or (c) to start in the Deir al-Balah area (the Gaza Strip) to Massada. This costly project may save the Dead Sea, but it is irrelevant to Israel's fresh water consumption problem.
Besides, since half of the Dead Sea, together with its industrial minerals, belongs to Jordan, the canal project provokes political controversy with this neighbouring country, raising legal problems as well, because the massive inflow of water would change the level of the Dead Sea and require adjustments for continued Jordanian mining on the eastern shore of the sea.
Since 1967 the Golan Heights has also been subject to intensive Israeli colonization. The majority of the native Syrian population has been expelled and new Jewish settlements established. Not being abundant in local water supplies, only 20 percent of the Golan Heights water consumption was supplied by local resources, the rest being pumped from Lake Kinneret. The southern region, suffering from acute water shortage, is heavily settled by Israelis.
In the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, the Israeli authorities are tightening control over the Palestinian use of the water. No existing well, owned by the Palestinians, has been allowed to increase its pumping capacity. Water meters have been placed by the Israeli authorities on existing Arab wells to keep a daily check. The control extends even to the purchase of new parts for pumps. The Israelis constantly apply an increase to the cost of water. This added financial burden comes in the context of the worsening economic situation of the Palestinians, who are hit hardest by the chronic galloping inflation. On occasions, the Israeli authorities offer money to Palestinian farmers who would agree to pull down an orange tree on his farm, under the pretext of conserving water resources. 6/
Israel is also interested in the Litani River (Lebanon), which rises in the Bekaa, flows southwards, and then, at a short distance from the Israeli frontier, makes sudden bend westwards and plunges through the Lebanon mountains by a deep gorge. It is necessary to remember here that the boundaries of the projected Jewish state, defined by the Zionist Advisory Committee on Palestine on November 6, 1918, had included the Litani River in the north. 7/ It is not surprising that lately Israeli air attacks and troop incursions into south Lebanon have been increasing in intensity and in regularity. The aerial bombardments are specifically aimed at civilian targets. Even as the Islamic Summit Conference was ending in Taef on January 29, 1981, Israeli planes launched one of the most concerted air attacks ever against towns and villages in south Lebanon. Israel renews attacks on grounds that they are spontaneous responses to PLO raids. But international law does not allow the government of one state to invade another state as a reprisal for acts of resistance carried out by people whose territory had earlier been occupied by the first state. 8/
Sovereignty Over Natural Resources:
Several international instruments and decisions condemn Israel's actions in respect to the diversion of Palestinian water resources. Article 17 of the Declaration of Human Rights (1948) lays the basic principle that "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property". Article 53 states that "any destruction by the Occupying Power of movable or immovable property...is prohibited." 9/ Aspects of the right of property have been considered by the UN General Assembly and given further clarification. The Declaration on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources (1962) 10/ deals with aspects of the right to own property against the background of the right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources. The General Assembly resolution 1314 (XIII) of December 12, 1958 had already established the Commission on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. This commission was instructed to conduct a full survey of the status of permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources as a basic constituent of the right to self-determination. Resolution 1515 (XV) of December 15, 1960 recommended that the sovereign right of every state to dispose of its wealth and its natural resources should be respected. It was on this basis that the General Assembly resolution 1803 (XVII) of December 14, 1962 declared that the right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned" and that violation of this right "is contrary to the spirit and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and hinders the development of international cooperation and the maintenance of peace".
The General Assembly took further decisions on the matter. On December 15, 1975, it condemned the illegal exploitation of the natural wealth, resources and population of the occupied territories. 11/ In 1977, the General Assembly considered a report by the Secretary-General on "the adverse economic effects on the Arab states and peoples resulting from repeated Israeli aggression and continued occupation of their territories." 12/ After taking note of the report, the General Assembly, in resolution 32/161 of December 19, 1977 13/, emphasized "the right of the Arab States and peoples whose territories are under Israeli occupation to full and effective permanent sovereignty and control over their natural and all other resources, wealth and economic activities", reaffirmed that "all measures undertaken by Israel to exploit the human, natural and all other resources, wealth and economic activities in the occupied Arab territories are illegal" and called upon Israel "immediately to desist forthwith from all such measures". It further reaffirmed the right of the Arab States and peoples subjected to Israeli aggression and occupation to the restitution of, and full compensation for the exploitation, depletion and loss of and damage to, their natural, human all other resources, wealth and economic activities." The General Assembly called upon all states to support and assist the Arab States and peoples in the exercise of their above-mentioned rights... and not to recognize or cooperate with or assist in any manner in any measures undertaken by Israel to exploit the resources of the occupied territories or to effect any changes in the demographic composition or geographic character or institutional structure of those territories."
Since the water shortage in Israel is increasing and Israel's settlement policy is expanding, the expropriation of Palestine water is also increasing proportionately. 14/ Israel's attitude towards the future of the occupied territories and its rejection of the establishment of a Palestinian state on them can be partially attributed to the water factor on these Palestinian lands. As W. T. Mallison, Jr., in his "Foreword" to Henry Cattan's brilliant factual and juridical analysis 15/ brings out convincingly, universal international law is a constructive alternative for Palestine.
The international community is coming to realize that the present situation in Palestine is the result of an accumulation of illegalities. The question of Palestine, since its inception, has been one of avoidance of law. This injustice must be rectified. Israel's terms, however, do not contemplate the redress of the injustice done. Moreover, that country continues to act in a way that the expulsion of the Palestinians from their own land becomes a permanent fact.
The usurpation of the water resources of the native Arab people of Palestine is a recent manifestation of the same illegitimate policies. The only way to restore right through means other than a struggle of national liberation is for the United Nations to secure the implementation of its decisions and formulas for lasting peace. As stated in the General Assembly resolution of November 3, 1950, lasting peace also depends on the observance of the resolutions of the UN organs. About two-hundred such resolutions have been adopted in respect to Palestine. The ones quoted in this paper pertain to sovereignty over resources and the rights of the native peoples on their own natural wealth. Actual UN intervention is necessary to put these resolutions into effect. There can be no peace and no justice in Palestine without the legitimate coercion of this international body. The problem of the diversion of the water resources is part of the greater problem of Palestine. Such coercion is politically necessary, and it is also an international obligation.
2. A leading Norwegian daily Dagbladet published in its June 6, 1980 issue a detailed account on the way the Israeli occupation authorities have been strangulating Al-Auja. "The Desert is Blossoming; the Fields are Drying Up," Palestine, Beirut, Vol. VI, No. 14 (1-15 August 1980), pp. 18-20.
3. "The Politics of Water on the West Bank," Journal of Palestine Studies, Beirut, Vol. VII, No. 4 (Summer 1978), pp. 175-177.
4. Palestine, Beirut, Vol. VI, No. 2 (1-15 February 1980), p. 32.
5. For instance, Israeli forces uprooted on January 26, 1981, orange trees in a grove owned by Gaza municipal council member Dr. Akram Matar. They pretended that a bomb was hurled from the groves, situated on the Gaza-Khan Yonunes Road, on an Israeli car.
6. Palestine, Beirut, Vol. VI, No. 1 (January 1980), p. 94.
7. H. P. Frischwasser-Raaman, The Frontiers of a Nation, London, Batchworth, 1955, p. 101.
8. Faris Glubb, "International Law and South Lebanon," Palestine, Beirut, Vol. IV, No. 9 (May 31, 1978), pp. 8-10.
9. On the flagrant Israeli contraventions of several international instruments on human rights: Ghazi Khurshid, Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: 1971, Beirut, Palestine Research Center, 1973, passim.
10. United Nations, Human Rights: A Compilation of International Instruments, New York, 1978, pp. 21-22.
11. Abdeen Jabara, Israel's Violation of Human Rights in Arab Territories Occupied in June 1967, (New York) National Lawyer's Guild, n. d., pp. 3-4.
13. United Nations, United Nations Action in the Field of Human Rights, New York, 1980, pp. 40-41.
14. Israel's Policy on the West Bank Water Resources, New York, 1980, p. 15.
15. Henry Cattan, Palestine and International Law, London, Longman, 1973.
The Palestinian problem concerns not only the refugees but the interests and the fate of a whole people, the only people deprived of their legitimate rights in the Middle East, who cannot yet realize their right to self-determination and to the creation of their own State structures in accordance with the norms and principles of international law.
Everyone knows that the Palestinian people, who possess a history that is thousands of years old, are forced to live through a tragedy, one that has lasted for a third of a century already. This tragedy stems from the fact that the Zionist entity robbed the Palestinians of their ancestral lands in 1947-1949 and, particularly after its 1967 aggression, drove them from their homes and deprived them of their homeland) it has transformed a whole nation, proud of its history, into a mass of refugees and subjected it to occupation.
It would be hard to find such an example of brutality and inhuman and illegal treatment inflicted on a whole nation. Nothing and no one could justify the mass murder of this nation. Depriving other nations and other peoples of their native lands and their homes in order to acquire "living space" for its own nation constitutes one of the fundamental characteristics of Fascist ideology, policy and practice. Such are the ideology, policy and practice of zionism: to find "living space" to the detriment of other peoples.
The Palestinian question is as old as the United Nations itself. The United Nations has been studying it ever since its establishment, just as the League of Nations had done before it.
An in-depth examination of the question of Palestine since the First World War, and particularly since 1947, shows us that the essence of the Palestinian question lies in the fate of a people and their own homeland - a people who, like all the peoples of the world, have rights which are clearly laid down by the Charter of the United Nations, by various international conventions, declarations, communiqués and commitments and by the relevant resolutions and documents of the United Nations. These rights are the fundamental rights which cannot be alienated and which cannot be ceded to another or usurped.
Taking these considerations into account, I would like to deal here with two points: the national identity of the Palestinian people and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national sovereignty and independence.
I. THE NATIONAL IDENTITY OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
The Palestinians actually constituted the people of Palestine well before the twentieth century.
Over a long period, the preponderant population of Palestine had remained Palestinian Arab. That was why, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the population of Palestine still included a vast Arab and mainly Moslem majority. According to the estimate made on the eve of the First World War of the Palestinian population as a whole, there were less than 10 per cent Jews there, 10 per cent Christians and 80 per cent Moslems with their own language and culture, which was dominant in Palestine.
At the time when the Ottoman Empire was in decline, the Arab subjects of that empire, who wished their independence, had received from the British Government assurances guaranteeing their accession to independence after the end of the war, within the limits proposed by the Sherif of Mecca. During the First World War, the policy of Great Britain in the Middle East consisted of making contradictory promises to the Arabs and to the Zionists. Sir Henry McMahon promised the Emir Hussein the establishment of a great Arab political community over the whole of the Near East; and to the Zionist Movement the creation of a Jewish national home on the land of Palestine.
The reasons for the promises made to the Arabs was to have the operations of the British Army in Egypt supported by a general revolt of the Arabs against the Ottoman Empire. In return, the British would grant them independence throughout the territory liberated from the Ottoman yoke.
In spite of these promises, the Entente Powers proceeded, amid the greatest secrecy to carve up the Middle East. Thus, on 16 May 1916, according to the Sykes-Picot agreement, France and Great Britain divided up the Middle East. After the defeat of the Allies’ expeditionary corps in the Dardanelles and the British offensive in Mesopotamia, the London Government accorded considerable importance to Arab co-operation. On 14 July 1916, McMahon, in his message to Sherif Hussein, affirmed that the independence of the Arab countries was definitively recognized by His Majesty's Government. Following that message, Sherif Hussein undertook to participate on the British side in the war against the Turks, in order to liberate the Arab territories from foreign domination. After that commitment, a series of statements from the Franco-English Government reaffirmed that the Arab countries would be liberated after the war. On 27 May 1917, General Allenby, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces in the East, proclaimed that all the inhabitants of Palestine must celebrate that day with joy, because they would henceforth be independent and free to choose the Government of their choice. However, Sherif Hussein, having found the text of the Sykes-Picot secret treaty, was surprised and transmitted it to the British Government with a request for explanation. The British Government reassured Sherif Hussein by confirming its earlier promises regarding the liberation of the Arab peoples. On 30 October 1918, with the defeat of Turkey, the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. The British and French Governments, in a joint declaration, once more reassured the Arab peoples concerning their independence.
The Zionist Movement, in turn, in the same way as the Arabs, received promises from Great Britain. This Movement, which was in search of a territory in which to establish the Zionist State, benefited greatly from the support of Great Britain.
The First Zionist Congress, held at Basle on 27 August 1897 under the presidency of Theodor Herzl, declared that "the objective of zionism is the establishment of a national home for Jews in Palestine, secured by public law". On 3 September 1897, Herzl declared, with regard to the Basle Congress: "If I had to sum up the Basle Congress in one word, which I shall be careful not to do publicly, I would says at Basle I founded the Jewish State".
Herzl was aware that the Jewish people could not settle in Palestine unless they found a great Power which would take them under its protection. This protection was provided by Great Britain following the discovery, by the head of the Zionist Movement, Chaim Weizmann, of a formula for the synthetic manufacture of acetone to be used for the production of explosives. Weizmann, as a reward, asked Lloyd George to create a Jewish national home in Palestine. That request was accepted by the British Government. Balfour, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, addressed a letter to Lord Lionel Rothschild informing him that His Majesty's Government viewed with favour the establishment of a "Jewish national home" in Palestine and that he would make every effort to facilitate the achievement of that objective. Thus, the British Government, by a statement known as the Balfour Declaration, on 2 November 1917, entered into commitments towards the Zionists by giving the Zionist organization assurances with regard to the establishment of a "Jewish national home" in Palestine, without taking account of the wishes and interests of the Palestinian peoples. For their part, France, Italy and the United States fully approved this Declaration. The motives behind the Declaration and the reasons for the approval of the three Powers did not lie in the fact of the establishment of a Jewish national home but in the wish to safeguard their interests in the Middle East.
It should be noted that the Balfour Declaration mentions the establishment of a Jewish national home and not of a Jewish State. However, that in no way reduces Great Britain's responsibility for the establishment of the Zionist State, because it knew as early as 1897 that the Zionist Movement wanted to establish a State in Palestine and not a Jewish national home. In that connexion, Herzl, at the Sixth Zionist Congress at Basle in August 1903, declared: "Our ultimate objective is the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine endowed with all the attributes of sovereignty. But it would be inappropriate to proclaim it now. It is better to present the matter in the most modest light, referring to the establishment of a Jewish national home, if only in order not to alienate useful sympathies and obtain from one of the great Powers the protection that is essential for the achievement of our objectives". The Arab people of Palestine, aware of the danger of the establishment of a Jewish national home on their land, categorically disapproved of the British initiative.
On 7 March 1920, the Syrian General Congress, condemning the transformation of Palestine into a Jewish national home, demanded from the Allies the full and inalienable independence of Syria within its natural frontiers, including Palestine, on the basis of civic representation.
In spite of this protest, on 26 April 1920, the Allied Powers met at San Remo and approved the Balfour Declaration, deciding to entrust the Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain. The choice of Great Britain as the mandatary Power constitutes a violation of the mandate system, inasmuch as it was laid down, in the case of a class A mandate, that the wishes of these communities, already highly evolved, should be taken into consideration in the choice of a mandatary Power. On 24 July 1922, the League of Nations entrusted the Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain, without any consultation of the Palestinian population. Furthermore, the Arab countries did not belong to the League of Nations at that time and were thus not in a position to give their views on the matter.
As for the Mandate itself, its illegality is on two levels:
I. The illegality of the Balfour Declaration lies in the fact that Great Britain had, at that time, no sovereignty, no title of ownership, and no right on the basis of which it could offer Palestine to the Zionist Movement without consultation of its population. Hence, it may be said that this Declaration is a violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
II. The illegality of the Mandate for Palestine lies in the fact that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations states that the mandatary Power has an obligation to maintain these territories in their original integrity and hence to respect the full rights of their population. The League of Nations, by including the Balfour Declaration in the Mandate for Palestine, violated Article 22 of the Covenant to which it owed its existence. Moreover, the Mandate for Palestine was class A, i.e., the mandatary Power was to recognize its provisional independence and provide, within a very short time, for its full independence. Furthermore, according to Article 29 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Mandate itself, the exercise of sovereignty by the Palestinian people was suspended only temporarily. Upon the expiry of the Mandate, that sovereignty should have reverted in its original integrity to its legitimate holder: the Palestinian people. That was not the case. On the contrary, with the waves of Jewish immigration facilitated by Great Britain and the expulsion of the Arab population by force and terror, the Zionists took possession of Palestine in order to found there, not a Jewish national home in accordance with the Balfour Declaration, but a Zionist State. In order to establish a Jewish State in Palestine, the Jewish Agency entered into contact with Truman, who promised the Zionists to use his influence to persuade Great Britain to return its Mandate to the United Nations, which would proceed to a partition of Palestine.
Great Britain, having observed the keen interest taken by the United States Government in the Zionist Movement, requested it to assist in the discharge of the Mandate, sharing the financial and administrative costs involved. In the face of the Americans' refusal to share the responsibilities of the Mandate, the British Government decided to send the Palestinian problem back to the United Nations. With the question before it, the United Nations, on 13 May 1947, created a Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). This Committee was entrusted with the Palestinian problem. Upon the appointment of the members of the Committee on Palestine, it could be foreseen that the Zionist solution, because of the choice of members, would be adopted by UNSCOP. However, upon its arrival in Palestine, the Committee was surprised to find a situation very different from that which it had expected; influenced by Zionist propaganda, it had imagined that Palestine was basically Jewish. However, the investigations which it conducted produced the following data:
I. A federal State with Palestine remaining a unitary State in which Jews and Arabs would enjoy equal rights; as this plan was not in conformity with Zionist aims, the Jewish Agency intervened with the United States Government in order to request it to use its influence and have it set aside;
II. A partition plan under which Palestine would be divided into three parts: a Jewish State, an Arab State and the City of Jerusalem administered by the United Nations.
The two drafts were put to the vote on 27 August 1947. The partition plan obtained 7 votes and the federal plan 3 votes. Thus, the partition plan was retained in spite of all good sense. The Arabs protested keenly, holding the partition plan unacceptable. However the General Assembly, under the influence of the United States, in resolution 181 (III) of 29 November 1947, adopted the partition plan. The Zionists, profiting from this situation, established the State of Israel. Since that time, the Palestinian problem has remained unresolved. From 1947 until 1969, because of the situation of war and the non-creation of the Arab State in Palestine, the legal aspects of the question of Palestine remained in suspense.
For nearly 20 years, the essential question of the recognition and exercise of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was eclipsed by the Middle East conflict. During this period because of imperialist-Zionist intrigues, the Palestinian question was regarded essentially as a "refugee problem". Unquestionably, this unrealistic and unjust way of dealing with the question was contrary to the right of the Palestinian people, their right to self-determination and their inalienable right to return to their homes.
However, the United Nations General Assembly, breaking the first link of the imperialist-Zionist conspiracy, adopted, at its twenty-fourth session, resolution 2535 (XXIV) of 29 December 1969, which recognized that "the problem of the Palestine Arab refugees has arisen from the denial of their inalienable rights under the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". This resolution also recognized the Palestinians as a people having a national identity and reaffirmed "the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine".
II. THE RIGHT OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE TO SELF-DETERMINATION
The right of peoples to self-determination is undeniably one of the peremptory norms of international law arising from jus cogens.
World action to preserve and strengthen peace and to promote disarmament and detente is closely linked to the struggle of oppressed peoples to achieve self-determination and both national and social liberation. Peace, a peaceful future and progress by mankind can be guaranteed and ensured in the long run only if those peoples who are still suffering from colonial and racial oppression can also exercise their right to self-determination and independence.
The recognition, exercise and universal application of the right of peoples to self-determination, national sovereignty and independence is one of the fundamental prerequisites for the effective enjoyment of human rights.
The United Nations Charter and other relevant international instruments provide in principle that all peoples and nations have the right to self-determination.
This right was firmly stressed in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which marked the beginning of the universal trend towards the complete elimination of colonialism, and which continues to provide a firm foundation for many United Nations decisions and other international instruments and is a fundamental source of encouragement in the struggle for national liberation waged by colonial and dependent peoples.
This right is also set forth in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966. Similar resolutions on the matter have been adopted by the General Assembly at subsequent sessions.
It is evident that no exception should be made in the case of the Palestinian people, whose demands are solidly based and are of long standing.
The United Nations General Assembly, as already stated, has recognized this right of the Palestinian people ever since it has dealt with the problem of Palestine.
When the United Nations General Assembly was first called upon to consider the question of Palestine, it adopted the resolution recognizing the right of the Arab people of Palestine to an independent State in Palestine, which, without question, amounts to direct recognition of the status of the people of Palestine.
Since 1969, it has constantly recalled the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national sovereignty and independence.
The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people have been steadfastly reaffirmed in a series of resolutions adopted since 1970 by the General Assembly, which reaffirmed the earlier calls upon Israel to evacuate the territories occupied in 1967 and to respect the right of return of refugees and which recognized the link existing between the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, their right to self-determination and the attainment of peace in the Middle East. Thus, in paragraph 1 of resolution 2672 C (XXV) of 8 December 1970, the Assembly recognized "that the people of Palestine are entitled to equal rights and self-determination, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations", while in paragraph 2 it declared that "full respect for the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine is an indispensable element in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East". Resolution 3089 (XXVIII) of 7 December 1973 also reaffirmed that "the enjoyment by the Palestine Arab refugees of their right to return to their homes and property ... is indispensable ... for the exercise by the people of Palestine of its right to self-determination".
A year after the 1973 Middle East war, when a majority of countries once again called for the inclusion in the agenda of the General Assembly of the item entitled "Question of Palestine", the cause of the Palestinian people for self-determination had made rapid progress. In October, the Arab Heads of State and Government, meeting at Rabat, recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and reaffirmed the right of the Arab people of Palestine to return to their homeland and their right to self-determination. The following month the General Assembly adopted resolution 3236 (XXIX), an essential instrument in the reaffirmation and international recognition of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. In paragraph 1, the resolution reaffirmed:
(a) The right to self-determination without external interference;
(b) The right to national independence and sovereignty.
Paragraph 6 appealed to all States and international organizations to extend their support to the Palestinian people in its struggle to restore its rights, in accordance with the Charter. Paragraph 7 of resolution 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974 "Requests the Secretary-General to establish contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization on all matters concerning the question of Palestine". Resolution 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974 conferred the status of permanent observer at the General Assembly and other international conferences convened under the auspices of the United Nations on the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the people in Palestine, with the appearance of which the Palestinian resistance movement, qualitatively, entered a new stage of development and action. This status allows the PLO numerous, unprecedented rights. It enjoys, with the exception of the right to vote, advantages comparable to those of member States in international organizations, the right to receive assistance from the international community, the right to maintain a permanent mission, the right to the protection of the Geneva Conventions. ...
For greater clarity and in order to determine how these rights should be implemented, a committee was established under resolution 3376 (XXX) of 10 November 1975. It was requested "to consider and recommend to the General Assembly a programme of implementation, designed to enable the Palestinian people to exercise the rights recognized in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Assembly resolution 3236 (XXIX)". Resolution 3379 (XXX) of the same date equated zionism with racism and racial discrimination.
The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination was thus officially recognized by the international community. Similar resolutions have been adopted in subsequent years, including the resolution of 29 July 1980, by which the General Assembly, recalling and reaffirming its resolutions 3236 (XXIX) and 3237 (XXIX) and all other relevant United Nations resolutions pertinent to the question of Palestine, reaffirmed the inalienable rights in Palestine of the Palestinian people including the right to self-determination without external interference, and to national independence and sovereignty; and the right to establish its own independent sovereign State.
It should be noted that international recognition of the Palestinian people and their inalienable right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence has also been accorded outside the United Nations. As well as by the General Assembly, these rights have been recognized in resolutions adopted at conferences of non-aligned countries and at Islamic conferences, which reflects the commitment of the international community.
Yet, despite this basic commitment by the international community, American imperialism and the Zionists, by concluding separate deals to the detriment of Palestinian and Arab interests, have sought to eliminate the Palestine liberation movement, to legalize the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and to condemn the Arab people of Palestine to eternal exile. This blatantly violates the Charter of the United Nations, General Assembly resolutions and other relevant United Nations instruments and is clearly incompatible with the generally recognized principles and norms of international law, including the right of peoples to self-determination.
It should be noted that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national sovereignty and independence has been established beyond question. It remains for the international community, in particular the United Nations, to take specific, definitive steps to ensure implementation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and to carry out its role and discharge its obligations to provide that people with its own independent State.
The people and Government of the Republic of Afghanistan, in accordance with their firm support for and revolutionary solidarity with the fraternal people of Palestine and their legitimate struggle, under the leadership of their sole legitimate representative, the Palestine Liberation Organization, are ready to whole-heartedly support any effective steps to ensure the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish an independent national State in Palestine.
We are certain that the just cause of the Palestinian people will triumph.
The fact that we have had to bring this simple truth to the American people and to struggle to make our readers and our listeners aware of the fact that the Palestinians are also entitled to a full measure of humanity - this fact points to a serious defect in the attitude of Americans towards the Arab-Israeli conflict - a defect that goes beyond lack of information, Zionist political and economic pressure, or plain social bigotry.
I will attempt to investigate the fundamental reason for this apparent moral and political gap in the conscience of the West. This is going to be a diagnosis only, not a prescription for a cure.
This symptom has two sides to it. On one we find an almost irrational support of Israel (at the outset, I should point out that I am separating the term Israel, from that of the term Jews) and on the other side an equally irrational denial of the Palestinians, their rights, their humanity, their persons. These two elements of the problem are closely inter-related, and can not be easily and successfully discussed separately.
We could attribute this attitude to the spirit of colonialism in the West which has had a long history of denying the rights of colonial people, and which lingers on here and there. But colonialism, especially the endemic and extreme kind, cannot be explained only in political and economic terms. There is another dimension to it which goes beyond the practical aspects of political power and of exploitative economics. This added dimension, which sometimes exceeds the rational consideration of self-interest, and turns even against its user, is of a mystical-religious nature, whether it be called the White Man's Burden, the Civilizing Mission, the Manifest Destiny, or the Sacred Covenant. Once this mystical element enters into the colonial venture of nations, the subjected people of this venture suffer the most extreme forms of denial of rights, dispossession, even extermination. It is this mystical, religious element in the Zionist colonization of Palestine that is basically responsible for the dehumanization of the Palestinians by denying them fundamental rights.
The religious factor in the creation of Israel and in the disenfranchisement of the Palestinians is more pronounced and much more prominent than in any other colonialist experience in modern Western history. Although all colonial movements have a large dose of mystical components, and the treatment of the indigenous Indians displays a large measure of it, the Zionist movement has a religious core without which it would be formless. Zionism owes its form and its content to the mystical-religious foundations in the Bible. It is there that the possession of land by one party is deemed as an act of piety, and the colonization of Palestine as a climactic event in sacred history. It is in these religious foundations that the policy towards the indigenous population is given a divine finality. The original inhabitants of the Holy Land have to be considered non-persons, to be shunned, denied, expelled, dispossessed, deprived of livelihood and of life.
Since this religious tradition is also shared by Western Christendom, both the promise to the Jews and the denial of the non-Jews, that is the Palestinian Arabs, have a wide-spread acceptance. This acceptance is not found only among the rank and file, but also among many thinkers, writers, theologians, priests, teachers, politicians and presidents. It is well established by a long tradition, by a respect for the scripture without questioning, and, among a growing number of conservative Christians, by an odd interpretation of prophecy and a professed belief in a godly plan involving the reconstruction of Israel which takes precedence over human considerations, pity, or fair play. It is this aspect of the Palestinian problem that is the most difficult to come to grips with. It bears some more exploration.
The Primal Crime
Let us explore the American model of a colonial venture dealing with indigenous population - a venture which had a mystical-religious aura. Robert Bellah, in his book, the Broken Covenant (pp. 36-37) describes the attitude of White America towards the indigenous population:
We only have to exchange the terms America and Indians with the terms Israel and Palestinians to realize how much the biblical concept of chosenness, of covenant, is responsible in both cases for the primal crime of denying fundamental rights to indigenous inhabitants of an exclusively claimed land. The prototype of chosen White America, of Apartheid South Africa, and of modern Israel is biblical Israel. And the figura of the despised and dispossessed Indians, of the African Bantus, and of the modern Palestinians is also biblical. It is the Canaanites, the indigenous goyim, whose existence on the land was not to be tolerated by divine order. They were, as it were, cynically chosen to bear the eternal curse that serves as explanation and justification of the primal crime.
The Ambiguities of Chosenness
The American example of chosenness is, at best, a mirror image of biblical Israel. But modern Israel is claimed as a direct descendant of the biblical one, a continuation and a fulfillment of a historical entity based on a divine election and a sacred promise of land. Accordingly, the chosen does not have to justify his favoured position or to apologize for his disregard for the rights of others. His position is predetermined by a divine order. The primal crime, if it exists, is not of his doing.
While Zionist thinkers also attempt to present Jewish nationalism as a modern movement based on conditions that existed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the fact remains that, ideologically, ethnically and territorially this modern movement is primarily based on the biblical prototype of Israel. The name "Zion" focuses on the territorial definition of Israel in the Bible. The name "Israel" reflects the intertwining of racial and territorial elements sacralized in the Bible. Consequently, when Zionists speak of their historic right to Palestine, they refer by necessity to a history and to a historical philosophy found in the Bible and the Rabbinical literature. To deny the "historic right" of the Jews to Palestine is to challenge the scriptures. This is an article of faith to some Jews and Christians, and it also serves as an effective public relation tool to influence the Christian world favourably towards Israel and unfavourably towards the Palestinian quest for fundamental rights.
That the Bible is at the roots of Zionism is recognized by religious, secular, non-observant and agnostic Zionists. Thus, Moses Hess, who preceded Herzl and who is considered one of the spiritual fathers of Zionism, recognized and preached the principles of interdependence of religion and nationalism in Jewish life (see his book, Rome and Jerusalem). To him Jewish religion was, above all, Jewish nationalism. Ben-Gurion was often biblical and mystical in his writings and speeches, calling the Bible the "sacrosanct title-deed to Palestine" for the Jewish people "with a genealogy of 3500 years". (Ben-Gurion, The Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, p. 100). With a sacrosanct title-deed to a piece of land, Ben-Gurion was explaining that he did not have to conform to regular, mundane rules of behaviour. In an address to an international conference, he declared that "the Jewish vision of redemption has two aspects: the ingathering of the exiles and the continuation of the Jewish people in its land as a chosen people, and as light to the nations". (Ben-Gurion Looks at the Bible, p. 111). This statement contains and transcends all the claims of colonialists, from the Crusaders' cry of "God wills it" to the American settlers' boast of Manifest Destiny, to the Afrikaans' pretension of covenant.
The biblical concepts of promise of land, choice and covenant are suprarational, sacralized concepts producing a sacred historical right exclusively for the Jews and exclusively in Palestine. This concept places the indigenous population of Palestine, the Arabs of today as were the Canaanites of biblical time, in a double jeopardy. They are summarily deprived of human rights by the claim of exclusive election of the Jews by God, and deprived of their property by the exclusive promise of the land to the chosen ones.
The biblical ban on any form of co-operation with, and understanding of the indigenous goyim was clear and often repeated in the texts. It was made a condition of God's continued patronage of Israel. The following quotation from the book of Deuteronomy (7:1-6) illustrates the point:
A narrow interpretation of the scriptures, which is common among many Jews and many more Christians, makes the destiny of Israel and that of the Palestinians mutually exclusive. Just as the American Indian had to be removed by European settlers because of cultural and religious prejudices, the removal of the Palestinians is considered a sine qua non for the purity, welfare and security of the Jewish State. One party had to disappear to make room for the other, not for the lack of room, not because they could not, but because they should not live together. Thus the decision to remove the Palestinians and to deny them their fundamental rights was not one motivated by political, economic, or social considerations only, but by an added dimension of religious, mystical conviction, one that, by its nature, is unreasonable and uncompromising. Its total dogmatism is placed at the doorstep of the Lord Himself. In practice, modern Israel seems to have wholly adopted the biblical blessing and the biblical curse; the blessing exclusively reserved for the "holy race" the chosen people and the curse placed in eternity on the indigenous goyim, be they called Canaanites or Palestinians.
The blessing and the curse are the two sides of one coin, that of Israel as a State divinely reserved for one favoured race. To admit that the Palestinians have rights in that land - to some even admitting that they do exist at all - is one way of denying or questioning this exclusive divine patrimony. Hence, the refusal of all Israeli governments on the right and on the left, to recognize the Palestinians and the P.L.O. cannot be explained only in terms of political advantage or political expediency. American concurrence with that position is likewise attributable in part to that same religious conviction.
For Israelis, to recognize Palestinians and their rights is tantamount to an admission of committing the primal crime. In view of the experience of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, who also believed in their own sacred destiny and in a racial curse placed on their non-arian neighbours, any suspicion of similarity between Nazi and Zionist philosophies and behaviour would create a crushing burden of guilt. To be safe from damaging the effect of this analogy, some Zionists have convinced themselves that the Palestinians do not really exist (a land without people), or that they are really of a lower quality of people, that they are all terrorists who kill women and children. But most of them still find refuge in biblical mythology. For if one accepts the principle of the divinely favoured person, one needs only a short step towards accepting the principle of the divinely cursed and dispossessed person.
On the American and Western side, the biblical anchor of pro-Israeli sentiment justified Israel's actions in claiming Arab territories and in striking at the Palestinians. This comes from a commitment of faith, as A. Roy Eckardt puts it. To raise questions about such commitment amounts to heresy to some conservative churchmen. It is this aspect of the problem that explains the American claim of a "moral commitment" to Israel.
The Theology of the Territorial Imperative
The concept of Promised Land is tied closely to that of the chosen people. Without the land, according to the biblical territorial theology, the covenant with the Jewish people would be incomplete. It would have no earthly basis. An important part of the Torah and the Prophets would lose their relevance. Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, Chief Executive Officer of the International Association of Conservative Rabbis, commenting on a proposed Vatican document concerning relations with Judaism, welcomed in particular the document's proposed "recognition of the reality of the State of Israel", its assertion that Jewish fidelity to the Old Covenant between God and the people of Israel is "linked to the gift of land, which in the Jewish soul, has endured as the object of aspiration that Christians should strive to understand and respect". (Christian Century, Jan. 24, 1970, p. 39). The Rabbi's preoccupation with "God's gift of land" preempted any reflection on his part as to the injustice that might be dealt to those who already dwell on the land. Rabbi Nissim, Chief Rabbi of Israel in 1968, was direct and unequivocal in his assessment of this question. He said:
The seizure of the property of the Arabs is demonstrably based on arbitrary choice of race sanctioned by biblical precedence. The history books of the Bible contain examples of that same policy, especially the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is clearly and openly not based on right, legal or moral, but on a suprarational entitlement of one party and the mysterious disenfranchisement of another. In the book of Deuteronomy (6:10), it is made quite obvious that the Lord had decreed that the land and everything on it was given unconditionally:
From these sporadic pangs of conscience among liberal Zionists and some Christian theologians grew such theories as the two-rights theory, the Jewish cultural home theory, and the let-them-live-among-their-own-kind theory. Martin Buber, the famous Jewish humanistic theologian and philosopher, extended a hand of peace to the Arabs and supported the Brit shalom of peaceful coexistence. But his religious writings are replete with elaborations on the biblical concepts of the Promised Land and the Chosen People. His complete insistence on the eternal relevance of the biblical covenant, the chosenness of Israel, and the consecration of the Land of Israel to the Mission of the Jews to the World, controverted the universal aspects of humanism. If, according to this theology, the Land of Israel was elected by God since the beginning of time to be the home of His chosen race, then His recognition of the Palestinians is but a matter of tolerance, not of complete acceptance on equal terms.
This attitude is also found among Christian apologists for Israel. The renowned American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr was one of those. His total support of Israel was based mainly on theological deliberations and some feelings of guilt. His sense of justice and his Christian compassion, however, made him sensitive to the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. He therefore recommended that they be well-treated, compensated, and settled somewhere else other than in Palestine their original home. Niebuhr's sense of justice was restricted by his theology. His discrimination between what is right for Jews and what is right for non-Jews was caused by his attachment to the biblical doctrine of covenant interpreted closely as linking, in a mystical way, the Chosen People to the Promised Land. The Palestinians, although deserving pity, are primarily a hinderance to the fulfillment of sacred destiny.
Christian Zionism and the Palestinians
Neibuhr's political theology can be dubbed as Christian Zionism. He is of the mild, moderate variety compared to another breed of theologians and preachers whose power and number is on the rise. Evangelical fundamentalists are spreading the gospel of the priority of Israel in the Divine Economy on an increasing number of pulpits, radio and television stations all over the United States and Canada.
Niebuhr's Christian Zionism is squarely based on the biblical view of history. Israel, the ancient and the modern, according to this view, is a biblical category, one of the mysteries of man's historical existence. In an article in the Nation (Feb. 21, 1942, pp. 214-16) written during World War II, he defended the right of Jews to Palestine as a "collective right". He attacked "modern liberals" because their "individualist and universalist presuppositions and illusions" have prevented them from seeing "obvious facts in man's collective life". The "collective survival impulse" of the Jews is a matter of historical justice, he said. To him the alternative would be collective extinction. The collective will of the Jews, he maintained, requires expression in a homeland for the Jews. Although Neibuhr admonished Zionists for some individual (not collective) acts of brutality, he could not see that this would diminish their collective right to Palestine. All this collectivity conferred by him on the Jews never once reminded the eminent theologian that Palestinians may have a collectivity of their own. The biblical foundations of his theopolitics would preclude such an even-handed approach.
The increasing preoccupation of the fundamentalist Christians with the text of the Bible dealing with history and with prophecy keeps Israel on their minds and in their sermons. Most Christians, therefore, cannot escape confronting the issue of the relevance of the State of Israel to their beliefs, hence taking a stand, mostly a negative one, toward Palestinian fundamental rights. Rejecting any relevance of the question of Israel to their religious life might require strenuous theological exercises. Accepting it, on the other hand, is accepting on faith the total and absolute authority of the Biblical text. Either way, Israel is a question of concern to most American Christians. Their awareness of the Jewish State, its problems, wars, and enemies exceed their awareness of any other country.
To the majority of fundamentalist Christians, the Jews have not accepted Christ, therefore their prayers cannot be heard. Yet these same people support Israel wholeheartedly because they believe that the creation of the Jewish State is a sign, according to biblical prophecy, that the Messiah is coming. In fact the event of Israel's existence to them is a condition of that coming. The Jew may not be totally an acceptable person in his current state of non-belief, but he is still a chosen one who will eventually be saved. No such status is accorded to the Palestinians. They are hopelessly locked into a negative role; they are non-persons, and non-persons have no claim to rights. Their greatest misfortune is that they constitute a stumbling block in the road of salvation. The term "terrorist" given to Palestinians constantly by fundamentalist ministers such as Jerry Falwell, take an added meaning. It contains eternal evil connotations. An evil that is as predestined and absolute as the chosenness of the holy race and the salvation of the true believers are predestined and absolute.
An advertisement placed in 1976 by a large group of churchmen, mostly Baptist, in many important newspapers, illustrates very well this absolute discriminatory attitude. It says in part:
Salwa Abu Khadra
The Committee recommended a plan of action (A/31/35), which may be summarized as follows:
1. Repatriation of the Palestinian refugees in two phases:
(a) The refugees of 1967 - immediate repatriation;
3. The establishment of an independent Palestinian entity;
4. The adoption of further arrangements to ensure full respect for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, taking account of resolution 3375 (XXX) and the need for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the region in accordance with all relevant resolutions.
The Committee recalled the fundamental principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territories by force and stressed the consequent obligation of total and speedy evacuation of any territory thus occupied.
No action was taken by the Security Council. Thus, the General Assembly, in resolution 34/64 A of 29 November 1979, expressed its regret and concern that the recommendations of the Committee had not been implemented and once again requested the Committee to make appropriate suggestions to that end.
The Israeli entity has taken no account of those regrets, expressions of concern or warnings, whether emanating from the General Assembly or from the Security Council. It has repeated its attacks and acts of aggression against occupied Palestine and southern Lebanon, in towns as well as in refugee camps, disregarding United Nations resolutions and rejecting them with insolence and arrogance.
Although the Charter of the United Nations provides for a whole range of enforcement measures to ensure respect for the resolutions of the Organization, no measure of this kind has so far been taken.
Enforcement measures would, unquestionably, induce Israel to submit to United Nations resolutions, as was the case in 1957, at the time of the aggression against the Suez Canal, when President Eisenhower stated that the United Nations had no other choice than to put pressure on Israel to force it to implement the resolutions calling for its withdrawal.
Unfortunately, the attitude of American leaders vis-à-vis the bellicose aggression to which the Palestinian people and the land of Palestine are continually being subjected has changed radically. It has become selfish and partial, which allows Israel to enjoy unprecedented support and ensures it a veto against any resolution condemning its violations of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Convention which might lead to the adoption of enforcement measures.
The United States seems to wish to give the Zionists its total support in the construction and maintenance of a State on the land of another people and to disregard the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, some of which were drawn up with the assistance of United States representatives, such as General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 1947 and Security Council resolution 242 (1967).
The State of Israel was established with a plan for expansion and hegemony over the neighbouring Arab States, in accordance with the interests of certain Western Powers. The United States is responsible for the impasse in the Middle East, because it has helped the Zionist entity to become an unrivalled Power in the region by its financial and economic assistance.
Since the Palestinian people is an obstacle to the realization of the Zionist ideology, their extermination, annihilation, deportation and integration in the country of exile and the subjugation of their will to fight in defence of their rights, all serve to ensure the realization of Begin's plans for a "Greater Israel".
The first Zionist leaders launched the slogan: "A land without a people or a people without a land". 1/ (tables 1, 2 and 3).
"This is how the policy of Deir Yassin was imposed, that tranquil village whose whole population was savagely massacred, men, women and children, and not even the unborn child in its mother's womb was spared". The massacres and expulsions had one aim initially, the establishment of the State. "There can be no Zionist colonization and there can be no Jewish State without the displacement of the Arab population, the confiscation of land and the erection of barriers." 2/
Racial discrimination came in the wake of the State. In order to maintain and develop this State, a new tactic was needed. The Arabs were treated harshly and cruelly.
"In order to force them to leave by every means, it was necessary to raze villages and demolish houses: mass deportation, expulsion and the confiscation of land" - all possible means became legal, as did the Judaization of everything: land, culture, names, places, education and history. Thus, the Palestinian Arabs felt themselves strangers on their own lands, having no national rights to a State or other entity.
It must be Israel and not Palestine. It must be Galilee and Samaria and not the Palestinian West Bank. The citizens must be Israelis and not Palestinians .... Begin, the one who prepared the Deir Yassin massacre and the recent savage bombing of civilians in Lebanon, seems to be of the opinion that it is necessary to annex the territories and reduce the population by carefully conceived and implemented immigration. The figure of 385 villages destroyed by Israel is given by Israel Shahak. 3/
Begin's 1977 plan distinguishes between the fate of the population and that of the land. The situation of the Palestinian people in exile is completely different. They suffer from infringement of human rights in another form, because of their dispersal and their statelessness. This unique political situation, which has lasted for more than three decades, has even more disastrous consequences for Palestinian children than for adults.
The children born in exile in camps, who have grown up as refugees, who have studied in the crowded classes of UNRWA schools, who have waited for the end of the month to receive their meagre food allowance and who still have no recognized identity - these children (who have never seen their homeland) currently constitute the bulk of revolutionary freedom fighters.
They struggle for the exercise of their national historic rights and so that their children can enjoy the rights proclaimed in the international Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959.
In all countries, children enjoy some of their rights. The young Palestinian, whether living under occupation or living in exile, is almost totally deprived of them. The situation is slightly better for the latter. Measures have been taken on his behalf in the field of health, education and social welfare. The Palestine Liberation Organization, through its various research, planning and education institutions and centres, carefully organizes programmes relating to all areas of life. The importance which it attaches to young Palestinians actually relates to the national interests; only thus can it ensure the quality of the future of the nation and its capacity to survive and prosper.
"Palestinian children and their families have been the victims of aggression, emigration, expulsion, discrimination and exploitation, acts of oppression which have made their youth an ongoing preparation for defence and war."
Palestinian children are therefore sensitive to the tensions of exile and occupation. They experience this situation and share the ordeals of their parents and the deprivation of freedom of their community. Their environment engenders outbursts of aggressiveness, suppressed hatred and a desire for revenge, which are the consequences of subjection to this new form of colonization, namely, the Judaization of the country. The ordeals of war and instability condition their existence. The aggressiveness and tensions are very violently felt and are normally directed against the oppressor (the enemy) who is occupying the land and who has taken possession of the homes. Thus, a stone becomes a grenade in the young person's hand, and the stick is a substitute for a gun. Demonstrations, nationalist slogans and songs and the hoisted Palestinian flag express their natural reaction in defiance of the occupiers. (Security, an indispensable condition for a child's development, does not exist in the life of a young Palestinian.) 4/
If. he lives in the occupied territories, a young Palestinian may see his house blown up at any time, and, if he lives elsewhere, he may also see it bombed at any time.
The attainment of these ideals remains the goal of the international community, but, owing to the exceptional circumstances in which they find themselves, Palestinian children living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the Israeli régime also come up against other difficulties: "They must live with military occupation, and it is an experience that is unknown to the majority of children in the world". 6/
The following is a breakdown of the population by age group:
The question of education therefore assumes very great importance.
Many reports have given an account of the situation of the educational services and the extent to which the rules imposed by the Israeli occupying authority have influenced the education of Palestinian children, but no-depth study has ever been made of the moral and mental impairment of the children's personalities.
In his report on the situation of the national education and the cultural life of peoples in the occupied Arab territories, the Director-General of UNESCO notes that "the government schools in occupied East Jerusalem had their curriculum modified to conform to that applied in the Arab schools of Israel, and the Israeli textbooks used in Israel for its Arab schools were introduced in these government schools." 9/
"The list of titles reprinted by the Israeli authorities for use in West Bank government schools shows that a number of geography and civics books and the school atlas prescribed in the Jordan curriculum have been dropped. ... The texts themselves are often identical, although several books have phrases, paragraphs or complete chapters suppressed." 10/
However, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA stated in his report to the General Assembly at its thirty-fifth session (New York, 1980) that, of the 95 textbooks approved by UNRWA for West Bank schools, 82 were approved by the Israeli authorities, who authorized the importation of only 15 of the 69 textbooks approved for schools in the Gaza Strip, while four textbooks were still under consideration. 13/
In a study, ECWA states that the education policy of the Israeli occupying authority seriously limits the acquisition of knowledge regarding Palestinian culture and history. The occupation authorities delete from the curricula everything which relates to Palestine, love of one's country, patriotism and national identity. References to the Arab contribution to the human culture and history are censored. Atlases where the name of Palestine appears are replaced. All ideas which are regarded as incompatible with Zionist and Israeli concepts are banned. 14/
The normal growth of the number of Palestinian students has been slowed down by the disruptions caused by occupation and Israel's policy of annexation: the confiscation of fertile lands, the establishment of settlements, control of water production for irrigation and diversion of the country's economy for military needs. According to Fathiya Nasru, whose study entitled Education in the West Bank Government Schools is quoted in the report of the Group of Experts, "enrolment figures in the first grade, that is, the first year of primary school to the total population had decreased from 3.2 per cent in 1968/69 to 2.7 per cent in 1974/75 ... thus indicating a potential lowering of the literacy level of the population". 15/
According to the Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1978, the number of educational institutions increased from 821 to 1,000 in the West Bank, an increase of 21.8 per cent, and from 166 to 270 in the Gaza Strip, an increase of 38.5 per cent, during the first 10 years of occupation.
According to the ECWA 1968-1977 Statistical Abstract, the number of establishments grew by 33 per cent in the Syrian Arab Republic, by 32 per cent in Egypt and by 78.6 per cent in Jordan. 16/
The position of the Zionist entity on the expansion and the efficiency of schools in the occupied territories is controversial; despite denials, several Israeli newspapers, such as The Jerusalem Post of 11 April 1980 and Ha'aretz of 20 March 1980, have claimed that "Israeli occupation authorities discouraged efforts by the inhabitants of the West Bank. and the Gaza Strip to found new schools or to expand existing ones".
The occupation authorities have not applied the pre-1967 law on compulsory schooling.
They have enacted a law stipulating that students who have been arrested or imprisoned shall not be re-admitted to school without the approval of the military government.
Israeli acts of aggression aimed at Palestinian schools are now a well-known fact. In August 1978, Time magazine showed photographs of criminal acts committed in the Beit Jala school. Israeli soldiers, after closing the doors and windows of the building, threw tear-gas bombs into the classrooms. Terrorized, the children jumped from the third floor and a number of them broke their legs; those who did not jump were found unconscious. The Beit Sahour school met the same fate. The Israeli soldiers who were present deplored that situation, which they called "a Nazi act", affirming that some of the children were only 8 to 10 years old.
On 9 April, Israeli military forces attacked the Bir Zeit University and seized the identity cards of 22 students. They also attacked the UNRWA teacher training centre at Ramallah, using tear-gas, clubs and knives. Twenty-four students were wounded, four seriously, and 42 students were arrested during the mass demonstration organized to commemorate the anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre and to protest against the Israeli decision to expropriate hundreds of dunums of land in order to establish six settlements there. 17/
On 12 April, the occupation authorities closed a secondary school at Safa for an indefinite period. On 1 May, Zionist soldiers attacked the Anabta secondary school; one student was killed and two others wounded. 18/
On 9 June, Zionist soldiers shot three bullets into Taghrid Al-Butma, a 20 year old student, who was going to Bir Zeit University, killing him. 19/
Those are incidents which have repercussions on the atmosphere in which Palestinian children live.
With regard to educational conditions in the occupied territories, the Group of Experts notes in its report that "it would appear that the occupying authorities ... have created and sustained a feeling of insecurity among teachers and students in all educational institutions. The experts were told of constant harassment of students and staff". 20/
Mr. Hanna Nasser, President of Bir Zeit University, stated on the occasion of a visit made to American universities in 1979, following the closure of Bir Zeit University on 2 May 1978, that he had been deported without trial in 1974, while one of his colleagues, Professor Taysir Aruri, had been detained without charge or trial for 45 months and that the University had been closed several times.
In its study "Social programmes and data in the ECWA region", 1980, the Commission touches on another aspect of the life and schooling of Palestinian students: "Students attending various levels of schooling are often compelled to drop out of school in order to supplement the family income as a result of the absence or loss of the father, the separation of families and the high rate of inflation". "Young students are recruited for unskilled jobs in various ways, including harassment during examinations in order to make them fail".
This is how the Group of Experts sums up the situation in one paragraph of its report: "In discussions with educators from the West Bank, it was repeatedly pointed out to the experts that the climate of occupation was not conducive to the creation of suitable conditions for the educational process. ... because the economy was under the control of an occupying power and political power was exercised by the army, the normal educational and manpower planning process to meet national goals could not be undertaken" (report, p. 35).
Job opportunities are extremely few in number. According to the 1979 report of the International Labour Organisation, approximately 3,500 students obtained a diploma between 1968 and 1977. It is stated in the report that the Zionist authorities had told members of the mission that approximately 40 per cent of those receiving diplomas from vocational training centres found jobs in the occupied territories, and 50 per cent in Israel. The impression emerges from the report that the level of training is not very high and that students are generally trained for semi-skilled jobs, of which the Israeli economy has great need. 22/
This acknowledged discrimination was the essential cause of the 1980-1981 strike of teachers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If the Palestinian teachers have decided to resume work, it is only out of concern to respect their moral and national obligations to students. 24/
Exploitation and work of young children
In August 1975, Israeli Television presented a film showing Palestinian Arab children working on Israeli farms. A. Sharon, Minister of Agriculture at the time, was accused of employing 25 Palestinian children on his ranch. Sharon himself accused Dayan of the same practice. On 29 August 1978, it was revealed to Israeli public opinion that the Jewish Agency employs very young girls, about 12 years old, to attend to the cleaning of the Ramona School at Haifa. Neighbours said that that had been going on for some years and that the girls were maltreated.
"Israeli employers make a fortune by exploiting Palestinian children. Their wages do not exceed 20 per cent of those of adults (80 to 400 shekels), they work 14 hours a day and have no social rights. They are collected at 3 in the morning and they are never back before 6 in the afternoon." 26/ Felicia Langer deplores the situation of Arab children in Israeli prisons:
"Following the demonstration held on 18 March 1978 in Kalandia camp, 11 children aged from 12 to 16 years were arrested, tortured, imprisoned for several months before appearing before a military court." 27/
"The children are held in ordinary prisons, sometimes in the same cell as ordinary criminals, who make assaults on them. That happened at Tulkarm prison in April 1978, where two prisoners, one of whom is an habitual offender in this area, assaulted a 16 year old student in his prison cell."
Golda Meir, who tried to ignore the existence of a Palestinian/Arab people, was herself moved by the cry of a Palestinian new-born child.
Inadequacies of medical services and lack of measures to develop them in the occupied regions, a decrease in the number of private sector physicians following deportation, expulsion and a ban on returning home - all these factors explained the low level of medical services in the occupied territories, which has increased infant mortality. 28/
According to official statistics, the mortality rate in Ramallah was 7 per cent in 1973 and 8 per cent in 1975, the highest rate in the world.
"The struggle for the rights of the child is inseparable from the struggle against colonialism, fascism and racism". 30/
How will Palestinian children ever be able to enjoy the happiness, national freedom and peace which are their birthright?
Is it possible to envisage a future where freedom and a national home will help us to create a normal situation where hunger and malnutrition will no longer exist, where education will prepare them to assume their duties as responsible citizens, where the sky and the sea will no longer bear missiles and bombs and where, in the stability of a home, these children will be able to face the problems which are those of all children throughout the world?
Until such time, Palestinian children will continue to fight, with their elders, for the achievement of their goals and for the establishment of their own State in their territory, or, more succinctly, for the attainment of their inalienable historic national rights.
ZIONIST COLONIZATION OF PALESTINE THROUGH THE IMMIGRATION OF
JEWS AND THE EXPULSION OF ARABS* (1895-1967)
(a) Two years before the creation of the Zionist movement at the first Zionist Congress in 1895 at Basle.
(b) Two years after the proclamation of the Balfour Declaration, whereby the United Kingdom promises to make Palestine the national home of the Jewish people.
(c) Before the outbreak of the 1948 war and the creation of the Zionist entity.
(d) After the creation of the Zionist entity.
USURPATION OF LANDS IN PALESTINE BY THE ZIONISTS (1895-1967)
(AREAS IN DUNUMS – PERCENTAGES)
NUMBER OF ZIONIST SETTLEMENTS ESTABLISHED ANNUALLY DURING THE PERIOD 1895-1980
COMPARISON OF SALARIES DRAWN BY TEACHERS IN ISRAEL AND IN THE WEST BANK ON
1 JANUARY 1981, IN ISRAELI SHEKELS
2. Yesha Arjahu Ben-Pirat. Yediot Aranot, 14 July 1972.
3. See Guy Derthur, Le racisme de l'Etat d'Israël, Paris, 1975.
4. Bassem Sarhan, The Arab Children - Generation of Liberation, p. 98.
6. Report of the Group of Experts.
7. Report of the Group of Experts, p. 33.
8. Report of the Group of Experts, p. 33
9. Eighteenth session of the UNESCO General Conference, 1974, Paris: UNESCO 1974 (18 C/16) p. 19.
10. Report of the Group of Experts.
11. Report of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, 1 July 1979 – 30 June 1980, Supplement No. 13 (A/35/13), New York, 1980, p. 13.
12. Ministry of Defence of Israel, Co-ordinator of Government Operations in Judaea and Sumaria, Gaza District, Sinai, Golan Heights, A Thirteen-Year Survey (1967-1980), p. 13.
13. Report of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, 1980.
14. ECWA, Beirut, "Social programmes and data in the ECWA region" (Beirut, 1980), p. 9.
15. Report of the Group of Experts, p. 34.
16. Percentages calculated on the basis of the figures given in the 1968-1977 Statistical Abstract of the Region of the Economic Commission for Western Asia (third session, Beirut, 1980).
17. Najla Nusseir, report of the General Union of Palestinian Women on Palestinian children under occupation, 1979. (For Zionist settlement of Palestine, land confiscation and the establishment of settlements, see tables 1, 2 and 3 annexed hereto.)
20. Report of the Group of Experts, p. 36.
21. Mr. Hanna Nasser, message addressed to American universities, 1979.
22. See International Labour Organisation, action taken on the resolutions adopted by the International Labour Conference at its fifty-ninth to sixty-fourth sessions, supplement to the report of the Director-General, International Labour Organisation, sixty-fifth session, 1979.
23. Israeli Democratic Women's Movement, 1975.
24. Report of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers to the fifteenth Palestine National Council, held at Damascus in 1981.
25. Statement by the Israeli representative (Shulamith Khenin) at the World Congress for a Peaceful and Secure Future of All Children, held in Moscow in September 1979.
27. My Eye-Witness.
28. Ghattas Abou Atyieh, Status of the Palestinian Child in the Occupied Land, 1979, p. 7.
29. Palestine Refugees Today, UNRWA Newsletter No. 89, June 1979, Vienna (Austria).
30. Romesh Chandra, President of the World Peace Organization, New Perspective Magazine, 6 March, 1978, 1979.
I. The Problem
1. The Palestinian people
The Palestinian people have been in the "diaspora" since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Britain got the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 1/. Earlier, on 2 November 1917, through the Balfour Declaration, Britain had promised the Zionists "the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people". 2/
Britain, as the mandatory power, facilitated large-scale Jewish settlement in Palestine. At the time of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, the Jewish population in Palestine numbered some 56,000 against an Arab population of 600,000. At the end of 1946 Palestine contained 1,887,000 people of whom 625,000 were Jews. 3/
Failing to resolve the conflicting moral-legal claims of the Palestinians and the Zionists, which over time had become political issues as well, Britain turned over the whole Palestine question to the United Nations. The eleven-nation United Nations Special Committee on Palestine recommended the partitioning of Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state, and an internationalized Jerusalem. The General Assembly adopted the notion of partition on 29 November 1947. 4/
Immediately war ensued between the Palestinians and the Zionists. On 15 May 1948, the proclamation for the establishment of the State of Israel was issued. The involvement of neighbouring Arab States in support of the Palestinian people catapulted the conflict in Palestine between the rival nationalisms into a contest between the Arab States and Israel.
The outcome of the Arab-Israel war of 1948 produced far-reaching modifications in the original United Nations partition plan. The Palestinian Arab State envisaged by the plan failed to emerge. The armistice agreements between Jordan and Israel, and between Egypt and Israel of April 1949 and February 1949 respectively, gave Israel some 2,500 square miles which she formally annexed to the 5,600 square miles allotted to her by the partition plan. Transjordan acquired 2,200 square miles, which she formally annexed, transforming herself into the State of Jordan. Egypt retained control of the Gaza Strip, some 135 square miles. 5/
The non-materialization of the Palestinian State produced major reshuffling of Palestine's population. Chased by the Irgun terrorists, over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled from their homeland: Lebanon received 80,000, Jordan 400,000, Syria 70,000 and the Gaza Strip 150,000. Some 120,000 remained under Israeli control. 6/ The General Assembly resolution of December 1948, declared the expelled Palestinians as refugees, with a right to return or compensation.
The Middle East war of June 1967 brought about further territorial and demographic changes. Israeli forces captured the Golan Heights, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from the Arabs, placing 1 million Palestinians under the control of the occupying forces. The number of Palestinians living in Arab States crossed the mark of 1 million.
The Zionist expansionism has rendered more than a million Palestinian people homeless. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip about a million have been placed under the direct control of Israel.
2. Israel and the occupied territories
The occupying power of Palestine, Israel, is a parliamentary democracy. It claims to maintain high standards of "justice" and civilized life.
The occupied territories are under military government. Armed forces, rather than civilians, are responsible for law enforcement and public security. The residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are largely subject to military orders, which deny most human rights to the Palestinian people. The Government of Israel has consistently violated the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, pertaining to the protection of civilian population under military rule. Rather, it adamantly maintains that these territories are not within the purview of the said Convention.
The Palestinian people living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip enjoy very little normal civilian life. Arab newspapers are published under strict censorship. There is no freedom of speech and expression. Municipal elections were permitted in 1972 and 1976, but the one scheduled for spring 1980 was postponed indefinitely. Beyond this political activity and organization is banned.
The occupying authorities have increasingly applied stringent measures toward the Palestinian people. Israeli interrogators routinely ill treat and often torture Arab "security suspects". Torture is used to extract information as well as to pacify occupied territories. The purpose appears to be to bring home to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories that it is least painful to behave passively.
The Palestinian people in the occupied territories have been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, including deportation. The severity and frequency of such occurrences has increased following the death of six Jewish settlers in Hebron on 2 May 1980. Twice severe curfews were imposed in Hebron, causing extreme hardships to the residents. Males in villages and refugee camps have been rounded up and held outdoors for extended periods of time as a form of general punishment of the inhabitants. The Mayors of Hebron and Halboul and the Qadi of Hebron were deported to Lebanon on charges of inciting people to violence. 7/
Excessive force has been used to quell or disperse protest demonstrations. In November 1980, troops deliberately fired at the legs of demonstrating youths and wounded 16 boys and girls. 8/
The Palestinian people have been subjected to administrative detentions in gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention under which administrative detention is not permissible beyond one year from the "general close of military operations." Though administrative detainees have recourse to appeal, it is rarely exercised, as appeals have never resulted in a reversal of the decision of the military authorities.
Alleged security offenders are tried by the military courts. Though the accused can engage a counsel for his defence, the convictions are mostly based on confessions obtained through coercion and torture. 9/ No appeal against the military court's verdict is possible.
The military authorities enter private homes and institutions in pursuit of security objectives. During the May-June 1980 crackdown, several breakages, despoliations and beatings took place. Settlers taking advantage of the situation engaged in vandalism and looting. The soldiers plundered the homes during the military search of the village of Silvad in December 1980. 10/ In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention the houses of individuals believed to have been involved in terrorism have been demolished or sealed up, and families displaced. Between July 1967 and August 1971, Israel demolished 16,212 homes and deported 1,130 known "agents of subversion". At least 23 homes were demolished in 1980, and at least six other homes were sealed up on security grounds. Near the site of the 2 May 1980 attack, Israeli authorities blew up a number of commercial establishments. 12/
Extremist Israelis frequently indulge in terrorist acts against the Palestinian people. On 2 June 1980, the Mayors of Ramallah were maimed by bombs allegedly set for them by Jewish extremists. 13/
Israel has restricted economic development of the occupied territories on both commercial and political grounds. It is keeping the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as captive markets. In contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention's Article 49, Israel has established more than 100 non-military settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Land appropriations for settlements have adversely affected the livelihood of many Arabs, compelling them to quit farming and become day labourers. Palestinian agriculture and livestock has been adversely affected due to the exploitation of limited water resources in the West Bank by the Jewish settlers.
The occupying authorities closed several schools, including Bir Zeit University, for extended periods. In July 1980, the military governor assumed the power to dismiss university students, bar professors and revoke university charters.
The policies and practices of Israel toward the Palestinian people clearly demonstrate the degree to which the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and mutually agreed upon human rights are being violated by Israel in the occupied territories.
Having discussed the background of the problem, the problem of the Palestinian people's human rights and the Israeli violations of human rights of the Palestinian people, it is intended to explain in the following section the framework of human rights as well as the efforts made by the world body to enforce the same in respect of the Palestinian people.
II. Human Rights and United Nations Initiatives in Respect of the Human Rights of the Palestinian People
1. Interpretation of the concept of human rights
The issue of human rights has assumed increasing importance in the past one century or so. Slavery has been abolished. Rights of ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities are protected. Acts of barbarity and genocide on the subject people do not go unnoticed, unchallenged and unreprimanded.
The concept of human rights is understood differently by people pursuing different socio-economic goals. In the West, the emphasis is on the political dimension i.e., the right to vote and hold public office, rights of freedom of speech and assembly, personal protection against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and the right to a fair public trial. In the developing countries the achievement of economic and social rights, such as the meeting of basic human needs for adequate food, clothing and shelter, takes precedence over political rights like sharing in the political process. Communist doctrine does not confer individual rights. Human rights are defined collectively in terms of the needs of the State, which are considered paramount.
Traditionally, national governments have been considered responsible for ensuring proper enjoyment of and protection against any violation of the rights of the people. But the conviction that the violation of human rights is the responsibility of the world community has brought in international organizations to achieve this end. Human rights provisions have been included in the United Nations Charter, which specifically makes mention of the protection of human rights. The preamble reads:
UNITED STATES LOANS AND GRANTS TO ISRAEL
(in millions of dollars per fiscal year)