Colonial treatment of Palestinians

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Despite the long burial of colonial practices of the West after the establishment of the United Nations, tagged with a high principled Preamble “We the peoples…”, some parts of the world have not yet been liberated from the evils of occupation, violation of human rights, domination and exploitation.

Occupation is perhaps the worst form of crime against humanity which, in the case of the Palestinians, has proved to be humiliating and disastrous. More than 52 years of military occupation of the Palestinians has not only been a testimony of the mockery of international law but also incited hostility and disturbance in the Middle East.

The continuing freedom movement of the Palestinians and their heroic protest against the Israeli occupation and Israeli war machine has legitimacy and relevance in the UN Charter.

Colonisation of the Palestinians and the Israeli policy of imposing military means for pursuing its agenda of continuous expansion through Jewish settlements and rejecting the sovereign rights of millions of uprooted Palestinians have shattered all layers of confidence of even moderate Palestinians towards Israel’s sincerity for peaceful settlement. After the election of Ariel Sharon, the so-called Israeli democratic polity was transformed into a kind of concentration camp for the Palestinians whose dignified survival has become a serious question for the entire humankind.

Israeli occupation has been the major source of tensions and conflicts in the region. Occupation is the antithesis of democracy, progress, freedom, equality and peace. Occupation is the root cause of security problems for the Israelis, on the one hand, and endangering the entire Palestinian community, on the other. This occupation will prove fatal to those who believe in controlling human being with war machines. It is a civilisational crime. The recent declaration of Israel to build more Jewish settlements in the Palestinian land and massive shellings on the Palestinians will escalate the already tense situation.

The trouble, began on Sept. 29 when Israeli police shot dead 5 and injured 200 Palestinians, led to a spiral of violence in which Israeli forces killed more than 400 and injured over 22,000 Palestinians. More than 3,500 Palestinians have become permanently disabled. Israeli security has not even spared the personnel of the Palestinian National Authority, which deserve parity within international law. Israel used rockets, missiles, snipers, bombs and tanks against unarmed Palestinians and Palestinian civilian areas. On the other hand, Jewish settlers, who have no locus standi in international law, have been acting as warmongers against the Palestinians.

Yasser Arafat has repeatedly appealed to Israel to withdraw new deployments from Arab areas to end violence and to talk peace, but Israel has maintained its strong military presence on the pretext of security.

Killings of innocent Palestinians were described by BBC as “security operations” whereas Palestinians equate it with war and genocide.

Peoples and leaders across the Middle East and South-East Asia have protested against Israel and the US’ targeting innocent civilians. Such condemnations should be examined objectively.

On Sept. 12, both Al Gore and George W. Bush categorically said in an election debate that they stand by Israel. In the UN Security Council, the resolution against Israel was moderated under the US pressure, which also abstained from approving the resolution. But the resolution did not even name Israel or Ariel Sharon, except criticising “excessive use of force” against Palestinians. The first visit of the US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also failed to highlight the Palestinian problem.

Israel’s crime against humanity is resented by the entire Arab world. Had any country killed an equal number of Jews on any pretext, the US would have resorted to armed actions, condemnations and sanctions in the name of democratic intervention and human rights. Iraq’s use of scuds against Israel in 1992 led to Israel’s open access to all kinds of US weapons. The Serb conflict with Albanians led to NATO intervention and sanctions. Moreover, NATO forces were deployed in Kosovo against the will of Yugoslavia. But in the case of the Palestinians, UN, EU and US have not thought beyond calling an emergency summit, that too for giving more advantage to Israel. Earlier they interpreted the UN Charter and the charter of regional arrangements to use force against rogue and murderous states for promoting popular sovereignty.

In the case of Israel, the US and the UN have adopted the policy of appeasement. The UN, which artificially created Israel in 1948, has failed to check Israel’s excess against the Palestinians. Israel has violated a large number of UN resolutions but it was never pressured by the US or the EU to follow them or to face repercussions, while, in the case of Iraq and Yugoslavia, a single violation of UN resolutions brought about the use of force.

The writer is a lecturer at the Center for Federal Studies, Hamdard University, New Delhi, India. He contributed this article to the Jordan Times.

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