By Assad Bhuglah

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In 1917 the British betrayed the Arab people by promising Palestine as a Homeland for Jews. However, the 1917 Balfour Declaration had a condition that there was to be no detriment to either Jews or Indigenous Palestinians.  This condition was grossly violated by the British, the Americans and the racist Zionists. In 1948, some 0.8 million Palestinians were driven from their homes by the Zionist terrorists (the 1948 Nakba) to be followed by a further 1967 Nakba in which a terrorist Apartheid Israel seized all of the Holy land plus parts of Lebanon and Syria and Egypt, imprisoning several million more Palestinians.

On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the ‘Partition Resolution’, which envisioned the establishment in Palestine of a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State”. In 1948, the State of Israel was built but the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people went unheard: the State of Palestine was never realized and the regional conflict remains unsolved to this day. Due to the symbolic significance of the date, the United Nations observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on or around 29 November each with the aim of calling attention to this issue in the international community.

It seems that the world is forgetting about the plight of the Palestinian people. As at today, some 7.1 million Palestinians are displaced worldwide. Around 1.26 million Palestinians do not have food security. Nearly one million consumes less than 60 litres of water per day, far below WHO’s recommendation of 100 litres. This is the current situation of Palestinian people as depicted by the UN agency. The plight of Palestinians uprooted by Israeli-Arab wars is one of the world’s longest-running refugee crises, and a solution would likely require setting up a state of Palestine that would take in large numbers of them. Such a solution appears distant, even as President Donald Trump says he wants to try to broker an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. The United States has been systematically blocking Palestinian aspirations at the United Nations.

The advent of Trump regime has brought a dangerous evolution in Israeli policy which is moving away from an acceptance of a negotiated two-state resolution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. For decades now, the Americans have been using their veto to kill any resolution even remotely critical of Israel and its 50-year-old occupation of the West Bank. The Israeli Prime Minister has never believed in a Palestinian state. He recently described his government as ‘more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history’, and Naftali Bennett, one of Mr Netanyahu’s coalition partners, declared that ‘the era of the two-state solution is over’. Right-wing Israelis — backed by their supporters in America — have proposed that Egypt could take over Gaza, while Palestinians in the West Bank would have certain rights that excluded the right to vote in Israeli elections. Isolated, divided and unsupported, Palestinians have little to look forward to over the coming years.

These factors, combined with the turmoil that has engulfed much of the Middle East these last few years, thanks largely to American-led interventions, have made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a sideshow. With Saudi Arabia joining Israel in a tacit anti-Iranian alliance, and with General Sisi openly siding with Israel, the Palestinians have no supporters in the Arab camp. In fact, the younger generation of Arabs pay little heed to the suffering of their Palestinian cousins.

Fifty years ago, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242. The resolution is used as a framework for implementing the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But since its adoption in 1967, Israel has violated the resolution by entrenching its occupation of the Palestinian territories through illegal settlements. 

There are now over 600,000 settlers occupying large chunks of the West Bank that are dotted across the land that was once supposed to become the state of Palestine. But Israelis have steadily encroached, building settlements in remote parts of the West Bank, thus making it increasingly impossible to envisage a contiguous state. The Israeli settlers live beyond the internationally recognised borders of their state, on Palestinian land that Israel occupied in 1967, comprising East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Since then, the Israeli government has openly funded and built settlements for Israeli Jews to live there, offering incentives and subsidised housing. While building homes for settlers, Israel employs a policy of home demolitions to restrict the expansion of Palestinian communities on the pretext that homes were built without necessary permits, while refusing to issue them.

Besides being built illegally on private and public Palestinian land, Israeli settlements impact the day-to-day life of Palestinians in many ways. Israel's policies of occupation and settlement have come to be seen as a purposeful strategy of de-development to weaken resistance to military rule and thwart attempts to build a successful Palestinian state. The Israeli settlements thrive on theft of Palestinian resources. The Palestinian water resources, its most fertile pasture and agricultural land, as well as mining and mineral extraction resources and tourist sites have been severely affected by the settlements, checkpoints and the separation wall surrounding them.  Israel controls some 90 percent about six times more of the water resources. Israeli settlers use about six times more water than the 3.1 million Palestinians in the West Bank do. Israel uses various methods to hinder Palestinian movement in the West Bank for the protection of Israeli settlers. The separation wall has physically separated Palestinian communities from one another and added hours to otherwise short commutes. Palestinians in certain areas must cross a checkpoint to enter and exit their own villages. Due to the close proximity of settlements to Palestinian homes, friction and violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians is a near-daily reality. The main forms of violence by Israeli settlers include throwing stones at Palestinian homes and vehicles, physically assaulting Palestinians, uprooting or damaging olive trees, vandalising property, or setting fire to agricultural lands. The overwhelming majority of complaints filed against settler violence pass without any punishment of the perpetrators.

Professor William Cook, in his book ‘The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction’ offers a grim and detailed story of suffering and the "slow motion genocide" of the Palestinians. The Atlantic Free Press summarizes the essence of his book as follows: "In his collection of thirty-two articles by almost as many authors . . .William Cook provides a devastating assessment of Zionist violence against Palestinians. Relentlessly told are one atrocity after another, one act of deception after another, one broken treaty after another, one surprise attack after another, one policy reversal after another - all of which are described with both effective immediacy and an adequate sense of historic context."