MPPM calls for justice for the Palestinian people and warns against escalation of war in the Middle East

The Palestinian people are experiencing one of the most dramatic moments in their already martyred history. Once again, foreign powers and major economic and geo-strategic interests are dictating and seeking to perpetuate, in the absence of the Palestinian people and their representative political forces, the foreign occupation of Palestinian land and the denial of the inalienable rights of its people. In this context, MPPM stands in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people, welcomes their national reconciliation initiatives and warns of the dangers of a new and greater war in the Middle East.

Peace agreements or winds of war?

Western foreign ministries welcomed, with moderate to enthusiastic approval, the recent celebration, under the aegis of the United States, of “peace agreements” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, considering that they represented progress towards peace in the region.

Some aspects of these initiatives, inseparable from the “Trump plan” for the Middle East, are worth noting:

  • The Palestinian people, their legitimate representatives and their rights are ignored in the agreements.
  • Israel does not renounce the West Bank annexation plan — it just “suspends” an initiative that violates international law, decades of UN resolutions and the very Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the US.
  • Israel does not undertake to recognize an authentic State of Palestine, nor to end and reverse the illegal settlements or the illegal Apartheid Wall, built on Palestinian territory occupied in 1967.
  • Israel was not, and never has been, at war with any of the signatory countries and its relations were already very close to “normal”.

Contrary to the idyllic vision of an era of peace in the region, what these agreements imply is a strengthening of the military alliance between Israel and the Gulf monarchies, with the patronage of the United States, aiming at the Iranian target. They are not a step towards Peace. On the contrary, they are a step towards a new and even greater war in the Middle East. They are a betrayal of the people of Palestine.

In fact, in the absence of a just solution to the Palestinian question, there will be no peace in the Middle East.

The occupation consolidates

The Israeli plan for annexing the West Bank is little more than legitimizing de jure a situation that already exists de facto. It has, however, an important political significance insofar as it officially marks the tearing, by Israel, of all the agreements and resolutions to which it was bound – and never fulfilled – since the beginning of the occupation.

Over the decades, Israel has been consolidating the occupation in the face of the complacency — or complicity — of the so-called international community.

  • The number of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, illegal under international law, has quadrupled since the signing of the Oslo Accords (1993). Currently 10% of the Jewish citizens of Israel live in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.
  • In a regulation created to make the legal construction of housing for Palestinian families unfeasible, Israel finds the backing to demolish constructions considered “illegal”. Since 2006, more than 2,500 houses have been demolished, leaving more than ten thousand people homeless, half of them minors. This activity is most notorious in East Jerusalem and represents an instrument of the forced Judaization of the city, in other words, a gradual ethnic cleansing.
  • Other infrastructures essential to people's lives, such as those supporting agriculture and water supply, are also targeted by the occupant. A European Union report estimates that structures financed by the EU and/or its member states, with a value of 5 million euros, are at risk of demolition.
  • The so-called Separation Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, has 85% of its more than 700 km inside Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. It isolates villages, divides towns, separates people from their farmland. The network consisting of the Wall, the barriers and checkpoints, the roads reserved for Israelis, the settlements' protection areas, are an unmistakable sign that Israel is in the occupied territories to stay.

These facts confirm Israel's unfair negotiating strategy. Over the years, the Zionist State has been creating faits accomplis leading to annexation and its further territorial expansion.

Human rights, a two-sided coin

The European Union and its member states have waged campaigns to put pressure on countries allegedly violating human rights, particularly by imposing sanctions. The demand for respect for human rights is, moreover, included in the EU rules, both for access to community funds and for the conclusion of commercial contracts. But, uniquely, Israel benefits from a particularly benevolent assessment, despite the proven allegations of human rights violations and contempt for international law and international humanitarian law.

  • Arbitrary arrests and detentions, namely administrative detention — which allows for indefinite detention without charge or access to trial — are a form of coercion against the Palestinian resistance. As of September, there were 4400 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons, of whom 350 were in administrative detention. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, Israel has reportedly detained 800 000 Palestinians.
  • The absence of guarantees of fair defence, as well as the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment in Israeli prisons, have been widely denounced by Palestinian and international organizations and by UN bodies.
  • Episodes of violence by Israeli settlers against the Palestinians are a daily occurrence, ranging from the destruction and burning of crops, orchards, vehicles and homes to physical aggression and murder, often with protection by the military. Few incidents are investigated by the Israeli authorities and convictions are very rare.
  • In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, Israel not only fails to fulfill its role as the occupying power, responsible for the health and well-being of the occupied population, but also boycotts the efforts of the Palestinian authorities, destroying field clinics and seizing or blocking imports of medicines and sanitary material.

Peace negotiations

It is impossible to speak of “peace negotiations” in a process that outright excludes any Palestinian participation and that places itself against international law and legality. It is therefore necessary to reaffirm the centrality of international law and United Nations resolutions as the fundamental framework for any just solution to the Palestinian question.

It is in the hands of the international community to demonstrate that it is genuinely committed to finding a political solution to the Palestinian question that respects the legitimate rights of its people. It is unacceptable that, after decades of unfulfilled promises by the international community, there should be further delaying tactics. Whoever closes the door to a political solution becomes responsible for all the consequences that may ensue.

Unity of the Palestinian people

MPPM welcomes the initiatives aimed at a rapprochement between the political forces that represent the Palestinian people and hopes that they will be successful. News of meetings between Palestinian parties and organizations, with a view to a common understanding, can only be received with optimism and hope.

The unity of the Palestinian people and its political forces within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was, in the past, the fundamental factor for the international affirmation of the Palestinian cause and the sovereign will of its people. That unity is, under the present circumstances, of equal or even greater importance.

The strengthening of the legitimacy of the representation of the Palestinian people is all the more urgent in the face of the successive manoeuvres of the occupier and its allies to interfere with that representation.

For an active solidarity

In this context of extreme difficulty for the Palestinian people and in which the bellicose forces in the Middle East are growing, MPPM:

  • Reaffirms its continued support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for their inalienable national rights and for the right to an independent, viable and sovereign State;
  • Calls for active solidarity with the Palestinian people by the entire Portuguese society;
  • Expresses its solidarity with the other peoples of the Middle East who are victims of wars and threats of external aggression and demands for them the right to freely and peacefully decide their destiny.

MPPM demands that the Portuguese Government, by the obligations imposed upon it by the constitutional text, international law, international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions:

  • Immediately recognize the State of Palestine in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with East Jerusalem as the capital and assuring the right of return for the refugees;
  • Reassess the entire framework of relations with the State of Israel, namely in trade relations, technical and scientific cooperation and military collaboration, taking into account the serious violations of the rights of the Palestinian people;
  • Use all the political and diplomatic instruments at its disposal, particularly in the United Nations system and in the European Union, in order to uncompromisingly defend the rights of the Palestinian people.

October 20, 2020

The National Directorate of MPPM

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