Palestinians and Israelis are paying for the stalled peace process with their lives By: Issam Aruri

31-01-2017 18:18

Source: The Guardian


There is much discussion about how the global world order will play out under the new administration of President Donald Trump. Living in the occupied Palestinian territory, our fate does not rest with one man or his administration, but rather on the concerted efforts of the international community to end the political stalemate and reinvigorate peace talks.


We live in confused times; at the end of last year the UN Security Council passed resolution 2334 (pdf), which reaffirmed that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law.

Despite this, the Israeli government has just approved construction of 2,500 new houses in East Jerusalem settlements as Israel anticipates support from Trump. Continued settlement expansion, forced displacement and restrictions on movement are fuelling hatred and motivation for revenge. 


Then we hear a proposal by the Trump administration to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, signalling that the city could be considered as the capital of Israel. The international community knows Jerusalem is the flame that can inspire peace or ignite conflict. 


The world cannot afford to stand still and let both Israeli and Palestinian societies feel a threat to their existence. A new reportentitled No Place Like Home (pdf), by an alliance of Catholic aid agencies (Cidse) of which the UK aid agency Cafod is a member, draws attention to the fact that “displacement remains a protracted, consistent and central issue in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and exacerbates the fragmentation, de-development and isolation of the communities”.


The report notes that forced displacement has led to even deeper poverty among Palestinians. About 80% of Gaza’s population relies on humanitarian aid for survival and both communities, Israeli and Palestinian, will be condemned to more years of misery, despair and violence because of it. 


For example, the demolitions and transfer of communities in Area C – which represents 60% of the total size of the West Bank and is part of the internationally recognised occupied Palestinian territory – are justified by the government of Israel on the grounds that individuals lack Israeli planning and building permits, which are routinely denied to Palestinians. Lack of planning permission leaves Palestinians vulnerable to home demolitions, displacement and forcible transfer. This situation also limits rights to water, healthcare, education, and adequate housing; basic human dignity is denied.


Since its beginnings more than 42 years ago, the Jerusalem Legal Aid Center has worked to support vulnerable communities facing human rights violations. We undertake pro bono legal cases related to house demolition, forced displacement and land displacement. Without our presence, Palestinians would face costly fees, leaving them little choice but to forfeit their claims. 

When peace processes stutter to a halt, ordinary people pay the price. In the case of Palestinians and Israelis, it is often with their lives. Yet I have seen that peace and security are in the long-term interests of both communities in order to live side by side as neighbours in full respect for each other. We will not achieve a just and lasting solution to the conflict without first ensuring respect for international humanitarian law. So, our call must get louder. 


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the six-day war that started the Israeli occupation, and today sees 4.7 million Palestinians still living under an occupation that is illegal under international humanitarian law. An end to the occupation is the bedrock of a viable solution. It is only then that Palestinians will be in a position to meet the responsibilities demanded of them.


In these testing times, the international community must move beyond words to stop these violations of international law, and step up to the task of creating the conditions for a more balanced global policy that will bring both parties to the negotiating table and help broker the peace.

Topics : #Israel #Palestine #Peace process  #Occupation #Israeli settlements #poverty #Human Rights

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