Israeli attempts to destroy International Law
Hartford Courant today, January 23, 2001
By MAZIN QUMSIYEH
The Israeli government is demanding that, before negotiations resume, Palestinians must abandon their inalienable right to return to homes and lands from which they were removed in the past 55 years. This is unacceptable to anyone with elemental knowledge of legality and morality.
The British "mandate" to fulfill Lord Balfour's promise of a Jewish homeland in populated Palestine (which had a minority Jewish presence of 7 percent at the time) was implemented by force without consulting the wishes of the Palestinian inhabitants. Jewish land ownership at the eve of the British-inspired, American-pushed declaration of dividing Palestine into a "Jewish state" (55 percent of the land) and an "Arab state" (45 percent) in 1947 was less than 8 percent of all privately held lands.
From that time forward, Zionists have methodically altered the character of the land and the people. As a result of sometimes ingenious and other times brutal ways of ethnic cleansing, a vast majority of Palestinian families
(Muslim and Christian) have lost lands or homes to Zionists. This is not a Palestinian "story" but a fact attested to by Israeli historians themselves and in the published words and documents of Israeli leaders.
Israel/Palestine now has about 4.5 million Jews and 3.7 million Christians and Muslims. Of the 9 million Palestinians in the world, over 5 million are refugees or "displaced persons." A quarter of Israel's 1.2 million "goyim citizens" (non-Jews) are considered by the Israeli legal system as "present absentees." Lands and homes vacated by Christian and Muslim refugees and "absentees" are considered state property and turned over to the Jewish agency that administers the land and leases it only to Jews. Palestinians are treated much worse than blacks were in South Africa under apartheid.
Incomplete success of ethnic cleansing led Israeli governments to attempt to isolate Palestinians in bantustans (homelands) and to ensure that refugees never return (3,000 were killed trying to "infiltrate" back before fences were put up). The 30-year-old Israeli-American solution to the Palestinian "problem" was reinvented at Oslo and re-presented lately by Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton as final deals to Palestinians.
Modeled after apartheid in South Africa, it envisions no return of refugees and disjointed segments of a demilitarized "Palestine," without control of natural resources or borders surrounded by the Israeli army and settlements. But even if Arafat agrees to this sham "peace," it cannot last. Palestinian refugees know their return is an inalienable, individual and collective right supported by international law and morality.
Research has also shown return to be feasible and not a threat to order (see Al-Awda.org, and Badil.org). On the contrary, no lasting peace can occur without it; annulling it would set a poor precedent in international law of allowing exclusion based on religion. Israel needs to evolve from a self-declared "Jewish state" to a state of its citizens regardless of religion. It is only logical to expect that the current Palestinian citizens of Israel (and secular Israelis in general) want a state that has a constitution to protect all (not just Jews) and does not include specific laws to discriminate against non-Jews. Israeli laws give automatic citizenship to any Jew in the world who desires (except those who converted to other religions) while denying return to people born and raised there for generations simply for being of teh wrong religion (many of them relatives of those Palestinians remaining and who have not seen each other in 55 years).
Meanwhile the U.S. congress gave more money to Israel in the past 2 years than it did to a state in the US of equal size population.
*Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh writes on behalf of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (http://Al-Awda.org).