Open Letter to Peace Now by BADIL Friends Forum/Southern West Bank; BADIL Resource Center 15 July 19
We the undersigned, Palestinians and Palestinian refugees in search of a just peace in our country, are particularly concerned about all efforts, Israeli and international, at dismissing Palestinian refugee rights, even before Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the refugee question have actually begun. We wish to emphasize here, that the attempt to push the Palestinian negotiators into signing an agreement which does not provide for our right of return endangers the current effort for peace in the region. Five million Palestinian refugees continue to struggle for their right to return to their homes and property taken away from them in 1948.
We are particularly concerned about the stand in respect to our right of return taken by progressive Israelis and the Israeli peace forces – among them Peace Now - who have shared our struggle against the illegal Israeli settlements, for human rights, and for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital shared by the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.
Based on the above, we completely reject the recent statement of Peace Now saying that,
“The right of return exists. They [Palestinians] have the right of return. But they don’t have the right to realize that right. Basically, those who want to return to Jaffa are exactly like the Jew who wants to return to Hebron. Both the Jew who wishes to return to Hebron and the Palestinian who wants to return to Jaffa are extremists who will have to forego their desires.” (Mossy Raz, General Secretary of Peace Now, on Clinton's Comments, interview with Aaron Lerner, 2 July 1999).
The above statement represents just another version of the well-known Israeli propaganda aimed at negating Palestinian rights. As common for Israeli propaganda, this argument,
1) Violates international law and UN Resolutions: Israeli settlements in the 1967 occupied territories are illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN Resolution 242, a.o.; the right of return of the Palestinian refugees is protected by UN Resolution 194, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a series of international laws and principles which have led the international community to enforce the return of Kosovar refugees to their homes;
2) Is factually wrong in that it compares Jewish people who wish to occupy land and property in Hebron – which do not belong to them – with Palestinian refugees who wish to return to lands and homes which rightfully belong to them. The fact that Jewish settlers in Hebron have no rightful claim to the properties they occupy in Hebron was clarified by the descendents of the families of Hebron’s Jewish community in a statement issued already in 1996 (see text below).
Based on the above, we call on Israeli and Jewish peace forces in general, and Peace Now in particular, to take serious the challenge presented by the Palestinian right of return and to work for creating a vision among Israeli society and Jewish communities world wide that can facilitate the construction of a framework of peace and coexistence which includes the internationally recognized right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and regain access to their properties taken away from them in the past. The “Peace of the Brave” must not remain an empty phrase!
Signed for the BADIL Friends Forum by:
Muhammad al Lahham, Head of Popular Service Committees in Palestinian Refugee Camps/West Bank;
Jamal Ferraj, Journalist, Deheishe Camp;
Salem Abu Hawwash, Reseacher, Dura/Hebron;
Samir Ata ‘Odeh, Popular Service Committee, Aida Camp;
Nadi Ferraj, BADIL Board, Deheishe Camp;
Issa Qaraq’a, Head, Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Aida Camp;
Adnan Ajarmeh, Youth Activities Center, Aida Camp;
Ibrahim Abu Srour, Rehabilitation Center for the Handicapped, Aida Camp;
Afif Ghatashe, Youth Activities Center, al-Fawwar Camp;
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights;
“Message from the Original Jewish Community of Hebron:
EVACUATE THE SETTLERS (28 December 1996)"
Seek Peace of Hebron
We, the descendents of the families of Hebron’s ancient Jewish community, sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of the Jews who lived in the city for hundreds of years – want peace.
Peace for the City of Hebron, Peace for Israel
Now, when the city of our fathers and forefathers is in the eye of a storm, threatening to explode the political process and to destroy the prospects of peace, we feel an obligation to say what is in our hearts.
Settlers living in Hebron’s heart do not have the right to speak in the name of the old Jewish community, and their pretensions to be following the path of our fathers is a deceit and deceiving. They are alien to the culture and way of life of the Hebron Jews, who in the course of generations created a heritage of peace between peoples and understanding between faiths.
The settlers who have taken possession of Jewish property in the heart of Hebron and made it theirs, have done thievish work. No one granted them the right that is not theirs, to be the heirs of our fathers, no matter if we speak of private property or community property. And they intend to add sins to their crimes and to possess other lands and structures.
Hebron Will Decided for Good or Evil
Therefore the government of Israel must evacuate the handful of settlers from the city at once, before they succeed in exploding the peace process and destroying the prospects of peace.
Amnon Bierman; Rachel Grundland (Zarfati family); Ronen Doron (Slonim family); Etty Horn (Franco family); Chaim Hazan (Avishar family); Ovadya Hassun (Hassun family); Tamar Hassun (Hassun family); Ofra Yerushalmi-Seidof (Zarfati family); Dafne Mendelowitz (Zarfati family); Yaakov Meshorer (Mani family); Meir Slonim (Slonim family); Yonah Rochlin (Mani, Hassun); Sima Schneider (Slonim family); Moshe Gelmor (Hassun family); Ahuva Donivksy (Zarfati family); Yael Doron (Slonim family); Chaim Hanegbi (Bajaio family); Michal Hassun (Hassun family); Rami Hassun (Hassun family); Orit Hassun-Walder (Hassun family); Yair Kidan (Schneierson family); Asher Meshorer (Mani family); Orah Slonim (Slonim family); Batya Perla (Kleiers family); Eliezer Shani (Slonim family);