Over 16,000 Palestinians, as well as individuals and organizations worldwide, endorsed - within nine days of its launching - a petition appealing to UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson to "call for the implementation of the Palestinian right to self-determination and, as a first step, to call for an international protection force for the Palestinian people, before continued violence against the Palestinian society results in massive destruction for the second time in 52 years."
The petition was signed, among others, by some 3,000 residents of the cities and villages in the Hebron, Jerusalem and Ramallah area; representatives of Palestinian political parties, public institutions, NGOs and university student organizations; refugees and their community organizations in the camps of 'Aida, Beit Jibrin ('Azza), al-'Arroub, and Balata; over 100 representatives of political parties, unions, women committees, NGOs and refugee organizations in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria; and more than 13,000 academics and professionals, Palestinian expatriates, solidarity and human rights activists and their organizations in Arab countries, Europe, Asia and the United States.
Implementation of international law and UN resolutions in our region must no longer be conditional on the consent of the Israeli occupier. The urgency of this Palestinian demand is highlighted by the Israeli cabinet decision - in the wake of a Palestinian attack against Israeli settlers in Gaza on 20 November - to escalate its military repression of the Palestinian uprising by more intensive shelling of Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps, and to tighten sieges and blockades aimed at strangulating the Palestinian people's economic and social infrastructure. At this moment, and following the Israeli air-raid on Gaza on 20 November, extensive shooting by Israeli military and settlers, as well as shelling of Palestinian communities, is being reported from all over the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank. 250 Palestinians have been killed, 86 of them minors below the age of 18 (data of 21-11), and more then 10,000 injured since 28 September 2000, and the Israeli government is determined to continue the colonization of the 1967 occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, even at the expense of another war in the Middle East.
The petition, sponsored by Media Alternative on Palestine (MAP) and BADIL Resource Center, was launched on 11 November 2000 on the occasion of UN High Commissioner Robinson's visit to Palestine. It is presented to her today, in order to emphasize the urgency of rapid action by the UN Commission on Human Rights, both towards the UN Security Council's vote on the deployment of international protection forces expected for Friday, 25 November, and towards the establishment of a new, rights-based and UN-supervised mechanism for a just and durable solution of the historical Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
AN URGENT CALL to MRS. MARY ROBINSON
UN HIGH COMMISSIONER on HUMAN RIGHTS
WE, the undersigned, call urgently on Mrs. Mary Robinson to uphold, in full, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on behalf of the Palestinian people, at this most critical and dangerous historical juncture. In particular, we call on her urgently to affirm Article #1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which calls for the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination, and which continues to be grievously and systematically violated by Israel's occupation, and by its refusal to accept the right of return.
The right to self-determination and continued occupation stand in fundamental conflict. Continued occupation is the root cause of the present situation. It is the machinery of occupation which produces the systematic violation of the range of other individual and collective rights provided for by the Covenant, including the right to liberty and security of person, the right to freedom of movement, the right to control one's own natural resources, and others. It is the machinery of occupation which produces settlements, closures, checkpoints, home demolitions, land confiscation, destruction of crops, and wanton killings by settlers and occupation forces, which the Palestinian people have continued to endure even during the last 7 years under cover of the peace process.
Occupation can be maintained only by violence or the threat of violence. Instead of respecting the principles of human rights and international law, and acknowledging the Palestinian right to self-determination, Israel has declared war on the Palestinian people. It has openly unleashed an arsenal of military violence against them. In just six weeks, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and over six thousand wounded. We demand a total end to the occupation. We appeal urgently to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to call for the implementation of the Palestinian right to self-determination, and as a first step, to call for an international protection force for the Palestinian people, before continued violence against Palestinian society results in massive destruction for the second time in 52 years.
For additional information on the current uprising, Israeli repression, relevant UN resolutions, and the Palestinian demand for international protection, see Intifada2000