Palestinians Demand INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION
As a Step towards Implementation of their Right to Self-Determination and Refugees’ Right of Return in face of Deepening Crisis in the Middle East
In the wake of the recent Israeli elections, prospects for a durable and just peace in the Middle East have dwindled. Prime minister elect Ariel Sharon is accused of war crimes by the Palestinian people. Information emanating from the ongoing negotiations over a national unity government (Likud-Labor coalition agreement) indicate that the future Israeli government will abandon the search for a historical compromise with the Palestinian people. A comprehensive negotiated peace agreement will be replaced by the target of achieving “long term and partial interim agreements”, i.e. a euphemism for the continuation of Israeli occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people. The new Israeli government is about to adopt this policy, although the UN Commission on Human Rights, already in 1980, “strongly condemned all partial agreements and separate treaties which constitute a flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, the principles of the Charter and the resolutions adopted in the various international forums on the Palestinian issue.” (UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2 (XXXVI), 14 February 1980, paragraph 6)
Deeply concerned about the deterioration of the political and economic situation in Palestine, the continuation of Israeli military and settler violence, and the alarming lack of international action, 52,000 individuals and organizations in Palestine and worldwide have endorsed an appeal initially presented to UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson during her first special fact finding visit to the region on 23 November 2000 (16,000 signatures at the time). The appeal calls for the implementation of the Palestinian right to self-determination and, as a first step, for an international protection force that will stop Israeli violence which is causing massive destruction and injuries among all sectors of Palestinian society.
The appeal was signed by concerned individuals and organizations from around the globe. The signatories include residents of the cities and villages in the Hebron, Jerusalem and Ramallah area; refugees and their community organizations in West Bank refugee camps; representatives of Palestinian political parties, public institutions, NGOs and university student organizations, unions, women committees, refugee organizations, and Palestinian expatriates. The signatories also include tens of thousands of academics and intellectuals, artists and business people, human rights activists and their organizations members of political parties and international agencies, as well as professionals and ordinary citizens of various religious faiths, ages and nationalities, from across Europe, Asia, the Arab countries, Africa, South America, Canada and the United States.
Implementation of international law and UN resolutions in the region must no longer be conditional on the consent of the Israeli occupier. The urgency of this Palestinian demand is highlighted by the renewed Israeli escalation of military repression of the Palestinian people as they justly demand their rights and freedoms, Israel’s policy of extra-judicial killing of Palestinian activists and political leaders, and the continuation of heavy sieges and blockades aimed at strangulating the Palestinian people’s economic and social infrastructure. 365 Palestinians (including 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel) have been killed, 97 of them minors below the age of 18 (PCBS data up to February 11), and more then 11,194 injured (PRCS data up to 6 February) since 28 September 2000. Damage caused to residential and non-residential buildings and infrastructure (not including the agricultural sector) is estimated at US $26 million, damage incurred to Palestinian refugee camps are estimated at US $605,000 (PCBS data by 8 January 2001). New settler caravans have been set up on Palestinian lands, and large scale uprooting of trees and agricultural crops – the lifeline of Palestinian subsistence - continues as 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 appeal below, sponsored by Media Alternative on Palestine (MAP) and BADIL Resource Center, will be presented to the Special Investigation Committee of the UN Commission on Human Rights on Friday, 16 February 2001. It represents yet another attempt to emphasize the urgency of rapid action by the United Nations and its Commission on Human Rights, both towards the immediate deployment of international protection forces, 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.
The international community has a moral and practical obligation to intervene and enforce, decisively, the rule and legitimacy of the international human rights regime in Palestine, as it was enforced in Kosovo and East Timor. It is urgent that the international community act now, before it becomes complicit through omission in a new disaster that is taking shape, and will wreak massive destruction of Palestinian society for the second time in 52 years. Such a disaster will have very long term and serious consequences for the entire region.
An Urgent Appeal to Mrs. Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for 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.
PLEASE JOIN THIS APPEAL BY SIGNING ON TO www.petitiononline/palpet