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2018 is on its last breath and I, for one, will not shed a tear. In fact I hope that such a year will never be repeated. Not for us Palestinians. Not for any oppressed people of the world. Nor even for the people of my adopted country, England, who are grappling with the toxic effect of the Brexit debacle.

The year 2018 started for us Palestinians with a devastating blow dealt to us by the present incumbent of the White House, President Trump, who decided, against all international law and conventions, to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State. With the stroke of a pen he delivered an ancient city, an ancient civilisation and an even more ancient indigenous population to the mercies of a Zionist regime that is hell – bent on removing Palestine from the pages of history. On May 14th 2018, the day of celebration, when the American embassy was officially opened in front of a gathering of Zionists, evangelicals and known supporters of Israel less than 100 kms away in Gaza 37 Palestinians were killed and many more injured during the violent and terrible brutality that met the unarmed marchers for right of return. If that wasn’t enough, Mr Trump, encouraged by his Zionist son-in-law, Jared Kushner, withdrew vital funds from UNRWA which caters for the survival of 5-million Palestinian refugees living in camps within the borders of Palestine and neighbouring countries. The same Jared Kushner, a known supporter and investor in the Apartheid settlement programme in Palestine, did all in his power to pressure and convince some Arab leaders to toe the line and support the Apartheid state of Israel against all Arab and Moslem instincts and traditions by peddling to the them the so-called ‘deal of the century’.

All this, despite the fact that this magical ‘deal of the century’ has not been publicly announced or finalised. But this is the nature of the bullies. They have the power, they have the means and they are not bashful about using them. And Mr Kushner did use them!

Mohammad Bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, an uneducated, inexperienced and very ambitious young man, not only capitulated but also pressured other Arab and Moslem leaders to follow his lead. Speaking in New York in April, bin Salman said to Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, that Palestinians should come to the negotiating table or “shut up and stop complaining”. Mr Abbas, to give him his due, refused the deal, rumoured to include the Palestinians giving up their sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem and renouncing the right of return for refugees, as the “slap of the century”.

Bin Salman, used the same threatening behaviour with King Abdullah II of Jordan, a country that is laden with debts, a failing economy and an influx of huge numbers of refugees from both Iraq and Syria and as such very much in need of financial support from their Arab brethren. King Abdullah II refused to capitulate. Despite his country’s dire economic position and needs he attended the summit of Islamic countries in Istanbul to show his rejection of ‘the deal of the century’ and Jordan’s support for the Palestinian people. The pressure did not stop. It escalated. They used every means at their disposal and offered the ailing kingdom a $2.5billion as an aid package. Still the King refused to give in. After all, half the population of Jordan is Palestinian and the Hashemite rulers of Jordan are the official custodians of the Holy Places in Jerusalem.

Another significant development happened at the end of March 2018 when thousands of Palestinian refugees living under siege and occupation in Gaza marched, armed with nothing more than flags, through the no-mans-land, arbitrarily designated by Israel as the buffer zone between Israel and Gaza. They were gunned down and murdered in their hundreds on the orders of the Israeli high command. The official policy of the Israeli army was and still is‘Shoot To Kill’. The snipers who were manning the barricades behind the fence did not differentiate between a child, a journalist, a paramedic, an amputee, a man or a woman. They saw their target and the order from their high command was ‘shoot to kill’. So far, according to a report by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in September 2018, 194 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since March 30.

Of them, 141 were killed during demonstrations, including 28 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics and three disabled people.

Another 9,970 were injured, including 1,815 children, 419 women, 114 paramedics, and 105 journalists. Of those injured, 5,645 were hit by live fire, including 919 children and 113 women.

One Israeli soldier has died after being shot on July 20, 2018, during the protests.

The horror show that is the daily life of Palestinians in the Holy Land and the refugee camps and in the diaspora is an ongoing tragedy. In the last year the occupation forces demolished hundreds more Palestinian homes, especially in Jerusalem, confiscated thousands of dunums of Palestinian land, expanded the illegal squats on our land and started new ones. Over 2,200 illegal squats on our land have been approved recently and more are in the pipeline. Palestinian legislators are continually thrown into prison, Palestinian school children are stopped from reaching their schools and deprived of their education and recently the Israeli Occupation Forces prevented Christians from the West Bank, Gaza and the Diaspora from visiting the Holy Places in Bethlehem and Jerusalem during the Christmas festivities. The rule of international law, human rights, and the myriad of UN resolutions condemning this behaviour are all ignored or described as being biased against Israel.

Before I finish I’ll take a fleeting glance at the despicable and unpatriotic stance of both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza that continue to perpetuate division and separation. Will they ever learn?

Despite all the above I cannot close this last post of the year without wishing my readers, our supporters, my Palestinian extended family and my good friends a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.

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