When will it ever end?

westbank settlement israel

In May of this year, I will reach the ripe old age of 80. Through all the decades that I have been on this earth this question has been on my mind. When will it ever end?

So far, a logical and fair answer eludes me. It’s not for lack of trying, it’s because every time we Palestinians, despite all the compromises we offer, try to gain a modicum of justice we find not only is it denied to us, we are the ones to blame for this lack of progress for a peaceful co-existence with our occupiers.

International law prohibits the acquisition of land by an act of war or conquest.  Yet, this is what Zionism and Israel have been all about from the word go. Steal the land, ethnically cleanse it, declare it necessary for security, establish facts on the ground, move your population on this stolen land then call it your own. When your powerful benefactors, allies and enablers put their tacit stamp of approval on your acquisition of this land by brute force, then why bother with international law?  It becomes a mere irritation – to be ignored.

Renowned Israeli historian, Professor Ilan Pappé in his book, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”clearly and succinctly says that the stated aim of the early Zionists in Palestine was to colonise the entire land mass of Palestine, preferably without any Palestinians in it.

After all, wasn’t that the rallying cry of the Zionist movement, since the late 19th century, “A land without people for a people without a land”? In other words, Palestine was considered a ‘terra nullius’.  Sounds familiar?

Back in 1998, the late Ariel Sharon, the then Foreign Minister of Israel made it very clear.

“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

This ‘grab and create facts on the ground’ doctrine has continued unabated ever since, made possible with the tacit approval, if not the encouragement of western governments, especially that of the United States of America. Every time the Israeli government grabs another piece of Palestinian land and establishes another illegal settlement, the western world mutters its disapproval, murmuring that this kind of unilateral move is ‘unhelpful’ in the achievement of peace.

This time, ‘unhelpful’ has become ‘deeply troubled’.

February 14, 2023. The US Department of |State has just issued a joint statement of the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States on the Israeli settlement announcement.

We – the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Italy, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom and the Secretary of State of the United States are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s announcement that it is advancing nearly 10,000 settlement units and intends to begin a process to normalise nine outposts that were previously deemed illegal under Israeli law.  We strongly oppose these unilateral actions, which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution.”

Deeply troubled? Strongly oppose? They will not do, I’m afraid. Those five western powers, especially the United States of America, could have done much better had they voted, with a resounding ‘yes’ for the UN resolution asking the ICJ (International Court of Justice) to give advice on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestine instead of their usual ‘no’ or ‘abstain’. With such subservient support how do we expect Israel to ever conform to international law and norms?

Dare I hope that now that the USA has, at last, strongly condemned this latest illegal action, that Australia will follow suit?

Dare I even further hope that the current Australian government will honour its manifesto pledge to recognise the State of Palestine?

Or am I dreaming?

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst. 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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