Palestine – Israel
The intensification of the conflict in Occupied Palestine and Israel today is one of grave concern to the Canadian Arab Federation. CAF believes just peace and security depend on giving Palestinians and Israelis peace, security and self-determination based on International Law and UN Resolutions.
CAF condemns the killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians; the grave human rights abuses by Israeli Army including torture, assassination, killing of Palestinians civilians; destruction of cultural and religious sites, demolition of Palestinian houses, land confiscation, destruction of farmland, closures, the building and expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
These official Israeli policies have been part of a system of occupation that has, over the past 36 years, humiliated and oppressed Palestinians. It has brought their society to the verge of mental, physical, economic and social collapse. Unemployment from Israeli closures, economic strangulation and curfews is as high as 75 per cent in many areas. USAID reported that poverty among Palestinians is now astonishingly at par with severely impoverished areas such as Chad and Niger. The United Nations has had to step up its food distribution from less than 15,000 to more than 750,000 people in the Occupied Territories. Women are giving birth at dusty Israeli checkpoints because passage to hospitals is denied. CAF believes that bringing an end to Israel’s occupation and this conflict is vital if a sustainable peace is to be achieved.
We believe a just and lasting peace for all Palestinians and Israelis must be prefaced with the an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syrian Golan Heights, and the Lebanese Sheba’a Farms, with an Israeli withdrawal to its June 4th 1967 borders in compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. This peace can only be sustained if the Palestinian people are given a fully sovereign state, alongside Israel, including the entire territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, with land exchanges only by mutual consent of the Palestinian and Israeli people and of equal worth and value.
If a just and secure peace between Palestinians and Israelis is to be established, it is imperative that Palestinian refugees be given the opportunity to exercise their individual rights, as refugees, to return to their homes and/or receive appropriate compensation, by their own choice, known as The Right of Return. No belligerent state or negotiation partners have the right to unilaterally supercede or negate the individual legal rights of Palestinian refugees as enshrined in a number of legal bodies, among them the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, Article 13 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 ratified on 11 December 1948 and affirmed over 40 times. Resolution 194 states:
The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practical date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for the loss of or damage to property which, under the principle of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.
Failure of “Peace” Agreements, why are we here?
Since Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Lebanese Sheba’a Farms in 1967, all attempts at peace have successively failed. Similarly, the most significant Madrid-Oslo “peace process” also floundered because, like other agreements, it failed to address the underlying issues of the conflict including;
- Palestinian Refugees’ Right to Return: Over four million Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Territories and surrounding countries have the right to return to their homes under United Nation Resolution 194;
- Occupied East Jerusalem (illegally annexed by Israel in 1980): Since 1967 Palestinian property has been confiscated, homes demolished and public services denied, in many cases to make way for “Jewish only” illegal settlements;
- Illegal Jewish Settlements: No agreement has ever called on Israel’s continued occupation to end in full, or for Israel’s attempts to entrench its military occupation through illegal Jewish settlements and confiscation of Palestinian property to discontinue. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conversion (for which Canada is a high contracting party) states that:
“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
- Ending Israel’s illegal occupation: None of the US brokered agreements have called for Israel to return to its internationally recognized borders and withdraw completely from territory it occupied by force in 1967 including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Sheba’a Farms.
- The establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state: (In the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, with control of all natural resources within its territory.) All previous “peace agreements” have never allowed Palestinian control of an international border, control of trade, water, natural resources, airspace, immigration and/or continuous territory in either the Gaza Strip or West Bank).
CAF believes these are crucial issues that must be addressed in any new agreement put forward. The American dominated “peace process” has preferred to focus on Israel’s “security” while postponing discussions of these five key issues indefinitely to “final status talks.” CAF feels that Canada has an opportunity to bring these issues to the fore of any discussions that take place, either in the UN or in diplomatic circles.
The Proposed “Road Map”
While its details are yet to be known and published, the US proposed “Road Map” has become the latest basis of discussion to “end the conflict.” CAF is encouraged by this important step forward, but remains cautious about endorsing the “Road Map” for, what little of it has been made public, it has yet to address the underlying issues mentioned above. In addition, the “Road Map” fails to set clear objectives, criteria, requirements and timelines for the outcomes of the process. It bases the progression into successive phases of the plan on the condition of Palestinian “performance”. As demonstrated in the past, Israel will continue to hamper Palestinian “performance” through its military aggression to create insurmountable obstacles that provoke extreme responses and reactions. A clear example of this is Israel’s policy of assassinations that create further instability, violence, a sense of victimization, and a cycle of lawlessness and revenge.
What can Canada do to support a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis? Israel has already asked for over 100 amendments to the “Road Map”, including the removal of any mention of an Independent Palestinian state in favor of wording such as “an entity with aspects of sovereignty.” In order to not follow the folly of previous flawed agreements, CAF believes Canada can take the following actions:
- Canada must condemn all acts of killing of civilians whether Palestinian or Israeli.
- Canada must insist that Israel live up to its obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention and the over 60 UN resolutions related to the conflict, including 242, 194, 338.
- Canada must demand an end of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and its return to the June 4th, 1967 borders.
- Canada must ensure that peace be founded on the implementation of UN resolutions and international principles of justice applied to all people universally.
- As a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Canada must demand that Israel stops building and expanding illegal Jewish settlements in the Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Canada must call for an removal of all Jewish settlers in occupied Palestine
- Canada must reaffirm its position that further land confiscations, building or expansion of Jewish settlements undermine both the opportunities for peace and are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.
- Canada must prohibit Canadians from donating funds to support illegal Jewish settlement construction and organizations that fund them. Canada should ban fundraising activities in Canada that fund illegal Israeli settlers.
- Canadian companies should be prohibited from obtaining commercial contracts and trading with illegal Jewish settlements