[ Ed. note – Pax Christi, the Catholic peace group, has issued a press release today calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Overall I’d say it’s a good press release, although I do have a few minor criticisms. While the press release refers to the “occupied Palestinian territories,” it doesn’t say whether it includes East Jerusalem in that.
Additionally, while it does include a quote about “steady settlement expansion,” it also calls for “the parties to return to the negotiating table”–which is precisely what Israel has been calling for as well. While Palestinians had previously demanded that Israel halt its settlement expansions before resuming peace talks, apparently this demand was dropped by PA President Mahmoud Abbas during his meeting with Trump earlier this month. I personally think it would be unwise for the Palestinians to resume negotiations without a commitment to halt to the settlement building as a precondition, and I think the press release could have been improved upon had it mentioned at least that this had been one of the key demands in the past.
Finally, the press release calls for “a ban on the sale and delivery of arms to Israel and Palestine.” I guess the Pax Christi folks are trying to avoid criticism of taking sides, but it’s absurd to include such a call. No country is currently shipping arms to Palestine. On the other hand, the US just last year signed a $38 billion military aid package to Israel. Far better would it have been for the press release to call for an end to all aid to Israel, or, failing that, at least an end to all military aid to Israel–and leave it at that.
Still all in all for a prominent Catholic organization like Pax Christi to call for an end to the occupation is a milestone. As the article below from Ma’an News makes clear, Pax Christi isn’t the only organization to issue such a call. The British aid organization Oxfam has also done so. Both calls, from Pax Christi and Oxfam, were issued in conjunction with the upcoming 50 anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 war.
Both calls also, by the way, come as Israelis have just shot another young Palestinian girl. I don’t have any information on the incident other than what’s in the two tweets, but I’m assuming something will be coming out pretty soon. ]
‘We Must Not Let Another 50 Years Pass’: NGOs Condemn Israeli Occupation
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Days ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, Catholic NGO Pax Christi International called the dire humanitarian situation brought on by the occupation “not sustainable,” and called for renewed peace talks.
Meanwhile, NGO Oxfam slammed the international community’s inaction during the past five decades, whose “toothless” condemnations of Israeli violations of human rights and “Band-Aid humanitarian solutions” it blamed for the continuation of the occupation half a century on.
June 5 is remembered by Palestinians as “Naksa” Day, meaning “setback,” marking the Israeli invasion and occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan Heights that began on June 5, 1967 during the Six-Day War, displacing some 300,000 Palestinians, as well as thousands of Syrians, from their homes.
Since then, Pax Christi wrote, “the international community has been witness to the denial of human rights and the deterioration of conditions throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The Christian NGO quoted a statement by UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Michael Lynk from earlier this month, which detailed the “systemic human rights violations that accompany this occupation — collective punishment, confiscation of property, excessive use of force and unlawful killings, lack of freedom of movement and steady settlement expansion, among others.”
“We are commemorating a sad milestone this month with 50 years of devastating occupation. It is urgent that it is resolved, as for both Palestinians and Israelis their future and hope depend on it,” Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis said in a statement on Thursday. “This is the moment for an increased commitment to reach a just and sustainable solution in accordance with international law.”
Pax Christi went on to “strongly” recommend a ban on weapons sales to Israel and Palestine and an end to any military cooperation with either party as a means to apply international pressure to obtain a resolution — likely alluding in part to the unprecedented $38 billion American military aid package to Israel signed in September.
Meanwhile, Oxfam Country Director Chris Eijkemans said in a statement on Thursday that the lack of international accountability for Israel’s illegal occupation, including through the lack of effectiveness of foreign NGOs, played a major role in the continuation of the conflict.
“There are few examples of poverty or injustice in the OPT (occupied Palestinian territory) that do not stem from the occupation. If it weren’t for the occupation, most aid agencies would not need to be here,” Eijkemans said. “The issues facing Palestinians are enormous and complex, but on each count, despite the billions of dollars invested, the lives of Palestinians cannot meaningfully improve as long as the occupation persists.”
“The international community shoulders a large portion of the blame for the ongoing situation faced by 4.5 million Palestinians living in the OPT and must take clear and urgent action. Toothless condemnation of the litany of abuses is not enough,” Eijkemans added.
Pax Christi International in collaboration with its members, calls for the immediate end of the 50-year Israeli occupation and for a renewed peace process
In this month of the commemoration of 50 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, Pax Christi International in collaboration with its members, urges the international community to call for the immediate end of the 50-year Israeli occupation and for the parties to reengage in a peace process in compliance with international law.
Brussels, June 1st – Beginning with the Six Day war, 5-10 June, 1967, five decades of military occupation in disregard for international laws and U.N. resolutions and the willful expansion of settlements has led to dire conditions on the ground that systematically violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.
“It is time for the international community to say, ‘Enough!’”, states Pax Christi International, in the light of this month’s 50th anniversary of the occupation.
This call comes at a moment when commemorative activities are being held around the world to raise awareness of the impact that five decades of occupation has had on the lives of Palestinians. In this symbolic month, Pax Christi International calls for governments, civil society and all people of good will to exercise their influence, through any means available – political, economic, public and private advocacy – to seek an end to the occupation.
For 50 years the international community has been witness to the denial of human rights and the deterioration of conditions throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. We have watched the slow ebbing of hope as lives are damaged by the policies of this occupation which:
- deny freedom of movement;
- limit access to critical services, especially health care;
- monitor and curtail access to basic necessities, especially water and electricity;
- diminish opportunities for education and employment;
- obstruct normal family life and the exercise of religious worship;
- negatively affect the Palestinian economic infrastructure, especially in the agricultural sector;
- punish legitimate, nonviolent expressions of resistance and protest;
- and impose regulations that create segregation and inequality.
Recently, Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, has expressed his deep concern about the deteriorating situation: “The systemic human rights violations that accompany this occupation – collective punishment, confiscation of property, excessive use of force and unlawful killings, lack of freedom of movement and steady settlement expansion, among others – are intensifying an already perilous situation.”
Rania Giacaman Murra, Director of the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem, explains,
“The occupation severely affects especially Palestinian youth and women. Palestinian children and youth don’t know how it was before the occupation, what it means to live in a land without walls, how it feels to breath the air of the sea, what it means to pray as Muslims and Christians without being checked and humiliated at checkpoints. Mothers often live in fear that their children will not come back home safe, that they are killed or injured or humiliated.”
The current situation is not sustainable. Reaching a political solution is the only path to peace.
Therefore, Pax Christi International calls for the parties to return to the negotiating table to establish a peace agreement that recognises and protects the human dignity and rights of the Palestinian and Israeli people as equals. We believe that the revival of a peace process must be based on a steadfast commitment to abide by international law and U.N. resolutions.
To promote and support such efforts for peace, Pax Christi International strongly recommends a ban on the sale and delivery of arms to Israel and Palestine and an immediate cessation of any military cooperation which contributes to violent conflict.
Marie Dennis, Co-president of Pax Christi International, stated: “We are commemorating a sad milestone this month with 50 years of devastating occupation. It is urgent that it is resolved, as for both Palestinians and Israelis their future and hope depend on it. This is the moment for an increased commitment to reach a just and sustainable solution in accordance with international law.”
In recognition of this solemn occasion and to highlight the impact of 50 years of occupation Pax Christi International and its members will be involved in a number of activities and events. An overview can be found here: http://www.paxchristi.net/news/pax-christi-international-together-members-and-partners-commemorates-50-years-occupation#sthash.gn2e4eSc.dpbs
Contact: Alice Kooij Martinez, Senior Advocacy Officer, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org