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12 January 2017

What form of resistance are Palestinians allowed?

By: Daoud Kuttab
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The international community has shown some political backbone by supporting the anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution on December 23, but that will not produce peace if it is not followed by effective action.
 
Instead of the world community following up on the matter and putting pressure on Israel, the Israelis turned the tables.
 
Israel’s foreign ministry called the representatives of every single country that has a mission in Israel and that voted in support of that resolution on Christmas Day, December 25, and gave them a diplomatic tongue lashing, refusing even to place their national flags or offer them a glass of water as they were lectured.
 
What was the response of these countries that were humiliated diplomatically for condemning what amounts to a war crime?
 
Nothing.
 
The Israeli leader also refused an official invitation by the French government to attend a peace conference to be held in Paris on January 15 to discuss ways to bring about peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
Israel also rejected the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for an exchange of land for peace and gives Israel a role in deciding the status of Palestinian refugees.
 
The Palestinian president, who welcomed the Paris peace conference, met with a group of respected Israeli writers in Ramallah, on January 5, and reiterated his continued opposition to all acts of violence, his support for security cooperation and his call on Israelis for genuine peace talks.
 
The group was part of hundreds of Israelis who signed a petition calling on their government to attend the Paris peace conference.
 
The stage is thus set for more than 70 governments to attend the conference in Paris without the main culprit of the decades long occupation, Israel.
 
It does not take much to know that peace talks, irrespective of whether Israel attends or boycotts, can only produce concrete results if there are instruments that are applied in case a party refuses to go along with the requirements of peace.
 
If there is no price for occupation, it will certainly continue indefinitely.
 
With world government unable and unwilling to act beyond lip service for what is right in the Palestinian-Israeli case, the ball is back in the court of the Palestinians and their supporters.
 
Palestinians wishing to live freely and in peace with their neighbours have two ways to accomplish that: either violent or non-violent resistance.
 
When a Palestinian attempts to carry out a violent act of resistance against Israeli soldiers, he is immediately called terrorist.
 
UN Security Council members supported a January 9 statement that called the attack on Israeli soldiers in occupied Jerusalem an “unjustified act of terrorism” and a “threat to international peace and security”.
 
Earlier, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, had equated the attack on Israeli soldiers to the ramming attacks in France and Germany, in an attempt to connect it to Islamic terrorism, rather than to the fact that it was an attack against occupation soldiers.
 
So while the Western world continues to applaud the heroes who resisted the German occupation of France and most of Europe, Palestinians are denied a similar right or honour.
 
If Palestinian violent resistance is a threat to international peace, as the UN Security Council stated, surely non-violent acts are welcome.
 
Palestinian non-violent resisters have for decades been harassed and imprisoned, with hardly an objection from the world community.
 
At present, a Palestinian human rights activists from Hebron, a circus player, legislators, children, writers and journalists are held in Israeli jails without charge or trial.
 
International human right organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have adopted the cases of these prisoners of conscience, but the world community has done little to pressure Israel for their release.
 
An only hopeful sign that emerged in recent years was the world response to Palestinian intellectuals’ call for a worldwide boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) regime against Israel until it ends its occupation.
 
But even this non-violent act is not accepted.
 
In his statement explaining the vote in favour of the Resolution 2334, Mathew Rycroft, the UK’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke of an issue that did not appear in the resolution.
 
“My government will never support any resolution that advances the cause of boycotts,” he said in reference to the BDS movement.
 
In the US, legislatures are stepping on their own first amendment in order to appease pro-Israel lobbyists as laws as passed attempting to outlaw the freedom of expression through support for the BDS movement.
 
The Israeli occupation will continue indefinitely so long as successive Israeli government are not forced to pay a price for it.
 
Human life should be sacred, whether it is of a Palestinian or of an Israeli, and all means must be found to protect and preserve it.
 
Peace requires compromise and courage, and all efforts must be made to ensure its successful conclusion.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net



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