Saturday, May 19, 2018

Business Recorder Editorial May 20, 2018

Blood-soaked ceremony

The opening of the new US embassy in occupied Jerusalem, previously a consulate, on May 14, 2018 was a ceremony marked with the imprimatur of President Donald Trump’s unabashed support to Israel, abandoning even the pretence of impartiality that characterised past administrations. The ceremony was attended by the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka, both White House aides. While the ceremony was in progress, Israeli forces were bathing the Gaza border with the blood of Palestinian unarmed protestors on whom Israeli snipers were firing without let or hindrance. Stone-throwing Palestinian protestors asserting their UN-recognised right to return to their homeland were met with a hail of tear gas shelling and live fire, resulting in the deaths of 55 Palestinians on the day, including eight children aged less than 16 years, to be added to the total of 109 Palestinians killed and 2,400 wounded since March 30, 2018. The embassy opening coincided with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding and came one day before the commemoration by the Palestinians of the Nakba (day of catastrophe), when in 1948 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes. The shifting of the US embassy to Jerusalem and the recognition of the city as Israel’s capital flies in the face of the decades-old international consensus since the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993 that the final status of Jerusalem would only be settled after negotiations. Trump’s stamp on the city as Israel’s capital implies no such negotiations are now on the cards. This has the potential of stoking more conflict to add to the bloodbath being enacted on the Gaza border. On the day of the new US embassy’s opening, some 40,000 Palestinians amassed on the border to challenge Israeli occupation of their homeland, undeterred by Israeli guns, air raids and tank fire into Gaza. The protests do not appear to be abating any time soon. More bloodshed by Israel, arguably falling under the category of war crimes, can be expected.

Unfortunately, through the twists and turns, advances and retreats, victories and defeats faced by the Palestinian resistance since Israel was thrust like a dagger into the heart of the Middle East by western imperialism, by now their cause has been virtually abandoned by the Arab countries, Muslim world, the global community and the UN. The illusion of a peaceful, negotiated, two-state solution fostered by the Oslo Accords has by now been dissipated by the grim reality of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and continuing displacement and destruction of Palestinian farms and houses, the imprisonment of millions in the biggest open air prison in the world in the shape of Gaza, and, with the help of the US-led west, the denial of every conceivable human right to the long suffering Palestinian people. With Washington’s unstinted help and support, Israel seeks to make its conquests, including the illegally annexed Golan Heights, a permanent fact. While this flies in the face of UN Security Council Resolutions and international law, the world does not seem concerned. Having been forced by adverse circumstances to forego armed struggle in favour of negotiations since the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians have seen the occupation of their homeland turned into a permanent fact. While this delights the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian suffering is a powder keg waiting to explode. Washington under Trump having squeezed itself out of the role of mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by moving its embassy unilaterally to Jerusalem, there appears no viable option for the abandoned Palestinians except to rely on themselves to continue their resistance, costly at is in terms of their lives and widespread misery.

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