People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 24, 2007



Com. Yechury and Shri Rajiv Ranjan, Gen Sec AIPSO in Palestine Legislative Counsil Chamber at Ramallah , West Bank discussing with Parliamentary Group Leader of Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)


V J K Nair


COMMUNIST Party of Israel and People’s Party of Palestine held a three day programme called ‘Jerusalem Initiative’ at Jerusalem on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Israeli occupation of Jerusalem after the six- day war of 1967.


The Jerusalem Initiative, which was attended by representatives from 12 countries, was held with the objective of ‘Just Peace’ on the basis of two States: Israel and Palestine. The statement of the Initiative called for ending the Israeli occupation; the complete dismantling of all settlements; removing the separation wall; establishing the June 4, 1967 boundaries as a peaceful border between the State of Israel and the Palestine State; the co-existence of the capitals of Israel and Palestine in Jerusalem; and a solution to the refugee problem in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.


The Jerusalem Initiative meeting was held at Notre Dam Hotel in Jerusalem on June 4, 2007. Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of CPI(M) and V J K Nair vice president of CITU participated in the meeting. The other participants included representatives from Communist Party of USA, CP of Britian, CP of Italy, CP of Portugal, CP of Greece, CP of France, Socialist Left Party, Norway, Red-Green Alliance Denmark, The Left Party, Germany, AKEL Cyprus, RJD India, women’s organisations from Greece, Cyprus and European parliament. Of the 27 foreign delegates, eleven were women. Among the representatives were five members of parliament – including Yechury and four others from European parliament.


At the end of the day, the delegates went in a procession and placed wreaths at the foot of the Unknown Soldier at Jerusalem on the western side of the green line separating west and east Jerusalem. Israeli police were present in strong numbers and resented the slogans raised by Palestinian representatives there. The Palestinian representatives stated that only the presence of international delegates enabled them to raise the slogans.


A large public meeting was held at the Notre dam Pontifical Institute Hall in the evening that was attended by many prominent citizens of Israel and Palestine including Knesset members.




On June 3, the delegates were taken to Ramallah where a meeting was held in the Palestine Legislative Council. A striking feature of the Palestine Legislative Council Hall is the presence of photographs of the parliamentarians on several seats. The photographs belong to the 41 elected members who are languishing in Israeli prisons. This is Israel’s way of responding to the Palestinians electing representatives not to the liking of Israel. The Palestinian minister addressing the delegates stated that neither Israel nor the forces backing them want to respect democracy and self-rule by Palestinians. Answering a question as to whether Hamas will recognise Israel, if Israel recognises the Palestine National Unity government, the government spokesman answered that Israel was recognised by PLO as per the Oslo Accord, and that PLO has been entrusted with the task of foreign policy. If Israel recognises the National Unity government, all partners in the government will reciprocate by recognising the existence of Israel as well. The spokesman further added that Israel from the very beginning wanted to subvert the parliament and did everything in its power like the arrest of one-third of parliament members, resorting to assassinations etc., in order to prevent the functioning of the National Unity government.


Sitaram Yechury and the representatives from Norway and Greece, both being MPs of European parliament, addressed the House. Yechury reported that the government of India after being asked by the Indian parliament sent the first installment of financial contribution to the National Unity government.


The PFLP representative of the House clearly stated the four objectives: (i) National Unity government must honor PLO agreements and follow Riyadh ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ (ii) separation wall to be demolished as recommended by the Hague Tribunal and all governments internationally should see that the recommendation of International Court of Justice is implemented by bringing down the wall (iii) the 1100 Palestinian prisoners, including the 41 members of parliament, be released immediately (iv) an international conference on Palestine be convened and the solution of the two States within 1967 borders be brought about.


A notable aspect about the visit to Ramallah which houses the headquarters of Palestinian National Unity government is that although it is just 17 kms north west of Jerusalem, the straight road to Ramallah from Jerusalem is closed by the separation wall and visitors from Jerusalem will have to take a circuitous route of not less than an hour and half journey to reach there. Even this road has a parallel only Jews road also. As Palestinians take this road they will have to disembark at the check points and wait for hours together at the whims and fancies of the trigger happy Israeli soldiers.




On the very first day of our visit to Jerusalem we were taken around to have a direct experience of the separation wall around Jerusalem. The wall which is 8 to 11 meters high separates Palestinians from Israeli-occupied areas. It is built in between human habitations and agricultural fields denying access to the fields. The wall separates Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus from Jerusalem. Tourists who go to Bethlehem have to depend on Israeli tourist operators. We were shown the olive fields of Bethlehem which were separated by the walls and almost abandoned. The objective of the Israeli government is to ensure that the fields which are not cultivated for three years can be resumed for building settlements.


Perhaps the separation wall at Aram town is the most glaring one. The wall runs through the midst of the once busy street of that town. The effect is that the township is torn apart. The once thriving shopping areas have been mostly shut down. The wall separates the school from the children, the hospital from patients. A skirmish along the wall makes the Israeli police to mount to the top of the buildings and threaten people below. We were witness to the soldiers throwing stones at passers by. The township came up after 1967 war and the citizens hold Jerusalem citizenship cards. In the meeting held at the council premises, the elected representatives explained about the lack of civic amenities. The people are forced to pay taxes to Jerusalem. They get mostly harassed than being provided with any civic amenities. They are not allowed to build or repair their buildings. Many houses are demolished. They get less than one fourth of the requirement of water. Instead of bringing peace the society is cut into pieces.


The separation wall winds through busy localities segregating the people. The Palestinians call the wall as Apartheid wall. The wall runs 720 kms through the West Bank annexed by Israelis. Apart from separating the Palestinians the wall serves not only the declared objective of providing security to the settlers, but also helps them annex Palestinian lands and water sources. Estimates reveal that almost 70 per cent of agrarian land and water sources are cornered by Israelis in this way. The Palestinians are made to do menial jobs




We were taken to a group of Israeli peace activists on the evening of June 2. We met activists of various fronts. Women activists have a coordination committee. They hold a vigil every Friday in the name of ‘Women in Black’. The women formed squads to watch the check posts. Recently they have formed a Court Watch group as well. The abuse of human rights is so much so that the Court Watch group reported to us that in almost every case when a lawyer appears and wants to know as to what the charge is against a person detained, he is told by the ‘Judge’ that he cannot be told as to why a person is arrested and remanded. The discussion with the Israeli peace activists led to the question as to the future of Israeli public peace campaign. The activists are campaigning on the issue of security by stating that unless peace is ushered in, there can be no security. The peace activists are joined by the Israeli students who are fighting against the process of privatisation. The students narrated their experience on the borders, facing bulldozers and the moving experience of Palestinian youth acting to save the Israeli Refusniks (the soldiers who refuse to serve or to fire at unarmed civilians). The meeting with the peace activists showed that Israeli people themselves cannot survive without peace.




The 25th Congress of the Communist Party of Israel was opened at Haifa on the evening of June 31. Haifa, a port town on the Mediterranean, is an ancient city. Mount Carmel which rises at the shores provides a beautiful picture. The lower areas are Palestinian and the elite live on the top.


The city has a large refinery and other factories. Haifa had been the centre of working class movement from the period of British protectorate, when the Communist Party was organised and took roots there cutting across the religious lines of Jews, Christians or Moslems all of whom considered themselves as Palestinians. Only after Zionists arrived and started dividing the people on racist lines, the city had its problems. Even then the city became the base for Israeli Labor Party as well. Thus Haifa continues to be the Leftist face of Israel. Incidentally the city houses, apart from the institutions of the three religions, the headquarters of Bahai Faith as well. The Bahai Temple on the Mount Carmel is very attractive.


The working session of the 25th Congress was held at Nazareth. The redeeming feature is the group of young Israeli students who were asserting for unity and commitment.


The visit to Nazareth clearly showed the apartheid policy. The city of Nazareth is being neglected and preference is given to Nazareth elite, which is newly built, to which part the government offices are shifted. Nazareth has the distinction of having the Communist Party as the ruling party. The eight councillors in the municipality hold the mayorship in turn every year. The Party is administering Nazareth from 1976 onwards. It was heartening to witness the headquarters of the Communist Party very close to the historic place of Mary’s Well. Although Israelis damaged the Mary’s Well, the CPI headquarters remain there.




A week spent in Israel/Palestine made us see the brutal attitude and dualism of the global face of imperialism. Palestine, which was taken over in 1918 by the then imperial power Britain, is clearly under US occupation in partnership with other imperial powers. The occupation is against all international laws. Jerusalem had to be administered by international community according to the UN Resolution of 1948. But Israelis not only occupied Jerusalem, they expanded it to hold very large territories from the West Bank. After these expansions which were illegal they built the separation wall running through the streets, dividing the people, annexing the agrarian lands, demolishing Palestinian homes and denying the Palestinians a living. If there is a place on earth which is so Holy to all the three religions, it is Jerusalem and if there is a place on earth where the people suffer in the name of faith, it is Jerusalem. It is said Christ was crucified there one day, but today the people are being crucified there everyday. If there is going to be an `Easter’ in Jerusalem where the Palestinians live in peace it shall be only with the intervention of international community of people and not just rulers.


(Yechury’s write-up on his visit to Israel/Palestine will be published in the next issue – Ed)