(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 19, 2008
'Indian People Are With Palestinians'
Yechury Meets With Palestine President
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury met the president of Palestinian National Authority Mohmoud Abbas on October 8, 2008 in New Delhi and reiterated the solidarity of Indian people with the Palestinian cause. Yechury condemned the continued occupation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli forces. President Abbas, who was on a four-day State visit to India, explained the grim situation of the Palestinian people to Yechury and thanked him for the support.
Israel is continuing its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of many UN Resolutions. The Arab League summit held in 2002 had adopted a peace plan for resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine and reiterated the same in 2007. It categorically states that there is no military solution to the problem and called upon Israel to reconsider its policies. It called upon Israel to withdraw from all the territories occupied since 1967 and work for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem according to the UN General Assembly Resolution 194. It also called upon the Israeli government to accept the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, which in effect means just 22 per cent of the area of historic Palestine. Unfortunately Israel did not heed to its request and is continuing its expansionist policies in Palestine and now has 88 per cent of the area of the historic Palestine under its direct control.
In contrast the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) threw its support behind the Arab Peace Initiative and even now is for the two-State theory in historic Palestine. In 1993 the PLO decided to give up military struggle and agreed for negotiations with the Israel government. A series of negotiations starting from Oslo to Camp David followed between 1993 and 1999. These talks were held on the premise that both the parties would develop a relationship of trust that would allow them to resolve the larger and more difficult issues. Certain core principles were agreed upon: (i) that the interim period would be of a limited duration (ii) that nothing would be done to prejudice the outcome of permanent status negotiations and (iii) that the final settlement ‘will lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338’ which reaffirm the principle that territory cannot be acquired by force and that Israel would withdraw its troops gradually from the occupied territories. Throughout this period, Israel violated the spirit and the letter of the Agreements and continued its violations of Palestinian rights as embodied in the international law. The gravity of the situation in Palestine that is under the US sponsored illegal Israeli siege can be easily understood from the following facts that the president had shared with Yechury.
Now the situation is that Israel has continued its expansionist policies, constructed an unethical and illegal wall and pushed Palestinians to only 12 per cent of the historic Palestine. This is in contravention of all the international treaties and the promise it had made during the Oslo negotiations. Around 70 per cent of all Palestinians are refugees now as they are pushed out of their houses and lands by the Israeli military. One out of every three refugees in the world is a Palestinian. Israel is denying these refugees their basic right to choose to return to their homeland. Israel has started constructing a 663 km wall in 2002 which is twice the length of the 1967 boundary, which is 320 km.
Since 1967, Israel has almost completely controlled Palestinian water resources and deprived them of access to their rightful share of water. Israel allocates approximately 89 per cent of available shared water resources to itself, leaving the Palestinian people with less than 11 per cent. As a result each Palestinian residing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) receives 60 liters per day for domestic use with many communities receiving as little as 10 liters per day. In contrast each Israeli receives 280 litres per day. Israel government restricts the Palestinians from drilling new borewells or even deepening of the existing wells. It restricts their access to fresh water springs and also limits their ability to utilise surface water by constructing the wall. The availability of fresh water to Palestinians has decreased markedly on a per capita basis since the 1995 interim agreement. As a result almost 40 per cent of the Palestinian population living in Gaza does not have access to safe drinking water. Around 60 per cent of the diseases in the Gaza strip are a result of poor water quality.
Israeli restrictions especially those on Palestinians freedom of movement have limited Palestinians ability to make full use of their agricultural resources -- one of the few natural resources available in Palestine. Until the 1990s the agricultural sector was responsible for over 30 per cent of the GDP of Palestine and this has declined now to 10 per cent.
Israel prohibits Palestine from developing its own energy resources and compels them to depend on it for their energy requirements. More than 93 per cent of the electricity is supplied by Israel and no wonder that the Palestinians pay some of the highest electricity rates in the world.
Since 2001 Israel has continued to deny entry of a variety of vaccines for infectious diseases to the Gaza strip claiming that they constitute a biological threat to Israel. The Israeli government also restricts the import of radiation therapy equipment to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) claiming that such equipment could be used in manufacturing explosives.
In 1994 the PLO and the Israeli government signed the Protocol on Economic Relations (Paris Protocol). The Paris protocol established a system of tax and revenue collection whereby Israel collects on behalf of the PNA customs and other taxes on Palestinian imports as well as income taxes, social security and health insurance paid by Palestinians working in Israel and the Value Added Tax paid by Palestinians during transactions in Israel. Israel is supposed to transfer the funds back to the PNA on a monthly basis. Though Palestinians had high hopes for economic growth when the Paris Protocol was signed, Israeli restrictions, particularly its closure policy, has adversely affected Palestinian economic growth. B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation noted in 1999 that as a result of the closure policy of the Israeli government, the economic conditions of the Palestinian people were significantly worse than they were during the Intifada and the total loss was an estimated $2.8 billion (1993-1996). Following the inauguration of the Hamas-led Palestinian Legislative Council in February 2006 Israel ceased to transfer the taxes it collects on behalf of the PNA. On a gross these account to some US $65 million per month.
Israel completely controls the flow of goods to Palestine and all imports and exports have to pass through Israeli security checks and this severely hampers the Palestinian trade. According to World Bank, Israel’s closure is directly responsible for the ‘sharp reduction in economic activity, greater unemployment and increased poverty’ since September 2000.
Yechury denounced the immoral and unethical acts of the Israeli government and reiterated solidarity with the struggling people of the Palestine. He stated that peace can rein in the troubled region of West Asia only when Israel withdraws from its illegal occupation and respects the rights of the Palestinian citizens and international laws. Tracing the historic legacy of the solidarity movement with Palestine, he said that the CPI(M) would continue to stand by this historic legacy and oppose all the moves of the imperialist forces and their lackey-Israel that destabilise the West Asian region. In this context he explained the various activities that were conducted in solidarity with Palestine and the huge response it received from the people of India.