People's Democracy

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


No. 40

October 04, 2009

 �Ensuring Justice to Palestinians: Political, Not Just Humanitarian Task�

Sitaram Yechury at International Solidarity Meeting on Palestine and Arab Issues


THE International Extraordinary Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties for Solidarity with Palestine and Arab Issues was held in Damascus on September 28-30, 2009. The working group of the international Communist and Workers parties also met on September 27 on the sidelines of the meeting to finalise the draft declaration of the meeting and also discuss the preparations and modalities for the 11th International meeting of the Communist and Workers parties. According to an earlier decision of the working group this meeting would be held in India.

Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member and Head, International department of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) attended the meeting.  He was one of the members of the presidium of the meeting. The following is the text of the speech he delivered in the meeting.

At the outset, on behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Syrian comrades for organising such a successful extraordinary meeting of the world communist and workers' parties for 'Solidarity with Palestine, and Arab Issues'. Solidarity with Palestine should be a natural feeling for all rational human beings. I call it a 'natural feeling' because, Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct�. This is what Mahatma Gandhi had stated way back in 1938 and this is more valid today.

Indian people have always supported the Palestinian cause and opposed the illegal occupation of Palestine. India was among the first non-Arab nations to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974, and the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine as an independent state in 1988. India has always opposed the continued illegal occupation of West Bank and Gaza. It is with this feeling and historic responsibility that we express our solidarity and support to the cause of the Palestinians, not only on behalf of Indian Communists but Indian people as a whole.

Lenin states �Imperialism consists in a striving of nations that oppress a number of other nations to extend and increase that oppression�. It is the US, the leader of the world imperialist camp, along with its lackey, Israel that is responsible for the oppression of the people of Middle East and in particular the people of Palestine. Israel in fact today is an offshore military base of the US, a hi-tech centre that is used to dominate the region. It is with the overt and covert backing of world imperialism that Israel has launched a brutal war on the Palestinians denying them of their right to their homeland and life. It is continuing its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of many UN Resolutions. The illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and the brutal blockade imposed on Gaza are strangulating the Palestinians of their livelihood. In spite of the world opinion condemning its attitude, Israel is continuing with its policy of aggression.

The news emanating from the meeting of the US president with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, indicates that US is yet again demanding that the Palestinians make concessions rather than ask the Israeli government to abide by international law. It is reported that Obama has gone back from his initial position of demanding 'a complete freeze of settlements', in the name of showing flexibility in discussions. This shows the blatant bias of the US towards Israel and proves that it is once again not ready for a just solution to the Palestinian question.

Israel is by far the largest recipient of US foreign aid. Since 1949, the United States has provided Israel with $101 billion in total aid, of which $53 billion has been military aid. For the last 20-plus years, Israel has received an average of $3 billion annually in grant - a mix of military and economic aid. In 2007, US and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding that states that Israel would be receiving $30 billion in military aid for the next decade and the only stipulation is that it should spend 74 per cent of the money in purchasing US military equipment and services. The drones that were used to bomb Gaza, the bulldozers to demolish the homes of the Palestinians, the guns, the helicopters, the missiles-all are made in US.

The US not only confines its support to Israel by supplying it with arms  and ammunition but also stands by it in all international agencies. The US has first vetoed the resolution of the Security Council that had called for a political settlement to the Palestine issue in 1976 and continues to support Israel on various violations of the international law. Buoyed by this support of the US and unconcerned with popular opinion and various Resolutions adopted by the UN, Israel continues its policy of aggression on Palestine territories and Palestinian people.

A series of negotiations starting from Oslo to Camp David were held between the PLO and the Israeli government during the years 1993 and 1999. They were 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. This has the exquisite backing of the US because it too is not interested in finding a political solution to the issue.

The result is that Israel is not ready 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. This is in fact just 22 per cent of the historical Palestine. Israel not only did not heed to this request but is continuing its expansionist policies in Palestine and increased the area under its direct control from 78 per cent to 88 per cent of the historical Palestine. Neither is it willing to heed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 which unequivocally states that Palestinian refugees have the right to their homeland and property. Instead, what Israel is doing is constructing a 663 km wall - a wall of apartheid, which is twice the length of the 1967 boundary.

While the entire world woke up to a new year, the Palestinians in Gaza woke to the murder and mayhem unleashed by Israel. More than 1400 citizens have lost their lives and millions of dollars of worth of property was destroyed. The recent report by the fact finding committee constituted by the United Nations had come out with a damning report on Israel.

Ensuring justice and 'service to the hundreds who died' is not just a humanitarian task but a political task. This task is essentially an anti-imperialist task, exposing the US and Israel responsible for this destruction and their evil designs in the Middle East. This also includes the fight for the rightful homeland of the Palestinians. It is the responsibility of all the international Communist and Workers' parties to mobilise world peoples opinion for the Palestinian cause and also appeal for the unity of all the Palestinians.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) denounces the immoral and unethical acts of the Israeli government and reiterates its solidarity with the struggling people of the Palestine. Peace can rein in the troubled region of Middle East only when Israel withdraws from its illegal occupation and respects the rights of the Palestinian citizens and international laws. The CPI (M) would continue to oppose all the moves of the imperialist forces and their lackey-Israel that destabilise the Middle East region.


Let me take this opportunity to propose one form of action in solidarity with the Palestinian people in particular and the people of Middle East in general. I am coming from a country where due to the strong public opinion against apartheid, our government severed all ties with the then apartheid regime in South Africa. Our passports were stamped 'not valid for South Africa' to depict our strong commitment against apartheid. The same used to be the attitude towards Israel. It was only recently that our country had restored diplomatic ties with Israel. At this present juncture, we would suggest, if all of you agree, we could think of calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and also enforce a social and economic boycott on Israel. We should force our respective governments to rethink their relations and deals with Israel.

With a fond hope that this meeting would positively consider the suggestion, I once again thank the Syrian comrades for organising this extraordinary meeting with great success.