People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 41

October 11, 2009

Condemn Abominable Imperialist Conspiracy Against Palestinians

 

Sitaram Yechury

 

 

FORTY-SEVEN parties from 39 countries participated in the discussions at the extraordinary meeting of Communist and Workers Parties in solidarity with Palestine and on Arab issues hosted by the Syrian Communist Party in Damascas from September 28-30, 2009. Summarising the deliberations, the tenth regular international meeting of the communist and workers parties held in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2008 decided that the eleventh meeting should be held in India jointly hosted by the CPI(M) and the CPI. The tenth meeting, given the grave situation arising in the middle east with the Israeli aggressiveness and brazen attacks against the Palestinians, decided that solidarity with the heroic struggle of the Palestinians assumes an immediate urgency. In the light of this it was decided that a mid-term extraordinary meeting on this issue be held in the middle east. This meeting in Damascus was held in this background.

 

The deliberations of this extraordinary meeting assumed greater significance in the background of various statements made by US president Obama on the crisis in the Middle East. The meeting noted that the US administration has not moved in any tangible manner beyond the rhetoric of promising a contiguous Palestinian State. All important issues like the illegal Jewish settlements in occupied land, the right to return to their respective homes by Palestinian refugees and the Palestinian capital of East Jerusalem continue to remain contentious.

 

The host party issued a press communique containing the concrete proposals of solidarity on behalf of the meeting (see box).  It was decided that the final statement of the meeting  will be issued shortly on the basis of  consultations with all the parties. 

 

The interventions, however, contained a commonality which are reflected in the following:

 

1.                             A complete Israeli withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied since June 5, 1967-the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and South Lebanon, according to various UN resolutions including 242 and in consonance with international law which prohibits acquiring territory by force.

2.                             To recognise the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to establish its independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

3.                             To dismantle the Israeli settlements built in the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights.

4.                             To dismantle the Apartheid Wall in conformity with the resolution of the International Court of Justice, to give back the confiscated land to its owners and to compensate those owners for physical as well as other losses.

5.                             To annul all the procedures taken to Judaize East Jerusalem, to restore East Jerusalem to its pre-occupation state-East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Arab territories occupied in June 1967 and belongs to Palestine.

6.                             To immediately lift the inhuman siege of Gaza

7.                             To release Palestinian and Arab prisoners detained in occupation jails including Palestinian prisoners from areas occupied in 1948. There are about 11 thousand prisoners, besides the Syrian prisoners from Golan Heights.

8.                             To implement the United Nations resolution of 194 of 1948 which resolves that Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their villages of origin and their property they deserted in 1948, and to demand that the international community-represented by the United Nations, designate a plan and a mechanism ensuring the return of those refugees, providing them with houses, integrating them with the society and compensate them for material and moral losses they suffered during the Nakba years.

9.                             To dismantle the apartheid regime in Israel and demand that all citizens in Israel must have equal legal, political and social rights.

10.                         To remove all foreign military bases from the region all fleets and weapons of mass destruction including the Israeli nuclear arsenal, make all the states in the region, including Israel commit to eliminate all nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, open the Israeli nuclear reactors for inspection by representatives of the International Nuclear Energy Agency, in compliance with the United Nations relevant resolutions.

11.                         To reassert the role of the UNIFEL in supporting the Lebanese army in south Lebanon according to UN resolution 70 and to refuse any change in its task that might make it a tool to serve the Israeli plans.

 

Further, participants urged for a greater unity among the Communist and Workers Parties  in the Arab States particularly amongst the different factions of the Palestinians.  This is of utmost importance in achieving success against the machinations  of Israel which is fully backed by US imperialism.  The essence of this fervent appeal was reflected in the following:

The Arab national liberation movement has great resources and capacities which can enable it:

·                                to build a wide ranging solidarity movement;

·                                to build on its economic capacities for the benefit of the peoples of the Arab nations;

·                                to escape from the grip of economic, social and cultural backwardness;

·                                to spread the spirits of enlightenment and secularism;

·                                to democratise the political life and to strengthen the role of the Left in the Arab national liberation movements.

VISIT TO

GOLAN HEIGHTS

On September 30, the participants  visited the UN supervised buffer zone  in the Golan Heights. This is a strategic area of land that has been illegally occupied by Israel following its war for annexing Arab lands in 1967.  Despite the fact that the United Nations, the USA, European Union, UK, Arab League, the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch formally consider the Golan Heights  to be a territory occupied by Israel and not part of Israel, Israel extended its law and administration throughout the entire occupied territory.  The United Nations Security Council has condemned this move in its Motion 497.  In 2008, the plenary session of the UN General Assembly voted by 161-1 (Israel) in favour of a motion on the “occupied Syrian Golan” reaffirming the Security Council  Motion 497.  Despite this overwhelming international opinion, Israel, with impunity, continues to violate this.  Clearly, without the support of the USA, this would not have been possible, despite the USA itself formally taking an opposite position to this. 

This strategically located area is the main source of water in the region.  This is one of the reasons which  propelled Israel to refuse to  seize control of the area.  Currently this area provides over 15 per cent of Israel's water supply.  All traditional water sources to Syrian territory from this area have been cut off by Israel. 

This area has been inhabited for millennia from the Palaeolithic age.  It played a vital role in many ancient civilisations, Amorites (2250 BC), Arameans, the Assyrians, Caldeans and then the Persian and Hellenistic Empires.  The site of the Conversion of Saint Paul is traditionally identified with a small village of Kokab in this region.  One tragic aspect of the inhuman atrocities  perpetrated by Israel is the destruction of much of ancient history and the earliest recorded places of human settlement.  The present state of the cities of Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem etc in the West Bank are equally  tragic. 

This area was administered from the city of Quneitra.  This was an important Ottoman Caravanserai on the silk route. It was, thus, a flourishing and prosperous human settlement.  In modern times, the entire area of Golan Heights, as a part of the Syrian nation was administered from Quneitra. 

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied Quneitra. However, in the 1973 war, it was taken back into Syrian territory. Before being forced to leave the area, in June 1974, Israel systematically destroyed the city with everything moveable removed and sold to Israeli contractors.  The empty buildings were razed to the ground with tractors and bulldozers.  Quneitra now lies in the demilitarised United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), a buffer zone between Syria and Israeli-occupied lands.  The UN General Assembly in 1974 through resolution 3240 overwhelmingly condemned the Israeli destruction. 

Though we have been extending support to the Palestinian struggle and participating in solidarity actions against Israeli occupation, it is only when one visits the  occupied territories does one realise the depth of Israeli inhuman barbarity.  The destroyed hospitals and churches are testimony to such inhuman callousness which has to be seen to be believed. 

We participated at a unique public meeting across barbed wire fences at Eim at Teene, a few kilometers away from Quneitra. On this side we stood with microphones and loud speakers and, on the other side, collected were  comrades from the occupied land belonging to the Communist parties of Syria, Palestine and Israel.  Alternatively, leaders would be speaking from both sides which could be heard on both sides.  As considerable distance separated these two gatherings which was part of a single solidarity meeting binoculars were provided which enabled many of us to see the impressive size of the number of people gathered in the occupied territory protesting against Israel. 

Soon after its illegal occupation, Israel sought to force the Syrian citizens to embrace Israeli citizenship. Many protest actions against this move  were conducted despite very cruel and inhuman attacks by Israeli authorities which included shoot at sight, curfews and imprisoning.  The Syrian defiance continued for fifteen years when in April 1982, Israeli soldiers in a situation of 24-hour curfew went door to door confiscating Syrian ID cards and replacing them with Israeli citizenship cards.  This caused an international outcry reflected in two condemnatory UN resolutions.  Finally, Israel was forced to relent and permit the retention of Syrian citizenship by the population in the occupied areas. 

As elsewhere in the occupied territories, Israel immediately started establishing `illegal settlements'.  By 1970, there were 12 Jewish settlement on the Golan and by 2004, there were 34 such settlements populated by nearly 20,000 Israeli Jews.  The largest Jewish settlement in all of the occupied territories, including the West Bank and Gaza, is in this area in the town of Katzrin built in the 1970s on the site of the ruins of the Katzrin Ancient Village. 

From Quneitra, we visited the Khan El Sheikh refugee camp which was built by the United Nations and is home for over a lakh of Palestinians displaced  from their homes due to Israeli atrocities and occupation.  A public meeting was held here where we all expressed our solidarity with the Palestinians.  The expressions on the faces of young children while showing, on the one hand, that the human spirit lives on despite unheard of atrocities, on the other,  also showed the determination that Israeli  efforts to subjugate the Arab people and deny the Palestinians their legitimate homeland will not be allowed to pass.  This visit was truly an eye opener.  This abominable gigantic imperialist conspiracy to deny the Palestinians their legitimate right to a homeland on the basis of inhuman crimes and atrocities unheard of in modern times since the Second World War's fascist crimes needs to be condemned and defeated by all those who cherish basic human values of life and liberty.