Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian human rights activist and a founding member of the BDS movement.
As President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on May 3, Palestinians held their breath, but not because we expectеd any progress towards just and comprehensive peace to emerge from the meeting. Quite the opposite.
First, Trump’s bias towards Israel’s far-right regime of occupation and apartheid does not bode well for bringing about respect for international law and human rightsprinciples.
The US has been arming Israel’s wars on Palestinians and Arabs, and generously funding and protecting Israel’s system of oppression, well before Trump. Obama, after all, has committed a record $38bn in military aid to Israel over ten years, even as domestic health, education and employment programmes face severe cuts across the US.
But Trump takes this decades-old US complicity to the next level.
Take Israel’s settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land as an example. Despite recent rhetoric to the contrary, Trump stands out in politically and financiallysupporting them, when almost the whole world considers them as flagrantly illegal under international law and as a fatal obstacle to “peace”.
Trump also frequently refers to Israel’s policies to justify his own, whether on ethnic profiling, the refugee and Muslim ban, or the racist wall with Mexico, which Benjamin Netanyahu openly champions.
Trump’s Middle East team must be the most dishonest broker in the history of US “peacemaking”. Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman explicitly support Israel’s fanatical, settler-influenced government, with Kushner and Friedman deeply invested in financing extremist settlement groups.
One has to be clinically delusional or irreparably opportunistic to expect any good to come out of this administration in the pursuit of freedom, justice and equal rights for Palestinians.
|The 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization created a Palestinian Authority that was designed to act as a sub-contractor for the occupation.|
Second, the Netanyahu government, widely termed the “most racist” in Israel’s history, is not just putting its illegal settlement expansion on steroids. It is too busy with its gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities, including within present-day Israel, land grab in the occupied West Bank, especially in East Jerusalem, its denial of Palestinian refugee rights, and its tightening siege of Gaza to reassure even some of its ardent apologists of its intentions to end its system of injustice.
Drunk with power and impunity, Israeli government ministers have shed the veneer of supporting a “two-state solution” and cheered Trump’s rise to power as a rare opportunity to bury the Palestinian right to self-determination.
Third, the current Palestinian leadership lacks a democratic mandate to negotiate on behalf of the people. Abbas’ mandate elapsed in 2009, and he has ruled ever since mostly by decree. A hunger strike by more than a thousand Palestinian political prisoners demanding dignity and freedom is further nourishing popular resistance to the occupation, while also revealing the steep unpopularity of Abbas’ leadership.
The 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) created a Palestinian Authority that was designed to act as a sub-contractor for the occupation, temporarily carrying out some of Israel’s responsibilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory until the dismantling of the occupation within five years. That occupation is turning 50 next month.
This endless, fraudulent “peace process” has made a just and comprehensive peace further away than ever by serving as a fig leaf for Israel’s intensifying colonisation.
The PA leadership’s fawning willingness to comply with Trump’s dictates is decried by many Palestinians as an irresponsible – to put it mildly – attempt to be politically relevant at the expense of Palestinian rights.
Its strong commitment to the ongoing “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation is a case in point. Applauded by Trump as going “unbelievably well”, this collaboration defies the Palestinian national consensus and violates a March 2015 decision by the PLOagainst it.
A truly accountable and representative Palestinian leadership would instead embark on a massive diplomatic and political battle to convince world parliaments and governments, and eventually the UN, to impose meaningful sanctions on Israel, as was done on apartheid South Africa, until it fully complies with the UN-stipulated rights of all Palestinians.
As Israel drops its already worn-out mask of democracy, its support base in the US, including among Jewish millennials, continues to erode. A December 2016 poll released by the Brookings Institution, for instance, reveals that 46 percent of all Americans and 60 percent of Democrats support imposing sanctions or taking tougher measures against Israel to stop its illegal settlements.
Growing at an impressive rate in the past few years, the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights has not only set an example of how to advocate for Palestinian rights. It has also found common cause with vulnerable communities facing escalating attacks by the Trump administration, enhancing mutual solidarity with movements defending the rights of indigenous communities, refugees, blacks, women, workers, immigrants, Muslims and LGBTQI communities.
Given the three factors above, most Palestinians place their hopes on the emerging, cross-movement global resistance to the rise of the xenophobic right and its relentless quest for a more savage world order benefiting the few at the expense of the many.
Palestinians and many communities across the world struggling for justice are realising that isolated, we all fail. United, we can prevail.
Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender and co-recipient of the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award. He writes here in his personal capacity.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
A Palestinian fisherman has been killed after the Israeli navy opened fire on a vessel it accused of breaching the blockade north of the Gaza Strip.
Nizar Ayash, the Palestinian fishermen’s union chief, said Monday’s shooting and the arrest of four other crew happened in one incident, and two more arrests were made when the military boarded another Gaza boat overnight.
An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed the shooting.
“A vessel deviated from the designated fishing zone in the northern Gaza Strip,” she told AFP news agency.
“Naval forces in the area called upon the vessel to halt and fired warning shots into the air.”
She said the boat ignored the warning and the navy then opened fire.
The dead man’s family identified him as Mohammed Bakr, 25. His body was transferred to a morgue in Gaza ahead of his funeral later on Monday.
Bakr’s death came as Palestinians throughout the occupied territories, Israel and the world held rallies to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Nakba.
The Nakba, or the Day of the Catastrophe, marks the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, the destruction of more than 500 villages and towns, and the creation of the state of Israel.
Fishing off the northern part of the territory adjacent to Israel is limited to six nautical miles offshore and the Israeli navy regularly fires at Palestinians at the zone’s outer limit.
Such incidents rarely result in deaths, however.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said several boats were chased in separate incidents over the past 24 hours.
Israel and Palestinians in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and the territory has been under an Israeli blockade for 10 years.
The Israeli military says it patrols Gaza’s waters to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the territory and to stop attacks.
UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions, but Israel says it is needed to keep Hamas, which runs the strip, from importing weapons or materials used to make them.
In 2016, Israel detained at least 70 Gaza fishermen who had strayed beyond the border, a senior naval commander said.
About 4,000 fishermen work off the coast, more than half of whom live below the povertyline.
Source: News agencies
On 69th Nakba Day, Irish-Palestinian Solidarity Stands Strong
Nearly seven decades after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were first expunged from their ancestral homelands as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel, commemorated Monday as Nakba Day, Irish and Palestinian solidarity continues unabashed in the face of ongoing occupation.
Just last week, both the Dublin and Sligo city councils in Ireland voted to fly the Palestinian flag above their city halls in a show of solidarity to mark the 69th anniversary of the mass expulsion that took place in 1948.
“This city council will fly the flag of Palestine over City Hall for the month of May 2017 … as a gesture of our solidarity with the people of Palestine living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, with the Palestinian citizens of Israel denied basic democratic rights, and with the over 7 million displaced Palestinians denied the right of return to their homeland,” the Dublin motion read, Palestinian news outlet Ma’an reported.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, IPSC, welcomed the move as an “amazing act of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
“I’m sure I am echoing the views of all Palestinians in Ireland in saying that these gestures have been truly soul-stirring and deeply emotional on a personal level,” IPSC chairperson Fatin al-Tamimi said in a statement following the announcement.
“We Palestinian Dubs will hold our head high knowing that the people of Dublin support our struggle for justice and self-determination,” she added.
And while hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners enter the 29th day of their historic mass hunger strike that they launched on Palestinian Prisoner’s day, April 17, Irish Republican prisoners in Maghaberry Jail sent a statement of solidarity.
“We support the demands of our Palestinian comrades for humane and dignified treatment whilst being held captive by the illegitimate Zionist oppressors,” they wrote last week. “Given the long history of Republican Prisoners and hunger-strikes in Ireland, the Palestinian prison struggle resonates particularly with us.”< /p>
The message is reminiscent of the one sent by Palestinian prisoners in Nafha to the Irish Republican H-Block hunger strikers in 1981, when they declared, “Our people in Palestine and in the Zionist prisons are struggling as your people are struggling against the British monopolies and we will both continue until victory.”
Fidel and the Irish Struggle
Over the years in Ireland, a number of events, actions and protests have been staged in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, organized by those against the internment and imprisonment of Irish resistance fighters.
The Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network welcomed the support, stating, “From Ireland to Palestine, we stand together against colonialism, racism and occupation, and for justice, freedom and liberation, for all political prisoners and for all occupied peoples.”
Nakba Day has been commemorated every year on May 15 since 1948 by millions of Palestinians and solidarity activists throughout the world.
That day 69 years ago saw some 750,000 Palestinians expelled from their lands, with many forced flee to refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Today, there are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees who remain displaced from their original homes and villages.