Ashrawi: US is complicit in Israeli atrocities with Embassy move

Ashrawi: US is complicit in Israeli atrocities with Embassy move
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Ashrawi: US is complicit in Israeli atrocities with Embassy move

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi:  “Seventy years on, the Nakba continues.” Also, BDS activists decry embassy move 

“One the eve of the seventieth anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe”), a grave historical injustice that continues today, the U.S. will officially relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, reneging on longstanding American commitments and policies and violating the most basic requisites of justice and legality.

For the past seven decades, Palestinians have been subjected to countless injustices and an ongoing cycle of destruction, displacement and dispossession.  With blanket support from the United States, Israel has been given a free hand to persist in the total annexation and isolation of Palestinian Jerusalem and pursue the flagrant historical, political, cultural, demographic, and geographic transformation of the occupied city, erasing its Palestinian presence and identity.

By illegally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the embassy, thereby taking the issue of Jerusalem “off the table,” U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration are becoming complicit in Israeli lawlessness and war crimes and allowing the Nakba to continue unfettered.

The Christian community in Jerusalem celebrates the century old traditions in honor of the Holy Mother of God. Thousand crowded the entrance to the Church of her Empty Tomb lighting candles all the way down descending the stairs into the crypt. This magnificent church was built in the 5th century and destroyed in the 7th century by Chosroes the Persian. Only the crypt of the church was preserved and the Crusaders erected the existing building over the crypt. Photo Courtesy of Maria Khoury

The Christian community in Jerusalem celebrates the century old traditions in honor of the Holy Mother of God. Thousand crowded the entrance to the Church of her Empty Tomb lighting candles all the way down descending the stairs into the crypt. This magnificent church was built in the 5th century and destroyed in the 7th century by Chosroes the Persian.
Only the crypt of the church was preserved and the Crusaders erected the existing building over the crypt. Photo Courtesy of Maria Khoury

During the human tragedy of Nakba, Israel destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages and committed at least 33 massacres, and more than 800,000 Palestinians were uprooted and expelled to live as refugees at the mercy of others.

Today, more than six million Palestinian refugees reside in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in exile.  Palestinian refugees have suffered for far too long, and the onus is on all members of the international community to recognize their plight and bring Israel to comply with international law and conventions, including the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).  Rather than cruelly target the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian people and deprive the refugees of the right to a dignified life, the U.S. would do better to unfreeze funding to UNRWA and support the just cause of Palestine and Palestinian refugees.

We call on the United States to rescind its disastrous and irresponsible decision to move the U.S. embassy to occupied Jerusalem and to cease and desist from further provocative and illegal decisions and moves aimed to preempt the outcome of permanent status issues. It is time for the U.S. administration and members of Congress to end their practice of blackmail, extortion and threats against the Palestinian people and stop blaming an enslaved nation that is already living under a military occupation and suffering from deliberate and systematic acts of violence, colonialism and apartheid.

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International condemnation is not enough. We urge global leaders to respect international law and humanitarian values and principles and not participate in tomorrow’s opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in occupied Jerusalem; rather, they should assume an active stand against the unlawful measure and defend the global rule of law and justice by holding Israel to account with punitive measures and sanctions.

We also continue to pay tribute to the victims of Israel’s persistent policies of destruction and dehumanization. Despite American and Israeli efforts to violate the status quo and the legal status of occupied Jerusalem, we will remain steadfast and resilient in the face of the belligerent occupier and continue the nonviolent struggle for freedom, independence and dignity.”

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BDS activists decry embassy move 

Reversing decades of US foreign policy, the Trump administration is moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem today. The move coincides with Israel’s celebration of its establishment on the ruins of the towns and villages from which the majority of Palestinians were expelled 70 years ago.

The United Nations and international community do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem and consider East Jerusalem as an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory.

Tomorrow, Palestinians commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “Catastrophe”, marking the systematic mass expulsion of indigenous Palestinians from their homes to establish a Jewish-majority state. In Gaza, where most Palestinians are refugees, thousands will participate in Great Return March demonstrations, calling for the right of refugees to return to the lands from which they were forcibly expelled. These demonstrations are expected to be the largest since they began over seven weeks ago.

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist paramilitaries, and then the Israeli military, made 750,000 to one million indigenous Palestinians into refugees, massacred Palestinian civilians, and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian communities. Israel used force to prevent Palestinian families from returning to their homes, and continues to deny Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned right of return.

A key Palestinian demand, prominently expressed by demonstrators in Gaza and recently echoed by Amnesty International, is for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, similar to the one that was imposed on apartheid South Africa to end its egregious violations of human rights.

Abdulrahman Abunahel, a Gaza-based community organizer and coordinator for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), which leads and supports the global BDS movement for Palestinian rights, said,

For us Palestinians, the Nakba is not just a crime of the past. It’s ongoing, it has never ended. My grandparents were violently expelled from their village in 1948 and forced to live as refugees in the Gaza Strip. Their beautiful village, called Barbara, is only 10 miles away. I can almost see it, but I have no way to reach it.

The ongoing Nakba is why I’ve grown up as a refugee living under Israeli military rule. It’s why I live in what many of us call a suffocating, open-air prison crammed with two million people, denied my basic rights, including freedom of movement. Israel will not even allow me to leave Gaza temporarily to receive important medical care. My hardships are not exceptional, tens of Palestinians died last year, just waiting for Israel to grant them permits to seek life-saving medical care outside Gaza, and thousands couldn’t make their medical appointments.

The ongoing Nakba is why I participate in the Great Return March and support the BDS movement – I simply want the right to live in the land where I am from, in freedom, in peace and with dignity. I was born a refugee, I do not want to die as one.

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, said,

The Trump administration’s decision to open the US embassy in Jerusalem as Palestinians commemorate 70 painful years of displacement signals that it’s giving Israel freer reign than ever to try to push us out of our homeland. The Trump-Netanyahu far-right alliance is wreaking havoc in Palestine and, by extension, the world.

In Jerusalem, Israel has long destroyed Palestinian homes, revoked the right of the indigenous Palestinians to live in their city, and encouraged illegal Israeli settlers to evict Palestinian families and openly steal their homes. The Trump administration is now not just an enabler, but also a full partner in Israel’s accelerating ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem and beyond.

Still, I have hope in popular, creative Palestinian resistance, now invigorated by the Great Return March. I have hope because growing numbers of people around the world are seeing the connection between our struggle for freedom, justice and equality, and their own justice struggles. This is why they are increasingly supporting the Palestinian-led BDS movement.

This growing international alliance of progressive communities working to defeat the hateful agenda of the far-right is what gives me hope that we can, and shall, eventually end the ongoing Nakba, end the ongoing destruction of Palestinian life, and create a better world for all.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

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