“Choose Life”–A Message from Sabeel

“Choose Life”–A Message from Sabeel

“Choose Life”–A Message from Sabeel

The situation in the Occupied Territories, including the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, is dire and desperate.  Israel continues to jeopardize any opportunity for a peaceful negotiated settlement by creating facts on the ground in defiance of the international community. 

It is becoming increasingly clear that Israel has already finalized its intended objectives in the Occupied Territories and has a blueprint for a final resolution of the conflict, which it aims to achieve unilaterally. This means that the unilateral withdrawal on Israel’s part from the Gaza strip was not a haphazard move, but part of a comprehensive plan to avoid the establishment of a viable, contiguous and independent Palestinian state.  Actually, had Israel been interested in a negotiated peace settlement, it would have accepted the comprehensive Arab Peace Initiative that has been on the table since 2002. It is important to point out that an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the remnants of a fragmented West Bank, together with its full control of all borders and border crossings, will only be a repetition of the Gaza situation and all the brutality inherent in such an occupation, as highlighted in the recent Goldstone report.

The Israeli leadership is being disingenuous with the Palestinian and International representatives. It has been implementing its final plans, especially recently in the hasty scramble to tighten its hold on East Jerusalem, and to finalize its blueprint for the end of the conflict along the following lines:  

  1. Jerusalem:  Israel has already decided the outcome of Jerusalem regardless of what the Palestinians, the Arabs or even the rest of the international community think.  Jerusalem is already Judaized and it is cut off from the rest of the occupied territories through the Hafrada (separation/apartheid) Wall and the checkpoints.
  2. Refugees:  Israel has decided the fate of the Palestinian refugees.  For Israel, there is no RIGHT of Return.  Israel has already indicated that any solution of the refugee problem will have to take place outside the state of Israel. Its demand of the recognition of Israel as a “Jewish State” is part of this plan.
  3. Borders:  Israel has decided the lines of the final borders through the building of the separation Wall.  It is note-worthy to indicate that Israel controls the coming in and going out of every Palestinian.
  4. Settlements: Israel is racing against time to finalize its settlement plan in a way that will grab as much Palestinian land as possible and prevent the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian State.

From Israel’s right-wing religious perspective, Israel does not answer to international law or to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it only answers to the demands of “Divine Rights” which for them mean that the whole land belongs to Israel exclusively with no room for the Palestinians.

What Israel is doing is a recipe for unrest, instability and violence.  A people’s movement is already gaining momentum on the West Bank.  Moreover the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign is also gaining ground around the world.  A negotiated settlement based on international legitimacy is in the interest of all parties concerned and it can still be achieved.

The international community, including the United States and Europe, need to empower the UN and give it back the responsibility of resolving the conflict on the basis of international law.  The UN has the mechanism to do so, but it needs to be empowered first.

Finally, it is worthwhile for the Israeli leaders to ponder the words of their own Bible. Before his death, Moses summoned the children of Israel and reiterated to them the words of the commandments and covenant: “I have set before you today life and prosperity…life and death, blessings and curses.  Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…” (Deuteronomy 30: 15 & 19).

Is the state of Israel, through its present leadership choosing adversity and death?  On the surface, its choice, might seem to many Israelis to be life and prosperity but given the regional context, Israel has no future in the Middle East region if it does not justly resolve the Palestinian conflict.  With injustice lies adversity and death while peace, prosperity, and life lie in doing justice.

P.S. Sabeel strongly denounces the postponement of the discussion of the Goldstone report on Israel’s war on Gaza, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The report must be followed up, Justice must take its course and the guilty must not get away with impunity.

Sabeel–September 30, 2009