YWCA of Palestine statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
The World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA), the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the General Arab Women Federation, join women and men throughout the world in observing the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
The Israeli Occupation and the separation wall continue to severely violate the Palestinian People’s human rights. All Palestinians are routinely harassed, intimidated and abused by Israeli soldiers at checkpoints and gates. Palestinian women, in particular, are humiliated in front of their families and subjected to sexual violence by both soldiers and settlers. Restriction of movement due to the occupation severely impedes their access to education and health. Restrictions on movement and harassment on checkpoints has seriously affected their feeling of safety, and limited their opportunities for independence. The number of women seeking formal education or employment outside of their direct settings has reduced. Women’s health has suffered as a result of their inability to access health services. Pregnant women are vulnerable to long waits at checkpoints, which has led to a number of unsafe deliveries in which both mothers and infants have died at checkpoints. Between 2000 -2005, 68 women were forced to give birth at checkpoints as a result 34 new born babies died (1). Poverty levels in the West Bank and Gaza continue to soar due to these imposed physical restrictions by the Israeli Occupation. 57% of Gaza households are food insecure and about 80% are aid recipients (2). Although thousands of young men and women are graduating from Universities annually, yet the potential for them to get jobs is very limited, thus adding to their sense of hopelessness and frustration. Young people in Palestine cannot see a bright future, which in the long run could create a major civil unrest.
Since the adoption in 1977 of November 29th as the annual observance of solidarity with the Palestinian People, we have stood firm that human rights and international law be protected and affirmed for all. In addition we affirm the role of women in peace building and conflict resolution as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. We also reaffirm our commitment to working for the Right of Return for refugees as enshrined in United Nations resolutions 181 and 194. Also, during this time of renewed peace talks, we support Palestine’s right for self determination as enshrined in UN resolutions 242 and 338 and we call for peace with justice to prevail in the entire region, including in Syria and Egypt. We ask that these resolutions and international law be implemented and that all measures including economic ones be considered including corporate responsibility in relationship to the illegal settlement building and the selling of its products.
We support and welcome Palestine as a non-member observer state to the United Nations but continue to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing occupation, actions that undermine peace negotiations, and obligations to international law as an occupying power. We therefore share this statement with deep pain and anger over Israel’s ongoing settlement building project destroying more and more Palestinian farms, confiscating more and more land, and displacing more and more Palestinian families from their homes. Earlier this month on November 12 just before the peace talks were about to resume, Israel’s Ministry of Housing and Construction announced plans to construct 20,000 new settlements units in the West Bank.
Finally, we are distressed that Gaza continues to be under siege (since 2007) and that a humanitarian disaster exists with essential power companies operating less than 8 hours a day and some services not operating at all at the writing of this statement. On this special day we call on governments and civil society to take every necessary step to achieve:
- An end to the siege, an urgent response to the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and a prompt recovery in the provision of disrupted services;
- An end to the building of new settlements
- Implementation of all agreed upon United Nations resolutions on the question of Palestine, as well as implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325, as the basis for building peace with justice in the entire region;
- Support for the popular boycott, sanctions and divestment movement against Israel until it respects international law
- An end to the Occupation and the necessary steps needed to begin the construction of peace based on justice for all in the region.
Furthermore, we are calling:
- The Palestinian Authority and institutions to demonstrate strong, cohesive, inclusive and democratic leadership;
- Governments and civil society to stand in solidarity with all Palestinians particularly the women who are affected by this ongoing violence and lack of justice in their lives;
- The international community to support all the above actions.
As organizations that have a long history of working on issues of peace with justice and who have witnessed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1948, we stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers on this day and recommit ourselves to seeking a rights based solution rather than a power based outcome.
(1) UNFPA, 2007. Checkpoints Compound the Risks of Childbirth for Palestinian Women (accessed 2 January 2013)
(2) “THE GAZA STRIP: THE HUMANITARIAN IMPACT OF MOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS ON PEOPLE AND GOODS”, OCHA, JULY 2013