Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The 47th Anniversary of An-Naksa

Chronology of events:

An-Naksa, the Debacle, also known as June 1967 War or the Six Day War. On the morning of Monday, June 5, 1967, Israeli military aircraft raided the Egyptian airfields, destroying the bulk of the Egyptian Air Force.

Ground attacks started immediately thereafter on the Jordanian and Syrian fronts, bound to Egypt with military common defense pacts. The Israeli Air Force ravaged the Sinai Peninsula with almost no fight - Egyptian units deprived of air cover. By Friday June 9, the Israeli Army stood on the East Bank of Suez Canal, captured the Golan Heights and the rest of the Palestinian territories (Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza Strip). 

Since the start of the occupation, Israeli policies and practices under various governments - in a striking challenge to international law and UN Security Council resolutions - have been characterized by:

- confiscation of land;
- construction of settlements;
- crushing Palestinian resistance movements - politically and militarily;
- violation of human rights;
- unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem - hardly three weeks after the start of the war -  making it the “eternal, indivisible Capital” of Israel.

Based on the shock of defeat, fear of the unknown, Palestinian society has passed through several phases of resistance under this occupation:

- non-cooperation between 1967 and 1970, which led to the crippling of the society, as schools, universities and courts were closed, in addition to continuous general strikes among professionals and business network;
- “Sumoud” - steadfastness - between 1970 and 1982, marking the rise of a national front from PLO factions;
- isolation - following the exodus of Palestinian fighters out of Jordan in 1970, and out of Lebanon  in 1982;
- Intifada I (1987-1990) and II (2000-2003) - popular uprisings - with the aim of ending the Israeli occupation and building a new society based on freedom and independence on national soil;
- negotiations under the banner “Land for Peace” and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338  - leading to the Oslo I and II  Accords in 1993 and 1995, respectively.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians reached a total deadlock many years ago, despite changes of governments.

Successive Israeli Governments have systematically threatened and imposed sanctions against Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, and have continued their settlement activities everywhere, expropriation of lands, house demolitions, deportations and other violations of human rights, perhaps the most blatant being the construction of an 8m high concrete Separation Wall built on Palestinian lands despite a negative Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in The Hague rendered on 9 July 2004 - let alone attacks on Christian and Islamic religious sites by fanatic settlers.

Before resuming negotiations with the Palestinians, Israelis put forth yet another impediment: namely that Palestinians should first recognize the “Jewish character” of the State of Israel - while Palestinians from their side, accepting the challenges, claim the cessation of all settlement activities and the release of prisoners.

US successive administrations seem unwilling to exert any form of pressure on Israel - which is indeed the only way to get out of the political deadlock. 


Some live witnesses from a close and reliable source:

Between 1948 and 1967, there were a number of Arab Consulates General posted in Jerusalem, considering the international character of the City (Embassies were located in Amman): Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Syrian, Lebanese and Iraqi. Also, there was a Representative Office of the Arab League.

Some of the Arab Consuls had chosen to flee away to their respective Capitals before the outbreak of the war. Early in the morning of Tuesday, June 6, some Arab Consuls - Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi and the Representative of the Arab League - sought refuge at the adjoining Belgian Consulate General in Sheikh Jarrah. In the afternoon of the same day, the Israeli Army had already seized the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, after invading UNRWA buildings. Israeli heavy-armed paratroopers – in violation of international law - rushed into the compound of the Belgian Consulate General despite the fact that the gate was closed and the Belgian national flag raised over the building.  They knocked savagely on the main door, claiming to search the building for Jordanian snipers posted on the roof.  There were none. When they came to know about Arab Consuls hidden inside the Consulate, they arrested all the four Arab diplomats, notwithstanding their sheltering inside a foreign Consulate. These diplomats were dragged out of the premises to detention, inside Israel, which lasted until the end of the year, when a swap of prisoners took place with each of the Arab countries !

On Wednesday, June 7, the Israeli Army hoisted the Israeli flag over the tower of the Ophthalmic Hospital belonging to the London-based Order of St. John of Jerusalem - a private British property in Sheikh Jarrah. Thanks to the intervention of the British Government, through the good offices of the British Consul General in Jerusalem, the Israeli flag was removed from atop the building right on the following day.

Simultaneously, the Israeli Army seized the prestigious, 4-storey Ambassador Hotel, again in Sheikh Jarrah, and made it its General Headquarters for nearly four years. The basement of the Hotel served as a detention area for the captured Palestinians living in the area.

On the same day, the entire Old City of Jerusalem fell under occupation; Israel confiscated the keys to Bab Al-Magharbeh (Western Gate of Al-Aqsa Mosque) compound, never to return them to the Islamic Waqfs (Trusteeship). The Israeli flag was hoisted over the Western Wall …

On Sunday, June 11, the inhabitants of the Old City’s Mughrabi Quarter adjacent to the Wailing Wall were given three hours to evacuate their homes, before the entire quarter was demolished to create a plaza !

On Wednesday, June 14, the Wailing Wall was opened to the Israeli public while the inhabitants of the Old City were put under curfew.

On June 28, the Knesset voted on the unilateral annexation of the Eastern part of Jerusalem, declaring it the “unified, indivisible, eternal Capital” of the State of Israel. On the same day, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem were allowed for the first time to walk inside Israeli-held Jerusalem (West Jerusalem), and contemplate with pain and bitterness their homes and properties - inhabited by Jewish immigrants - for the first time since the day they were evicted therefrom back in 1948 …

On June 29, Israel dismissed the elected Mayor and council members of the Arab Jerusalem Municipality. Mayor Rawhi Al-Khatib was offered to join the Israeli-held municipal council of the City - which he flatly rejected.

In an attempt to ensure Israeli control of the roads in the entire City, Israel allowed nine “Egged” bus routes to operate parallel to the Arab public transport system. Meanwhile, Palestinian vehicles were forced to replace their old plate numbers by Israeli registration ones.

On July 18, the West Bank Muslim Court of Appeals was required to transfer its seat to Ramallah or Nablus, while the Jerusalem Court was ordered to place itself under the Israeli Muslim Court of Appeals in West Jerusalem.

On July 21, Anwar Al-Khatib, Governor of Jerusalem, former MP Daoud Husseini, lawyers Abdul Muhsen Abu Maizer and Ibrahim Bakr were banished by Israel from certain areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories because of their refusal to accept the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.

On August 11, a one-day curfew was imposed on the inhabitants of East Jerusalem. Census was taken, and a week later, Palestinians were forced to acquire Israeli blue ID cards.
                                                                                   
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Under the prevailing circumstances, there is no more sense talking about a two-State solution. This idea is dead. The Israeli practices - like building and expanding settlements, confiscating lands, Judaisation of Jerusalem, disrupting geographical continuity  between the different localities of the West Bank, position of Israeli leaders and political parties - have buried it completely. Israeli leaders confirm their outspoken rejection in principle and in practice of any withdrawal to pre-June 1967 lines.

We often hear about proposals, mediations and initiatives from different sides - but they all lack credibility.  They are all deemed to fail as none of them  claims, puts pressure, or  does anything to put an end to the excessive Israeli practices on the ground, with a view  to pave the way before a two-State solution. The Palestinian leadership conversely offered everything it could in order to reach a peaceful settlement.  It accepted to renounce nearly 78% of historical Palestine lands, opted for negotiations, modified the PLO Charter, accepted security coordination. All these concessions were met by more and more settlements and by hooliganism and vandalism by settlers who make fun attacking peaceful Palestinian civilians and farmers, cutting olive trees, assaulting shrines - under the protection of Israeli soldiers …


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