Statement to the Balfour-Declaration from November 2, 1917

by George Rashmawi, President of

The Union of the Palestinian Communities,

Institutions and Activities in Europe

November 2, 2020

What did this British Declaration achieve for Palestine,

?103 year after the Balfour-Declaration

On November 2, 1917, Britain agreed with Zionism’s aim of 1897 to establish a „National Home”, for the Jewish people in Palestine, on the condition that the rights of non-Jewish communities are respected. At that time, Palestine was ruled by the Ottomans.

The result of the Balfour-Declaration: Numerous wars, 6 millions of refugees, 1,5 million Arab Palestine-refugees still registered today, are living in 58 recognized „Palestine refugee camps“ in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza Strip and West Bank. 53 years of life under the Israeli occupation power, that means: curfews, confined by walls and checkpoints, arbitrary arrests, imprisonments without court order, deprivation of economic basis by construction of the wall and settlements in violation of international law (for example: Hebron). The consequences are the impoverishment of a large part of the population. Settlers attack the Palestinian civilian population while being protected by the Israeli army. A technically highly equipped army keeps 3 million in check. The Gaza Strip is the largest open-air prison of the world. Nearly 2 millions of people live on 363 square kilometers: homes and infrastructure (water, current) are destroyed; Drugs are in short supply, hunger and underdevelopment characterize the lives of the people who are shot at, when they approach the prison fence.

Our reward: If we defend ourselves in criticising the occupation power, Israel, we are called anti-Semites (Anti-Semitism related to Israel, Anti-Semitism related to Arab) If we defend us with violence, we are called terrorists.

On 28 January this year the American President Trump presented his vision, that means, his deal of the century, as he likes to call his political solution for the Palestine-Israel conflict. This political solution has two main points, a political and an economic solution. Trump thought, he can improve with 50 billion dollars the economic situation in the Palestinian occupied territories, so that they do no longer fight for a democratic independent sovereign state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes. He tries to eliminate the Palestinians politically in encouraging the Arabic reactionary states to normalize their relations with Israel. On September, 15, 2020, both states signed, the United Arabic Emirate the so called „Abraham convention“, and Bahrain a declaration of peace with Israel, under the patronage of President Trump. Due to pressure by the USA the Sudan in October 2020 gave also in.

?What significance do these treaties have for the Palestinian, Arab, Israeli and American policy

a) For the American politics: Trump’s vision, respectively his so called „“deal of the century“, has two main targets

1.To liquidate the national Palestinian rights.

2. To normalize the relations of the Arabic states with Israel, first of all, of the Gulf states. President Trump and his advisers have started already their second aim in signing of the treaties by both states. With his „deal of the century“, President Trump wants to divert attention from the allegations of corruption against him and he hopes to have good chances to win the election of 2020 again. The strategy of normalization of the relations with the Arabic states serves to weaken the official solidarity of the Arab states with the Palestinian people in their struggle for independence, self-determination and freedom. From now on the new enemy of the Arabic states is no longer the occupation power Israel, but the Shiite Iran. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, try to declare these treaties as peace treaties, like the Oslo-Accords before. They promise these would bring prosperity and peace to the region.

b) For the Israeli politics:

1.The corrupt Netanyahu wants to improve his chances for earlier elections in Israel. He is not at all prepared to transfer the government business to his government colleague, General Benny Gantz (as agreed in the coalition treaty of May 17, 2020).

2. The long-term desire of Netanyahu to brand Iran as the main enemy in this region has also been achieved. The world’s eyes focus no longer on the occupation power Israel and its inhuman mechanism of oppression in the occupied territories.

c)For the Arab politics: The secession of two Arab Gulf States, both members of the Arab League, has left a huge gap in the official Arab solidarity with the Palestinian people. The last meeting of the Arab League in Cairo in the beginning of September is a clear example for the success of the US policy. There were not a lot of Arab states who condemned the normalization of the relations between the United Arabic Emirates and Israel as also the normalization of the relations between other Arabic states with Israel. The reason is, that other Arab states, as Qatar, Saudi-Arabia and others want to follow later. The justification of the Arab reactionary states is, that they want to prevent the Israeli annexation of additional Palestinians regions.

However, this is questionable, as Netanyahu himself and the US ambassador in Israel, David Friedman, have declared that they don’ t intend to abolish the 30 percent annexation, but just to postpone it.

In reality, both Arab states have abandoned the previous common line of the official Arab policy, that was based on the Arab initiative of 2002: No normalization of the relations with Israel, as long as it continues to occupy the Palestinian territories, and support for the Palestinian people fighting for freedom, self-determination and for an independent state in the West Bank and in the Gaza strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to their homes.

27 years after the Oslo-Accords the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to achieve peace based on negotiations with Israel, has completely failed. Israel is not at all prepared, to return the territories occupied by war in 1967 to the Palestinian people. Netanyahu praised himself before his followers: "I have managed to force 'peace for peace'.“ This replaces, 'land for peace', on which the Oslo-Accords are based. He always wanted to revoke these Accords. The ongoing land expropriation, the progressive construction of numerous settlements in the occupied territories and the reprisals against the Palestinian people show very clearly, in which direction the wind is blowing. Trump’s annexation plan violates clearly the international law. With his so- called deal of the century Trump behaves like a dubious real estate agent. He gives land to Israel, land, that does not belong to him, namely Palestinian land. He is in no way legally entitled to do so.

Due to this development the Palestinian leadership invited 13 Palestinian organizations to a meeting. On 3rd September 2020 a video-conference was held in Beirut and Ramallah. There, factions also participated that are no PLO members, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They discussed the new development in the region, first of all, how to answer to the aggressive US-policy and its old and new allies. At this conference steps and measures were adopted, that open new perspectives to the struggle of the Palestinian people. Above all, there was an agreement on the need to restore the internal Palestinian unity and the re-activation of the PLO, its work committees as well as the renewal of its leadership, respectively the executive committee. The elections must be held on all levels (National Congress, Legislature, etc.) The most important decision was the establishing of a unified national leadership, where all Palestinian organizations are presented. The struggle of the Palestinian people is intensified by all means in the occupied territories, to the point of complete a complete civil disobedience.

We call for: An immediate stop of the construction of illegal settlements.

We call for: Equal rights for the Palestinian people, as also the lifting of the illegal and inhuman blockade in Gaza.

Therefore, we need the support of the international people as also the support of their governments.

We, the Palestinian people, supported by all forces of peace will continue our tireless struggle for a democratic independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, for self-determination, justice and freedom unless Israel withdraws from our occupied Palestinian lands.

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