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Killings in Itamar not acceptable - Daoud Kuttab

March 16, 2011 5:22 P.M. (Updated: March 21, 2011 9:32 A.M.)
By: Daoud Kuttab
The brutal and inhumane killings of the Fogel family in Itamar is unacceptable and indefensible. No matter what anyone might say about the illegality of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, murder is murder and murder of civilians irrespective of the circumstances must be denounced and rejected at all levels.

Palestinians do want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. Jewish settlement activity is a major hurdle to Palestinian national aspirations. But all Palestinians fighting for freedom and independence should denounce this barbaric act against an Israeli family.

The independent state of Palestine should not be built on the blood of innocent civilians.

The Palestinian authority has been working very hard to enforce the rule of law and to ensure the security of Palestinian areas as well as to prevent any anti Israeli attacks stemming from Palestinian controlled areas to Israel. US and Israeli security officials have praised the efforts of the Palestinian security forces which has succeeded in preventing attacks in Israel. But as all security experts know there is no system that can provide 100% security. It is impossible to provide security from areas not directly under your control.

Security also is not limited to human resources, training, equipment or fences. No nation in the world can have a security officer at every corner. In any dispute whether domestic or political what is required to provide a high degree of safety is addressing the needs of injured parties. If your neighbor or your adversary feels injustice regularly committed against him, he will look for opportunities to take revenge.

Politically speaking, the Palestinian-Israeli stalemate can’t be allowed to continue indefinitely. Short periods of calm should never give a sense of relaxation to either side of a political conflict.

Despite claims to the contrary, Israel’s existence within the 1967 internationally recognized borders is no longer a bone of contention between most Palestinians.

The PLO recognized Israel in 1993 and the Islamic Hamas has repeated said that they accept the two state solution thus recognizing de facto the state of Israel within the 1967 borders. Khalid Mash'al, the leader of Hamas in Damascus, said the following to the Wall Street Journal: "We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines. This is the national program. This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect."

The point of strong disagreement continues to be the status of exclusive Jewish settlements built on Palestinian lands within areas occupied by Israel and controlled by the Israeli army.

The status of these settlements has been the focus of local, regional and international scrutiny.

The International Court at The Hague, when reviewing the legality of the Wall established inside Palestinian territory, ruled conclusively that Israeli settlement activities in occupied territories is a violation of the Geneva Convention which regulates the status of areas under prolonged occupations.

While the future of the settlements and settlers have been referred to the final status negotiations, Palestinians insist that at least until their status is resolved that no more illegal building takes places in occupied territories. The international community including the US accepts the Palestinian position and has made the suspension of settlement activities the first step – along with improved Palestinian security- in the road map for peace that the Quartet has suggested.

The road map accepted (albeit with conditions) by both sides has become international law when the UN Security council 1515 was passed unanimously by the 15 members Security Council. Even the after the US recently vetoed a security council resolution supported by 14 countries, the American ambassador to the UN explained that it is still totally opposed to settlement activity in Palestinian areas under Israeli occupation.

The strong disagreement over settlement doesn’t excuse the brutal killings of the family of five in Itamar. If anything this senseless murder should cause genuine commitment from all sides to find an end to the 44 year old occupation in a peaceful way. Palestinians and Israelis who truly seek for peace must redouble their commitment to this end before the radical seize on this crime to make the dreams of peace even more difficult to attain.

The author is a journalist and lecturer at Al-Quds University, and manager of the Community Media Network in Amman.
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