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A message from a Gazan to the German people

Dec. 5, 2012 10:53 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 9, 2012 9:24 A.M.)
By: Issam Younis
There cannot be half justice; either complete justice or no justice. It is time the situation in Israel and Palestine be dealt with to achieve full justice.

Ignoring the blockade and the fragmentation imposed on an entire people cannot continue forever. Subjugating a people to live with dispossession, discrimination, and persecution should no longer be tolerated.

Overlooking scores of killings -- including of children, parents, and grandparents -- is outrageous. Feeding a besieged population while arming those who control and oppress them should no longer make sense.

It is about time the world, but particularly Germany and Europe, acted on justice as a core value. This is only attainable if the real problems are put forward and dealt with; namely those of the occupation, the fragmentation, and the oppression of another people.

The chronic denial of justice and abuse of human rights has been employed as a main political tool in Palestine for too long now. To give a process, not peace, a chance, nineteen years of negotiations between Israel and the PLO have destroyed so many lives and fueled enmity.

Life in the occupied Palestinian territory is at its lowest. And the two-state solution, which is, for better or worse, globally agreed as a just solution to the conflict, continues to receive one blow after another. According to the United Nations secretary-general, the decision to build yet another 3,000 houses in Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land is the fatal blow to this solution.

Tolerating Israel's conduct decade after decade has sent a clear message: Israel enjoys a license to alter the character of the oPt and, in the way towards that, to violate international law and will always enjoy a strong political support that shields it from accountability. This recipe has proven lethal. It will produce neither peace nor security for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Palestine's new status at the UN reflects Palestinians' despair with endless negotiations, which have become an end in itself. Promised peace and prosperity, they have been faced with endless negotiations which are lacking in any international law framework and therefore have failed to end occupation, but allowed spreading settlements on their occupied land, denying them their natural resources, and subjugating them to further injustices.

Israel's treatment of Palestinians destroys any hope for peace as the world's community -- including Germany -- views it. Should this policy continue, it is inevitable that the world will see more horrendous violations of international law and human rights, which constitute the basis for freedom, equality and dignity in our world. Peace will fade away with every violation.

Only in Palestine so many violations of human rights, so well reported, go tolerated as if the Western values which make up the basis of this law stop at our border. Palestinians' present and future are besieged. Without the free world's true will to make a true effort to secure it, emancipation is an impossible prospect for them.

In 1993, the PLO and Israel signed an agreement that testified to the territorial unity of the oPt. In the same year, Israel's restrictions on the movement of both individuals and goods deeply fragmented the Palestinian society. Now, Gaza and the West Bank are separate. East Jerusalem is being totally cut-off from the occupied West Bank, as the Israeli government stepped up its settlement activity unabashedly. The disengagement from Gaza, a mere redeployment of Israeli forces to maintain control over it, cut Gaza off and pushed it south towards Egypt.

Palestinians have already lost much of their trust in the world community and are gradually losing faith that one day they will be able to enjoy their long-denied rights like the rest of the world peoples do. International tolerance of Israeli aggressive policies and fueling Palestinian internal schism cannot be a rational, sustainable policy since the entire region will suffer as a result.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians were steered towards 'state-building' and development projects. Development and states however cannot be achieved without control over natural resources, access, and borders. Settlement, denial of access to land, putting a whole nation under siege in Gaza, construction of the Wall, and hundreds of checkpoints are adding to the outright violation of international law inherent in the annexation of Jerusalem by Israel.

By supporting Israel and its unjust policies and violations of international law, Germany is doing a dangerous disservice to itself, to Israel and the Palestinian people. Compliance with international norms is the only way to ensure stability, security and peace for everyone in the region.

The Palestinian Authority must be supported financially, but, more importantly, politically and diplomatically since the alternative policy represented in the silent acceptance of the occupation while continuing to pay its bill will only undermine the interests of all parties to achieve peace and stability in the region.

The current Palestinian internal destructive schism has undermined pluralism and liberty in both Gaza and the West Bank. Resulting in wide-scale violations of human rights, it is disastrous that Germany or Europe continues to support it.

Political support for Palestinian unity is more urgent now than ever before, especially with Hamas leaping towards Palestinian core politics since it has expressed its support for reconciliation as well as for the Palestinian statehood bid.

Moreover, peace based on the shared norms and values of justice and law will be strengthened by Palestinian unity, which will improve respect for human rights and democracy which is why Germany must express its support for the Palestinian reconciliation.

This is a significant moment of truth. Palestinians are looking to the world's peoples, including to the Germany of Nietzsche, Goethe, and the Weimar Republic, to set the record straight and recognize that time is playing out against peace and justice, and will never do as long as the engagement with the Palestinians is limited to sacrificing the bases of justice and law.

Germany must make it clear that the problem lies with the occupation that is evolving in ways which flagrantly breach international law and human rights. Germany must act on the peace promised to Israelis and Palestinians over 18 years ago; the same peace that seems so distant now under annexation, killing, and oppression.

Who else will free Israel?

Issam Younis is the director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights – Gaza and was awarded Germany's Weimar Human Rights award in 2008.

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