UNION AID ABROAD-APHEDA: Policy statement on Israel/Palestine Dec09 December 5, 2009


The following is a synopsis of APHEDA’s policy statement by Ray Bergmann (Queensland):

Recent years have seen increased conflict, causing suffering, fear, insecurity and poverty for millions of Palestinians and Israelis. The ongoing conflict can achieve nothing for an increasingly militarised Israeli society, and increasingly despondent and impoverished Palestinian communities.

In December 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 194 stated the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. Every year the United Nations reaffirms this right of the Palestinians to self-determination, to return to their homes and property, or to be adequately compensated for their losses. Every year these resolutions are ignored by Israel. Sixty years after al-Nakba, with the Palestinian refugees representing the longest-running refugee situation in modern history, the Question of Palestine remains one of the core issues of the international arena, a major fracture line in global peace.

2009 marks 42 years of Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlement of the Palestinian territories – the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – and of the Syrian Golan Heights. A unanimous vote on United Nations Resolution 242 following the June 1967 War required Israel to withdraw its armed forces from the territories occupied during the war and affirmed the need for “a just settlement of the refugee problem.” This UN Resolution is still outstanding, ignored by Israel for more than forty years, at great cost to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

In military activities since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada on 29 September 2000, Israel has actively targeted and destroyed much of the physical infrastructure required to maintain the Palestinian community – government buildings, water facilities, sewage treatment plants, roads, hospitals, schools and agricultural crops. Much of this infrastructure had been built and paid for by international donors. The Palestinians are enduring continued military occupation, diminishing security, stolen land and water resources, a stagnant economy, massive unemployment, increasing civil conflict, a traumatised population and a growing generation of children whose education is curtailed.

The rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories has forced the international community to switch its programs of development assistance to those of emergency relief.

The Palestinians have a long history of an active civil society with a strong sense of community. Forcing the Palestinians into long-term dependency on international aid is undignified. While providing relief and support is the humane reaction to a crisis and the international community must uphold its responsibilities to respond to urgent humanitarian needs, this should also be coupled with insistence that Israel comply with all relevant international law – to which it is also signatory – with regard to its illegal occupation of territory and its own responsibilities of civilian protection of the occupied population under the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949.

A military occupation cannot be “won”. There can only be withdrawal from occupation, as required under international law. That is the humane and responsible reaction.
In accordance with international law, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports national self-determination for the Palestinians, the right of the refugees to return to their homes, an end to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and an equitable distribution of resources in the region.

Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports the policy adopted by the ACTU Congress in 2003:
“The ACTU supports the ‘road map’ and a  genuine strategy for its implementation which gives new hope that real progress will be made to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the co-existence of two sovereign states in line with United Nations’ resolutions. Furthermore, the ACTU opposes the establishment of the ‘separation wall’ as a violation of Palestinian human rights. The ACTU commends the ICFTU in its commitment and continued support of the Israeli and Palestinian trade unions to resume and strengthen their dialogue and co-operation.”

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