Palestine: If the Lamp of Justice goes out in darkness

-Ashish Panday*

Days back, One news portal reported, quoting Vice President Mike Pence as saying to a so called influential group of Jewish Republicans gathered in Las Vegas that the U.S. is “assessing” whether to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he sought to assure a key constituency and political fundraising powerhouse of the administration’s commitment to their causes. He didn’t stopped there but continues to say, in his own words:

“The president I know will be an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-American relationship, we are also reviewing additional steps to demonstrate America’s support, including assessing whether the American embassy in Israel should be relocated.”

Trump Government, since taking oath in office, at least on international relationship is known for two things, his softness stands towards Russia and make all U-Turns for many of his statements he made during his election campaign.Not too long when, contrary to what he was propagating earlier, in all his campaign, made a U turn by accepting one china policy. Mike’s recent statement is a little surprising although President Trump on the campaign trail last year had pledged to move the embassy, had softened his stance since taking office in January.

Till now, most of the countries, even those who supported Israel since long, due to the conflicting claims to east Jerusalem and as a matter of neutrality, have traditionally kept its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem, due to its historical, cultural and most importantly religious dynasty, has remained center of battle between the great powers. The history books are full of the struggle between Europe and Islamist world “crusade”.In present world Israel claims the entire city as its capital in contrary to what Palestinians claims the eastern sector of city, was captured by Israel in 1967 and is future capital. Palestinians have warned that moving the embassy would be explosive.

Largely due to special-interest lobbying, U.S., since its creation have given more funds to Israel than to any other nation. US blind support to Israel is nothing new but have cost a lot for peace and harmony in the reason and more importantly to the people of Palestine, who are deprived from basic amenities in their region,creating a large number of Arab refugees. As per multiple reports, although estimates vary from about 520,000 (Israeli sources) to 726,000 (UN sources) to over 800,000 (Arab sources) refugees, it’s one of the world one of the most serious refuse problem when Palestinian Arabs who fled or were forced out of their homes during the fighting. This number has grown to include over 4.6 million displaced persons, about 3.7 million of whom are currently registered as refugees with the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). Of these, somewhat over a million live in camps run by the UNRWA (see www.un.org/unrwa/pr/pdf/figures.pdf ) Generally, refugees living in the camps live in conditions of abject poverty and overcrowding. The refugees of the 1948 Israeli war and the lesser number of refugees of the 1967 war constitute a real monumental humanitarian and political problem, and no resolution of the conflict can ignore them.

The struggle of the people in the region has another side of tragedy as even the Arab states do not want the refugees. With the exception of Jordan, most are unwilling to give them citizenship. When Israel’s punitive closure of the Gaza Strip, particularly the near-total blocking of outgoing goods, continued to have severe consequences for the civilian population and impeded reconstruction of the 17,000 housing units severely damaged or destroyed during the 2014 war on Gazans, it is far beyond the understanding when Egypt also blocked all regular movement of goods at the crossing it controls, and imposed increased restrictions on the movement of people. More than 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are forced to rely on humanitarian assistance.

Even if it can be assumed, despite seems quite impractical in near future, the territory that might be allocated to the Palestinian state, about two thousand, two hundred square miles, is probably too small to house all of them adequately given the fact that the Israel and the Palestinian areas both have extremely high population densities – over 300 persons per square kilometer in Israel and over 500 per square kilometer in the occupied territories, including over a million refugees.

The current crisis, is another failure of UN and its agencies, and in fact put a question on its commitment while protecting the deprived people when Israel and the USA successfully pressured the UN not to include Israel on its annual list of countries responsible for grave violations against children in armed conflict, even though its own draft 2015 report prepared by the secretary-general’s special representative for children and armed conflict recommended adding Israel and Hamas to the list due to their repeated violations against children.

Israel/Palestine is an example of a context in which the boundaries of state power and national claims conflict, but this context is “exceptional” another ways, too, because Israeli rule over the West Bank and Gaza is theresult of military conquest. Technically, an occupation constitutes a ceasefire in an ongoing state of war and therefore is both temporary and clearly contrary to the normal/normative international standards of government. Under any military occupation, there is no formal political reciprocity between governors and governed. Indeed, the Israeli state has never claimed nor sought the right to represent the Palestinians in the territories, only the right to rule them as long as the occupation continues, which it does until such time as the parties to the conflict reach a final resolution on the issues of permanent borders and peace.

During all the civilized era, those who have been working to defend Palestinians’ rights and build the rule of law have found themselves in the unenviable position of being opponents of not only the Israeli but also to the Palestinian groups. The institutions whose support for human rights and the rule of law is crucial. The media, courts, political associations are all vulnerable to repression or intervention. Unfortunately the Palestine’s own vulnerability and lack of sovereignty exacerbates the perceived need and tendency to silence critics and repress political opponents, consequently, the capacity of Humanitarian organisation to galvanize strong and consistent public support for human rights has been severely impeded.

The region is not only from the military and diplomatic angles but in spite of the facts that the legacy of human rights activism remains evident in Israel/Palestine, the language of human rights continues to permeate discourse about the conflict, and the standards of international law are sure to figure heavily in future evaluations of the past. Moreover, despite changing political arrangements, governing relations continue to entail institutionalized discrimination and rights-violating practices. This sustains opportunities-and needs-to continue to look “upward” to international law and “outward” to the international human rights movement and the international community to support local struggles for rights.

After all if the lamp of justice goes out in the darkness, how great the darkness will be!

Photo Credit: telesurtv.net

*Sr Company Secretary & Commentator on International Affairs