Israeli troops guard captured Egyptian troops and Palestinians at the start of the Six-Day War on June 5, 1967 in Rafah, Gaza Strip. [GALLO/GETTY]

50 years of Israeli occupation

Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Ramallah/

This week the Palestinian people mark fifty years since the beginning of the Israeli colonial occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.  On this solemn occasion, the Palestinian people reflect on half a century of injustice and denial, which are an extension of an historical injustice that befell the Palestinian people nearly 100 years ago and remains without redress.

The Israeli military occupation has established itself as a colonial regime founded and maintained by the policy of displacement and replacement. Israel’s insatiable desire for territorial expansion and its insistence on denying the existence of the Palestinian people as well as its refusal to recognize the national, historic, and cultural rights of Palestinians to their homeland have made of this occupation a belligerent colonial regime that defies international law with impunity.

Since 1967, the occupying Power has systematically carried out a colonization campaign throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including, in particular, in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, aimed at the illegal, de facto annexation of the land as well as the displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population and their replacement by settlers. For five decades now, Israel has been incessantly confiscating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian property for the purpose of constructing, expanding and entrenching its illegal colonial settlements regime, into which over half a million Israeli settlers have been illegally transferred. These illegal Israeli practices and measures are altering the demographic composition of and destroying the territorial contiguity, character and integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine permeates all aspects of Palestinian life. It is a regime designed to oppress the Palestinian people, strip of their land and natural resources, and deny them their basic human rights. This occupation is a cruel system of injustice predicated on the racist notion that one people’s prosperity and strength must come from the subjugation and oppression of another people, whose rights, prosperity, and future are at the mercy of their occupier. The reality of Israel’s occupation extends far beyond the parameters defined in international law, which regarded occupation as a temporary measure borne out of the circumstances of war yet subject to the rules of war and confined by the commitment to respect international law and the rights of protected persons. Indeed, the actions of successive Israeli governments expose Israel’s unwillingness to end this occupation and hegemony over the land and people of Palestine.

Over the past five decades, the international community has exerted various efforts and adopted a host of United Nations resolutions reiterating the need to end to this suffering and fulfill the rights of the Palestinian people in order to achieve a just and last peace. However, Israel’s intransigence and its total disrespect and contempt for international law, including humanitarian and human rights law have continuously derailed these efforts. Instead of complying with the law and pursuing peace, Israel, the occupying Power, has acted with flagrant impunity, denying the rights of the Palestinian people and committing grave breaches, including war crimes, systematic human rights violations and acts of state terror against them. Israel has undermined or rejected all peace initiatives and violated all resolutions aimed at achieving a just and peaceful solution to the conflict on the basis of the rules of international law, the resolutions of international legitimacy and the principle of land for peace, because it is more invested in the colonial occupation than in the prospects of peace.

The international community, including the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, has a standing legal and moral obligation to work towards ending this prolonged injustice and bring peace and security to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. It should work to promote international law in accordance with its relevant resolutions, which form the foundations for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. In this regard, the international community must also honor its obligation to ensure that the principle of accountability is respected without exception. Israel continues to violate Palestinian rights, entrench its colonial occupation, and derail credible peace efforts because it has enjoyed immunity from accountability for over half a century. This destructive cycle of impunity and crimes must end in order for peace to have a chance.