Britain_and_the_Inalienable_Rights_of_the_Palestinian_PeopleIn consistency with its general policy of documenting and claiming the rights of the Palestinian people, PRC- London held under the auspices of the former Algerian President Ahmad Bin Bella, its second international conference titled:" Britain and the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People" at Brunei Gallery in School of Oriental and African studies of London University.

The conference was held at the time when Britain and USA mobilized hundreds of thousands of their soldiers and exploited all their military and financial capabilities, and the newest inventions of destructive technology to invade Iraq and occupy it on the plea of carrying out international legitimacy and liberating Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein's regime.

pal-english-20041The Palestinian Return Centre, London Announces an International conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN partition of Palestine and its Impact on the Palestinian Arabs in Israel

Topics:

• Did Britain act in accord with the wishes of the sovereign owners of Palestine when it transferred the issue to the UN?

• Did the UN act outside of its legal powers when it decided to partition Palestine in accord with General Assembly Resolution 181?

• Why did Britain and the UN refuse to proclaim Palestinian independence when the League of Nations was dissolved in April 1946 and the mandate which was administered through it legally came to an end?

• Did the UN intend that Israel should be an ethically pure Jewish state?

• How has Israel's implementation or non- implementation of the partition resolution affect its Arab population?

nakba2The Palestinian Return Center in London will launch its international conference entitled "UNRWA and the future of Palestinian refugees." Tomorrow, Wednesday 16th December 2009.

IMG_7276_copyProfessor Norman Finkelstein, accused Israeli of perpetrating war crimes in the Gaza strip through the ongoing siege and January war. His accusation came within an International Conference titled, "UNRWA and Future of Palestinian Refugees", organized in London. Finkelstein started his speech by placing it in context with the one year commemoration of the siege on Gaza. The causes and effects of this siege are now coming to light, both in the Goldstone Report and in the recent arrest warrant issued by the UK for Tzipi Livni, who stated that she was "proud of everything she had done in Gaza".

Briefly assessing the history to the siege, Finkelstein noted that the ceasefire that was agreed between Israel and Hamas June 2008 was broken by Israel, not Hamas: whilst Hamas stopped its rocket attacks, Israel did not lift its illegal blockade on Gaza and launched a night raid on Gaza, whilst the eyes of the worlds were watching 4th November 2008 US elections. 6 Hamas militants were killed, provoking Hamas to respond, which it did by resuming rocket attacks. Finkelstein emphasised that this is not violence so much as symbolic resistance.

He quoted one Palestinian who referred to the rocket attacks as "Modest home made rockets are a cry of protest to the world". In particular, Finkelstein commented that if we are going to condemn Hamas for these rocket attacks, we must suggest how else they should resist the pressure placed on them by persistent Israeli attacks, subjugation and persistent blockades that drain the small area of land. If we cannot provide an alternative, we cannot criticise.

Discussing the siege on Gaza in detail, Finkelstein emphasised the disproportionate nature of the Israeli attacks. The ratios of death and destruction are striking: 100 Palestinians were killed to 1 Israeli; 600 Palestinian civilians were killed to 1 Israeli; and 6000 Palestinian homes were destroyed to 1 Israeli home. On this basis, the siege cannot be called a war as a minimum condition of war is that there are at least two sides firing at each other. Israeli soldiers themselves have stated that Israel used ‘insane amounts of firepower'.

Israel's claims that the extent of devastation and death was due to Hamas using human shields and purposely positioning themselves in dense civilian areas has been undermined by reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Dugard Committee and the Goldstone Report which have found no evidence to support this claim.

The Goldstone Report stated that the siege was a "Deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population". As a self-confessed Zionist and a supporter of Israel, Finkelstein notes that we can only assume that Goldstone would have no interest in criticising Israel unnecessarily. We must assume therefore that what Goldstone has reported is an accurate reflection of abuse and apportionment of responsibility for what happened in Gaza. The Goldstone Report, which for this very reason has attracted such attention, has, for the first time, put the assessment of human rights abuses first in this conflict, rather than the attention being persistently focussed on the ‘peace process'. The truth about the ongoing human rights abuses committed by Israelis against Palestinians must be at the forefront of our minds as we move forward.

 

 

 

IMG_7438 The Palestinian Return Center started its International Conference titled, "UNRWA and Future of Palestinian Refugees", in London amongst considerable attendance of journalists, activists and academics.

The conferences started early in the morning where Nasim Ahmed, PRC researcher introduced the conference stating its purpose as showing solidarity with Palestinian Refugees at this time of difficulty. It will discuss UNRWA's work and progress, 60 years after its initial establishment in 1949, and it will highlight the many benefits of this organisation for refugees, dispelling the myth that it is the problem not the solution for the refugees.

Majed al-Zeer, General Director of PRC discussed the problems for refugees in Palestine, 60 years on. It is the responsibility of the international community to ensure the right of return of all refugees and to support the Palestinian struggle. Palestinians have been denied this right for 60 years, despite the fact that it is enshrined in human rights law. Dissolving UNRWA, as some have suggested should happen, would deeply affect the lives of the refugees that it supports in Palestine. The need for UNRWA has been supported by the Syrian President, as he commented to PRC's delegation to Syria to discuss Palestinian refugees living there. PRC has also conducted a survey of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon which further supports the need for the continuation of UNRWA's work.Palestinian_Man

H.E. Prof Manual Hassassian began by stating that he hoped this would be the last time we can celebrate an anniversary of UNRWA. The Israeli occupation of Palestine is the longest occupation of all time. UNRWA has worked hard to provide services and sustain the Palestinian identity but the time for charity is over. Palestinians have the right to return, and to self-determination. If this were granted to them, UNRWA would no longer be needed: this right is what now needs to be addressed. Israel has continued to commit serious human rights crimes against Palestinian civilians, as has been reported by numerous human rights groups and, most recently, the Goldstone Report. However, the world has failed to respond; Palestinian continues to suffer displacement and humiliation. Approaching this issue requires a new outlook: UNRWA needs to look towards protecting UNRWA's human rights, not only providing services; Arab donors need to contribute more funds to relieve the suffering of Palestinians such as to the two thirds of Gaza's population who are refugees; and Europe needs to be more proactive in seeking a political solution for Palestinian refugees. The path to peace and justice needs to become a global effort.

The UNRWA representative discussed the history of UNRWA, to deal with dispossessed refugees. The occupation of Palestine, particularly since 1967, has now become the preoccupation of peace-agencies, rather than the dispossession of Palestinians. The debate about Palestine now needs to refocus around this dispossession. The UNRWA budget deficit it severely stunting the services that UNRWA can provide. In 2010, UNRWA requires 583 million USD to continue its work; it is anticipating 140 million USD deficit for 2010.

Clare Short opened by discussing the original 750,000 Palestinian refugees created in 1948 and how, at that time, the Israeli seizing of Palestinian territory and the resulting displacement of thousands of Palestinians was condemned internationally. However, 60 years later, the situation persists and has worsened with over 4 million refugees being scattered throughout the world. The right to return for Palestinians, prohibited by Israel but permitted by international human rights law, should be seen in the context of the Israeli right of return, which allows and Jew to enter Israel. Israel seems determined to weaken the Palestinians as demonstrated by the wall it has constructed, that has been deemed illegal by international courts. The UK, European Union and the USA should not stand by and watch Israel in constant breach of international laws in this manner. The Goldstone Report should urge these parties to act. There must be more support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign: it was done once with South Africa and it can be done again with Palestine.

Salman Abu Sitta began by remarking that this conflict is the longest was in history. 7 million refugees and displaced people continue to suffer whilst Israelis enjoy the use of 93% of Israel is Palestinian property. It is the duty of the Europeans and USA to enforce international law and force Israel to end its occupation. Instead we see the Europeans financially supporting Israel and the USA providing it with illegal weapons such as phosphorus. Europe played an important role in the formation of this problem and they should therefore play an important role in solving it. Funding should instead be given to UNRWA to support their work with the refugees. It is cheaper and easier to enforce international law than it is to fight wars in Afghanistan in Iraq and yet it is still not being implemented. Resolution 194 must be enforced and a Security Council Resolution to support UNCP should be issued.

To Be Continued...

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The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is in the latest stages of its preparation for the International Conference, “The Ongoing Nakba”, which is the inaugural event of Palestine memorial week starting 15th-22nd Jan 2011; and will be held on Saturday 1 5th of January.