Published by Irish4Palestine Writers Group
“Peace making is conducted by and between enemies not between friends.”
Sinn Fein's President,Gerry Adams, has finished his report on the Gaza situation and Middle East peace process. This report will be forwarded to the US government, through George Mitchell and Tony Blair. I had this emailed to me two days ago, but only checked email today, sorry for the small delay in posting it. I will publish important excerpts of the 36 page report made by Adams in this post. For those interested in reading the entire document a PDF link will be at the end of this post. Please note, this is a very long but important post which addresses the political aspects of conflict resolution along with an assessment of the situation.
QUOTE “Several Palestinians, supporters of the peace process route, mature in both age and political experience told me that they feel as angry now as they did when they were teenagers. They find, in themselves and their contemporaries, a hardening of attitudes.”Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP MLA today launched his report ‘Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, April 2009 – A Report’.
“Others voice the opinion that generations coming up, unless there is a peace settlement, will make Al Qaeda, in retrospect, look like moderates.”
Another start must be made in the Middle East. That includes a huge international effort to begin the work of reconstruction in the Gaza strip and the West Bank.
The international community also has a duty to create the political conditions in which a real dialogue can happen.
So far it has behaved in a shameful way by failing to effectively and persistently pursue the building of a peace process capable of delivering a political settlement.
That must change.
The Sinn Féin peace strategy helped create the conditions for the Irish peace process which has transformed political conditions in Ireland. While no two conflicts are the same there are nonetheless broad principles which can be helpful in all conflict resolution processes.
Sinn Féin, within our limited resources, is willing to offer our experience to others if it can help.
Gerry Adams MP MLA
Sinn Fein President
June 2009 Israel, Gaza and the West Bank - A Report:
Note to the Irish: Time to do something about these "Criminal Enablers" at "Cement Roadstone Holding" in Ireland as they do not represent the Irish views on Israel/Palestine conflict. They are enabling Israel to perpetuate a continued siege on Palestine and they are helping to annex Palestinian land with their cement supplied to the Evil Rogue State. Here's the website: http://www.crh.ie/
Destruction caused by Israeli Operation Cast Lead.
Report follows image map of destruction.
CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW LARGE SIZE
_ Approximately 3,500 homes destroyed, 28,000 homes damaged.3
_ 800 industries damaged/destroyed during Operation Cast Lead: 120 million USD of directphysical damage incurred during the 22 day military operation.4
_ Agricultural sector: Direct losses to crops, fisheries, livestock and poultry estimated at $180 million.
_ Impact on the infrastructure of a future Palestinian state: Palestinian Legislative Council destroyed; 7 government institutions completely or partially destroyed.
_ 10 schools destroyed, 204 damaged.5
_ 600,000 tonnes of rubble need to be removed.
_ 14 mosques destroyed, 38 mosques, 2 churches and the British Commonwealth cemetery in Gaza damaged.
_ 41 public health clinics and 29 ambulances were either damaged or destroyed.6
_ Prior to the IDF operation, per capita water consumption was 80 litres/person/day, below acceptable international standards (minimum guidelines 150 l/person/day). During
Operation Cast Lead, 11 water wells were either partially damaged or totally destroyed, 4 water reservoirs were damaged, 20,000 meters of pipes, 4 sewage network and pumping stations and one of Gaza's two main sewage treatment plants was damaged.
_ 57 km of asphalted roads destroyed, resulting in $78 million of physical damage.
In its report: Israel and Palestine an Irish Congress of Trade Unions delegation visited the Middle East in November 2007.In its Overall Conclusions it describes the impact of the settlements and of the Separation Wall.
The settlements - which violate international law - and the Israeli checkpoints are all pervasive.
Everywhere we went in the West Bank we observed settlements, some of them massive, most often located on hilltops, overlooking and monitoring the Palestinians below.
The settler accommodation invariably comprised bright, modern houses and apartments and is in stark contrast to the impoverished shanty town appearance of the Palestinian homes below.
The settlers themselves are heavily armed and are protected throughout the West Bank by a strong Israeli military presence. Indeed, mobility within the West Bank between Palestinian villages, towns and cities is severely curtailed and under the control of Israeli forces: for example, entering and leaving Hebron or Nablus.
The Israeli army, as well as armed Israeli civilians, operate barriers and controlled crossings, many of which resemble the heavily fortified border checkpoints which were evident during the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Also very noticeable is the fragmented and divided nature of the West Bank itself, which is due to the proliferation of 'settler-only' roads controlled entirely by the IDF. Many are newly constructed, of high quality and frequently run in parallel to existing roads used by Palestinians. These roads provide direct access for settlers to urban areas which Palestinians are prohibited from entering (e.g. Jerusalem), or which Palestinians can only enter after long detours - often taking several hours - and after processing at Israeli checkpoints.
There is little doubt that this two-tier infrastructure both hampers and impedes any form of sustainable Palestinian development and prevents the emergence of a viable, contiguous, independent Palestinian state.
The Separation Wall
The delegation saw multiple examples of the devastating impact the construction of this massive 9 metre high concrete wall is having (Irish company Cement Roadstone Holdings (CRH) owns a 25 percent share in Mashav, Israel's only cement company, which supplies construction materials for the wall). (Irish people see my note at end of post)
It dominates huge swathes of the Palestinian landscape, destroying agricultural land, cutting farmers off from their livelihoods and causing the destruction of tens of thousands of olive trees.
It was genuinely shocking to see the impact of the wall in urban areas, where it sunders entire communities and neighbourhoods, and imposes severe restrictions on access to essential services and employment. The delegation heard, but was neither impressed nor convinced by the argument that the wall is essential to the security of Israel.
It was noted that the wall does not follow the route of the 1967 Green Line border. It has instead snaked into Palestinian territory and seized up to 12 percent of Palestinian land, including significant water resources.
The delegation believes, therefore, that the construction of the wall amounts to a land (and water) grab, while simultaneously creating a new border in advance of any possible final settlement.
In July 2004 the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, declared the construction of the wall to be illegal, ordered that it be dismantled, and ruled that Israel should pay reparation to the Palestinians affected by its construction. The ruling also found that the wall, in conjunction with other Israeli measures, "severely impeded the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self determination."
The Gaza Strip:
From the moment you enter the Gaza strip under the gaze of the watchtowers and through the huge gates in the security wall and security system controlled by Israel at the Erez Crossing, the overwhelming sense is one of entering a huge open air prison. A million and a half people live there enduring multiple deprivations and denial of rights.
The television images of the assault on Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and the cold statistics set out in multiple reports from reputable international relief and human rights agencies all support claims that society in general on the Gaza strip was the target of this assault.
Residential areas, educational and medical facilities alongside political and civil administration establishments were targeted. This included the police. Water and electricity services and roads were also targeted. Military institutions were attacked.
The human cost of the assault on Gaza is an affront to humanity.The reason given for the assault is that it was a reaction to the firing of Qassam rockets.
"No-one in Gaza believes this."
Moreover, by any standards, it was a wholly disproportionate response.
A UN panel, led by Ian Martin a former head of Amnesty International concluded that Israeli actions in using white phosphorous munitions showed a 'reckless disregard' for human life.
Those Palestinians I spoke to believe that the assault on Gaza was an attempt to topple Hamas and to demonstrate to the people of Gaza the price for voting for that party.
There will be no Palestinian/Israeli agreement without an agreement on Jerusalem. This is a universal view amongst the Palestinian opinions shared with me.
West Bank Palestinians are subjected to stop and search on a daily basis and often several times a day at some 600 permanent roadblocks and crossing gates set up by the Israeli Defence Forces in the West Bank.
Alongside this seven hundred kilometres of roads have been constructed for the exclusive use of the Israeli Defence Forces and Israeli settlers in the ever burgeoning programme of colonizing Palestinian lands through the establishment of new Israeli settlements.
All of this, like the grotesque Separation Wall which stretches for 662.8 kilometres and snakes its way across Palestinian land is done in the name of security. All are illegal.
“Wall and planned settlement expansion will place 45.5% of the occupied west Bank under Israeli control … the revised Wall route alone de facto annexes 9% of the west Bank … effectively incorporates over 370,000 illegal settlers or nearly 87% of the Israeli settler population…Israel claims the Wall is about security, but the revised route, which stretches 662.8 km, still runs more than twice the length of the 1967 border …”
"Several Palestinians, supporters of the peace process route, mature in both age and political experience told me that they feel as angry now as they did when they were teenagers. They find, in themselves and their contemporaries, a hardening of attitudes.
Others voice the opinion that generations coming up, unless there is a peace settlement, will make Al Qaeda, in retrospect, look like moderates."
The democratically elected representatives of Palestinian political opinion, Fatah and Hamas, representing between them approximately 80% of votes cast in the last election to the Palestinian Legislative Council, made clear to me in separate meetings that they support a two-state solution to the conflict. And that this requires, understandably, that any Palestinian state be viable and sustainable. This would require ease of movement between the West Bank and the Gaza strip.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh in our meeting on Wednesday 9 April made a number of points in respect of this and related matters.
He said Hamas:
_ Is involved in discussions with Fatah in respect of unity and an agreed political platform to provide a common position for democratically elected Palestinian representatives; to present a single representative Palestinian voice.
_ Is ready to make compromises to achieve Palestinian unity on these issues.
_ Has no interest in establishing or sustaining Gaza as a separate political entity. (Some senior Palestinians told me that they believe this is an Israeli Government objective. Their view is that the Israeli government will agree to Gaza as a Palestinian state, colonise as much of the west Bank as possible and hive off the rest to Jordan.)
_ Wants justice, stability, security and peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
Supports, as the route to this:
_ A comprehensive ceasefire;
_ The opening of borders;
_ The lifting of the siege of Gaza;
_ The two-state compromise and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital on the basis of the 1967 borders;
_ And the establishment of a long Hudna (long truce) to facilitate this as an important enabling element. That is a renewable 'life long' truce between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities.
A number of Palestinians made clear their preference for a single secular state of Palestine on the basis of the historic/old Mandate borders embracing Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Moslems, Christians and so on.
If Israelis were not prepared to accept that at this time, they said, then they would support a two-state solution for now and let a future generation politically address the single state option.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has ever been bound up with wider regional and international influences and interests. This includes the states with shared borders - Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria - the wider Arab and indeed Islamic world, East/West interests which have endured beyond the Cold War and in particular the role and influence of the United States.
At best conflicting interests have neutralised the international community as a positive influence for justice, stability, security and peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
At another level this results in United Nations Resolutions and international law being flouted with impunity and immunity.
This is not acceptable. It needs to end.
The current situation is untenable.
I regret that the view of the Israeli Government is not reflected in this report. That is an unfortunate consequence of its refusal to meet the Sinn Féin delegation.
Dialogue has to be a central tenet of any attempt to make peace; to achieve justice, stability, security and peace.
Refusing to engage in dialogue; demonising opponents; treating them as non citizens; stripping them of their rights and entitlements, of their self esteem and integrity as human beings; engaging in censorship and vilification, makes war easier and peace harder.
It is a policy which guarantees a perpetuation of the cycle of conflict.
The international experience is clear.
There are two ways to end conflict. Either one side convincingly beats the other or all of those involved engage in the more difficult and challenging process of peace making.
61 years after the emergence of the Israeli state and the partition of Palestine, and with the increasing sophistication of the weapons of war on all sides, it is clear that no wall - however high-can provide permanent peace or security.
A political settlement is required and this is only possible if there is a recognition and acceptance of democratic mandates of all of the participants.
Peace making is conducted by and between enemies not between friends.
That means that a necessary element of a conflict resolution process in the Middle East which hopes to achieve a successful outcome, must be an acceptance of inclusive dialogue based on equality and respect.
This required a serious, good faith effort to engage between political opponents. And this will require determination and commitment to stick with it through all of the inevitable arguments and differences and crises that will emerge.
For Palestinians this means uniting in the national interest by agreeing a truly national political platform involving all of the Palestinian parties.
Fail to do this and the age old tactic of divide and rule will weaken the Palestinian ability to achieve their rights through negotiation.
Party political interests need to be subsumed in the national and democratic cause.
For the Israelis the challenge is equally daunting. Israel is a major regional and world power. It has the ability to continue to pursue and implement policies which foster division and conflict, or it can take dramatic decisions for peace.
The recent positions set out by President Obama, and the appointment of Senator George Mitchell, are welcome developments. The United States of America has a particular role to play and is certainly the most influential international player on the Israeli authorities.
Sinn Féin Position
Sinn Féin supports the right of all peoples to national self determination and to the exercise of that right without external interference or impediment.
Explicitly, that means there must be an end to the Israeli occupation. Before and during my recent visit I consistently set out - privately and publicly - aspects of Sinn Féin's view of the situation.
In brief this included the following opinions:
_ The situation had deteriorated since my first visit in September 2006.
_ Israelis and Palestinians are destined to share the same piece of ground and to live side by side.
_ Everyone deserves and requires justice, stability, security and peace.
_ A two-state solution holds out the best prospect to secure these objectives.
_ Dialogue is central to this.
_ There should be a complete cessation of all hostilities and freedom of
movement for everyone.
I made clear that I was willing and ready to meet for discussions with all democratically elected representatives who wished to meet with me. I also said I would report on my visit to Sen. George Mitchell who has recently been appointed U.S. Envoy to the region.
I am also sending this report to UNRWA; to the Israeli government; the PLO and the Palestinian Authority; the Hamas government in Gaza; all of those political parties I met during my visit; the Irish government; the British government; Mr. Tony Blair; to the US government; to the EU; to the UN; to the Russian government; and to a range of Arab states. pdf file note:for more destruction map of Gaza visit UNOSAT here