Graffiti on the Israeli Separation Wall in Bethlehem [Photo: Amany Abu Awad]
Today, 29th of November, the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA) and its member association, the YWCA of Palestine, call on individuals globally, to observe the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. Since 1947, this has also been the day, we commemorate the UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which calls for the partition of Palestine into two states: one for the Jewish people and one for the Arab Palestinians.
Resolution 181 demands that Palestinians have the right to national independence and a sovereign state, and yet, 72 years after, the Palestinian people continue to be forcibly displaced from their homes and lands and robbed of their right to self-determination. We therefore, remind the Member States of the United Nations that they have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that this resolution becomes a reality.
Last week Israeli authorities closed several Palestinian organizations in occupied East Jerusalem, including a TV Station, the Education and Higher Education Directorate in Jerusalem, and the Islamic Orphanage School in the old city. Israeli police raided the offices of those institutions closing them for six months supposedly for planning to hold activities under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli forces also continue to strike the besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that has been under blockade for over 12 years now. Only this month of November, Israeli forces attacks left 34 dead and 111 injured. One strike that flattened a house, killed eight members of a Palestinian family, including five children.
The last few months have witnessed escalating conflict and violence, and more and more women and children are being arrested with no charges, and are subjected to extreme physical and psychological violence. At the end of last August, B’Tselem, the Israeli information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories estimated that 413 Palestinian residents were being held in Administrative Detention, a system that allows the Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians without charges or trials for six-month intervals which can be renewed indefinitely. Last September, Hiba Al-Labadi, a 24 year old Jordanian young woman was arrested while crossing the border on her way to attend a family wedding and put into administrative detention. She spent six weeks on hunger strike in protest of her detention and was eventually released.
We, the World YWCA and the YWCA of Palestine demand that human rights and international law be affirmed and protected for all. We support Palestine’s right to self-determination as guaranteed in UN Resolution 242 and as affirmed in Resolution 338. In addition, as one of the largest women’s movements in the world, we affirm the role of women and young women in peace building and conflict resolution at all levels as detailed in UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
The World YWCA is a movement that includes women and young women from different backgrounds and faiths to create justice, gender equality and a more peaceful world. We; therefore, express our deep concern with the continued violations of the Palestinian rights and attacks on the individuals and institutions as well as with unilateral decisions that aggravate tensions in the Middle East like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving embassies to this holy city or unilateral statements by a Member State that Israeli settlements built in the West Bank are not inconsistent with international law. This not only affirms illegal settlement expansion, but also violates international law and several UN Resolutions, including the Geneva Convention and the Oslo Agreement, which demand that the status of Jerusalem must not change until final peace negotiations. It also diminishes efforts to find a solution and has refuelled acts of violence that reinforces conflict.
Despite all the challenges, the YWCA continues to see hope in the youth and their active participation on local, national and international levels to promote peace and justice. Thus it continues to strive to engage youth, especially young women, to be part of the positive change process by helping them understand their rights under UNSCR2250 resolution, and support them to continue to work for peace and justice.
Today we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers from Palestine and we reconfirm that there can be no justice and peace and no potential for sustainable development and a future that offers hope for youth under Israeli Occupation. We thus reconfirm our commitment to work and support them until the occupation becomes history.
On this day, we:
- Call for the End of Israeli Occupation and support the Palestinians to establish their independent sovereign State. There can be no peace, security and justice under Occupation;
- Demand that governments implement all the above mentioned UN resolutions pertaining to Palestine and consider and enforce all economic, political and cultural rights for Palestinians;
- Call for the freedom of all detainees held under administrative detention, especially women youth and children;
- Call on the international community to support the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to put economic pressure on Israel until it respects international law;
- Continue to support the International Criminal Court’s investigation into possible war crimes committed in Gaza in 2014, as well as the crimes against humanity in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The international community has a moral obligation to act. In fact, refusing to act is a form of accepting and condoning Israel’s refusal to respect international law. We call on the United Nations to implement its own resolutions on Palestine, and call on all of you to have the courage to stand up for the Palestinian rights of equality, freedom, dignity, and security.