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30 October 2015

“The road to peace is still possible but the international community must move swiftly“

Speech delivered by Ambassador Manuel Hassassian at the SNP Fringe Meeting, Aberdeen, 17th October 2015.

By Manuel Hassassian

The current situation in Palestine is extremely worrying for all of us who care about Palestinian rights, aspirations and safety. Israel is killing and maiming our people on a daily basis. The Israeli occupation army inflicts collective punishment on whole communities, demolishes houses, raids homes, carries out hundreds of arbitrary arrests. It watches and allows extremist settlers abuse Palestinians, destroy Palestinian property, destroy farm land and even kill.

 It has become increasingly clear to the world that Israel is a colonial settler state. New settlements are being built by the day. Settlements always were and still are an impediment to peace and will lead inevitably to a two state solution being aborted. As Israel grabs more and more Palestinian land, there is less and less land left for the Palestinians to build any viable congruent state. Unceasing settlement building has been an integral part of the Netanyahu government, openly defying international law and blatantly ignoring calls of the Palestinian leadership and international peacemakers.

With regard to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Noble Sanctuary which surrounds it, Israel has been creating facts on the ground, allowing extremist settlers to desecrate this holy site, taunt Palestinian worshippers and abuse them with impunity, protected by on-looking Israeli soldiers. This and the brutal relentless actions of the Israeli occupying army in Gaza and the occupied West Bank have ignited this abrupt and spontaneous uprising of Palestinian youth. No one planned it nor is directing it. It was an inevitable consequence of years of humiliation under occupation and utter hopelessness. These young people who are protesting, resisting and dying daily grew up post Oslo. This is a generation who were promised a Palestinian State. They were promised peace and security, a life of dignity. They were promised freedom and a future. But, it has become apparent now that Israel had no intention of honouring Oslo Accords. All that these young people have been given is more hopelessness and humiliation, desecration of their holy places, more colonial settlements with their exclusive settler roads, cutting up their land and villages, more checkpoints and an Apartheid Wall.

The Israeli government has been happy to allow the increasingly unrestrained violence of settler vigilante groups, even endorsing it.  This has been the final spark that has called young Palestinians to the street to take their destiny into their own hands and resist. They protested, they put up the barricades, they threw stones at tanks and a few, knowing all too well the consequences took their life in their hands. They knew that they could not fight the fourth largest army in the world with a knife but for those so hopeless, so oppressed, so disenfranchised,  it seemed they only way to articulate their desperate desire for freedom.

The road to peace is still possible but the international community must move swiftly to implement the Quartet’s Road Map and accept the Saudi Peace Initiative because, as we all know, there is no military solution to this tragedy and now, more than ever, every effort must be made to stop the violation of Palestinian human rights, make every effort to create a just peace and put Palestine back on the map of history.

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