Last Friday, we performed Friday prayers among the ruined houses in Qalandia with the homes' owners and those in solidarity with them.
Eleven buildings were destroyed in one night at the hands of the Israeli occupation army on the pretext of not having building permits. Thus, 36 families, who were living in 36 apartments, lost their homes; their children lost the ceiling over their heads and the shelter protecting them.
Qalandia lost much of its land at the hands of settlements and the occupation's military factories; then it lost more land in the form of the barrier raised in its face, and now its homes are destroyed — whether situated in so-called Area C zones or in Jerusalem — without mercy or respect for human rights.
This is ethnic cleansing in flesh and blood, which Netanyahu tried to cover up through claiming that settlers will face the same fate when their settlements will be evacuated. These settlements were established by the use of force on lands usurped from Palestinians.
The irony lies in the fact that at the same time as we were listening to the suffering of the Palestinian families who lost everything they owned, their life's earnings and savings, and the burden of debt on homes they didn’t taste the happiness of living in yet, several “Free World” leaders were racing to cordially honour Shimon Peres and Israel, that he armed with nuclear weapons. This occurred without uttering a single word about the injustice Israel is causing through the occupation and continuing displacement of the Palestinian people.
If jumping to honour Peres was based on his being a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, why we didn’t see any of those attending the ceremonies present at the funeral of the late martyr Yasser Arafat, although he was also a Nobel laureate and for the same reason?
Shimon Peres participated in the catastrophe of the Palestinian people’s deportation 69 years ago and was responsible for arming the Israeli army with all kinds of weapons, including nuclear bombs whose existence they try to conceal through twisted words.
He also participated in the Tripartite Aggression against Egypt and in preparation for the 1967 War and the occupation it resulted in, which is nearing 50 years. He is considered by some Israelis as the father of settlements for he was the sponsor of the first Israeli settlement in the West Bank on the lands of Sebastia. Consequently, settlements were extended through the Green Line, in the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem’s perimeter. Then the Likud completed spreading these settlements on mountain tops and in all parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Palestinians can’t forget that Peres was the person who ordered the UN compound to be bombarded in Qana during the 1996 aggression on Lebanon, killing 100 children, women and civilians taking shelter in it, in what was regarded an unforgivable war crime.
If his name was connected with Oslo as its engineer, this isn’t something to be proud of. For through his cunning, he entrapped the Palestinian side in an agreement that put real peace further away, rather than bringing it nearer. It also firmly established the continuance of building settlements, acknowledged by the whole world as the first obstacle to peace, and sustaining the occupation that was transformed into an apartheid and racial discrimination regime in its worst form across humanity’s history.
Netanyahu used his cunning to torpedo the chance that the first Intifada established in changing the balance of power in order to end the occupation and settlements, imposing an unjust agreement that divided the occupied lands into areas A, B and C. He maintained Israeli control, caused rifts among Palestinian ranks and replaced the real solution with a transitional partial agreement without stopping the settlements and without accepting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with borders, sovereignty and control over its resources.
When we criticised this agreement 23 years ago, some good-willed and many delusional persons were astonished. Today, it is undeniable that it was an agreement exploited by Israel’s rulers in order to firmly continue the occupation and raise the number of settlers from 111,000 in 1993 to 700,000 settlers today, as well as continuing the long process of destroying houses and displacing Palestinians, just like what’s happening in Qalandia.
The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative.