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No return, no solution

quarta-feira 23 de maio de 2018, por Ahmad Jaradat,

Gaza proves the right of return is the core issue of the conflict. When Palestinians can exercise this right, the conflict can be solved.

Photo credit: The Great March of Return Committee. A sign at a protest in Gaza, April 2018.


National Committee of the Great March of Return organized another protest at the Israeli wall besieging Gaza this past Friday, May 18, 2018. That day’s protest centered on the theme “loyalty to the martyrs and the wounded.” The Palestinian Health Ministry reports that Israeli soldiers wounded 56 Palestinians on the 18th; since Friday, three of the 56 injured have died.

The Great March of Return movement in Gaza started on Land Day, March 30, 2018. Israeli soldiers killed 15 protesters that day. Since then, the Israeli military’s response to the popular peaceful movement has only become more violent. The world shook in horror when on May 14, 2018 63 Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire, including seven children. Today, the total number of Palestinians killed in Gaza while participating in the marches is well over 100. Committee Member of the Great March of Return Yousef Abu Safiyya, said the movement would continue until freedom for Palestinians is secured, despite the steep cost of doing so.

Gaza has been under a brutal Israeli siege for ten years. Most of the Palestinians in Gaza are refugees from territory taken by Zionist militias in the 1948 Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. Gaza is one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, where two million live in 360 square kilometers. Consequently, many call Gaza the largest open-air prison in the world.

A central message and lesson of the Great Return March movement is its dedication to peaceful popular resistance. This tactic has put the Israeli occupation in the embarrassing position of massacring unarmed protesters. Many Palestinians view favorably this approach to resistance in our current political moment and envision it spreading to other areas of Palestine.

The Trump administration has said that it will put forth its solution to the conflict in Palestine after Ramadan. Trump and his administration refer to their proposal as the “deal of the century.” Palestinians doubt, however, in light of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the administration’s support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza, that Trump’s proposal will take seriously Palestinian human or national rights. What the demonstrations in Gaza reveal – and what the solidarity protests in the West Bank, ’48 and across the world reiterate – is that Palestinians will reject any deal that does not recognize Palestinians’ right to return to the cities, towns and villages they have been expelled from in the 70 years since Israel’s creation. It is not just the US that needs to take this demand seriously: the entire world, including the Gulf Arab states currently normalizing ties with Israel, must recognize this, too.

The audience for this message is also the Palestinian Authority (PA). Though negotiations with Israel and the United States have been an abject failure, the PA may find it expedient to enter negotiations with them. If this comes to pass, the PA must recognize the reality that these demonstrations have revealed: the Palestinian people demand the right to return. Our leaders must also make this demand and stand firm – the same way the protesters in Gaza have stood firm, sacrificing themselves for the dignity of every Palestinian.

Ahmad Jaradat is the Senior Project Coordinator of the Alternative Information Center.

Ver online : AIC News