UN Civil Society Conference on Palestinian Rights: A Call against Israeli Apartheid !
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UN Civil Society Conference on Palestinian Rights: A Call against Israeli Apartheid !

This year’s UN civil society conference organised by the UN Committee on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people was one of the most publicized. Normally held in relative silence at one of the UN headquarters, the hosting of the conference at the EU parliament in Brussels has provoked an unprecedented media campaign launched by Israel and its lobby.

The proceedings of the ICNP steering committee meeting as well as the workshops and plenaries held during three days of meetings displayed a solid consensus on the basic analysis of the situation in Palestine and framework according to which solidarity is to be continued in the coming year. The importance of highlighting the apartheid nature of Israel and its policies was a constant thread in the discussions as well as the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

The focus on the Nakba and the ensuing plight of the refugees and the Palestinians within the Green Line was another common denominator in many interventions.

Consequently, ICNP are calling for the start of a year of raising awareness about the Nakba, which started 60 years ago and is still ongoing, to begin on the 29th of November 2007 – 60 years to the day since the Partition Plan was passed at the UN in Resolution 181. On that day the UN, national governments and international bodies are called to focus on Palestinian rights.

It was decided to hold a Global Day of Action on May 15th – the Palestinian Nakba Day.



August 30-31 2007

Realizing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People:
60 years is enough! End the dispossession; bring the refugees home!


Israeli occupation and apartheid, backed by international support and acquiescence, continue to deny the Palestinian people their inalienable rights, including the rights of self-determination and return. While the humanitarian, political and social conditions inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory continue to deteriorate, especially in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip, while Palestinian refugees around the world remain unable to exercise their internationally-mandated right of return, and while Palestinians inside Israel continue to face institutionalized discrimination, we recognize and remain committed to our global obligation to work to realize those rights.

As we civil society organizations convene again to take up that obligation, we continue to anchor our work within the principles of human rights, international law, the United Nations Charter and resolutions, and with a commitment to internationalism, a just peace, and the belief that the UN remains central to ending the occupation.

We meet in the sober recognition that international diplomacy has failed to achieve the Palestinians’ inalienable rights. Primarily because of U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid policies, and because Europe, the United Nations and other international actors have failed to adequately challenge that support, diplomatic efforts including the Quartet and the so-called “Roadmap to Peace” have failed. We do not believe further diplomatic efforts within these inadequate frameworks, including the plans for a limited November 2007 meeting in which the United Nations and the European Union will be allowed to play only a marginal role, are any more likely to succeed.

Nevertheless, the role of parliaments and parliamentarians remains crucial to any future diplomatic success, and we commit ourselves to work closely with our own national and regional parliaments towards this end. We will particularly focus our parliamentary work on pressing governments to make good on their obligations to implement the 4th Geneva Convention and other aspects of international law. We continue to believe that international support for Palestinian rights remains a fundamental obligation of civil society organizations around the world. We also recognize our obligations to work towards the reassertion of United Nations centrality in Palestine-related diplomacy.

Palestinian democracy has been undermined, primarily by the crippling U.S.- and Israeli-led economic and political sanctions imposed on the Palestinians, resulting in an escalated humanitarian crisis, particularly in Gaza.

On the 29 November 1947, the UNGA passed Resolution 181, the Partition Resolution, which divided Palestine into a ‘Jewish state’ and an ‘Arab state’; giving 55% of the land to the former and 45% to the latter. In three months time, on the 29 November, when festivals will be held in Israel to celebrate Resolution 181, we must protest the land theft that followed. Five and half months later, on the 15 May 2008, when Israel celebrates its founding, we must loudly and vociferously shout out our rejection of 60 years of dispossession and expulsion. We must say to the world that “Enough is enough!”

Israeli policies towards Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory constitute violations of the United Nations International Covenant Against the Crime of Apartheid. We will work to identify those violations and to bring to justice all perpetrators of that crime. We also commit ourselves and our organizations to continuing to work for the implementation and enforcement of the three-year-old Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice that held Israel’s Apartheid Wall, and its entire settlement project in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to be illegal. We recognize special urgency in regard to the Wall, because its encircling of Palestinian towns and cities in the most massive Israeli land-grab since 1967, is close to complete, and we renew our call on the United Nations, especially the General Assembly, to work for full implementation of its ICJ opinion.

We meet in the halls of the European Parliament, in the capital of Europe, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian nakba, or catastrophe, that resulted in the creation of the State of Israel. That continuing catastrophe, with its dispossession and loss of lands for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the disempowerment of tens of thousands more, set the conditions for today’s political, economic and humanitarian crises. We recognize the particular responsibility of Europe in the origins of that crisis, as it was the response to European anti-Semitism and ultimately the Holocaust against European Jews that led to Europe’s decision to support a solution to the “Jewish Question” that was taken at the expense of the Palestinian people. In acknowledgement of that stark reality, we call on Europe and the United Nations to join with civil society in recognizing 2008 as a year to commemorate the Nakba and to commit to reverse its losses.

We are committed to creating a new reality in the Middle East, for all its peoples: a reality based on justice, equality, human rights and international law; a reality that ends the occupation; and a reality that realizes, finally, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and return, and the right to establish an independent, sovereign Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.

We demand an immediate end to the isolation of Gaza. We call for the immediate release of Palestinian parliamentarians and cabinet ministers illegally kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces. We also call on Palestinians to move towards a renewal of political unity within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and for immediate international recognition of such a reunified Palestinian polity. We support our Palestinian civil society counterparts, and we remain very concerned about the threat to democracy posed by the recent banning of 103 non-governmental organizations.

We thus make the following call:

Call to Action

We condemn the U.S.-Israeli led international boycott of the Palestinian people, and we will respond, following the call of Palestinian civil society in 2005, by strengthening our global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a non-violent effort against Israeli occupation, Apartheid and oppression.

We condemn Israeli policies of exclusivism and discrimination against Palestinians, and we commit ourselves to a campaign identifying and opposing Israeli policies as violations of the International Covenant Against the Crime of Apartheid.

We condemn the current U.S.-controlled diplomatic efforts as a politically-driven manipulation, and we will respond by working to expand and strengthen the role of the United Nations and global civil society. With our colleagues in the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine and others in global civil society, with the United Nations, with parliaments and parliamentarians as well as organizations such as the Council of Europe and the European Union, we will join efforts to demand that governments work to meet their obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention and under other relevant aspects of international law in respect of Israeli violations. We recognize the specific obligations imposed on all signatories to the 4th Geneva Convention to implement the ICJ Advisory Opinion.

We reject the claim that at a time of internal Palestinian division and crisis that the international community and global civil society must simply stand aside, and we reassert our renewed commitment to work for justice, equality and human rights. We call on the international community to respect the results of Palestinian democracy.

We call on the European Union to organize a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli violations of the International Covenant Against the Crime of Apartheid and other international laws in its treatment of the Palestinians living inside Israel, as well as its violations of the 4th Geneva Conventions in Israel’s isolation campaign against the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip.

We condemn the rising triumphalism that marks so much of U.S., Israeli and European celebration of Israel’s independence, and we are building a campaign of education and mobilization to mark 2008 as a year to commemorate Palestinian dispossession and expulsion, and a year committed to reversing those 60-year-old losses. In particular we call on the United Nations, the European Union and the Non-Aligned Movement to mark November 29, 2007 as an international day to commemorate the 1947 Partition Resolution and its consequences.

Finally, we commit ourselves, and call on global civil society, to join Palestinian communities inside Israel, in exile and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in mobilizing for a year of educational and campaigning work beginning on November 29, 2007. That year will include May 15, 2008, as a day of global mobilization to commemorate the Nakba, and the continuing dispossession and denial of Palestinian rights.

The ICNP met in connection with the holding of the UN International Conference of Civil Soc in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace at the headquarters of the European Parliament.