On Wednesday, 24 June 2020 – The Palestinian Return Center (PRC) held a webinar titled: “The Israel's Settler Colonial Annexation,” where Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Virginia Tilley, Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University, and Nadia Naser-Najjab, Research Fellow in Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, each on his/her turn offered a focused contribution into the theme discussed. The webinar was moderated by Pietro Stefanini, Researcher at the PRC.
For her part, Virginia Tilley commented on the general areas of the politics of annexation, especially those involving two A-words —namely annexation and apartheid.
She said that these words and the politics of using these words are something that must be dealt with seriously, referring to the “the Palestinian rights that have been marginalized on the ground,” being the product of what has been going on since the Oslo Accords.
Tilly pointed out that the word annexation is fixated on Netanyahu, while it has nothing to do with him, adding that: “It goes deeply with the Israeli government and the Israeli institutions.”
She also addressed the Trump Administration’s position of the annexation, saying that:
“There are reasons why trump might want to embrace the annexation. He thinks that this will boost his position among the evangelical voters, who tend to vote for him but have been wavering lately.”
Commenting once again on the Palestinian rights, especially when it comes to the European reaction, she said:
“There is some irony on the table, for the annexation has been going on for decades, while the international community did issue statements of concern but did absolutely nothing to stop it. Israel has been following a coherent settlement plan since 1972, implanting settlements in the West Bank so to make it impossible for Israel to withdraw.”
Pointing to apartheid, Tilly said that Israel is putting this policy into effect in a systemic way, “racial discrimination has been recognized over and over in many forms and by many human rights organizations, but still the word has been used loosely and sometimes suggestively, however, not in a serious analysis of what is going on, which would have immediately invoked an international responsibility to stop it.”
For her part, Nadia Naser-Najjab said that, “In order to understand the annexation plan, we need to situate it within the historical context of colonizing Palestine to an era even before the Belfour declaration.”
She added that annexation is used an euphuism for colonization; “there have been transfer plans put forward to get rid of the natives; it is like any other settler colonial project that has taken place that used different ways to dispossess the natives of their land,” pointing that this annexation plan is not new, tracing it back to the British mandate when Peel Commission proposed the partition of Palestine.
She also addressed the Palestinian resistance movements in the face of the plans, saying that:
“The current Palestinian Authority is ignoring Palestinians calls to maintain the resistance, but the idea is that the Authority has been created for other reasons, to protect the interests of the occupier not the interest of the Palestinians. There are campaigns among the Palestinians to reform the PLO.
Palestinians are resisting, but it is isolated and individual efforts —it is not like a popular resistance; this needs a leadership. This leadership should come from the people.”
She added that with the efforts that the Palestinians are making, many things are possible.
On his turn, Michael Lynk talked about a third A-word, which is accountability and what the international community should be considering as countermeasures to the Israeli plan’s to further annex parts of the West bank.
Addressing impunity, he said:
“There has been no occupation in the modern world with many breaches of the international law, with the international community being knowledgeable of the occupier’s obvious and well-signaled intent to annex and also so informed about the suffering and the disposition endured by the unprotected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the political and legal tools to end the occupation.”
He referred to the two previous annexations of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. On both occasions the international community, speaking through the Security Council, was swift in its renunciation of these annexations, on both cases the council emphasized the illegality of the annexations, but no meaningful actions were taken by the United Nations.
He pointed to several international laws and conventions that mandated the end of the occupation, including the Geneva conventions.
To watch the full version of the webinar, refer to the following link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=925453821252574&ref=watch_permalink.