Your love for your Land is forever
Sunday 29th March 2020, HARAVGI newspaper
Dedicated to the Palestinian “Land Day”
- By Vera Polycarpou, member of the Central Committee of AKEL, Head of the International Relations Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL
And yet, the love for your Land, your homeland is forever. No matter how many years may pass. We in Cyprus know this first hand. Unfortunately. We know firsthand the pain of being uprooted from your land and what being scattered far from it means. Perhaps in Europe we may be the only ones who know what colonalisation means and what it means to see the soil of your country slip through your fingers…
Forty-four years ago, on 30th March 1976, the Palestinians in the Arab cities and villages of Galilee in northern Israel rose up against the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate 2,000 hectares of land between their cities. A large part of this land was owned by Arab residents of the area. The decision was accompanied by the imposition of a ban on movement in the villages of the area, evidently in order for the authorities to implement their decision unobstructed. Following a decision by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Israel, local leaders called a one-day strike and mass demonstrations on 30th March. Taoufik Ziyad, the Communist mayor of Nazareth and a much-loved poet, was among those addressing the appeal. Despite the prohibitions and threats, the teachers led their school pupils and joined the general strike and marches. Six Palestinians, Israeli Arab citizens, were killed, more than 100 were injured and hundreds were arrested. Ever since then, Palestinians, wherever they may be, have been honoring Land Day. They hold demonstrations to return to their Land. They are struggling with their bare hands against the Israeli occupation.
Today, while here in Cyprus and in most other countries, we quite rightly have been devoted to the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and to saving lives, and while the news are dominated by this issue, in Palestine they continue their struggle to protect their land from the settlements that are expanding. According to figures released by OCHA -the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in the period 3-16th March the Israeli army killed a Palestinian youth, injured another 200, arrested more than 100, demolished 16 homes and shelters, displacing 35 people and destroyed a vital road linking remote Palestinian villages south of Hebron with 700 inhabitants primarily shepherds…
The biggest clash, where the 16-year-old was killed, was in Beita, a village south of Nablus. Since 28th February and daily, the inhabitants of the village have been at the top of Jabal al-Arma Mountain to prevent Israeli settlers from settling there an “advanced point” that corresponds to a beginning of occupation. The goal of the settlers, acting under the protection of the occupying army, is to turn it into a religious tourist path. There is a very important archaeological site there, the most important in the area of Nablus, dating back to 1200 B.C. However, the most important thing might be hidden beneath the surface: seven water sources, extremely valuable to the Palestinians given that every Palestinian gets only 1/4 of the daily amount of water that one Israeli gets…
The “recognition” of the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine by the US government last November as “legal” has led to an even bigger escalation in settler attacks against Palestinians. They are even attacking olive trees – 1,600 Trees have been vandalized since the beginning of 2020. Why olive trees? Because they give Palestinians an income, and because for the Palestinians the olive tree symbolizes their bond with the Land.
And who gave Trump the right to “legalise” settlements and annexation to Israel? Or to “recognise” Jerusalem as the “indivisible” capital of Israel? Or to “recognise” the annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights? With what right does he “legalise” as if he is gifting his own land? All of these actions constitute gross violations of international law, as well as of UN resolutions – trivialities as far as the US…. and authors of the “Deal of the Century” are concerned, a “Deal” which is a tragic parody that openly talks about “transferring” Arab citizens of Israel outside its borders …
The illegal Israeli settlements and their expansion fragment the occupied Palestinian territories, seeking to destroy every possibility of establishing an independent and viable Palestinian state. The presence of over 700,000 settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are proof of Israel’s violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of population of the occupying force to occupied territories. In other words, the same practice being followed by another occupying power, namely Turkey. And why do certain political forces in Cyprus find it difficult to denounce the Israeli colonisation? Why didn’t they accept the approval of a relevant resolution by the House of Representatives as AKEL had proposed through its Parliamentary Group?
The international community, including Cyprus, must undertake a collective and credible initiative in line with international law and the UN resolutions to put an end to the longest occupation. For the Palestinian people to have what they were deprived of in 1948: their own independent and viable state, on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Only in this way can there be peace.
And because the love for your Land is forever, as the Palestinians honor Land Day we declare that we stand in solidarity with their heroic struggle.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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