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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Marking 47 years of occupation
Saeb Erekat

Statement by Dr. Saeb Erekat, PLO Executive Committee Member and head of the Palestinian negotiations team, marking 47 years of the Israeli occupation. Dr. Erekat delivered the statement during a field visit with diplomats and journalist to Jabal Il Baba area, in the outskirts of occupied East Jerusalem.

We are marking another year of occupation, oppression and colonization. We remember the destroyed villages of Latroun, where thousands of refugees were expelled from their homeland, in some cases for the second time in their lives. We remember the desecration of our holy sites and the imposition of an Apartheid regime over our lives. We mark the demolition of our homes, the theft of our land and natural resources, the separation of our families and the countless attempt to change the Palestinian Arab Christian and Muslim identity of our capital East Jerusalem.

This is also another anniversary of Israels flagrant violation of international law and UN resolutions; of the culture of impunity that the international community has built for Israel by treating Tel Aviv as a government above the law. Israeli policies of forced displacement and colonization have only increased since 1967, as Palestinians continue to live at the mercy of their occupier.

We are marking this anniversary from Jabal Il Baba in Al Ezariya (Bethany), in the outskirts of occupied East Jerusalem, where Palestinian Bedouins, an integral part of the Palestinian people, are being threatened with further displacement due to Israeli plans of settlement expansion and the construction of the annexation Wall. This is a vivid example of Israels policy to displace Palestinians in order to turn the occupation of Palestinian land into effective annexation to the State of Israel. This is part of the overall efforts by Israel to change the status quo of the occupied Palestinian territory, a war crime under international law.

With Palestine recognized as a non-member state at the United Nations, windows of opportunity are being opened for all of those who believe in diplomacy and nonviolence in order to achieve Palestinian inalienable rights, including the independence of a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital. We remain committed to negotiations with clear terms of reference and implementation of previous agreements, including freedom of Palestinian prisoners and full cessation of settlement activities. This, along with full international commitment to hold Israel accountable for its daily violations, is the only formula for negotiations to succeed.

The government of national consensus that has been announced deserves full international support. We thank all countries, from Europe to Asia, Africa and Latin America, who have delivered messages of support and commitment to continue working with a government of independent professionals under the PLO political program and the mandate of H.E President Mahmoud Abbas.

Marking 47 years of the Israeli occupation, we call upon the international community to ban all Israeli settlement products, divest from all companies involved directly or indirectly in the Israeli occupation and to take all possible measures in order to hold Israel, the occupying power, accountable for its daily violations to Palestinian rights, international law and international consensus.

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