by Bahia, 3 June 2007
Ramallah, 03-06-07: Solidarity activities will take place throughout the world this week marking 40 years of Israel’s occupation of West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. In a press conference held today in Ramallah, Minister of Information, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, presented the details of solidarity events taking place in Palestine, Israel, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe, and announced that the Ministry of Information was initiating a series of year-long activities to sustain exposure of Israel’s ongoing military occupation, which he said, had become the longest-running occupation in modern history.
By keeping the Palestinians’ 40-year-old struggle for freedom and self-determination in the media spotlight in this way in addition to global solidarity initiatives, he said that he hoped the campaign would promote greater regional and international efforts to end the occupation.
Dr. Barghouthi also presented a review of 40 years of occupation which began between June 5-10 1967, and in which the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as well as Arab territories were occupied by Israel.
Forty years later, and in contravention of United Nations resolutions, peace agreements and international law, this occupation not only continues, but has mutated into a fully-fledged system of Apartheid worse than that which prevailed in South Africa. Reiterating the words of former US president Jimmy Carter, Dr. Barghouthi underlined that Apartheid can be identified when two peoples living in the same area are segregated by force, as is the case with the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and where one side is oppressing and prosecuting the other .
He pointed to several characteristics of this Apartheid system, focusing on the creation and continued construction of Israeli settlements built illegally on occupied land and inhabited by 460,000 Israeli-Jewish settlers, and which are sustained by an infrastructure of 543 permanent checkpoints and 600 ‘flying’ checkpoints, and settler-only roads forbidden for use by Palestinians, the first time in history roads have been segregated. He added that this system was being consolidated by Israel’s Wall, which was designed to annex these settlements, and swathes of Palestinian land in the process, to Israel.
At the same time, settlements and the Wall are part of Israel’s long term policy to ethnically cleanse East Jerusalem of its Palestinian population by physically isolating the city from the West Bank and encircling it with a ring of settlements, thereby ‘Judaising’ East Jerusalem.
Further evidence of this system of Apartheid lies in differing levels of access to natural resource, which see Israeli West Bank settlers allocated 2400 m 3 water per year compared to just 50 m3 for Palestinians.
In addition, while GDP per capita in Israel was 6 times higher than that in Palestine in 1993, it has rocketed to a massive 30 times more than the GDP in Palestine in 2007. Despite this, Palestinians are still obliged to buy products at the same Israeli market price due to the forced dependency of the Palestinian economy on Israel. All this in the context of Israel’s continued withholding of Palestinian tax revenues amounting to some US$ 850 million, said Dr. Barghouthi.