Redefining solidarity

Although November 29 has galvanised pro-Palestinian communities around the world for decades, a few facts and problems about this day must be acknowledged and redressed. 

To start with, the history behind that specific date is quite an ominous one. Palestine was partitioned, unjustly, on November 29, 1947. There was no moral or legal basis for that partition, as communicated in UN resolution 181 (II), into a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State”.

Jewish immigrants were granted 55 percent of the total size of historic Palestine and the “Arab State”, which never actualised, was accorded the rest.

Jerusalem was to be given a special legal and political status, known in Latin as corpus separatum, and was to be governed through an international regime. 

A few months after that unwarranted partition, well-trained Zionist militias moved from several fronts to “secure” the borders of their promised state, only to take over half of what was designated for the future of the Palestinian state, leaving the indigenous Palestinian Arab population of that land with 22 percent of historic Palestine.

READ MORE: How Britain destroyed the Palestinian homeland

In June 1967, the Israeli army conquered whatever remained of Palestine. As a direct result of both military campaigns, millions of Palestinians became refugees.

The “Arab State” granted by UN Resolution 181 was a mere pretext to create a “Jewish State”, and there were no earnest attempts to bring about an independent Palestine. A Jewish one was established upon the ruins of historic Palestine.

That date can only be remembered in infamy, not as a fond memory worthy of commemoration.

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was designated to be a day of solidarity almost exactly 30 years after the partition plan took place. It was announced in successive resolutions, firstly in December 1977 (Res. 32/40 B) and, secondly, more substance to that resolution was added in December 1979 (Res. 34/65 D).

These resolutions crowned 30 years of unmitigated failure on the part of the international community to aid in the establishment of a Palestinian state, which was even unsuccessful in imposing any form of punishment on the 30-year-old “Jewish State” for repeatedly violating international law and every legal principle upon which it was established.

A protester in Brussels, Belgium, holds a placard reading ‘Free Palestine’ during a demonstration showing solidarity with Palestinians [EPA]

One cannot deny the role of the numerous friendly nations, mostly from the South, that stood by Palestine’s side at every turn and, at times, faced the wrath of the US and Western governments for their unfaltering solidarity.

However, the nature and the timing of these resolutions were seen as mere tokens, symbolic gestures at best, to show solidarity in words only and not action. 

According to a UN document relevant to the day of solidarity, the purpose of November 29 is to provide the “opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine remained unresolved and that the Palestinian people are yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly, namely, the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced”.

While the rights of the Palestinians highlighted above are poignant and unmistakable, little has been done in the past 39 years to implement any one of them, either partially or wholly.

No practical mechanism has been set forth. No legal apparatus has been introduced to aid Palestinians in their efforts to achieve meaningful independence, or to reprimand those who deny the Palestinian people their legal rights and political aspirations.

Any such recommendations for meaningful interference on behalf of occupied, oppressed Palestinians were thwarted, repeatedly: obstructed by the United States’ vetoes at the UN, hindered in myriad ways by Israel and its Western allies.

Such valiant efforts as those by UN human rights envoys, the likes of Richard Falk and John Dugard, or recommendations to investigate suspected Israeli war criminals put forth by Richard Goldstone were brazenly defeated. 

Since the original partition resolution passed in 1947, and to this day, the Palestinian cause has been feeding on symbolism – symbolic solidarity, symbolic victories and so on. 

For example, the additional resolution of December 1979 regarding the International Day of Solidarity agreed to the issuance of commemorative postage stamps. As appreciated as the stamps might have been, it made no decipherable difference in the life of a single Palestinian refugee.

Countless resolutions followed the same logic. Indeed, since Palestine was first partitioned, then conquered, ethnically cleansed and militarily occupied, international solidarity has remained largely symbolic.

Little has changed in nearly 70 years of this horrific and recurring tragedy, which remains in need of urgent and decisive action, not symbolic motions and resolutions.

While the day is meant as a day of solidarity with the “Palestinian people”, it has served, at an official UN level, as a day of validating the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, which has neither a popular nor legal democratic mandate to represent the Palestinian people.

There are nearly 12 million Palestinians worldwide, divided as such: 4.5 million in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza; 1.5 living as second-class citizens in Israel; and the rest are scattered around the world.

Nearly half of all Palestinians are refugees, and a large number of them still live in refugee camps.