By Chandra Muzaffar
Like millions of people everywhere and thousands of organisations in every continent, the members of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) hope and pray that the ceasefire declared between the state of Israel and Hamas, the democratically elected representative of the Palestinians in Gaza, on 21 November 2012, will not be broken. Though one Palestinian has been killed at the Gaza-Israel border since the ceasefire, the incident is regarded by many as an aberration.
For the ceasefire to hold, Israeli security forces should stop killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza in the name of eliminating “terrorists.” It was such murders— a 12 year old boy killed on 8 November and two teenagers killed on 10 November— that ignited the conflict that has just been brought to an end. Hamas retaliated by firing rockets into Israel.
To carry the ceasefire forward Israel should now lift the blockade of Gaza which has been in force since 2007. It should allow all goods and services to flow freely into the strip. Hamas should reciprocate by ensuring that no weapons are brought into the territory.
This should set the stage for serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians aimed at the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza in accordance with various UN Resolutions. East Jerusalem would be the capital of this state which would also absorb a substantial portion of the six million Palestinian refugees. Israel should also release all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners. At the same time, it should return unconditionally the Golan Heights to Syria and the Sheba Farms to Lebanon.
Israel should also eliminate its huge stockpile of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in its possession. All other states in West Asia and North Africa (WANA) should also get rid of whatever WMD they own. WANA should be declared a Zone Free of WMD.
Such a Zone will provide all states in the region with a genuine sense of security. It is that sort of security that Israel should seek. At the core of such a Zone of Security— it is worth reiterating— will be an independent, sovereign Palestinian State. There is no need to emphasise that without justice for the Palestinians and others in WANA there will be no security for Israelis.
One hopes that the new government in Cairo which played an active role in brokering the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will take the lead in working towards justice for the Palestinians and others in WANA who have been victims of Israeli occupation and aggression for decades. If it succeeds, it will help to herald the birth of a new WANA.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
23 November 2012.