Opinion |

Israelis Who Care About the Fate of Their Country Must Appeal to the International Community

We want to live here in peace alongside our Palestinian neighbors, to live and let them live, while our government has chosen the path of war.

Ilana Hammerman
Ilana Hammerman
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote in favor of a resolution condemning Israel for its practice of establishing settlements, Dec. 23, 2016.
Members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of a resolution condemning Israel for its practice of establishing settlements last year - but have not acted to end the occupation.Credit: Manuel Elias/AP
Ilana Hammerman
Ilana Hammerman

I am adding my voice to that of Dmitry Shumsky (“Break the boycott law,” Haaretz in Hebrew, March 19), and propose that his call to action be taken up in practice as we approach the 50th anniversary of the occupation. Human rights organizations and peace organizations in Israel must come together, along with all Israelis who care deeply about Israel’s physical and moral fate. Civic courage must be mustered for the following appeal to go out to the international community:

“We, dozens [hundreds, thousands … ] of Israeli citizens, hereby ask the international community to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove its citizens from the territories that were occupied in 1967. We take this painful step out of love for our country and growing fear not just for its moral image but for its future and very survival, our very survival.

The international community speaks of a solution of two states living alongside each other in peace and security: a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. But Israeli policy is continually and consistently making this solution impossible. In 50 years of military control in the West Bank, Israel has directly and indirectly taken over large swathes (including in Greater Jerusalem, which now stretches from Ramallah to Bethlehem) and settled 600,000 Israelis there, in hundreds of settlements. It supplies these settlements with infrastructure of roads, water and electricity, funds health, education and cultural facilities in them, and grants their residents all the civil and political rights enjoyed by citizens in its sovereign territory.

At the same time, Israel is reducing the living, working and traveling area for Palestinian residents: Citing military regulations and orders, it is closing off to the Palestinians the areas it has allotted to its citizens and large areas that it has allotted for the training of its soldiers; it designates and appropriates their private and public lands according to arbitrary laws that solely favor its interests and its citizens; imprisons their communities behind fences and checkpoints, demolishes houses in them and does not allow them to expand; imposes collective punishment on the residents, arrests hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of men, women and minors (approximately 1 million people since 1967), tries them in a military court system and jails them in prisons in its sovereign territory.

All of these actions are against international law.

Israeli civilian settlement in the West Bank does not leave the Palestinian residents with any possibility of territorial contiguity for an independent political, economic and social life: The settlement blocs, and the smallest settlements, drive wedges between north and south, and between east and west, and split the territory into hundreds of Palestinian cantons. The reality in the field is thus emptying the two-state solution of any real content.

Israel has been openly and covertly carrying on this activity since 1967, but today it also is in line with the declared ideology of the governing parties, which says that Greater Israel belongs to the Jewish people alone due to its historic and religious connection. Consequently, construction and the Israeli civilian presence in the occupied territories is continuing with government encouragement at every level.

Moreover, the religious fundamentalist element that is gradually taking over the Israeli presence in the occupied territories in general, and in Jerusalem and the holy places in particular, is gradually turning the national conflict between Israel and Palestine into a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims. This malignant development, which is already in full force, could evolve into an all-out religious war that gets completely out of control. Given the stores of weapons of mass destruction in the region, such a war could sow lethal chaos in the entire region.

This dangerous situation is not an internal Israeli matter – it is a matter for the international community. For decades now, the institutions of the international community have adopted numerous resolutions aimed at halting the catastrophe at our door that threatens the millions of Jews and Palestinians who live here. However, not one of them has been fulfilled. The most recent one, UN Security Council Resolution 2334, was passed on December 23. This resolution says, in part, that: “The establishment by Israel of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 has no legal validity and constitutes a gross violation of international law and a major obstacle to achieving a two-state solution and a just and lasting peace; that Israel must immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and fully uphold its legal commitments in this regard; that halting all settlement activity is vital in order to save the two-state solution.”

But like its predecessors, this resolution also did not stipulate any enforcement measures or mechanisms. Thus a destructive, violent and volatile reality is becoming ever more entrenched, making a mockery of all of these resolutions.

From the very heart of this volatile reality we appeal to the international community, because it is responsible for enforcing the conventions and resolutions adopted by its institutions, and because this stage, only it can do so.

We appeal to the international community primarily because we – who are all Israelis who live in Israel and are involved in the country – want to live here in peace alongside our Palestinian neighbors, to live and let them live, while our government has chosen the path of war. The situation has never been as clear as it is today. Clear, and urgent: For if peace is not made soon in this region, which has become a powder keg of national and religious tensions, there will be no life here. Not for us, and not for the Palestinians.

P.S. – I, the undersigned, do hereby make available for the database that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan seeks to establish about Israelis who support boycotts, divestments and sanctions directed against Israel and the settlements, the following personal information: I was born in 1944, I am Jewish and a citizen of Israel. My place of residence is Jerusalem, the city with walls at its heart. I am not active in BDS, but I call with my Israeli voice – from inside and not from outside – for sanctions to be imposed on Israel in order to compel it to change its policies. My struggle is not against Israel but against the policy of the Israeli government. There can be no democratic law that would prohibit me from fighting for the fundamental humanistic and universal values that I believe in, and for the love of life, against a religious, nationalist, racist policy that is dooming us here to moral and physical ruin.

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