Hanan Ashrawi has blamed international inaction for ‘reign of terror’ over Palestinians
LONDON: Israeli expansionism and colonialism have “effectively destroyed the two-state solution,” Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said on Tuesday during a webinar attended by Arab News.
Israeli settlers have created “a reign of terror in the West Bank” under an “apartheid” system, she said during the webinar, hosted by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, and titled “Stopping annexation and ending occupation — the role of the international community.”
Settlers are “destroying olive trees and stealing crops,” as well as “terrorizing helpless Palestinian peasants and farmers, quite often with the help and collusion of the Israeli army, not as individuals who are out of control, but as part of a systematic process,” she added.
The Israelis “hold the Palestinians responsible for the safety of their occupiers, for the safety of the soldiers, for the safety of the settlers,” Ashrawi said.
“Should anybody be injured in any way, then we’re all labeled terrorists. At the same time, Israel is given a green light to shoot, to demolish homes, and to steal land and more resources, without any kind of intervention.”
Ashrawi holds the international community responsible for Israel’s settlement enterprise on occupied Palestinian land, which is illegal under international law.
“If you’re unable to stop this, what’s the point of negotiations? To be used only as a tool, as an instrument of an ongoing expansionist program in Israel and really maintaining control over Palestinian people, and the land, and resources, and our future, and our borders, and our airspace and our territorial waters — what’s the point?” she asked.
“When will the EU, when will individual countries, regain some sort of political will, but also — I don’t want to insult anyone — some backbone?”
Settlements “are a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the ICC (International Criminal Court),” Ashrawi said.
“There are many war crimes that are committed but that Israel has gotten away with. So if you say there’s a price to be paid, don’t wait until the deed is done and try to do damage control.”
She urged the international community to stop Israel’s plans to annex swathes of Palestinian territory, its imposition of its laws in the West Bank, its “isolation of Jerusalem” and its “ethnic cleansing.”
The international community, she added, should act not just with “a statement or a declaration,” but “with clear consequences.” Ashrawi said social media is raising public awareness about Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians.
“I think there’s a growing awareness globally among public opinion. They know what’s happening now. You can’t do things in the dark the way they were done in 1948 (when Israel was created).”