Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Five decades of occupation

A war anniversary and negotiations haven’t changed the Israeli-Palestinian equation
A mirage "Vautour" flying over Israeli soldiers sitting o tanks in the the Sinai peninsula on the Israel-Egypt border during the six days in 1967. AFP
A mirage "Vautour" flying over Israeli soldiers sitting o tanks in the the Sinai peninsula on the Israel-Egypt border during the six days in 1967. AFP

Fifty years ago this week, Israel launched a series of military offensives and had, within six days, wrested control of the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. The legacy of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war remains pronounced and profound today.

For Palestinians, 50 years of occupation amounts to five decades of aggressive colonisation and illegal land grabs by the Israelis, not to mention the daily affronts of a restricted and tightly controlled existence. In the West Bank, Palestinians live under constant risk of road closures, security checks, detention threats, house demolition and the persistent hum of illegal settlement-building.

The situation for the two million Palestinians living in Gaza is worse still. Often referred to as the world’s largest “open prison”, the flow of goods, people and services are all tightly controlled by Israel. Drinking water is often unavailable. Unemployment steeples ever upwards. Electricity flickers on intermittently for no more than four hours a day, a reminder in both the sweltering heat of summer and the chill of winter that hope for a normal life is nigh on impossible when such a pernicious force watches over you. Israel bombed the territory’s only power plant in years past, and refuses to allow repairs to be carried out. As the problems mount, the UN describes Gaza as close to uninhabitable.

Fiftieth anniversaries, in normal life at least, are happy occasions, offering a chance to mark the passing of time and look back fondly on the achievements of yesteryear. Fifty years of Israeli occupation have brought nothing but a grinding status quo that serves the occupier and chokes the existence of Palestinians.

The two-state solution and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative – a document that calls for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories in return for peace treaties with Arab states – remains the most viable pathway towards a just solution for Palestinians. The illegal occupation cannot be allowed to continue.

Updated: June 3, 2017 04:00 AM

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