February 8, 2017
Last Saturday, Nicaragua hosted a conference themed “Building Bridges with the Palestinian Diaspora in Central America”; it was organised by the United Nations and the Committee on the Exercise of Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The 50th year of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip provided a departure point for the conference, while also taking into consideration the recent developments triggered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding colonial expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
A lengthy report regarding the conference published on the UN website depicts the intervention by Nicaraguan Foreign Affairs Minister Denis Ronaldo Moncada Colindres as taking an almost comprehensive approach, particularly in his recognition that the conference, apart from imparting regional support for Palestine, should also serve as an incentive to strengthen ties between Latin American countries.
The common struggles faced by Palestine and Latin America provide a formidable context for reciprocal support and solidarity. Speakers representing Palestinian communities in Latin America spoke about the importance of maintaining a united approach in legal matters which shifted international attention towards Israel’s political violence. An unnamed speaker from the Palestinian community in Honduras emphasized the importance of organised mobilization by Palestinians in the diaspora: “An organised diaspora is one of the greatest contributions we can make to Palestine.”
Former Prime Minister of Belize Said Musa — who is of Palestinian descent — declared the importance of going “back to basics”. Highlighting Palestinian history through a discussion of the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the Nakba in 1948, Musa insisted that the Palestinian right of return as outlined in UN Resolution 194 remains unacknowledged by Israel as a direct result of the colonial entity’s denial of the Nakba.
The valid and strong assertions were, however, diminished by perpetual adherence to the two-state compromise, which seemed to form a compulsory clause for participants’ contributions. Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine Riyad Mansour voiced a reminder of the debacle, insisting that ending “the occupation” was imperative in order for Palestinians “to enjoy the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, so that two states would live side by side in peace.” There should be no burden upon Palestinians to achieve a semblance of a state based upon international and Israeli aspirations; history and the unfolding events are more than enough proof of Israel’s quest to colonize all of Palestinian territory.
Compared to other professed support for Palestine, such as that from the EU, Latin America still retains a lead that should be explored and encouraged further. The region’s history is one of several anti-colonial triumphs, while other battles still need to be won against prevailing policies which have targeted indigenous populations such as the Mapuche in Chile. Venezuela and Cuba are facing different imperialist tactics seeking to thwart their respective revolutions, yet have consistently supported Palestine, albeit still departing from the two-state imposition which is a far cry from the historical anti-colonial legacy of the late Fidel Castro.
If Latin American support for Palestine is to provide a challenge to the international approach which has normalized Israel’s colonial violence, it is important for Palestinians to be allowed the freedom to assert and sustain their will collectively and internationally. Instead, they have to make do with the Palestinian Authority compromising a support network which, although a departure from mainstream rhetoric, still necessitates further detachment from international requirements that promote, rather than halt, Israeli colonization.
Source: Middle East Monitor.