The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network is alarmed by the escalating cycle of violence that is taking place throughout Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
APAN notes with dismay that the current crisis was not unexpected but an inevitable consequence of years of neglect by the international community and a series of unilateral initiatives by the Israeli government and militant settler organisations.
Specifically, APAN deplores the following provocations that gave rise to the current crisis:
- The invasion of the Harem al-Sharif by religious nationalists led by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and the Likud Young Guard to “assert Jewish Sovereignty” over the site.
- The denial of Muslim entry into the Haram al-Sharif while it was being visited by Jews.
- Authorising the use of live ammunition against Palestinian stone-throwers by Israeli security forces.
- The failure of Israeli security forces to prosecute the Jewish extremists responsible for the Duma firebombing that killed three members of a Palestinian family despite an admission by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon that the murderers are known to Israeli security agencies.
- The Jerusalem City Council’s decision to adopt the use of Hebrew street names in Palestinian East Jerusalem.
- The surge in Palestinian house demolitions in “Area C” of the West Bank.
- The execution-style killings of Palestinians, including that of 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamoun by Israeli soldiers in Hebron (described by Amnesty as an “extrajudicial execution”) and the on-camera murder of 19-year-old Fadi Samir Alloun by Israeli police while he was fleeing from a Jewish lynch mob in East Jerusalem.
- The closure of Jerusalem’s Old City to Palestinians.
While APAN regrets recent retaliatory attacks on Israelis in the Occupied Territories, it notes that such violence is a direct result of the structural violence of the colonisation and dispossession associated with Israel’s 48 year occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
APAN welcomes the UN Security Council’s call on Israel to maintain the status quo at the Haram al-Sharif but notes that the present crisis is the result of the UN’s ongoing failure to halt Israel’s colonisation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories – a failure underscored by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent UN address in which he announced that the Palestinians no longer consider themselves bound to abide by previous agreements that are routinely flouted by Israel.
While the international community’s current focus on the Syrian crisis is understandable, it is important to consider the interconnectedness of all the current Middle East crises and that a further deterioration of the situation in Palestine will inevitably contribute to wider regional instability. APAN therefore urges the Australian government to use its influence to calm the situation by calling upon Israel to refrain from all further provocations and to immediately halt the use of live ammunition against Palestinian protestors, restore Palestinian access to Jerusalem’s Old City and the Harem al-Sharif, prosecute Jewish extremists who attack Palestinians and cease the demolition of Palestinian homes.
Over the longer term, Australia should work towards an end of the occupation by actively supporting the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state.