"The popular movement to strengthen the resilience of the population in areas targeted by the Israeli Occupation Forces, and to build grassroots actions and international solidarity in order to confront the Israeli occupation, the settlement project and their implications."
There is no doubt we are on the threshold of a new stage in Israel’s efforts to redraw the facts on the ground in Palestine. In the last ten years, Israel has managed to change the geopolitical map of the West Bank and Gaza to ensure its total control over the Palestinian land and its people, making it impossible to build a Palestinian state.
I. Analysis of the current conjuncture
Gaza is totally isolated from the West Bank and represents the largest open air prison in the world.
In the West Bank Israel has solidified its colonial project on the ground within the framework of the so-called ‘disengagement plan’. With this they created a military, administrative and infrastructure system of control which dictates every detail of the lives of the Palestinian people.
- Israel is closing any possibility for any solution based on agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
- The independence of the PA and its decision-making processes has been eroded by the influence of international aid and its conditionalities, and the PA has become hostage to the aligned positions of Israel, the US and the EU. As a result, the political will and ability of the PA to confront the settlements and to protect its people have been effectively destroyed.
- Despite the existence of some 80,000 Palestinian security men – the equivalent of one security man for every 50 citizens- the PA is still unable to protect its people from attacks by settlers and the Occupation Forces. It is ironic that a people under occupation is supposed to be in need of more security forces than the USA with all its wars and military bases around the world. In the USA there is one security personnel for 2800 U.S. citizens and in the UKone security personnel per 3100 British citizens.
- The paralysis and marginalization of the PLO and its associated bodies over the past 20 years has led to a loss of consensus and therefore the absence of a united Palestinian strategy to face the occupation.
- The political and geographical split between Gaza and the West Bank imposed by the occupation has rendered any possibility of a unified Palestinian strategy for confronting the occupation impossible.
- The Palestinian economy remains dependent on the Israeli one. Due to international agreements such as the Paris Protocol on economic relations between Israel and the PLO’ Israel still has full control of crossings and trade routes inside historic Palestine and across borders, thereby also controlling international trade.
- The PA strategy of developing state institutions and a corresponding economy that it has implemented over the last three years has failed,
- The salaries and expenses of the PA have been prioritized throughout the ongoing economic and fiscal crisis, which has become a burden on the Palestinian people. Rather than strengthening the people’s ability to resist the Israeli settlement project the PA has given more attention to its ‘fiscal crisis’ and asked the people to step up to finance it. As a result now even farmers have to pay taxes. Prices for commodities which provide significant tax revenues, such as cigarettes, alcohols and fuel have also doubled over the least years.
- Due to the ongoing economic crisis situation, people have been more and more taking up credits to pay for their expenses. As a result people's lives have become hostage to the banks.
- A small privileged elite holds a monopoly over what remains of the country’s wealth and focuses their efforts on protecting their personal interests. This represents a major obstacle to economic growth, development initiatives and competitive trade and investments.
- Israel continues to have full control over water and land resources, agriculture, marketing, tourism and gas.
- The domination of individualism and tribal loyalty, as well as the aforementioned factors, high levels of poverty, unemployment and marginalization, have resulted in a disintegration of the social fabric.
- The social and class gap is widening, with the middle classes which existed before the Oslo Accords now shrinking and being replaced by greater numbers of the poor and working class. Meanwhile, a small extremely wealthy elite has emerged who has the most political and economic influence, and control over the country’s resources.
- Social solidarity and a sense of collectivity that has been the backbone for Palestinian resistance has been disintegrating as a result of the discourse, practices and structures which followed the Oslo Accords . Intentionally or not, this has resulted in people feeling excluded from political decision-making, as if the ‘word on the street’ was no longer important.
- Disillusionment with the PA and the PLO has grown as well due to their ongoing coordination agreements with Israeli security authorities.
II. Rationale for the Coalition
As a result of the policies and actions of the Israeli occupation authorities, Palestinian villages and communities are faced with serious risks of displacement and evacuation from their homes, especially those living in Area C. The number of Zionist settlers in these areas is now three times the number of Palestinian citizens due to Israel’s policies and crimes. The situation calls for unification of all efforts to strengthen the resolve of these communities to remain on their land, document the crimes of the occupation, seek justice against this criminal body and mobilize world public opinion to encourage solidarity with Palestinian people.
In the last months of 2012 two important events happened on the Palestinian level:
First: The resilience and achievements of the resistance in Gaza
Second: The General Assembly’s vote to give Palestine the status of non-state member observer at the UN and the integration of corporate and third state responsibility in the UN discourse and reports.
These two events have a significant impact on our work:
First: the victory of the resistance gave people energy and hope, which was evident in the intensity of the demonstrations all over the West Bank during the attack on Gaza, proving that the spirit of resistance is still strong, and has been re-awakened, in the hearts of the people
Second: International solidarity has a better capacity to work together (and to coordinate globally, such as at the WSF Free Palestine, Porto Alegre 2012) with Palestinian forces to hold the international community (governments and corporations) to account for their complicity with Israeli crimes.
In retaliation, Israel is likely to scale up its violent actions on the ground and accelerate the annexation of Area C, which would lead to an explosive situation on the ground, requiring a redoubling of efforts and capabilities to prepare for the ramifications.
III. The Land Defense Coalition
The Coalition is a coordinating body consisting of a a number of grassroots groups working with the people on the ground. The coalition aims to promote the spirit of cooperation, pool resources and co-ordinate efforts to face the challenges imposed by the occupying forces and settlers against our people. In doing so, we wish to strengthen the will and determination of the people from the villages which face expulsion and confiscation of land – such as South Hebron, the Northern Jordan Valley, the eastern part of Nablus and many other locations in the West Bank, particularly the Bedouin areas, including those in Jerusalem. The daily threat of the settler communities to the life and property of the inhabitants of these villages is the main challenge. We will meet this challenge head on by building the capacity of the coalition members by rationalizing the expenses and creating synergies for the benefit of the field work and services provided to the communities. In order to achieve this we will integrate and consolidate the work of the members in the field of financial management, media outreach, public relations, lobbying and advocacy. We will further coordinate unify the work of the local committees on the ground.
Palestinian Farmers Union
The Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
The General Union of public institutions for workers in the food and agricultural industries
The youth movement (Youth for a Free Palestine)
The Center for Social Development
The Association for Rights of the farmers and for the preservation of the environment.
IV. The Vision and Aims of the Coalition:
- To work together to build an active popular movement which protects and adopts people’s struggles and defends their political, social and economic rights.
- The Mission:
- To reinforce the spirit of unity and of cooperation for a common cause.
- To co-ordinate efforts to face the challenges imposed by the occupation on our people, especially in Area C.
- To reinforce our farmer’s steadfastness on their lands and to help people of the villages threatened by forced displacement and confiscation of their lands, such as in South Hebron and the northern Jordan Valley
- To build the administrative and technical capacity of the coalition, in order to mobilize resources for fieldwork and projects at grassroots level.
Key Aims and Objectives:
1. To strengthen the resilience of our people in all locations, particularly in those at risk of deportation and land confiscation due to daily threats and attacks by the occupation and the settlers.
2. To launch intensive local solidarity and media campaigns and build mechanisms which encourage resilience in the face of Israel’s displacement policies.
3. To focus and direct efforts towards protecting the villages which are continuously attacked to settlers which threaten their lives and property.
4. To strengthen political and social awareness of the working class and other target groups, such as farmers, young people in the countryside and the remote areas and workers who face abuse in the workplace. Additionally, the Coalition wants to highlight the problems they face in order to stimulate condemnation and action from governmental and international bodies.
5. To reinforce international solidarity campaigns through networking and building partnerships with Arab and international movements such as the international workers’ federations, farmers’ and youth associations, and social movements such as those working on land and housing rights and against war and globalization. The Coalition aims to build a vision of solidarity based on mutual support, with a special focus on alliances with other movements of the global south and promoting a common struggle against colonialism, imperialism, capitalist exploitation, racism and other forms of discrimination.
6. To work towards an end of international complicity with Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism through active encouragement and lobbying and creation of necessary resources for global civil society and governmental institutions.