On 18 May the general strike in the whole historical Palestine “from the river to the sea” mobilised tens of thousands of Palestinians. There were massive demonstrations in all cities that were repressed. The call, which started from youth organisations, with a strong weight of women, drew the support of all Palestinian groups, and achieved Palestinian unity: for the first time in many years they rose in the occupied territories, and in historic Palestine (inside the territory of Israel), with the solidarity of the refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
It was a united response of the Palestinian people to the criminal aerial shelling of the Zionist state on Gaza that killed 248 people, among them 70 minors, destroyed over1,000 houses and damaged 17 clinics and hospitals.
Despite this, after 11 days of bombardment, there were celebrations in Gaza for the ceasefire. Thousands of Palestinians are aware of their long struggle and celebrated a partial victory in forcing Israel to stop bombing them. Again they could not crush the Palestinian resistance.
They pretended they were going to invade, stayed at the border and could not get in. And this happened because of the great Palestinian and world mobilisation in defence of the Palestinian people. Even Italian dockworkers refused to load ships to Israel.
What happened has deepened the crisis of the Zionist state and its government. This was shown by the ousting of Netanyahu from the government.
May 2021 can be a turning point in the struggle’s history of the Palestinian people. The clashes of young people against Israeli police in Jerusalem, the defiance of the expulsion of families from the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah or Silwan to leave their homes to settlers, the resistance from Gaza and the most massive and bloody demonstrations in the West Bank since the Second Intifada have been a chain reaction. Israel had claimed victory with Donald Trump but the Palestinian resistance is still very much alive and looking for ways to express itself.
The struggle continues despite the bloody Zionist repression. Over two thousand young Palestinians have been arrested in Israel in recent weeks for taking part in the protests. In the West Bank, the establishment of a new settlement in Beita, south of Nablus, which usurps thousands of olive trees from Palestinian families, is also being met with vehement protests that have left four young people dead and dozens injured.
The new Israeli government, from the alliance headed by the far-right Naftali Bennett, will only increase the mistreatment, humiliation and suffering of the Palestinian people. The day after taking office he allowed the flag march in Jerusalem that was banned last month because of the heightened tensions. A thousand Israeli right-wingers protected by Israeli police marched through the city shouting “death to the Arabs”. The new government’s first gesture was to bomb Gaza. The strip remains under a tight blockade that prevents the entry of goods and people or anglers from working beyond six nautical miles.
A new Palestinian generation is taking over. They are those born after the 1993 Oslo Accords, which legitimised the occupation and created the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as its internal agent, which has collaborated all these years with repression by quelling demonstrations and arresting activists. A “peace” process that has only intensified the occupation and the spoliation of Palestinians: in 1993 there were about 150,000 Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and today there are over 220,000. In the West Bank, the number has doubled in recent years to 440,000. Under Oslo, Gaza has become an open-air prison and the West Bank a constellation of Palestinian villages and towns as Bantustans isolated by a wall, a network of roads and settlements.
The old Palestinian leadership is discredited. At 86, Mahmoud Abbas clings to the presidential chair of a state that does not exist and functions only as a force for internal repression. His mandate, on behalf of Fatah, expired a decade ago, and he has again postponed elections scheduled for June. Mohammed Dahlan, his successor in Fatah, lives in the Arab Emirates that signed the normalisation agreement with Israel. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, left Gaza in 2019 to settle in Qatar. In historic Palestine, Manor Abbas, head of the Islamist party represented in the Israeli parliament, has just signed a government agreement with Bennet, the settlers’ representative. It is against this backdrop that the generation born after the Oslo betrayal is calling for change.
By now it is clear – against the empty propaganda of the EU and the US – that the Oslo process was a dead end and that there is no possibility of living peacefully with Israel, with a racist state, based on an institutionalised apartheid regime. A threat to the peoples of the region and the entire world that has already cost too much suffering. That is why we continue to defend the struggle for a truly just solution, which is the establishment of a single, secular, non-racist and democratic state throughout the historic territory of Palestine.
But the Palestinian people do not face just any occupying state. As Joe Biden said when he was a congressional representative in 1986, “if Israel did not exist, the United States would have to invent it to protect its interests in the region”. Indeed, Israel is the aircraft carrier of imperialism in an area of great strategic value such as the Middle East. That is why support for the Palestinian people is not only a question of international solidarity: it is part of the anti-imperialist struggle in every corner of the world. From the IWU-FI we call for a redoubling of international unity of action, on the road to a Free Palestine, to support the Palestinian people on the following issues:
*We demand the immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by the occupation.
*That the governments break diplomatic and commercial relations with the Zionist state of Israel.
*Long live the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people!
International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International (IWU-FI)
21 June 2021