PALESTINE UPDATE 64
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)*
Public Launch of the Palestinian Civil Society Strategic Position Paper
Towards the UN Durban Review Conference
Hundreds of international civil society organizations and networks endorse the Position Paper titled "United Against Apartheid, Colonialism and Occupation: Dignity & Justice for the Palestinian People" on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Today, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Palestinian civil society, represented by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC), launches its strategic position paper as a basis for anti-racist intervention at and beyond the UN Durban Review Conference.
This Position Paper summarizes the findings of UN human rights mechanisms and independent experts, who have raised concerns that Israel's regime may amount to institutionalized racial discrimination and/or apartheid, as well as their substantial recommendations. It argues that 60 years into the Nakba of 1948 and 41 years into Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, there is an urgent need to re-examine the nature of Israel's particular regime over the Palestinian people. Such close examination will show that this is a regime of apartheid, colonization and occupation.
This position, which reflects a growing consensus in Palestinian and global civil society, was adopted by a recent civil society forum in Bilbao (Basque country) and endorsedby networks, movements and associations worldwide, among them the landless workers movement (MST) in Brazil, the Spanish solidarity network RESCOP, the European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on Palestine (ECCP), the National Lawyers Guild and the Green Party in the United States, as well as by anti-Zionist Jewish associations and networks, particularly the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN).
Palestinian and international civil society appreciates and affirms the recent statement of the President of the UN General Assembly, who courageously and unambiguously condemned Israeli apartheid saying: "it is important that we in the United Nations use this term […]. It is the United Nations, after all, that passed the International Convention against the Crime of Apartheid, making clear to all the world that such practices … must be outlawed wherever they occur… More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide nonviolent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations."
In 2001, the United States and Israel walked out of the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, because it allowed for criticism of Israel as a perpetrator of racism and racial discrimination.
The UN is organizing a Durban Review Conference in Geneva on 20 – 24 April 2009 to examine the progress made worldwide since the 2001 global anti-racism summit. Israel, the United States and Canada have already announced that they will stay away and exert pressure on the international community to exclude debate over the racist and discriminatory nature of the Israeli regime.
On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we call on people of conscience the world over to shoulder the moral responsibility for ending Israel's multifaceted oppression of the indigenous people of Palestine, thereby rekindling the hope that freedom, self-determination and a just peace will soon prevail.