By Dave Watt.
From August 3rd to 7th, the Aberdeen branch of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be walking 84 miles along the path of Hadrian’s Wall, raising funds for the Plant-a-Tree-in-Palestine project. The route of the walk has been selected because of symbolic similarities with Israel’s Separation Wall in the Occupied Territories, and Roman efforts to contain a rebellious Scots population during the Roman occupation of Britain.
On the 9th July 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated regime are contrary to international law”[i].
The Wall has a huge negative impact on Palestinians in the West Bank, destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people by eradicating agricultural land and separating farmers from their crops and resources[ii].
The Wall, 85% of which lies within the West Bank itself, also blocks access to health services, schools and neighbouring communities[iii]. Israeli NGO Bimkom found that the Wall’s route “almost totally ignores the daily needs of the Palestinian population”[iv]. The 2004 ICJ ruling further noted that Israel was obliged to abide by international law, and therefore to stop construction of the wall and destroy the sections which have already been established[v].
By choosing to walk this route, SPSC campaigners aim to raise awareness of the injustices that are caused by the construction and continued existence of the illegal barrier that separates Palestinians from their families and land.
The walk will be raising funds for the Plant-a-Tree-in-Palestine project. This initiative seeks to support the ongoing struggle of Palestinians to sustain and rebuild their land by providing resources for villages to plant trees that are indigenous to Palestine’s natural environment and agricultural life, and is part of the wider Stop the JNF campaign[vi]. The JNF owns 13% of land in Israel, and leases it only to people of Jewish heritage.
Human Rights Watch has said that Israel’s close involvement with the JNF:
“makes the state directly complicit in overt discrimination against Arab citizens in land allocation and use”[vii].
The JNF enjoys charitable status in 50 countries across the world, though its status in the UK is currently being challenged by a motion to parliament, EDM 1677[viii]. The JNF was recently dealt a blow when David Cameron became the first Prime Minister in 110 years to not be a patron of the organisation[ix].
To sponsor the group please write a cheque made out to Aberdeen SPSC and send it to:-
SPSC Aberdeen, 21 Broadfold Drive,
Aberdeen, AB23 8PJ,
or donate online at http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk.
References and links:
[i] International Court of Justice (2004), ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’, online at: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&case=131&k=5a
[ii] Amnesty International (2004), ‘Israel/Occupied Territories: Wall should be dismantled in line with court decision’, online at: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=15477
[iii] Ibid, and Human Rights Watch (2010), ‘Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”, online at: http://www.hrw.org/node/95061 (see page 15)
[iv] Bimkom (2005), ‘Between Fences: The Enclaves Created by the Separation Barrier’, available online at: http://eng.bimkom.org/_Uploads/4GderotEng.pdf (see page VI)
[v] International Court of Justice (2004), ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’, see point B. Online at: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&case=131&k=5a
[vii] Human Rights Watch (2008), ‘Off the Map: Land and Housing Rights Violations in Israel’s Unrecognized Bedouin Villages’. Available online at: http://www.hrw.org/en/node/62284/section/1 (see page 28).
[viii] See: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-11/1677
[ix] See The Jewish Chronicle (2011), Cameron’s JNF split: it was Israel’, available online at: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/49789/camerons-jnf-split-it-was-israel