Column: Quest for permanent peace in Middle East
The recent escalation of conflict and clashes between Palestinians of all ages and the Israeli armed forces and the Jewish settlers is reaching an alarming level that may put an end to all hopes of a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The daily clashes and the daily violence and violations of human rights reaching a crisis level remind us that the Palestinians are still occupied and despite Oslo there is no Palestinian state and no equitable resolution of the conflict in the horizon.
While we do not condone violence, our stand is that Israel must recognize that its military actions and its policies of oppression will not bring peace to Israel. The daily trespassing on Al Aqsa Noble Sanctuary Compound, the demolition of homes, the seizing of Palestinian property, the ongoing siege of Gaza, and other forms of violations of human rights and basic norms of decency will not bring lasting peace or security.
The eruption of violence in Jerusalem did not occur in a vacuum. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a Harvard speech that the violence in Jerusalem is a result of a stalled peace process, the massive increase in Jewish-only settlement building on Palestinian land and the Palestinians’ loss of hope.
The violence we see has its root not only in the loss of hope as Secretary Kerry stated but in the sense that Israel has complete disregard for the Palestinians’ national and religious symbols as well. Jewish Israeli right-wing leaders regularly trespass on the Al Aqsa Compound, accompanied by heavily armed Israelis while Israel restricts the Muslim access to the Al Aqsa Compound. Jewish Israeli voices have made it clear that they want Al Aqsa demolished or that the Al Aqsa, the third holiest religious site in Islam, divided.
As a human rights organization, we want to see peace and justice in the Holy Land. We advocate for peace and coexistence so that all people can live with dignity enjoying their human rights. Persecution and heavy handed tactics are a recipe for an endless conflict.
As a human rights organization we don’t see Palestinians and Israelis; Jews, Muslims and Christians, we see human beings with inalienable rights. All violations of human rights are condemned regardless of the identity of the victim or the identity of the perpetrator.
We believe that a two-state solution presents the best hope for peace and justice. It is the whole world’s collective responsibility to exercise its moral and ethical authority to bring the conflict to a just and equitable resolution. I am an American citizen who grew up as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon. I have always dreamed of peace, justice and reconciliation. I thought that my children will live in a better world than I did — a world where every human being is valued and their dignity respected. Time is due for all people of conscience to act to bring the needed change. Peace is within reach if we really want it and work to attain it.
Imad Hamad is executive director of the American Human Rights Council.