[News] Palestine - PA "killing popular resistance"

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 9 10:45:00 EDT 2011

Jamal Juma': PA "killing popular resistance"

8 August 2011

Few Palestinians are as closely identified with the struggle against 
wall in the West Bank as Jamal Juma'. The coordinator of the 
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign since its 
establishment in 2002, Juma' has suffered because of his political 
activities. He was imprisoned in late 2009 and early 2010 but 
following his release, he has worked relentlessly against a project 
that has been declared illegal by the 
Court of Justice.

Juma' spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Ida Audeh about 
the dearth of popular resistance in areas of the West Bank under 
Authority jurisdiction, the 
statehood bid and the role of the Palestinian diaspora in national liberation.

Ida Audeh: It has been nine years since the start of the campaign 
against the wall. What were the goals you set for yourselves?

Jamal Juma': We wanted to stop construction on the wall, to tear down 
the sections that had been built and to return properties to the 
farmers who owned them. Incidentally, these goals were identical to 
the recommendations of the International Court of Justice in 2004. 
Since 2004, we have been calling for a 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bds>boycott of Israel.

IA: According to a recent UN report titled 
Update: Seven years after the Advisory Opinion of the International 
Court of Justice on the Barrier" [PDF], about 30 percent of the wall 
has not yet been constructed. Is completion of the wall slower than 
originally planned?

JJ: Popular resistance had a primary role in delaying the completion. 
When Israel started to work on the wall in 2002, the plan was to 
complete it in 2005. At the time the government was talking about a 
650-700 kilometer wall. Construction was halted in some areas because 
of resistance by affected communities. Court cases were initiated, 
which took six or seven months, during which time all construction 
was put on hold. So the deadline was pushed back from 2005 to 2008. 
In 2008 they pushed it to 2011. And this year they couldn't finish it 
either, so the new deadline they set is 2020. [The length of the wall 
is now projected to be 810 km long.]

IA: How have you moved on the 
advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice?

JJ: The decision was issued under the umbrella of international law, 
and this made a huge impact globally on the issue of boycotting 
Israel. The decision gave a legal basis to activists everywhere who 
were working on the wall and on settlements and Jerusalem because the 
decision touched on all these issues. Activists could base their 
calls for boycott and bringing down the wall on this court decision.

The official political aspect is worth noting. Pressure was placed on 
the the 
Authority and the <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/plo>Palestine 
Liberation Organization to leave the decision in a drawer and not to 
move on it. So the decision was frozen and never submitted to the 
United Nations Security Council even to this day.

Today, more than any other time past, after the total closing of 
political horizons, and the collapse of what is referred to as 
negotiations, and the clear, US position of total support for 
settlements, we say now we must start to challenge. We have to start 
a global battle in the international law arena. The first thing the 
PA must do is to take this recommendation and put it on the track for 
implementation within the Security Council and other international fora.

IA: How effective do you think the campaign has been in mobilizing 
people locally? 
<http://electronicintifada.net/location/ramallah>Ramallah seems to be 
in a bubble. <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bilin>Bilin, Budrus, 
and other villages in the Ramallah district seem to have to contend 
with the wall by themselves.

JJ: As a popular resistance movement, one of our most important goals 
is to find a way to implicate the national forces to put their full 
weight behind popular resistance, to make it their top priority. 
Everyone talks about popular resistance but in practical terms no one 
is thinking of implementation.

Another reason for the fact that places like Bilin and Budrus are 
resisting alone is the following: 70 percent of the population of the 
West Bank is in Area A, which is under the control of the PA, and 
they are prevented from engaging in popular resistance. At least 95 
percent of the refugee camps are in Area A, and so are the largest 
cities. The PA's position is that whoever wants to resist should not 
be in Area A, as though area A is liberated. This is one of the most 
deadly issues killing popular resistance. Because when you exclude 70 
percent of your population, then you are not supporting popular resistance.

[Editor's note: following the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/oslo-accords>Oslo accords in 1993 
the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C. The Palestinian 
Authority has limited autonomy in Area A; Area B is under joint 
Israeli and Palestinian control and Area C, covering 60 percent of 
the West Bank, is controlled by the Israeli Civil Administration.]

So the villages in Area C, which are in the path of the wall, can 
take action against the wall. But try to go [in area A] and you find 
the Palestinian security forces there ahead of you. We have to 
overcome this. If there is going to be widespread national activism, 
there has to be a strategy for national work that is agreed to. I say 
that from every occupied inch of land, we have the right to mount our 

IA: Why are our markets still stocked with Israeli products?

JJ" For a long time now, we have been calling for a total boycott of 
Israeli products. Then the PA came up with the line of boycotting 
Israeli settlement goods. That would eliminate one-third of Israeli 
goods from the market, and if they are eliminated completely, then in 
practical terms that eliminates more than 50 percent of Israeli goods 
from our market, because many Israeli companies work through the 
settlements. But how far along has the PA gotten in this? One feels 
that the issue is dead, as though the PA to some extent has somehow 
gotten stuck with this issue and would like to bow out. So now they 
are lowering the volume on this and trying to kill it. When they 
announced this project originally, the plan was to have no Israeli 
settlement goods here by the end of the year [2010] But in fact, 
there are now more products, not fewer. Ramadan is approaching and 
most of the Ramadan goods are from the settlements. This is what 
people are saying. I haven't completely documented this.

IA: So how are you confronting this?

JJ: We have a grassroots campaign to boycott that has launched 
actions in towns and villages. There are groups who go to stores, 
institutions, commercial areas and they speak to the owners about not 
stocking Israeli goods. We address this in summer camps and we made 
good progress with the cafeterias at the universities. It took a huge 
effort but now many of them sell no Israeli products at all. We are 
trying to do the same with the schools through morning messages and 
other ways. The issue is not a simple one; it takes a lot of effort 
from many groups working together, from the labor unions and women's 
committees and student unions.

IA: The boycott of Israeli goods must be difficult to promote when 
you have economic ventures like Rawabi, 
real estate development project led by Palestinian businessman Bashar 
Masri, which involves Israeli companies.

JJ: The Palestinian middle class is disappearing. Many big companies 
and some individuals have taken control of economic activity. Sadly, 
these large companies have political influence and relations with 
political actors and they can thwart any kind of national action. 
When you work for boycott, you are stepping on the toes of local 
mafias that have political influence. They are prepared to run you down.

IA: In July, the Palestinian Authority head 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/mahmoud-abbas>Mahmoud Abbas 
welcomed the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/george-papandreou>Greek president 
to Ramallah, seemingly indifferent to the outrage such a move would 
spark in light of the Greek government's heavy-handed attack on the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/gaza-freedom-flotilla>Freedom Flotilla II.

JJ: This is a very awful decision. The Palestinian leadership is not 
entitled to conduct itself in this manner. By doing so, it insults 
its own people.

The big question for the Palestinian leadership is, for how much 
longer are you going to bet on the Americans? We need a real 
evaluation of the past and agreement on a new strategy. I don't 
believe that the current political situation and the current 
political configuration and the national forces are capable of doing 
this. For that reason, we need national and international pressure 
and pressure from our friends to develop new strategies to support 
and activate popular resistance throughout the West Bank, not just in 
Area C or the areas close to the wall, and to be organized and have a 
unified leadership.

We need to activate international solidarity and international law in 
two areas: getting the Palestinian leadership to give full, 
unequivocal support to an international boycott movement and 
demanding that the world impose a boycott and sanctions on Israel. 
The resolution regarding the wall must be taken to the UN and to the 
Security Council once more. The Goldstone resolution [on Israel's war 
crimes in Gaza] must be implemented. There are tens of resolutions, 
including Resolution 181 and the resolution regarding the right of 
return. All of these resolutions must be raised at the UN.

IA: The PA plans to go to the UN in September and ask for 
of a Palestinian state. Do you agree with this approach?

JJ: We have been talking to the national forces and leftist and 
democratic forces and institutions, as well as to the Palestinian 
human rights [and civil society organizations]. We developed a 
working paper that outlines our positions. We wanted to get a legal 
perspective on what international law says about going to the UN. We 
concluded that we should in fact go to the UN but not in order to 
establish a state on the 1967 borders. We should be demanding that 
the membership of the PLO be raised to state status. The approach [of 
going to the UN] doesn't affect the 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/right-return>right of return [for 
Palestinian refugees] or Palestinian rights or the PLO.

We are going to follow these issues and hold town meetings in all the 
districts. We are trying to come up with a position that we can 
submit for public discussion and to inform people what is happening, 
because no one tells the public what is going on. People don't know 
what the PA wants.

IA: What role would you like to see Palestinians in the West play?

JJ: We want to see Palestinians abroad act not out of loyalty to 
Fatah or Hamas but rather out of loyalty to the cause and what serves 
it. If not, the first thing that is threatened is the right of 
return. This issue is being targeted. Palestinians abroad must be 
aware of this and organize themselves; otherwise, it will be sacrificed.

We are in a very dangerous phase. We've reached a dead end. There has 
to be a true Palestinian awakening. Palestinians in the diaspora 
might readjust the path and tip the scale. They are 70 percent of the 
Palestinian people, and they are the ones who must speak their piece. 
The ones here [in the West Bank and Gaza] are held hostage to the 
occupation and the Americans. Those abroad can coordinate their 
demands and work with all activists. The tremendous effort put forth 
by the Zionist lobby and its blackmail of international organizations 
requires a countervailing force, a concerted effort. In order to face 
the challenges, we have to organize ourselves and know what we want.

Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who works as a 
technical editor in Boulder, Colorado. Her op-eds and articles have 
been published by the The Daily Camera, The Electronic Intifada, 
Countercurrents and Counterpunch. She can be reached at idaaudeh A T 
yahoo D O T com.

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