70 Years of Occupation & Forced Displacement in Palestine
Oakland, CA— 2017 marks 70 years since the Nakba, the Catastrophe, which resulted in the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land and homes; 50 years since the Six-Day War and Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, which laid the foundation for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Today, most of the world’s 12.1 million Palestinians are still displaced or remain refugees. Whether in a refugee camp or in their homes, they live under military occupation, in de facto open-air prisons, surrounded by separation walls and watchtowers, restricted in their every day movement by checkpoints, no-go zones and road blockades. Thousands routinely face threats of violence, demolition, and eviction from their homes. Palestinian farmers’ access to their land and crops is restricted by Israeli forces; thousands of their trees continue to be uprooted to make room for colonies; and their access to water, agricultural inputs, and markets to sell their products is controlled by Israel. Thousands of adults and children are in jail and held indefinitely without trial or due process. This includes the 1,500 prisoners who have been on a hunger strike since April 17 to protest the unfair and degrading detention conditions.
Outrage and calls for Palestinian rights continue to rise internationally. UN Resolution 2334, adopted last December, confirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is gaining momentum and was strengthened by a recent UN report that showed that Israeli policies amount to an apartheid regime against Palestinians.
Under this growing pressure, Israeli policies have become even more aggressive. The current intensification of Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians involves the passage of a widely criticized law that retroactively legalizes outposts in the West Bank; preparations by the Knesset to pass a bill downgrading Arabic as an official language in Israel; and announcements to both expand existing settlements with hundreds of new homes and to construct a new settlement in the West Bank – the first new settlement to be approved in over 20 years.
Unfortunately, as Israel’s strongest ally, the United States’ support for these policies has never been greater. At the end of 2016, US military aid to Israel increased by 27 percent to $3.8 billion per year. Donald Trump has promised to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and soon after his election, appointed David Friedman, a notorious donor and supporter of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, as the US Ambassador to Israel.
As an organization focused on land rights, the Oakland Institute has decided to lend its expertise and research capacity to the situation in Palestine. The Institute’s forthcoming series of reports and films makes it clear that time has come to end the systemic oppression faced by the Palestinians and to recognize their rights to their land, livelihoods, and freedom.