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'Students Against Israeli Apartheid' interrupt Ehud Olmert in Washington

February 4, 2014 at 10:19 am


Below is a statement from the ‘Students Against Israeli Apartheid’:
On 4th June, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Washington D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson Centre to offer a so-called “moderate” perspective on Middle East affairs and the Palestinian-Israeli impasse. A coalition of Palestinian justice activists from the DC area, led by George Mason University, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), were there to interrupt Olmert and challenge the Wilson Centre’s complicity with settler colonialism, apartheid and the on-going normalisation of the Israeli occupation. Making clear that no Zionist presence is welcome in the DC metropolitan area, the activists interrupted Olmert throughout the event, discrediting the supposed “peace plan” he has been presenting as a viable solution.

Far from the generous offer Olmert would have the Wilson Centre audience take it for, Olmert’s two state plan is a Zionist strategy that frames the Palestinians as being “against peace” by rejecting it. As activists in the audience insisted, a plan which refuses the rights of refugees, maintains occupation and keeps in place the Wall and the apartheid system it reinforces, offers no peace at all.

During the disruptions, Jane Harman, CEO of the Wilson Centre and former member of Congress, presented, what passes for a “common sense” perspective to the audience, a peaceful and just solution to the conflict. The two state solution rationale permeates nearly every discussion of Palestine in the United States and is presented as the moderate, reasonable position for peace and justice. Olmert justifies his aggressive advocacy for a two-state solution based on the fear that Palestinians would ultimately demand their fundamental human rights under a one state solution.

As members of SAIA, we represent a growing international movement to deconstruct and undermine this false rationale of a just solution in a Palestinian state alongside a Zionist, Israeli state. The two state solution is not only exclusionary, racist and anti-democratic, but moreover, structurally impossible. The territories designated for a future Palestinian state have been sliced, diced, and carved up over decades of Israeli military encroachment, followed by the on-going construction of illegal settlements. With little-to-no control over water, trade, transportation or governance, the vision of a Palestinian state is merely a fabrication propagated by Israeli hawks to buy more time for further encroachment. It is in this spirit that we claim that the only just solution to the Israeli occupation is a democratic, one state solution led by the three tenets of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognising the fundamental equal rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel;
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

It is appalling that the Wilson Centre would host a war criminal of Olmert’s calibre. It is less surprising that Olmert would jump at the invitation since opportunities to speak must be shrinking, as nations across Europe revoke Olmert’s diplomatic immunity, leaving him susceptible to arrest and prosecution for his violations of international law.