One hundred Palestinian non-governmental organizations have considered U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Palestinian territories scheduled in a week “meaningless as long as the U.S. administration does not change its policy toward the Palestinian issue and its view of the region”.
During a reading of the joint letter from the Palestinian organisations during a press conference held on Thursday morning, Amjad Al Shawa, Director of the Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO) said, “We hope your visit, Mr. President (Barak Obama), will be the beginning of a serious change in the policy of your country, which is biased and supportive of Israeli policies. This will enable our people to exercise their legitimate and fair right of return, as well as to decide their fate and establish an independent state.”
He added, “President Obama’s credibility lies in his ability to demand and exert pressure on the occupation to stop its continuous violations, as well as to enforce international law and apply the legitimate international resolutions relating to the Palestinian issue.”
He also stated that the Palestinians “do not need more ideas and initiatives aimed at resuming negotiations. They are, however, in need of international will that is able to guarantee their rights to freedom and dignity by securing their right to determine their destiny, their right to return and their right to establish an independent state.”
Shawa continued, “Ending the occupation, dismantling settlements, releasing prisoners and implementing the legitimate international resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian cause is the only way to compensate our people for decades of suffering.”
He also added, “Without this, the suffering will continue, in addition to the fact that the state of tension and instability will remain. The international community will be responsible both practically and morally, especially for the continued suffering of the Palestinians.”
He noted that several international human rights reports, most prominent of which is the report by Richard Goldstone, confirm that Israel perpetrates war crimes. This has also been confirmed by many international human rights organizations, especially following the Israeli attack in November.
The letter demanded that Obama make serious changes once he’s visited the region, particularly to bring a complete end to settlement construction and the dismantlement of existing settlements on Palestinian land. The letter added, “If Obama’s visit is seriously committed to bringing about peace and stability, he must be committed to the immediate release of all the political and national prisoners, the removal of all the barriers in the West Bank which number over 600, and the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
During his speech at the conference, the director of the Network of NGOs in Gaza, Mohsen Abu Ramadan, asserted that the gateway to achieving stability is through the implementation of international law and international resolutions, not the negotiation of them. He said, “The negotiations have not achieved any concrete results and have been exploited by Israel as a cover for continuing settlement expansion and the imposition of realities on the ground which hinder the establishment of a state and put an end to the concept of a two-state solution adopted by Obama.”
He pointed out that the U.S. President’s visit “comes in light of public Arab variables promoting the overthrow of corruptive and tyrannical regimes and the belief of many communities in the values of freedom, democracy and social justice.” He stressed that “this picture will not be complete without overthrowing the tyrannical occupation and ensuring the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and dignity, like the other people of this world.”