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UNHS on Palestine: Everyone, everywhere has the right to live in a just and peaceful society

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

By Catriona Spaven-Donn and Grace Broad

UN House Scotland acts as a bridge between the United Nations Association and Scottish civil society.

With this, we as an organisation must acknowledge the origins of the situation that continues between Palestine and Israel.

The United Nations, as well as Britain, both played a detrimental role in the annexation of Palestinian land and the exile of Palestinian people.

In 1917, the British Mandate and the Balfour Declaration created “a national home for the Jewish people”. As a result of this, a colonialist movement arose, which aimed to replace one ethnic population with another.

(Photograph: Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

In 1948, Britain then handed responsibility to the United Nations, who divided the region into two states. At this time, 55% of the land was given to Israel. Many decades later, Israel now occupies 85% of this land or more.

It is not only the control of land by the Israeli occupation which has denied the rights of Palestinians. Forced evictions continue to take place, such as over the past month in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, where Arab families have been forcibly removed from their homes and replaced by settlers.

During May 2021, at least 219 people were killed - including 63 children - by Israeli airstrikes in the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel is currently being investigated for war crimes in Palestine; which include the 2014 operation that killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians.

(Photograph: Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

We currently live in an era where the exploitation and mistreatment of Palestinian people is highly reflective of the past segregation legitimised by the US Jim Crow laws and the South African Apartheid.

The term “Apartheid” has been used to address the manner in which Palestinians have been treated and controlled as second-class citizens without the same rights as Israeli citizens. Many of those who lived through experiences of Apartheid have shown solidarity with Palestine, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela stated that none of us will be free until the Palestinians are free.

A solidarity network has also been paved between the Palestinian struggle and the Black Liberation movement.

Author and activist Angela Davis has been central in voicing her support of Palestinian liberation, as well as most recently, the Black Lives Matter movement across the world.

A clear overlap exists between the two liberation movements; where one minority group has been stripped of their rights and life opportunities by another, dominating group. Palestinians have openly voiced their relation to the Black Liberation struggle in the United States and internationally.

We condemn the actions of a state that has consistently contravened UN resolutions and international human rights law.

As a civil society organisation committed to social justice and the wholescale implementation of UN goals and values at the grassroots, we believe firmly that everyone, everywhere has the right to live in a just and peaceful society and are working to ensure this can be a reality.

We look forward to the creation of a new project team on Palestine so we can work in conjunction with other Scottish civil society networks and contribute to the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Palestine.

Following on from the successful roundtable on humanitarian principles in international human rights law that we held in March, we will now be planning a second event in the series in which we will address Palestinian human rights.

Stay tuned for more information soon!

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