Editor’s note: This speech was delivered by Chris Wanamaker at the Saint John rally against the Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank in Palestine on June 27, 2020.
Good afternoon to you all.
We meet today to condemn in the strongest terms the impending Israeli annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank in Palestine.
I’m here to represent Socialist Action Saint John. Socialist Action is one of the initiators of this protest and part of the coalition that organized it. We say “No to the Annexation of the West Bank!” “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free!”
International law is clear about annexation. Any attempt at annexation would violate international law and numerous United Nations resolutions. And international condemnation about this has been harsh. It has been called a crime against humanity. It would be an explosive move, and a death blow to the peace process. Annexation is an affront to democracy, an affront to one of the most basic principles of international law.
Over the years, Israel has deepened its grip over the Palestinians, squeezing many of the roughly 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians into urban enclaves. For 50 years it has controlled the West Bank through military occupation. Israel has already been leaving bits of land to be somewhat self-governed by Palestinians, while surrounding them and blocking them with walls, colonies and military towers.
But annexation would be more than a military occupation. With annexation, Palestinians would effectively be corralled into pockets of land – like large open-air prisons, under the tight control of Israel. As many as three million Palestinians would be placed under the control of the Israelis and denied citizenship. And that is what the Blacks in South Africa endured for many years. It’s called apartheid.
This could cause irreparable harm for future generations of Palestinians and Israelis.
So where are the U.S. and Donald Trump on all of this?
Trump and the Republicans have slashed aid to Palestinians, cut diplomatic ties and declared the city of Jerusalem – part of which Palestinians claim – as Israel’s capital.
Where is the rest of the U.S. on this issue? 171 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have signed letters against annexation.
Both the United Nations and the European Union have declared their opposition to annexation. Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Estonia, Ireland and Norway have all condemned it.
More than 400 Jewish and Israel studies academics have signed a statement denouncing the annexation.
In Rome, Pope Francis has condemned the annexation.
This weekend there are protests in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, St. Catharines and right here in Saint John.
Yet Canada has been silent on this issue. We are said to be “missing in action.” Our news media have placed the issue on the back burner. Other countries see us as having a debilitating case of diplomatic laryngitis. No wonder we did not win a seat at the U.N. recently.
Today, let’s stand with Palestinians, Israelis, and people everywhere who want to protect rights, freedom, and laws, and not the rule of the strong governing our world.
So my friends, Socialist Action will not stop demanding: No to Annexation of the West Bank! Break the Siege of Gaza! End the Occupation! Tear Down the Apartheid wall! For the right of all refugees to return home. For a Democratic and Secular Palestine for all its residents: Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists! From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free!
Helmi Alfarra then read the following petition that is supported by a Canadian coalition opposed to the annexation of the West Bank, including Palestine House, Independent Jewish Voices, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Palestine Support Committee-Saint John, Socialist Action Toronto and Saint John, and others.
After 40 years of the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and 53 years of illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced its intention to annex large portions of the West Bank starting in July, with full backing from the Trump administration.
Israeli control of Palestinian territories is illegal under international law, which is clear in its emphasis on the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.” Despite numerous UN resolutions urging Israel to end its occupation, Israel has chosen to continue on the path of settler-colonialism, apartheid, land seizure and forcible displacement of Palestinians.
Indeed, annexing territory without granting full citizenship rights to the three million Palestinians in the West Bank constitutes apartheid; Palestinians would be left in nominally autonomous and disconnected enclaves under Israeli rule.
We call on the Trudeau government to condemn the annexation and take action against it.
Canada must abide by its stated commitment to international law and the rules-based order by pledging meaningful steps against Israel’s unilateral annexations. This must include the imposition of sanctions, such as suspending the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement and prohibiting all trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
If recent history is any indication, verbal rebukes are insufficient, and only concrete action can ensure that Israel is deterred from its imminent violations of international law.
We can no longer stand by and be complicit.
Sign the petition here.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle encourages people to send this letter to your Member of Parliament to oppose the Israeli annexation of the West Bank.