Palestinian activist: Why I’m not celebrating statehood

For the last two months the press has staunchly defended the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Yet, for many Palestinians refugees – who make up 70% of Palestinians worldwide – and activists on the ground, this state does not represent us.

by Diana Alzeer

He looks at me, shaking his dirty-blonde hair, and with a mocking tone says: “Come on, Diana, why aren’t you celebrating? I hate to see you sad.” He is an American journalist,  a friend of mine who is here in Ramallah shooting photos of the festive crowd celebrating the Palestinian Authority United Nations bid to secure the recognition of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

But I do not feel like celebrating the quest for a state on the 1967 borders. Those borders mean the loss of 70% of what we Palestinians call “Palestine” – the areas where Palestinians lived before the year of 1948. It means celebrating the fact that Palestinians are about to give up on the right of return, since it no longer appears on the PA genda, nor even in the Palestinian daily discourse or in the Palestinian newspapers.

For the last two months the press has staunchly defended the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Yet, for many Palestinians refugees – who make up 70% of Palestinians worldwide – and activists on the ground, this state does not represent us.

Six months ago, on March 15, a group of Palestinian youth including myself demonstrated at Manara square in downtown Ramallah demanding an end to the division of the Palestinian people. We referred not only to the political division between the mainstream political parties in Palestine, Fatah and Hamas, but also divisions among all Palestinians wherever they live: exile (refugees), Diaspora (not refugees), West Bank, Gaza and Israel. We called for an end to this division through elections to the PLO’s Palestinian National Council (PNC), to ensure the representation of all Palestinians and to guarantee that decision-makers will actually obey and listen to the call of the street. “March 15″ became the name of our movement.

Six weeks later Fatah and Hamas signed the “reconciliation agreement” in Cairo, assuring Palestinians, especially the March 15 activists, that the PNC and general elections for the Palestinian Authority’s Legislative Council and President would be held within one year after the agreement was signed.

From where I stand now, as an activist in the former March 15th movement; the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement; and in the un-armed popular struggle in Palestine in villages such as Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, Ni’lin, etc, – I do not see elections as a reality. Moreover, I do not feel represented by the local Palestinian politicians. The PLO may be considered the “sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” but since the PNC does not hold elections, many Palestinians, like myself, do not feel represented by it. Until elections are held, we will continue to demand them.

I cannot celebrate with my fellow Palestinians today; I do not want to chant for Mr. Abbas, nor for Hamas in Gaza. I am a Palestinian and I will defend my rights until they are achieved. Therefore, I will not accept just 20% of the Palestine that existed before 1948, and I will not give up on the rights of refugees in exile to return to their lost homes and land in Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and all the land from which Palestinians were forced into exile in the year of 1948.

The Palestine State on the ’67 border will give me no guarantee of an end to 63 years of exile, occupation and apartheid. It will not bring justice of freedom to me or my fellow Palestinians living in Palestine or the ones in exile.

Mr. Abbas will be giving his speech to the Security Council on Friday, but that speech will not grant me the ability to visit Haifa, nor will it dislodge the blocks of the wall, nor will it result in the removal of Israeli settlements in the lands that were taken over by Israel in 1967.

A message to Mr. Abbas

Mr. Abbas or “ President” Abbas, I do not believe the PLO really represents the Palestinians at this point. The PNC should have held elections before you decided to go into this battle at the UN. As A Palestinian living in Ramallah, I should have been consulted about this move.

The presidential term ended two years ago; the term of the Palestinian Legislative Council is also over; the PA cancelled the Local Council Elections and decided to proceed with the UN bid, ignoring the fact that the Palestinian people are divided as never before.

Abbas might see a large crowd jumping and dancing in downtown Ramallah and the West Bank cities but I can testify that this does not represent all of Palestine and the Palestinian people. The celebrants are not the refugees, whom Mr. Abbas has not visited in their refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan since he returned with the PLO to the occupied territories. Those are for sure not the refugees who marched on May 15 to the Israeli borders demanding their right to return to their land. Those are not the youths who protest against the settlements and against the wall every single week.

We may be in the minority, or maybe we are not. Sixty-three years of occupation have caused many people to give up. Still, not all of us Palestinians have given up, some of us continue to demand a political solution that is not based on splitting lands and creating borders. Our struggle as Palestinians is not an issue of disputed territories; the historical struggle of Palestinians is a struggle for justice, freedom and equality with the right of return at the top of the list. The only way a just solution to the Palestinian can be achieved is to create one democratic secular state for all its inhabitants Muslims, Christians, Jews and others. This is the option that too many Palestinians and Israelis have been ignoring.

Diana Alzeer is Palestinian-Bulgarian political and social activist and freelance producer living in Ramallah, Palestine