By Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Caritas Delegate at the UN
For the 33rd year since 1977, the international community summons world attention to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people on 29 November. The United Nations General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is mandated to acknowledge the need for and engage critical opportunities for solidarity and recognition.
Palestinians in the Middle East continue to struggle for local and global recognition of their basic human rights. These include their personal, political, social, economic and religious rights. This day of solidarity remains again this year an urgent call for concrete action and legislation to comprehensively liberate Palestinian communities from that which unjustly limits life, opportunity and natural developments toward normal existence.
Beyond long years of rhetoric caught within highly politicized circumstances, the lack of determined transparent political will on all sides has stolen life from innocent ordinary Palestinian people. Solidarity in slogans and diplomatic speeches is only significant when it is absolutely matched by actions which promote human rights, provide protection of civilians, assure justice in daily lived realities and facilitate mutually accountable mechanisms to benefit people.
Everywhere that there are Palestinians, we must see them, hear them, recognise them. At the same time we must also recognise their neighbours. In close partnership with Caritas Jerusalem, Caritas Jordan, Caritas Iraq, Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Syria – and our Caritas Middle East Region, we continue to promote and share an authentic vision that peace is possible. We have never abandoned this sustained hope and prayer. We never will.
The solidarity must be objective, humane and responsible. It must carefully encourage and dutifully facilitate real change. Transforming unjust conditions rooted in dysfunctional relationships with persons and civil authorities, lands and resources is what is necessary. Current situation must not remain status quo.
None must not be excluded from dialogue or negotiations at any level. They must be welcome at every table with Israelis as well as other Arab citizens and international stakeholders.
We continue to work for and to support every genuine initiative to tear down walls of separation. However, we know well this can only be achieved through the fullest participation of all stakeholders.
To this end, we ourselves must continue to work to bring people together, to discover anew engaging forms of solidarity which stretch all parties to see all humanity more clearly, and to exercise justice for all with wilful compassion as advised in the three Abrahamic faith communities.
As in other places caught in crisis, Caritas cannot tolerate that Palestinian families remain refugees, displaced in their own homeland. We cannot accept that UN agencies established with temporary transitional mandates now reluctantly commemorate 60 years of myriad humanitarian services for countless communities all over the region. Our solidarity for these people is determined to continue.
We will never walk away. Our accompaniment means we walk with these sisters and brothers. While we provide every form of material assistance, emergency relief so often still needed, and development supports – this will never be sufficient.
Without sustained advocacy and profound peacebuilding work – human rights, daily life and future hopes will never be restored. The Palestinian people require dignity with equal justice now, today not tomorrow – this year not next year.