By Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis Head of Delegation, UN in New York
On this solemn commemoration of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the global family of 162 Catholic organixzations which comprise the Caritas Confederation confirm our individual and collective support in distinct recognition of the inalienable rights of Palestinians. As in past years, we deliberately associate ourselves on this occasion with the United Nations General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
We do so once again, however, deeply conscious of the grave circumstances and fragile human situations still endured by women, children, men and elder in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza. Caritas continues to monitor the daily realities as we accompany these communities in the just cause of the Palestinian people.
We stand in compassionate solidarity with our dedicated, often heroic, colleagues at Caritas Jerusalem and all their partners who have repeatedly spared themselves to address daily human needs in the occupied Palestinian territories – while also painstakingly seeking the peace needed between Israelis and Palestinians. We confirm the imperative contributions of our Member Organizations in the region whose own lives, expertise and aspirations for the Middle East are intimately intertwined with the Palestinian people. This solidarity distinguishes all serious committed stakeholders believing peace is possible.
The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are defined by law and the international community as: the right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the return of Palestine refugees to their ancestral homes and lands. These are indigenous, human and political, as recognized in countries around the world. They are integral parts of the long search for a truly comprehensive, just and durable settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We respectfully recognize the diverse journeys of persons, families and comunities through decades of extreme difficulties through terrible times. We implore all others to carefully consider these conditions to further challenge the long held “status quo” toward greater, more urgent interventions. Without substantive engagement to address the well known root causes of this struggle for liberation, Palestinian lives remind captive to occupation, barely existing in their anguished survival, mentally as well as physically.
Their sad story, however, is not without strength, determination, even hope. Many state: “Yes, we have hope. Hope beyond hope. This is our story, past to present.” Indeed, this enduring capacity to remain steadfast amidst insecurity and intensified turmoil is known around the world – with what seem to be more communities offering every kind of moral and practical assistance while never quite matching the vast needs. Gratitudes are measured more by the serious expressions of solidarity than the generous supports, appreciated and needed as they are.
While Palestine, the Holy Land, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims,was partitioned after the adoption of UN-GA resolution 181, exactly sixty-one years ago this week, the contless “temporary” rules and procedures have dug deeply into several generations now as regrettaable permanent facts of life. For 30 years this solemn commemoration, held annually at UN headquarters,
continues to turn the calendars – hoping, working, negotiating, searching. In 2007 there seemed a cautious but renewed energized window of opportunity. World leaders spoke anew for the realization of a free idependent Palestinian state by the close of 2008. Today’s 31st commemoration unfolds amidst heightened frustrations in an alarming humanitarian context with the unforunate sense that yet another year has come and will be gone in one month. The hoped-for 193rd Member State, Palestine,
has not been realized. The flagpole stands still amongst the 192 nations waiting. Despite some serious initiatives no breakthroughs have met the Roadmap. Israeli and Palestinian leaders meet without realizing transormation, reconciliation or alleviating the exacerbating effects of the conflict.
Suffering and displacement continue to cut desperate paths to nowhere.
So it is that we too, aware of extemely complex and often convoluted instances, continue to condemn all acts of violence, every attack against civilians, innocent Palestinians and Israelis. Weapons and military aggression are not the path to peace that’s needed now. The long years of fighting have killed souls and spirits, potentials and peoples. This tragic vulnerability is as high as ever – especially notable amidst the exceptional deprivation of 1.5 million people in Gaza. All leaders share measures of responsibility for the isolsation, the political impasse which has further complicated the quagmire.
We recognize the General Assembly’s efforts through its special committee, but urged that its challenging invitation to Member States, world leaders, civil society and the parties themselves
be made more robust, more concrete in day-to-day efforts and monitored far more asiduously so everyone everywhere can know the facts on-the-ground today. This reality check is quintesstial if anything more than another year of dashed hopes leading to another commemoration for the thirty’secoind year. Without the political will to reach new demanding levels of local and regional partnerships, the acts of patient waiting can be cast aside as pathetic distractions from peace.
As persons and organizations walking closely, deliberately with all, we guarantee our steadfast solidarity – rooted as it is in faith, hope and charity for all. Like countless others we ask God’s blessing to encourage all people and nations of good will, especially the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Together we can help these sisters and brothers come home to the peace which is possible.