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Interview Nabil Abuznaid: “They can swallow Palestine, but they will not digest it”

Nabil Abuznaid: “They can swallow Palestine, but they will not digest it”


Jornal de Notícias 09-03-2017


The memory is of the 1960s and the store where Nabil Abuznaid went with his mother to buy the school uniform in the heart of Hebron. Today, he represents in Portugal the country that, in the legal eyes of the world, does not exist.

Today, he cannot take his children to that central street and show them that memory. He is not allowed to enter there, even though it is an internationally recognized Palestinian territory. Territory, not state. There is an Israeli settlement. Hope in the UN? If it did not depend on Trump’s dollars …

The opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem was confirmed for May. Can it ruin the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue?             
If at the time there is some dialogue left to ruin … In my perspective it is already ruined. That will just put salt in the wound. On that day, the Palestinians will witness a second “naqba” (“catastrophe”, as the Palestinian exodus of 1947-48 was called) in the city we believe should be the capital of Palestine, for which we have fought all these years. It will be a sad day, a black day for humanity, for politicians, for the peace camp, even for the United States, a country built on the right to self-determination and now legalizing occupation. East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and continues to be considered by the international community as an occupied territory. And now (the American president) Donald Trump comes to reward the occupant and legalize the occupation saying: enjoy, it is yours. It will be a sad day for all those concerned with peace, international law and for all people except a few dozen such as (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and company, who are organizing celebrations.

Trump’s decision encouraged the Palestinian Authority to reject the US as exclusive mediators in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Who will be the right mediator?       

We are not talking about who, but the principles by which he rules. If you want to be fair, we do not care where you come from. It is not about replacing the US, but about finding the just mediator who can really bring peace. How a mediator can bring peace says: Jerusalem is out of the discussion and I give it to one side. Who gave you authority for this? What right is it that a real estate magnate who sells towers and land in New York must give up my land – Jerusalem-East is almost all Palestinian and of Palestinian cultural heritage. We seek an honest mediator, but also have real influence. We look at Europe, for countries like France, for the whole world. Because this is a conflict that affects the whole world. If you look at the vote (from the resolution rejecting the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem) at the United Nations, the United States tried to use money to influence the vote. Not only have they taken a stand as they want to drag the world behind them. Who is affected? Poor countries that suffer the most. Like Guatemala, a poor country that decided that it will do the same as the US.

Looking at Syria, the UN seems to reveal a lack of power to intervene. Was it worth the leader of the Palestinian Authority to go to New York for intermediation?      

Why not go where we can still go? We have to get on the podium where the international community joins. We tried in 1974, when Yasser Arafat went to the UN and said, “We have the weapon and the branch of the olive tree: do not let the branch of the olive tree fall from my hand, let us work for peace.” The international community has not done much: since 1974, what happened between the Israelis and the Palestinians was bloodshed. Now we go back there and say, “Please, let us take this peace process forward.” We are trying. What else can we do? And look at the US war against us for going to international organizations, which is where you go when there are conflicts. When we went to the International Criminal Court we were punished, when we went to UNESCO, UNESCO was punished. We cannot go to any international organization because there are financial threats from Washington. We hope that (UN Secretary-General) António Guterres, who knows who the Palestinians are, can do something. But there is also pressure on him and the UN, with threats of funding cuts. We do not realize why it is that when it comes to Palestine, the US thinks differently.

With the whole world together in the chaos of Syria, Israel annoying Iran, Netanyahu pondering to anticipate elections to legitimize himself on accusations of corruption, etc., aren’t you afraid that the Palestinian cause is being lost in the foam of they days? 

The Palestinian cause will always be important. Wherever I go, any city, country, I see initiatives in support of Palestine, 70 to 80 percent of the world’s people are on the side of Palestine. It has to do with justice, as it did with apartheid in South Africa. The cause cannot be swept under the rug. When Israel occupied 78 percent of Palestine and 28 percent (the West Bank and Gaza) came under the responsibility of Jordan and Egypt, Israeli leaders said: “Great, Palestine no longer exists on the map!” They think they can swallow Palestine. But they will never digest it.

The truth is that, across the West Bank, it is increasingly difficult to perceive Palestine as a territory. There are checkpoints, the roads are closed to the Palestinians …         

The occupation is not easy. It not only controls the land but also destroys the culture. By preventing me from going to Hebron they are robbing me my childhood. But they will not rob me of hope and determination. I will continue to resist. And I can see the victory of the Palestinians. We have a poet, Mahmoud Darwish, who says Palestinians have two options: victory or victory.

How many generations will it take to witness this victory?          

I hope not much more. I leave a message to the international community: you must not leave us alone, you must fight with us. As Desmond Tutu used to say, to see oppression and to think that it is nothing with us is to align with the oppressor. It is the responsibility of the international community to help make our children free. Why do we have to live our lives under the threat of guns, why do our mothers have to weep their children in prison – we have more than 7,000 people detained in Israel. For what? Wanting to live well in the place where they were born. We are not born slaves. We were born to be free like the rest of the world, but we have to fight for it. We are barred from traveling from one city to another, barred even from burying the dead. In 70 years, we have not witnessed a single day of justice. We need the world to stand up for us.

Is it possible to imagine advances with Netanyahu?          

Netanyahu plays the game well. And he found a partner who encourages his behavior. Since Trump’s decision on the embassy, ​​he is trying to implement Israeli law in East Jerusalem and expel the Palestinians from there. That is why it is time for the international community to recognize the state of Palestine and tell Netanyahu: “This land is internationally recognized, it is occupied, and it is Palestinian territory, so stay away from it.” International shyness only encourages him to continue with the settlement policy. Why should he stop? I ask the International community if you have not yet realized that criticizing Netanyahu is not the right medicine? It is time for the world to assume that it wants to save the two-state solution and say to Netanyahu it is enough.

Do you think Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old young woman detained after being filmed kicking Israeli soldiers, could become the new symbol of Palestinian resistance?         

It may, but we have so many symbols of these ..

She had “luck” …         

For being alive.

Yes, but also by the international projection that her image gained.      

And how does that image benefit her in prison? She can be a symbol, just like any Palestinian mother can be, her mother, has two children in jail and is alone … Believe me, I could write a book about each of the Palestinian families. Tamimi appeared on television and became known, but there are so many young Palestinians no one has heard of: they were killed in the dark, buried in secret. This must stop. Why do we have to leave the house in the morning with the anxiety of not knowing if we will be back at the end of the day, living worried about being late to school because of security checks, or not being able to harvest our olives. Why do not we have the right to have a land that we can call ours? What harm have we done? What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust was a crime against humanity, but why do the Palestinians have to pay for it? We do not want to erase Israel from the map. We want to live as neighbors, with good neighborly relations.

You came from Holland to Portugal. You were in Washington before. Does the way the Palestinian cause look differ from country to country?            

Much. The Netherlands is considered the second pro-Israel nation in Europe, after the Czech Republic. It was a difficult mission, but interesting because of the effort to try to change attitudes and opinions. Here, the people are very friendly, but I feel they are not very political.

Not interested?           

I figure they have their own problems. And I feel that youth is less involved in international politics – I’ve never been contacted by universities, nor sought for information, lectures, nothing. In Washington and the Netherlands, it was the students who made the difference. They influence politics a lot. The Palestinian question should be important to any student interested in international law, peace and democracy.

Embaixador palestiniano em Portugal vê António Guterres refém de Donald Trump

O embaixador da Palestina em Portugal, Nabil Abuznaid, disse hoje à agência Lusa que o secretário-geral das Nações Unidas (ONU), António Guterres, está refém do Presidente dos Estados Unidos na questão do processo de paz israelo-palestiniano.

Em declarações no final da sessão pública de solidariedade para com a Palestina organizada no Porto pelo Conselho Português para a Paz e Cooperação (CPPC), Nabil Abuznaid acusou ainda Donald Trump de ter “destruído a esperança em torno da discussão do processo de paz”.

Questionado sobre se a Palestina sentiu melhorias com a chegada do português à liderança da ONU, o embaixador respondeu que “não trouxe nada de novo ao povo palestiniano”, justificando-o pelo facto de o antigo primeiro-ministro de Portugal “estar refém de Donald Trump”.

“A ONU sente a ameaça dos Estados Unidos, que exerce um domínio amplo, com Trump a ameaçar publicamente que quem não votar de acordo com os EUA sofrerá as consequências”, repudiou Nabil Abuznaid.

Considerando que o líder norte-americano é um “homem sem visão para a paz”, argumentou que se ele “continuar a espalhar tensão por todo o mundo como faz na Coreia do Norte, pode tornar-se num senhor da guerra”, traçando um paralelismo entre o antigo Presidente Barack Obama que “tentou conter os países” e a “vontade de dominá-los” de Trump.

“Ele pensa que pode fazê-lo da mesma forma com que com o seu dinheiro compra tudo”, disse do Presidente norte-americano Abuznaid, considerando que este “deveria conduzir o processo de paz e não o de mudança de lugar das embaixadas”, numa alusão à mudança da representação diplomática dos EUA para Jerusalém decidida por Trump.

E acrescentou: “os israelitas podem celebrar hoje a mudança das embaixadas para Jerusalém mas um dia verão que foi um processo estúpido e vão sofrer por causa disso”.


Imprisoned Lives: The Reality of the Mass Incarceration of the People of Palestine

his publication outlines mass incarceration, relevant Israeli military orders, and highlights this oppressive system with personal stories of those affected by these policies. It is an opportunity for those whose siblings, children, and partners – who are as much the target of this policy as their incarcerated loved ones – to share their experiences so that the reality of the Palestinian prisoner may be seen for what it is: the continued suppression of a people’s legitimate quest for self-determination and dignity.

 to read click here:

There will be no peace until Israel’s occupation of Palestine ends


The current escalation in violence did not start with the killing of two Israeli settlers, it started a long while ago and has been going on for years. Every day Palestinians are killed, wounded, arrested. Every day colonialism advances, the siege on our people in Gaza continues, oppression persists. As many today want us to be overwhelmed by the potential consequences of a new spiral of violence, I will plead, as I did in 2002, to deal with its root causes: the denial of Palestinian freedom.

Some have suggested the reason why a peace deal could not be reached was President Yasser Arafat’s unwillingness or President Mahmoud Abbas’s inability, but both of them were ready and able to sign a peace agreement. The real problem is that Israel has chosen occupation over peace, and used negotiations as a smokescreen to advance its colonial project. Every government across the globe knows this simple fact and yet so many of them pretend that returning to the failed recipes of the past could achieve freedom and peace. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

There can be no negotiations without a clear Israeli commitment to fully withdraw from the Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; a complete end to all colonial policies; a recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people including their right to self-determination and return; and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. We cannot coexist with the occupation, and we will not surrender to it.

We were called upon to be patient, and we were, giving chance after chance to reach a peace agreement. Maybe it is useful to remind the world that our dispossession, forced exile and transfer, and oppression have now lasted for nearly 70 years. We are the only item to have stood on the UN’s agenda since its inception. We were told that by resorting to peaceful means and to diplomatic channels we would garner the support of the international community to end the occupation. And yet, as in 1999 at the close of the interim period, that community failed yet again to undertake any meaningful steps, neither setting up an international framework to implement international law and UN resolutions, nor enacting measures to ensure accountability, including boycott, divestment and sanctions, which played a crucial role in ridding the world of the apartheid regime.

So, in the absence of international action to end Israeli occupation and impunity or even provide protection, what are we asked to do? Stand by and wait for the next Palestinian family to be burned, for the next Palestinian child to be killed or arrested, for the next settlement to be built? The entire world knows that Jerusalem is the flame that can inspire peace and ignite war. Why then does the world stand still while the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people in the city and Muslim and Christian holy sites, notably Al-Haram al-Sharif, continue unabated? Israel’s actions and crimes not only destroy the two-state solution on 1967 borders and violate international law, they threaten to transform a solvable political conflict into a never-ending religious war that will undermine stability in a region already experiencing unprecedented turmoil.

No people on the globe would accept to coexist with oppression. By nature, humans yearn for freedom, struggle for freedom, sacrifice for freedom, and the freedom of the Palestinian people is long overdue. During the first intifada, the Israeli government launched a “break their bones to break their will” policy, but for generation after generation the Palestinian people have proven their will is unbreakable and needs not to be tested.

This new Palestinian generation has not awaited reconciliation talks to embody a national unity that political parties have failed to achieve, but has risen above political divides and geographic fragmentation. It has not awaited instructions to uphold its right, and its duty, to resist this occupation. It is doing so unarmed, while being confronted by one of the biggest military powers in the world. And yet, we remain convinced that freedom and dignity shall triumph, and we shall overcome. The flag that we raised with pride at the UN will one day fly over the walls of the old city of Jerusalem to signal our independence.

I joined the struggle for Palestinian independence 40 years ago, and was first imprisoned at the age of 15. This did not prevent me from pleading for peace in accordance with international law and UN resolutions. But Israel, the occupying power, has methodically destroyed this perspective year after year. I have spent 20 years of my life in Israeli jails, including the past 13 years, and these years have made me even more certain of this unalterable truth: the last day of occupation will be the first day of peace. Those who seek the latter need to act, and act now, to precipitate the former.