Following is the text of the letter addressed by CPI(M) General Secretary, Harkishan Singh Surjeet to Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, on the visit of Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon to India.
September 06, 2003
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Government of India
Sub: Question of Palestine & Government of India’s Stand
Dear Shri Vajpayee,
While your government has decided to bestow honour on Mr. Ariel Sharon, the controversial Prime Minister of Israel and Chairman of the infamous Likud Party, you have failed to spell-out your government’s policy towards Palestine, which is currently under the brutal occupation of Israel.
You are well aware that India was staunchly opposed to the decision of the United Nations to divide Palestine in 1947 and to handover 56 per cent of the land for the creation of a separate homeland for “Jews” called Israel. However, the Indian Government later reconciled to the UN decision and recognised the State of Israel on 17 September 1950. At the same time, the Government and the people of India had always remained steadfast in extending their unflinching support to the just cause of the Palestinian people, more than half of whom had become refugees after they were driven out from their native land by the Zionists following the forcible establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Although Israel was allocated 56 per cent of the Palestinian land in 1947, the Zionists actually occupied 78 per cent of the land during the War of 1948 before the UN affected a ceasefire. In the controversy that followed the annexation of the excess land, creation of the separate State of Palestine did not materialize and the territory that was allocated to the Palestinians remained under the occupation of Jordon and Egypt, which had volunteered to defend them against the Zionist onslaught. Subsequently, as a result of the war that the Zionist State waged in 1967, the entire territory of Palestine was occupied by Israel.
Despite numerous UN resolutions seeking the withdrawal of Israel to the position existing before the 1967 War – to the so-called Green Line – and to hand over the rest of the territory to the Palestinian people, the reality is that till September 2003 Israel has not vacated the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem on one pretext or the other.
Meanwhile, with a view to making the demand to withdraw in-fructuous, the Zionist leadership of Israel began to settle Zionist supporters, mostly immigrants from Europe and North America, in the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem on an increasing scale. The steady rise of the Zionist settler population and the accompanying security arrangements for their safety and well-being has meant gross interference in the daily lives of the Palestinian people by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) as well as by the terrorist wing of the settler movement called “Gush Emunim” and “Kach”, whose dubious activities find little mention in the international media.
The humiliation and ill-treatment which the Palestinian people have to endure have no end. Bloodless terror tactics like uprooting trees and destroying standing crop are routinely undertaken by the Zionists in order to hurt Palestinian interests since most Palestinian peasants' livelihoods are based on olive, date, almond, and citrus fruit orchards. Tens of thousands of trees and thousands of hectares of standing crop have been systematically destroyed since the time of the first Intifada that began in 1987. Imposition of strict curfews in Palestinian towns and villages on a regular basis – leading to loss of thousands of working days - is yet another one of the Israeli Government’s calculated methods for wrecking the Palestinian economy.
Palestinian homes and establishments are routinely bulldozed in one area or the other area for the benefit of the Jewish settlers or are selectively blown up as a way of meting out exemplary punishment to relatives of suspected “terrorists”. Moreover, Palestinians are literally confined to some 190 islands as travel within and between West Bank and Gaza Strip is severely restricted through a network of road-blocks and check-posts, which are set-up for the safety and convenience of the Jewish settlers in the 200 or more settlements across the occupied land. Those who dare to protest against such unbearable humiliation are arrested and detained or exiled for an unspecified period of time. (The sufferings that the hapless Palestinians are forced to undergo have been acknowledged by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People of which India is one of the 25 member-states.) These oppressive actions are part of a deliberate policy to make living conditions for the Palestinians extremely intolerable so that it becomes easy to hound them out of West Bank and Gaza, which would then be annexed for the creation of ‘Eretz Israel” or “Greater Israel”.
Bloodless terror is systematically interspersed with bloody terror from time to time. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF), apart from their regular highhanded actions, has on numerous occasions carried out massacres against the Palestinian people. Mr. Ariel Sharon’s personal involvement in these massacres is well documented from 1953 and at least on one occasion he had to resign his post as Defence Minister. That was on 13 February 1983 after a Commission of Inquiry set up by the Government of Israel and headed by the then President of the Israeli Supreme Court found him guilty of complicity in the massacre carried out in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut during 16-18 September 1982.
The highly unbearable living conditions does force a few Palestinians to resort to senseless suicide-bombing attacks and such micro terror gets all the attention while the macro terror of the Israeli State goes unnoticed! (Sure, there are cases where innocent Israeli citizens become targets of terrorist attacks. But that appears to be part of a deliberate ploy to divert the world’s attention from the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and to discredit the genuine representatives of the Palestinian people, the PLO.)
Therefore, in the context of the invitation extended to the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to visit India, it is incumbent on the part of the Government of India to reiterate its stand on the question of Palestine. The Government will have to explain as to whether it continues:
1. To support the creation of an independent State of Palestine in accordance with all relevant UN resolutions including Security Council Resolutions No. 242 of 22 November 1967 and No.338 of 22 October 1973.
2. To seek complete withdrawal of IDF from the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
3. To seek dismantlement of ALL Israeli settlements from the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
4. To support the return of ALL Palestinian refugees back home.
5. To support the Oslo Peace Accord of 13 September 1993.
6. To recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the genuine representative of the Palestinian people.
7. To support the convening of an authoritative international conference for peace in the region as proposed by the UN General Assembly resolution 38/58C adopted on 13 December 1983 and reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly through Resolution No. 43/176 adopted on 15 December 1988.
Reiteration of these positions is necessary considering the fact that the policies followed by the Israeli Government led by the Likud Party, and by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in particular, are totally contrary to the above positions. It is time that the Government of India clarified its stand instead of trying to ‘run with the hare and hunt with the hound.’
(Harkishan Singh Surjeet