Ban Ki Moon Meets Popular Committees Reps During Tour of the Wall

Ban met representatives of the Popular Committees in the West bank and received a letter from them during a tour of the Wall held by Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad North of Jerusalem.

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Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad invited representatives of West Bank popular committees to join a tour of the Wall he held with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. Members of popular committees from Bil'in, Nabi Saleh, South Mount Hebron and the Jordan Valley met Ban and handed him a letter at an observation point North of the Jewish-only Givat Zeev settlement and adjacent to the segregated Road 443 and the Ofer military prison, where many of the popular struggle prisoners are held.

The letter asserted the popular committees commitment to civic, unarmed protest, and pleaded Ban to stand by Palestinian grassroots mobilizations against the Occupation. Ban was also asked to pressure Israel to end the repression of protesters and their organizers and act in their defense as Human Rights Defenders.

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The letter given to Ban Ki Moon:

March 20th, 2010

Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Secretary General of the United Nations

We, the Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements would like to express our appreciation for your honoring us with your visit to our villages and communities. We are grateful for the opportunity to meet you in person and to explain our work to you.

We believe that as a people faced by military occupation, we must organize under clear principles based in international law, UN resolutions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Popular Committees believe in the power of non-violence as the most effective agent for change. The Popular Committees are local grassroots groups engaged in a Palestinian led joint struggle of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals, in order to end the occupation and realize our rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law. As such, our loyalty is to our  people and land , and we are not affiliated with any faction or political party. We believe that creativity and hope are our most effective tool in order to break the shackles of occupation and live in freedom. We are civilians, ordinary people, struggling for our lives and for freedom; as such we require and deserve the protection and the intervention of the UN.

More and more Palestinians are choosing to oppose injustice and occupation with grassroots and non-violent resistance. This is why Israel has launched a campaign of repression against our movement, targeting activists and members of our popular committees with arrests and violence. During the recent years of struggle twenty unarmed demonstrators have been killed, hundreds imprisoned and thousands injured. The soldiers and settlers who regularly violate international law, do so with impunity. On the other hand, Palestinian civilians who call for non-violent demonstrations are charged with incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations,  and are jailed and often remanded until the end of their legal proceedings. Recently the lands of two of our villages – Bil’in and Ni’ilin – were declared closed military zones for a period of six months. While grateful for the support already received from UN agencies and especially the UNDP, we ask that the UN directly supports the right to protest and protects civilian demonstrators from attack and imprisonment.

While we are denied the right to build on our land in the 60% of the West Bank that is designated as Area C, Israel continues to build illegal Israeli settlements on this land. Four plans for major settlement construction on our land have been approved by the Israeli government since the beginning of the current so-called settlement freeze. Therefore we plead for your support for projects in Area C - especially in the Jordan Valley, despite the obstacles imposed by Israeli occupation.

We believe that there must be a price for Israel’s flouting of international law and that this price can best be drawn through non-violent means. The impunity that Israel enjoys regarding these violations erodes the faith of many of our people that International law and human rights are relevant to our lives and are not something reserved for others.

We ask you to support us by:

  1. Adopting a clear stance supporting the use of non-violent methods to bring about a resolution to the conflict, an end to the Occupation, and a realization of self determination and human rights for the Palestinian people.
  2. Supporting the efforts, including those of the Palestinian National Authority, to assert the rights of the Palestinian population through projects in the most deprived regions in Area C, especially in the Jordan Valley.
  3. Demanding that Israel immediately and unconditionally implements the ICJ’s advisory opinion on legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by dismantling the Separation Barrier and settlements.
  4. Pressuring the Government of Israel to stop its wave of repression against the activists of the Palestinian grassroots popular movement and to set free those who are imprisoned by Israel for having exercised their inalienable right to defend their lands and livelihoods without the use of violence.

With gratitude and hope of a future of dignity and respect for all the citizens of this land, please receive our warmest regards,
The Popular Committees against the Wall and Settlements
Occupied Palestinian Territory