Thursday, 11 February 2016
Amid a row between Israel and Brazil, the opening of Palestine’s first embassy in the Western Hemisphere adds to momentum of statehood.
Palestine is ascending. The decades old Israeli occupation—complete with land grabs, messianic vigilantism, facts-on-the-ground, Hasbara, defiance of international law and all manner of absurd oppression—is losing steam around the world.
From the United Nations granting Palestine non-member Observer State status in 2012 to the hoisting of the Palestinian flag outside UN headquarters in New York last year, the state of Palestine is reaching new diplomatic levels.
The latest such development came this week when the Palestinian Authority opened an embassy in Brazil, its first in the Western Hemisphere.
It is likely the new Palestine-Brazil diplomatic relations come at least in part as a result of Israel’s recent attempts to appoint Dani Dayan as its ambassador to Brazil. Dayan is a longtime settler advocate and calls for unequivocal Jewish expansion in the West Bank—illegal under international law.
Since Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced his decision to name Dayan as ambassador, Brazil’s foreign ministry has stalled approving the appointment. Then in December the ministry reported it would not recognize Dayan’s credentials, sending a clear message to the Israeli government.
The ceremony on 3 February was held on land donated by former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and included representatives of various Arab countries and Arab Brazilian communities.
Ibrahim Alzeben, Palestine’s new ambassador to Brazil, spoke glowingly about the historic event. “This is the conclusion of a dream of mine that was also a dream of colleagues that came before me in this mission in the last four decades,” said Alzeben. “I hope that this is the beginning of a new phase in relations between Brazil and Palestine, that they can be closer and more diversified.”
The Times of Israel reports that on the same trip, just two days before the ceremony, Alzeben joined Jewish and non-Jewish figures to commemorate the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. At this event, Alzeben said “I could not be absent. It is very important to remember this date,” at the event in Rio de Janeiro.
This show of solidarity just confirms Palestine’s adherence to the right side of history.
Since 1975, less than a decade after Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, the Palestine Liberation Organization (Palestinian political body that has since evolved into the Palestinian Authority) has maintained a diplomatic presence in Brazil. The Palestinian Authority has kept an embassy staff in the country since 1998.
The Brazilian embassy is currently in Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, but in his speech Alzeben said he hopes to open an embassy in Jerusalem eventually.
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967 after the Six Day War. In the prospective Palestinian state, Jerusalem is intended to be the capitol.
Brazil first recognized Palestine as a sovereign state in the 1967 borders in 2010.
Falk reprimands Ban Ki-Moon over truth about Israel’s crimes
‘The politics of deflection’ (shoot the messenger, ignore the message) exposed
With obvious relish Richard Falk, former professor of international law at Princeton and UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Occupied Palestine, has issued a well deserved slap on the wrist to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his naivety. It follows Israel’s furious reaction to Ban’s remark to the Security Council that “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half-century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process”.
The usually timid Ban, suddenly emboldened, also called Israel’s illegal settlement building “an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community”. He added: “Security measures alone will not stop the violence. They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people.” Whereupon Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu, fresh from approving another 150 squatter homes on stolen Palestinian land, accused the Secretary General of giving a “tailwind to terror”.