Dr. Saeb Erekat: “This Land Day is a Celebration of Palestine’s Right to Freedom”

March, 29. 2012

Chief Palestinian Negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, called on the international community “to take a firm stand against the continued Israeli theft of Palestinian land and exploitation of our natural resources”. He made his comments ahead of the commemoration of the Land Day.

“The struggle to protect our land from the Israeli colonial enterprise and settler terrorism is a daily reality in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Today, we celebrate Palestine’s right to freedom and the Palestinian people’s dignified struggle to independence”, said Dr. Erekat. He added, “Israel’s policy of displacing Palestinians and denying them access to their land and resources is the cornerstone of the Israeli settlement enterprise and at the heart of the conflict. For forty-four years, this policy of colonialism, which has prolonged the occupation, has been the main source of violence in the region and the single-most menacing threat to the two-state solution”.

According to the most recent report by Peace Now, Israel has doubled settlement construction in the past two years. Parallel to the settlement expansion has been an alarming increase in settler attacks against Palestinian civilians. According to recent reports prepared by the United Nations, Israeli settlers carried out at least 400 in 2011, including the killing of three Palestinians. In recent days, Israeli authorities issued an order for the confiscation of approximately 21 dunams of land from Bani Hassan village in Salfit, in the northern West Bank, adjacent to three Israeli settlements. Dr. Erekat also referred to events planned worldwide by civil society groups to commemorate Land Day.

“The Palestinian people have been deprived of their basic rights, including their rights to freedom, property, and self-determination. Our people have the right to demonstrate peacefully against Israel’s settlement expansion and to demand the fulfilment of their national and legal rights”. Dr. Erekat concluded,

“The freedom defenders who will partake in the peaceful demonstrations and rallies around the world are marching for dignity towards Jerusalem. Together with them, Palestinians will continue their certain path towards national independence”, adding, On 30 March 1976, Israel killed six protestors who demonstrated peacefully against the confiscation of their lands. Three decades later, Palestinians continue to commemorate all those who sacrificed their lives to defend their land.

For more information please see the following special Report: “Land Day 2012 – Special Focus: Jerusalem”