Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Eternity of Occupation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) said recently that the Palestinians have been living under occupation for 63 years. Read that again - sixty three years. By my count, the Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation for only 44 years. One could try to argue that Abbas is referring to the 19 years of Egyptian occupation of Gaza and the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in addition to the Israeli occupation since 1967. That seems unlikely.

Had Abbas been referring to any foreign occupation Palestinians have been living under, he wouldn't just be counting 63 years. He'd be counting centuries, or eternity, really. Palestinians have never been independent, so how long they've lived under occupation depends on how long they've existed. Before the establishment of Israel, there was a British occupation, which had itself ended four centuries of Ottoman occupation during World War I. Before that, there were various other occupations. The last time locals in Israel/Palestine ruled themselves before 1948 was during the 1st century BC - and those were the Jewish Hasmoneans, not Palestinians.

So, when Abbas says 63 years, he's referring only to Israeli occupation. That means he still sees Israel itself as occupied territory. Every UN member should remember that when it comes time to vote.

Let's hope the Security Council buries Palestinian Statehood in committee. They should establish a committee that would recommend whether or not to accept Palestine as a member state. It would preferably wait long enough for a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, so it wouldn't be against Israel's will anymore.


  1. Dear Emmanuel,

    I was wondering you may help me in finding Abbas statement on 63 years of occupation. I try to read Abbas' trancription of speech in front of UN - heve yhe one from Haaretz but English is not my languege and possibly I missed the point.

    I have found this :

    "I come before you today speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence".

    Abu Mazen' passionate speech has a lot of points I disagree upon but if this is the only reference to the 63 years ( not sure about ) this are referred to sufference of ongoing nakba and not to occupation provided that Haaretz translation is right.
    Now Abu Mazen is usually ambiguous but this time I think that he was clerly referring to sufference from Nakba and not to Israeli occupation of West Bank ( Judea/ Samaria ) in a strict term that personally I would date back to June 1967.
    But it is maybe possible I missed the point or Abu Mazen spoke about 63 years of occupation out of UN speech

    With regards


  2. I wasn't talking about the UN speech, which was delivered five days after I posted this. Abbas said it in an interview in the New York Times: “We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years.”