Friday, June 15, 2007

LONDON - 11 June 2007 - 545 words


Pax Christi join national rally for justice in the Holy Land

Thousands of demonstrators came to Trafalgar Square on Saturday, to show their support for the Palestinians living under occupation, in a rally marking the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War and subsequent occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Similar events took place in other cities around the world. The rally was organised by Enough! a coalition of over 50 charities, faith groups and trade unions.

On Pentecost Sunday, Church leaders of Jerusalem issued the following statement about the anniversary: "This year marks the 40th anniversary of occupation by the Israelis of land previously held by Palestinians. It is totally unacceptable for the situation to continue where the Palestinians endure daily hardships and humiliations with deprivations of international human rights, allegedly to ensure the safety and security of the Israelis, whereas we believe the security of Israel is dependent on the freedom and justice of the Palestinians."

A host of speakers urged those taking part to work for dialogue and political change to bring justice for the people of Palestine.

Anglican Bishop Riah Abu El Assal, spoke movingly of the role of Jerusalem as the capital of the Holy Land, saying that the shortest way to peace in the world is through peace in Jerusalem. He urged political leaders to be peace makers and not just peace talkers. Bruce Kent called for a spirit of hope - drawing on the recent peace plan in Northern Ireland as a sign of how situations of injustice and violence can be turned around.

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire who recently visited Palestine, spoke of the parallels between her own country Northern Ireland and Palestine. She reminded those listening that thirty years ago she stood at this same spot calling for peace, justice and human rights for the people of Northern Ireland and today she made the same appeal for the people of Palestine.

Netan'l Silverman, a former Israeli soldier, spoke of the work of Combatants for Peace, a group of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, and of the culture of fear which keeps people apart and breeds violence. Combatants for Peace seek to challenge acts of violence in Israel / Palestine and to encourage nonviolent resistance to the occupation.

Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian Authorities' Minister of Information addressed the rally calling for international support to the democratically elected government. He compared the situation to apartheid South Africa stating that "Israel cannot be changed from within, there needs to be pressure from outside". His call for a boycott of Israel was echoed by several speakers. He also called for the release of Alan Johnston.

Two other members of the Palestinian government, the Minister of Education (who is now under Israeli detention) and the Minister of Planning, had intended to attend the rally, but were not granted visas by Britain. In a video message to the crowd, Prime Minister Ismael Haniya said that Israel had conquered the land, but that it had failed to conquer the people. He called for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Several British politicians also called for an end to the occupation, including Jeremy Corbyn MP and Baroness Jenny Tonge, who are both patrons of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, as well as Richard Burden MP, Emily Thornberry MP, George Galloway MP and Caroline Lucas MEP.

Alison Shepherd, President of the Trade Union Congress stated that the TUC had renewed its policy of support to the Palestinians last year and had started a campaign to add its voice to the growing call for an end to occupation. She highlighted the worsening economic situation, increased poverty, and the exploitation of Palestinian workers.

Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary of UNISON, also spoke of the need to recognise international law and called for the wall to be brought down.

Two celebrities, both British Jews, addressed the rally, Alexei Sayle, and Miriam Margolyes, by video message.

The ENOUGH Coalition, made up of more than 50 organisations including Pax Christi, War on War, Quaker Peace & Social Witness, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Interpal, Medical Aid for Palestine and a number of Trade Unions will now work towards a of Lobby of Parliament which will take place in November.

For more information see: and

Source: Pax Christi/Enough

© Independent Catholic News 2007

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