Every year the United Nations (UN) marks the 29th of November as the
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. The UN
has, through the years, passed dozens of Palestine-related resolutions,
including resolutions by the UN Security Council, most of which have
subsequently been vetoed by the U.S.
On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, many countries represented in the UN attend a special ceremony for the occasion, pledging their 'symbolic' support to the Palestinian people every November 29th for the past six decades.
Concerts, speeches and receptions are the means with which the international organization keeps the question of Palestine remembered by its member states, yet the problem is not solved, as about 3.5 million Palestinian refugees still suffer under the Israeli occupation of their lands, while several million others are still in the Diaspora, looking forward to returning home one day.
In 2001, as part of a media training program at the New York-based United Nations headquarters, I personally witnessed the international gathering on such a remarkable day. Diplomats, politicians, representatives and invitees shook hands, smiled and chatted, while a musical band played nice music that pleased hundreds of attendees.
The 2001 ceremony was followed by five similar ceremonies, once each year, and was no doubt preceded by 52 others, starting with 1948, when the Palestinian refugee problem began.
In 1948, soon after the British colonial mandate on Palestine came to an end, Israeli paramilitary forces attacked Palestinian cities and towns, taking control of 78% of the Palestinian land and forcing hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians out of their ancestors' lands.
The remaining Palestinian people in historical Palestine came under a strict military Israeli occupation, as their lands were confiscated, their homes were taken over and their identity was grabbed.
This new occupation subjugated the Palestinians who were left in the newly-born Israeli state, turning them into Israeli citizens and involving them into the Israeli system up to this moment, but overall they are still Palestinians.
The remaining 22% of the Palestinian territories, after the 1948 war, remained under Arab control; the Gaza Strip followed the Egyptian rule, while the West Bank and East Jerusalem were controlled by the Jordanians.
From 1948 to 1967, the Palestinian refugees were scattered in the abovementioned Arab countries, while hundreds of thousands of others fled to other regions including Syria and Lebanon.
In 1967, the Hebrew state occupied the remaining parts of Palestine (22%), thus completing control over the entire land of Palestine, and subjecting the whole Palestinian nation to the occupation once again.
In 1993, Israel recognized for the first time in history, the Palestinian people's right to exist by signing a declaration of principles with Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people.
After the 1993 Oslo declaration of principles with the Palestinians, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict resumed, by going through several stages that have so far claimed thousands of lives, mostly Palestinians.
The glass building in New York (United Nations), throughout this Middle Eastern conflict, has been watching from afar and from inside offices, casting only verbal denunciations for the horrible events and the continued bloodshed at both ends of this conflict.
No concrete action has been taken to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967. An end to this occupation is the Palestinian requirement to begin any solution with Israel, meaning acceptance of a two state solution, Israel and Palestine, in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.
Unlike other parts of the world, like Iraq, Sudan, Bosnia, East Timor of Indonesia, where the United Nations intervened by force, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is still going on, as Palestinian blood is still flowing (like in the November, 2006 Israeli killing of 18 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, in the northern Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun).
Most recently, following the Beit Hanoun massacre, the United Nations Security Council failed to issue a resolution that condemns that action, because the proposed measure was vetoed by the United States.
Celebrating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people is not enough, while the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is getting much more difficult and violent. Enough is enough. It is time for the United Nations to act — not just to speak, or to celebrate.