Tendai Manzvanzvike Foreign Editor
THE announcement by United States of America President Donald Trump on Wednesday that “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” sparked international outrage. The Herald Foreign Editor Tendai Manzvanzvike (TM) spoke with the State of Palestine Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Her Excellency Taghrid Senouar (Amb Senouar) about the centrality of Jerusalem in the Palestinian-Israeli issue, and why it has created such an uproar.
TM: Your Excellency, when US President Trump announced that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, what did it mean? Why is Jerusalem so important in the Palestinian question that it created such anger and uproar in the global community?
Amb Senouar: Jerusalem is the national, cultural and spiritual capital of Palestine. It’s charged with a rich history and heritage and has been a symbol of peaceful co-existence between the three monotheistic religions across centuries, namely, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. None can alter its character nor its spirit that goes beyond the region.
East-Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied territory of the State of Palestine, which encompasses the West Bank with East Jerusalem in its heart, and the Gaza Strip. It is an established legal and political fact that is recognised by 138 countries. This has also been constantly reaffirmed by all United Nations resolutions.
There is an international consensus on the status-quo in Jerusalem and no announcement can change that. If you speak about peace in the Middle East, you cannot leave out Jerusalem, which is at the heart of Palestine and one major final status issue in the Middle East peace process.
Israel, through its colonial enterprise and the building of the illegal wall keeps trying to isolate Jerusalem that has nearly 400 000 Palestinian citizens, from their natural continuity in the occupied territories of Palestine.
For centuries, the guardians of the key to the Holy Sepulchre has been a Palestinian Muslim family. They go and open the Church in the morning and close it at the end of the day, not many people know that.
Palestinians have shown the whole world the meaning of co-existence between religions, and we are proud of that. We are proud of our history and heritage in Jerusalem, and we have an ancient civilisation. We can therefore not revise history.
Palestine is pleased with the overwhelming international reaction from world leaders and moral leaders like Pope Francis, all local churches in Palestine and the region as well as Muslim dignitaries in the region and worldwide.
Thus Jerusalem carries lots of symbolism to people beyond Palestine and the region.
TM: The United Nations Security Council the Arab League were set to meet. What are your expectations from these meetings?
Amb Senouar: Most importantly, to reaffirm the commitment to international law; the Palestinian people’s rights in Jerusalem, but also a commitment to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the international legitimacy. This should be followed by concrete steps to restore and condemn any occupation measures, and the affirmation that Jerusalem’s status quo is not affected.
A meeting of the Palestinian Central Council shall be held in the coming days to discuss a Palestinian national position. There will be a meeting of the ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Arab League tomorrow, as well as an OIC meeting on Wednesday and the UNSC should discuss the consequences of this declaration.
TM: Do you expect that the United States will listen to the international voice?
Amb Senouar: We hope that the US will be listening to such an overwhelming international action.
TM: And President Trump? Do you think that he will abide by these affirmations?
Amb Senouar: We hope that he will, but again it’s not up to whoever to decide, for the status quo of Jerusalem is a fact. Nothing can alter the co-existence in Jerusalem.
The Israelis will never succeed in their occupation, despite trying in the past 70 years; they never succeeded and they will never because we know our rights according to international law.
If you compare it to the apartheid regime in South Africa, or what you suffered in Namibia, the end result was that right is might. At the end, only right prevails, and only peace can prevail.
Palestinians will not give up, and the international community consensus is among the strongest. So, we are armed with our will, with our notion of statehood that comprises history, culture, identity, economy, psychology – and Palestine has got it all.
You don’t get it by oppressing other people, by destroying their lives and the Israeli occupation is doing that.
TM: Apart from the international outcry, there has been widespread protests, some of them violent. What do you make of it?
Amb Senouar: The political consequences are grave. We are committed to peace and we are against violence. But with this announcement, it is only predictable that there is anxiety, anger, feeling of oppression, and this is completely counterproductive.
TM: Does this then mean that the US cannot broker peace between Palestine and Israel?
Amb Senouar: This announcement has no legal foundations and it is against international law and agreements. The US is supposed to be a peace broker and leader of the peace process in the Middle East, but in doing so, they have to be objective.
Jerusalem is the final stance on this issue, alongside other issues like refugees, water, settlements, etc. This kind of announcement that has no legal foundation and stands outside their role as peace brokers in the Middle East.
TM: It’s anachronistic!
Amb Senouar: We cannot talk about peace without the resolution of the Palestinian question.
TM: How much support have you received from Africa?
Amb Senouar: Our brothers and sisters in Africa have always been very supportive to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People .
The African Union has stood with us, for you cannot dissociate yourself from history or your brothers. We are pleased with the solidarity and overwhelming support.
TM: Your final remarks!
Amb Senouar: Israel doesn’t want a solution but neither occupation nor oppression can last.
It’s high time that our people live in freedom, dignity and justice and recover its legitimate rights in its independent State within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Article Source: The Herald