The fifth Bil’in International Conference on the Popular Struggle

April 21-23, 2010

Closing Statement

The participants who included many high level diplomats and Palestinian politicians from across the political spectrum were welcomed to Bil’in by the head of the Bil’in popular committee Iyad Burnat and previous Vice President of the European parliament Luisa Morgantini.

Iyad Burnat stated that “Our movement is growing and developing locally and globally. The presence this year of all the Palestinian political factions as well as high level international diplomats at the Bil’in conference on nonviolent popular resistance reflects the growing consensus around the necessity and effectiveness of the nonviolent popular struggle as a way to end Israel’s expanding occupation and Apartheid policies.”

During this fifth annual conference, we felt the absence of our friends who are prevented by the occupations cells and bars from joining us, imprisoned for struggling non-violently for our freedom, activists and leaders of the popular committees Abdullah Abu Rahmah, Ibrahim A’amirah, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, Hassan Moussa, Zaydoun Surour, Ibrahim Burnat, Wael Faqi and all political prisoners.

The conference opened with a message from them written by the imprisoned coordinator of the popular committee of Bil’in, Abdullah Abu Rahmah. The message spoke of the need to continue the popular Nonviolent struggle and the need for international support.

We felt the absence our beloved Bassem Abu Rahmah, along with the martyrs of Ni’lin and those that have fallen to defend our land and human dignity. We heard from the family of the martyr Bassem Abu Rahmah, on behalf of the families of the martyrs who stated that the popular struggle must continue until freedom is achieved.

We felt the absence of our brothers and sisters from Gaza who can join us only via video conference due to the occupation’s criminal siege of a million and a half of our people. All those that were not with us physically were with us every minute in spirit. It is your steadfastness and your sacrifice that fuel and inspire the struggle that will ultimately lead us to our freedom.

Mohammad Khatib representing the popular committees addressed the participants and stated that “We shall maintain the popular struggle far from internal and external political pressures; we shall uphold the ideal of national unity, for we are united under the Palestinian flag. We shall cooperate with all, but at the same time we will not permit anyone to control us or lead us in service of a factional or partisan agenda, for our popular committees represent all the sons of this country in all its segments; it shall remain a popular movement with grassroots leadership, conscious and committed to the goals and aspirations of our people.”

Prime minister Salam Fayad stated that the popular struggle will play an important role in ending the occupation and committed to the Palestinian market being free of Settlement products within a year. To the multitude of foreign diplomats present he spoke of the need to stop importing settlement goods or to at least end the preferential treatment they receive. Fayad declared that Palestinian development projects in area “C” and in the areas West of the Apartheid wall will continue as that land is occupied and not, as Israel claims, “disputed” land.

Mustafa Barghuti representing the national and Islamic forces spoke of the spreading of the Bil’in model and the revival of the Spirit of the first Intifada while calling on the diplomats and activists to work to prevent rewarding Israel’s occupation by allowing it to join the OECD.

Abass Zaki member of the Fatah movements central committee spoke of the need to support the popular struggle and of his meeting with coordinator of the Bil’in committee Abdullah Abu Rahme in Ofer military prison where he was held after being arrested at a nonviolent demonstration on Palm Sunday when Palestinians attempted to exercise their freedom to worship in their holy sites in Jerusalem.

We heard from our brothers and sisters from Gaza via satellite conference from Izbat Abed Rabo that was largely devastated in the Israeli war of aggression in January 2009. We spoke to grass roots activists from Gaza. BDS and One State activist Haidar Eid and organizers from the popular committee against the buffer zone Mahmud Al Zik and and Saber Zaanin from the initiative against the buffer zone. They were joined by activists from International solidarity organisations working in Gaza, and Lubna Masrwa with the Free Gaza Movement, Adi Mormech from the ISM and Max Ajl from the Gaza freedom March, about their work to break the siege. We then heard from residents of Izbat Abed Rabo, Mukhtar Izbat Abed Rabo who survived the January 2009 assault. Bishop Atallah Hanna from the West Bank sent a message of unity to the people of Izbat Abed Rabo stating “your suffering is our suffering your pain is our pain your struggle is our struggle”. Um Khatem Abed Rabo, a refugee from 1948 who lost many of the members of her family in January 2009 spoke of the responsibility of both Israel and Egypt in the killing of her family.

We heard form our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem Arch Bishop Atallah Hanna, Ziad Al Hamuri, Ihab al Jallal, Murad Abu Shaffa about the struggles of the residents of Jerusalem against Israeli attempts to transform Jerusalem into an Israeli colony. Ziad Al Hamuri spoke of the need to challenge the escalating Israeli campaign of stripping Jerusalem residency rights from its Palestinian citizens.

The BNC Boycott presented a panel that focused on Israeli Apartheid policies and the renowned journalist and author Jonathan Cook spoke of the Apartheid within the 1948 borders of Israel, professor Nura Erikat of the legal definition of Apartheid and how it applies to Israeli polices, and BNC coordinator Hind Awad told us of the growing successes of the global Palestinian-led BDS movement.

Popular committees across the West Bank told us of their challenges, their creative resistance and BDS campaigns and the repression they face and the price they pay for their resistance. Activists from the global struggle including David Bondia of the Russell Tribunal presented us with International campaigns of solidarity and resistance. Sahar Vardi presented on the joint struggle, Jonathan Pollak on the repression of the popular struggle and Raja Abu Rahma, the daughter of Adib, who has been in prison for ten months for protesting non-violently,  spoke of the effect of the repression on her family.

The support from all Palestinian political factions was affirmed during a panel that brought representative from all the major political factions, Nabil Shaath form the Central committee of Fatah, Khaleda Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Quis Abu Leila from the Democratic Front For the Liberation of Palestine, Alam Jarrar of Al Mubdara, from the National parties and Mahumud Al Ramahi representative of the Islamic legislators and secretary general of the Legislative Council affirmed their commitment to the popular struggle. Khaleda Jarrar spoke for the need of a united message and proposed a message of ending Occupation Colonialism and Apartheid.

After a very full day we were inspired by the film Budrus about the successful nonviolent struggle that moved the Apartheid Wall off Budrus’s land.

We woke up to the second day of the conference to learn that olive trees were being uprooted in Beit Jallah. While the workshops of the conference continued as planned some of the activists from the conference went to the scene of the crime and six of them were arrested by the Israeli police.

After a participative process we agreed upon the following :

1. TO PROMOTE LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY

1) To give support to the Russell Tribunal for Palestine and its final conclusions stated in March 2010 in its first session in Barcelona, including the demand that Israel, and other states, implement international law, treaties and agreements. We recommend the creation of National Committees of the Russell Tribunal in our respective countries.

2) To promote legal actions against corporations profiting from the occupation, through:

  • Sharing information between the different countries about the corporations based in them.
  • Sharing the experience from previous cases and using it for the second session of the Russell Tribunal about corporations.
  • Raising the responsibilities of the corporations and their collaborations in the apartheid regime.

2. TO PROMOTE BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL

1) In terms of Disinvestment the priorities should be:

  • To work globally against the EU preferential agreements
  • To work globally for avoiding the entry of Israel into the OECD

2) In terms of Boycott the priorities should be:

  • International and Local campaigns on: international corporations that have a relevant local presence with important investments in Israel, Banks and funds, Jewish National Funds, Israeli goods coming from the free zones
  • European and International Universities should stop any kind of university agreements and exchanges with Israeli universities
  • Promoting boycott against Israeli tourism advertising
  • We must prioritise all kind of boycotts on the cultural level

3) We must promote the exchange of: experiences, contacts, information, research on products and others, online forum, promotion of trainings and joining the Israeli apartheid week

3. TO ESTABLISH AND SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK FOR THE PALESTINIAN POPULAR NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE

The International Network for the Palestinian Popular Nonviolent Resistance, founded in September 2009, is enhanced by the 5th Bil’in Conference, widening the number of members and implementing a coherent strategy. The following actions have been chosen as the most prominent to be developed immediately after the conference

1) We call upon all the solidarity groups and organisations working in solidarity with Palestinian popular nonviolent resistance to join their efforts through the International Network for Popular Nonviolent Resistance. We call upon joining it in the website: internationalpopularstruggle.org.

2) Coordinating the sending of activists to Palestine among the organizations that are part of the network, informing in advance details about the teams and the contacts.

3) Realising one global day of action in support of the Popular Struggle, with initiatives in each country. The first is foreseen on Thursday the 10th of June 2010.

4) Promoting International support to the struggle, with a regular small monthly donation on behalf of individuals/organisations.

In conclusion of the conference Bil’in committee invited everyone to join the weekly demonstration. A Palestinian protester from Jaffa suffered a head injury after soldiers shot him directly with a tear gas projectile that hit his forehead. Five demonstrators were arrested and released on bail that night.

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