and the month of November...

In the land of heavenly messages to mankind, in the land of Palestine, the Palestinian Arab people were born. They grew up, developed and introduced creativity into their human and national existence through an unbreakable and continuous organic relationship between people, land, and history. Generation after generation, the Palestinian Arab People has never ceased to courageously defend its homeland. The unbroken chain of our people's rebellions was a heroic embodiment of the will for national independence. As the modern world was forging its new value system, the balance of power locally and internationally excluded the Palestinian destiny from the overall destiny of the world and it became clear, once again, that justice is not the sole force to make the wheel of history move forward.

Thus, the big Palestinian wound was ripped open to show a painful paradox: people who have been deprived of independence and whose homeland experienced an occupation of a new kind was subjected to an attempt to spread the lie that "Palestine is a land without people".

Despite this historic falsification, the international community recognized, in Article 22 of the Charter of the League of Nations of 1919, and in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, that the Palestinian Arab people, similarly to the rest of the Arab peoples who severed their relations with the Ottoman state, are a free and independent nation.

The occupation of the Palestinian land and other Arab territories by the Israeli army, the eradication and eviction of the majority of the Palestinians from their homes through organized terror while the rest of them are being subjected to occupation, oppression, and operations aimed at destroying the features of their national life, is a flagrant violation of the principles of legality, and the UN Charter and resolutions that recognize the national rights of the Palestinian Arab People, including the right to return, self-determination, independence, and sovereignty on its homeland.

On the basis of the natural, historic, and legal right of the Palestinian Arab people to self-determination, political independence, and sovereignty over their soil, the Palestinian National Council declared, at its session in Algiers in 1988,‘in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, the birth of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian soil with Holy Jerusalem as its capital’.

November is a month full of events related to the Palestinian people. On November 2nd, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a public letter to Baron Lionel de Rothschild, an out stanfing representative of the Jewish community in Great Britain, declaring that a Jewish national home would be established in Palestine which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. In other words, neither Great Britain, nor any other entity had the right to exercise authority over the territory of Palestine, let alone to hand it over to a foreign people as if it were a ‘land without a people’, as widely claimed by the Zionist circles at the time. Similarly, neither Sir Balfour, nor anybody else had a legal, political or moral right whatsoever to state that the land of Palestine, which did not belong to any of them, can be given to anybody other than the Palestinian Arab people.

In 1920, after the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, Great Britain occupied Palestine and appointed a Jew, Herbert Samuel, as the first High Commissioner for Palestine. In 1922, the League of Nations issued a mandate for British administration of the territories of Palestine thus opening the way to a massive illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine in order to enforce the Balfour Declaration. In the meanwhile, a series of Palestinian revolutions were crashed, with many of their leaders being killed. The situation culminated in the 1930s with the massive inflow of Zionist gangs in Palestine which gave rise to the Great Palestinian Revolt 1936-1939. It all led to armed clashes between the native Palestinian population and Jewish immigrants, with lots of victims. As a result, Great Britain appointed the so-called Peel Commission in 1937, followed by the Wood head Commission in 1938. These two British government commissions called for the partition of Palestine into two states, an Arab one and a Jewish one. However, the Palestinians rejected the partition and refused to recognize the commissions.

In the aftermath of World War II, as the Organization of the United Nations took over from the League of Nations, it established the Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) on May 15, 1947. This Committee, composed of many states except for the permanent member states of the UN Security Council, came up with two plans to resolve the conflict. The first plan proposed the creation of two independent states with Jerusalem under international control. The second plan was about forming a federal Jewish-Arab state. Most UNSCOP member states were inclined to accept the partition plan with some revision of the borders between the two states, the Arab one and the Jewish one. The partition decision was to come into force on the day of the British Mandatory Army’s withdrawal from Palestine.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations adopted a resolution on the partition of Palestine into two states: a Jewish state for the Jewish immigrants, and an Arab state for the Palestinians. The vote on the destiny of the Palestinian people and the partition of its land took place in the evening on November 29, 1947. By that time, the UN counted only 57 members states of which 56 took part in the voting and one, the Kingdom of Siam (today’s Thailand), did not vote. Three of the then great powers, i.e. the Soviet Union, the United States, and France, approved of the partition plan, while Great Britain preferred to abstain. All Arab and Muslim states, as well as Greece, India, and Cuba voted against. The partition won 33 votes, 13 states voted against, 10 states abstained and one was absent. Commenting on the pressure put on the member states to vote for the Partition Resolution, the then US Secretary of Defence James Forrestal wrote in his memoirs: "The methods of pressure and coercion employed on the other nations in the UN were scandalous"

On October 1st, 1948, the All-Palestine National Council, convened in Gaza under the chairmanship of Hajj Aminal-Husseini, proclaimed the independence of the whole of Palestine as a democratic state of all its citizens and with Jerusalem as capital. Unfortunately, this declaration won no international recognition. On the other hand, the Jews proclaimed their independent state named Israel on 78%of the territory of Palestine, although the Partition Resolution had assigned to them a little more than 50%of the total territory.

The Palestinian people did not surrender; it went on fighting to recover its homeland and stolen rights. Thus, 1965 witnessed the beginning of the contemporary Palestinian Revolution with the launch of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In 1967, Israel occupied the rest of Palestine - the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip which represent 22% of the total Palestinian territory.

On November 2nd, 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. On November 15th, 1988, the Palestinian National Council declared the independence of Palestine on the territory occupied by Israel in 1967, i.e. the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. This led to the State of Palestine being recognized by 105 states. The Republic of Bulgaria, which was among the first states to recognize the independence of the State of Palestine, has won our respect and gratitude for its ongoing support for the struggle of our people to put an end to the occupation and recover their national rights.

In September 1993, the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, and Israel, led by Yitzhak Rabin, signed the Oslo Agreement which granted the Palestinian people a five-year interim period of autonomy, to be followed by the recognition of the State of Palestine on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. However, Israel does not abide by the clauses of this agreement: it has not put an end to the occupation, and has not withdrawn its troops from these territories so far. Nevertheless, the PLO continued its struggle which was crowned on November 29, 2012 by granting the State of Palestine the status of non-member observer in the General Assembly of the United Nations, recognized by 138 member states. Again, Israel refused to recognize the State of Palestine and placed a blockade upon the headquarters of the President of the State of Palestine, Yasser Arafat in Ramallah until his martyrial death on November 11, 2004.

There have been thirty-two years since the Palestinian independence was proclaimed and Palestine is still languishing under occupation. It is on the UN that lies the burden of the historic and moral responsibility towards the Palestinian people of finding a just solution to their national problem, ensuring their protection against the occupation’s abuses, and granting the recovery of their national and historic rights, insofar as the UN is the one that played a role in giving rise to the Palestine problem, an issue further discussed at all international forums. It all started with the Balfour Declaration, followed by the faulty decision to support the partition of Palestine. Moreover, we believe that the European countries, which resolved their own Jewish issue during World War II by deporting their Jewish natives to Palestine to colonize it and live there, have also a great deal of responsibility. Thus, we are now facing a new issue: the Palestine problem which has been waiting for a solution for more than a hundred years now.

There have been thirty-two years since the Declaration of Independence and since the Palestinians accepted the international resolutions and the establishment of their state on 22% of the territory of their homeland (the West Bank of the Jordan River, including Eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). However, peace has not been achieved so fardue to the manoeuvres of Israeli officials and their refusal to respond to the fundamental peace conditions stemming from the international law and resolutions. At the same time, the great powers lack the political will to enforce international law and relevant UN resolutions. In this situation, the Palestinian people go on fighting for their place under the sun - the sun that will rise in the sky of their homeland which shall be free, sooner or later.

Ahmed Al Madbuh

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Palestine to the Republic of Bulgaria

The photo was provided by the Embassy of the State of Palestine in the Republic of Bulgaria.