Razan Zuaiter, who is president of APN and the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty (ANFS), delivered a speech at the conference 'United against the Deal of the Century and the Annexation Plan' on Thursday, July 12, 2020, at the invitation of the Arab Forum. The Arab Forum is composed of the Arab National Conference, the National Islamic Conference, the General Conference of Arab Parties, Al Quds (Jerusalem) International Foundation, and the Arab Progressive Front.
She discussed the implications of the annexation on Palestinians, their land, holy sites in Palestine, and the threat the annexation poses to other countries and people in the region.
During the conference, which was attended by 102 Arab specialists, and held on Zoom, Zuaiter said that it was necessary to overcome reactions and set strategic, short, medium, and long-term steps to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea. She added that "we all know that the annexation or the building of settlements has been a continuous and systematic colonial process that has been going on for more than 100 years."
Zuaiter called for unity and joint action at the local, regional, and international levels with a clear strategy. She said that there needs to be practical initiatives in the Jordan Valley to support the populations there before it is too late. She spoke about the efforts of APN in the framework of what is described as 'green resistance', where the organization planted about two and a half million fruit trees in Palestine, enabling families to keep their lands, which are constantly threatened with theft and confiscation by the occupation.
Engineer Razan Zuaiter's speech at the forum: -
Greetings to all. We thank you for this opportunity and your touching words. Thank you to the organizers and who made this meeting possible.
We can achieve what we want if we define our goals. What are our goals? Is it reacting to the annexation scheme? Or is it setting short, medium, and long-term strategic steps that would seek to liberate our land, our entire land, from the river to the sea? We all know that annexing, settling on, or poisoning land is a continuous and systematic colonial process that has been going on for more than 100 years. Palestinians are benefiting from only fifty thousand acres out of 720 thousand dunums of the Jordan Valley. Isreal stole 72 thousand dunams and built settlements on them. 400 thousand dunams are controlled by the Israeli forces under military pretexts. Their plans do not stop at "annexing the Jordan Valley". They want to expand into all Area C, which constitutes 60% of the West Bank. This calls for unity and joint action at the local, regional, and international levels with a clear strategy that transcends only a reaction, or the illusion that there will be an actual freeze to the settlements.
Those who have looked into the Zionist project or those who support it understand that there is also interest in the Jordan Valley from the Jordanian side, Lebanon, Syria, and perhaps other countries in the region. For this reason, there must be cooperation between Jordan, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon, at the grassroots and official levels.
We affirm, as many others have, that unity is the only way to make a fundamental transformation in working for the Palestinian cause, and that history will not forgive any party that fails to do so. We must build strength that encompasses military, political, economic, and agricultural aspects. The occupying Israeli entity is relentless in its attempt to control the valley, which is the most fertile agricultural land in the world. It is the food basket of Palestine and has rare environmental and natural treasures. In 1967, food security in Palestine was at 90%, but in 1993, the percentage decreased to 20%. At the time when food security was low, Palestinians were dependant on Israel for food. Now there is a deficit of about 30% of food security, and if a decision passes to annex the Jordan Valley, the percentage of food security deficits will double to about 60%.
Urgent action is needed to implement initiatives in the Jordan Valley to support the populations there before it is too late. To be able to do this, we must build a transcontinental solidarity network with the help of participants here today.
We ask that Arab governments stop normalizing with the occupation, and we strongly demand that they break away from the Oslo and Wadi Araba agreements. In conclusion, I would like to refer to an important statement that was issued recently by 47 experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council, during which they stated that the 'annexation decision' is a violation of the United Nations and that the occupation violates the rights of the Palestinian people. The statement says that it is not enough for there to be abstract condemnations of the decision as was done when East Jerusalem was annexed in 1980, and when the Golan Heights were annexed in 1981. If foreign experts are moving from condemning the annexation to demanding urgent action, what are we waiting for? We have to have an integrated strategy that uses all available forms of resistance. For example, we, the APN, worked within the framework of 'green resistance' when we planted two and a half million fruitful trees in Palestine, enabling many families to hold onto their lands, which are always threatened with theft and confiscation by the occupation.
I conclude with a warning that my father, Akram Zuaiter, may God have mercy on him, gave in the '30s of the last century. He used to say "He who accepts injustice deserves it, and he who does not value his dignity deserves to be insulted, and there is no injustice except for those who accept unfairness".