Most unfortunate, indeed, is that historic issues of enormous import for millions of people, taken up by the United Nations Security Council have been with the passage of time sidelined and almost forgotten. Two such cases relate to Kashmir and Palestine.

In the case of Kashmir, the Kashmiri freedom fighters continue to suffer from brutal military oppression, with the internationally acknowledged party to the dispute, i.e. Pakistan, doing little to ensure that it (the dispute) is settled one way or the other in accordance with the United Nations resolutions. As for Palestine, Israel has gone beyond repression to displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and what is worse demolishing a large number of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.

The record of horrendous acts of commission in Gaza and the West Bank is well known. The occupation and the non-stop construction of new Jewish settlements in defiant violation of the United Nations Resolutions have continued for decades with the USA more or less complicit in such Israeli illegal and unacceptable designs and operations.

Israel’s uncivilised behaviour hit the headlines recently when an Israeli court announced its judgment in the case of an American young woman’s death caused by a bulldozer crushing her, while she was protesting against the demolition of the home of a Palestinian girl. The judge has totally absolved the Israeli authorities and has made the bizarre observation that it was a mere accident cavalierly ignoring the fact that according to the photographs appearing in the press at the time of the incident, Ms Rachel Aliene Carrie was wearing a bright orange vest and was clearly visible standing right in front of the bulldozer. For the judge to say that the driver was not able to see her makes a mockery of the facts of the case. This happened in the Gaza Strip nearly 10 years ago.

What the Israelis have done in the West Bank, violative as it is of the international verdict enshrined in the UN Resolutions, is, indeed, most atrocious. A high wall has been raised to shut off the Gaza Strip. The East Jerusalem has been taken over. And, in accordance with a plan, the Palestinians are being thrown out, quarter by quarter.

The West Bank has been divided into sections A, B and C. According to a report submitted to the UN in 1967, the Jordan valley had about 267,000 Palestinians. Presently, their total number has come down to 50000 only. Again, 95 percent or so of all the Palestinians have been pushed to areas A and B, while area C is being absorbed as a part of the added Israeli territory.

The coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and a well known human rights activist, Frank Barat, interviewed last May the Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Jeff Halper.

Barat’s detailed interview is most revealing. According to his report, a virtual “ethnic cleansing” has been going on in East Jerusalem, starting in 2007. Most of the Palestinians have been pushed beyond the wall: “Jerusalem is now 80 to 85 percent Jewish.” And Israel now extends from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.

Reverting to Rachel Carries’ case, she was a part of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) whose members were acting as human shields to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes. According to an Israeli non-government organisation, 160,000 Palestinians have been displaced within the occupied West Bank and Gaza. House demolitions were the most visible part of this operation.

Last year, the Israeli Committee in its report to the United Nations provided the relevant information.

According to Halper, “We have gone beyond the occupation. The Palestinians have been pacified and from Israelis’ point of view the whole conflict, the whole situation is normalised…....Netanyahu went last month to Washington to meet with Obama. When he came back his adviser was asked what was new about this meeting. And his adviser said, this is the first time in memory that an Israeli Prime Minister met with a US President and that the Palestinian issue was not even mentioned, it never came out. So, in that situation where the US is really paralysed because Netanyahu has both parties in Congress (on his side) and Obama does not want to do anything - Netanyahu is going to make the last move in nailing this whole thing down. The US in a way has already agreed that the settlement blocks are part of Israel.”

Has the case for the Palestinian liberation and struggle for an independent state petered out? My answer is: no! The flame of freedom shall continue to burn. The struggle may have receded to a backburner. A just cause cannot die. It is bound to quicken itself. This may take a long time. Hope shall not die. The same, I say, for Kashmir. The enormous sacrifices shall not go in vain. We have to help the movement to remain alive. If there is a pitch dark night, a bright dawn surely will follow!   

    The writer is an ex-federal secretary

    and ambassador, and political and international relations analyst.

    Email: pacade@brain.net.pk