Christian institutions in Palestine1 call upon churches and Christian organisations across the world to raise awareness about the systematic human rights violations the Palestinian civilian population is experiencing2. In the Kairos document3 Palestinian Christians ask their Christian sisters and brothers to take on board the injustice of the occupation, and to act to end the occupation. Y Global has several partner organisations in the area with whom we want to show solidarity, and we endorsed the Kairos document in 2009. We are also bound by the resolutions adopted by our two world alliances: The World YWCA and The World Alliance of YMCAs4.
The purpose of this document is to state Y Global's policy on the political situation in Palestine and Israel. The idea that peace can only be achieved through justice is the foundation of our policy.
The basis of Y Global's policy is international law, UN resolutions on Israel and Palestine5 and human rights6. The Palestinian people have a right to a viable, independent state based on the borders of 1967. Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, are occupied by Israel. This is in violation of UN resolutions, for example Security Council Resolution 242. Y Global acknowledges the State of Israel's legitimacy according to international law. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to self-determination within internationally recognised borders, to full sovereignty, to international recognition of their elected leadership and to just peace with security for the civilian population.
The Palestinian civilian population loses basic human rights and land as a result of the occupation. This happens through, for example, the building of Israeli settlements and infrastructure and because of the separation barrier. All of these factors violate international law and hinder the Palestinian population from developing an independent, geographically continuous state. This hinders peace. Israel is, as the occupying power, bound by the Geneva Convention IV concerning the protection of civilians.
In order to achieve lasting and just peace in Israel and Palestine the occupation has to end and all parties in the conflict have to follow international law, UN resolutions and human rights.
The power balance between the occupied and the occupier in a conflict is asymmetric. Neutrality presupposes equal parties7. Y Global does not take sides in the conflict, but recognises that all parties in the conflict have a responsibility to follow international law and human rights. Israel is, however, militarily superior and, as the occupying power, has to take the greatest responsibility for reaching a solution to the conflict.
Y Global rejects the use of violence from all parties in the conflict.
3. Ways of working
Y Global wishes to work for just peace based on international law and an end to the occupation using non-violent means. By non-violence we mean actions that do not damage either party in a conflict and that acknowledge both parties' human dignity. At the same time we do not have a passive attitude to the conflict, but will actively fight injustice.
Y Global wants to raise awareness in Norway, especially within the YWCA-YMCA-movement, about the situation in the area. In particular we want to emphasise the situation for Palestinian youth. The goal is to have as many people as possible work for a just peace. We want to mobilize for solidarity with Palestinians through peaceful demonstrations, campaigns according to our policy and church initiatives. Y Global will continue to influence Norwegian authorities to work for just peace.
The writers of the Kairos document refer to economic sanctions as a non-violent method that has worked before, and they therefore call the international community to join the boycott movement BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). This movement started when in 2005 Palestinian civil society called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as long as the state does not respect international law and Palestinian rights8. Since then BDS has grown to an international movement. Y Global joins this movement, both as a response to the Kairos document, and because we see such economic means as both right and necessary. There are few non-violent alternatives that can contribute to ending the occupation, and BDS therefore has to be a central tool in our work. Y Global calls for a broad economic boycott to get Israel to end the occupation. This does not mean that we do not recognise the state of Israel.
2) Partner support
We work to raise funds from individuals, associations and from the government to support projects run by YWCA and YMCA in Palestine. We also support advocacy campaigns run by our partners, and leadership training for youth and women so they can be involved in the peace building. Through the support to YWCA and YMCA we wish to contribute to a strong Palestinian civil society. This is important both in the work against the occupation and in building a democratic Palestinian state. Through support to YWCA and YMCA we wish to contribute to sustain the Christian presence in the area. Through our partner support we wish to work for dialogue and diapractice between religious groups.
3) Exchange and networks
Y Global wishes to work together with organisations that share our view. We cooperate with networks in Norway and our partners in Palestine to recruit participants for exchange programs, and we are one of the sending organisations for the World Council of Churches Accompaniment Program (EAPPI). We have a representative on the board of the Mount of Olive Foundation. This foundation works to ensure an international and ecumenical presence and cooperation with both local Palestinian Christians and church communities in Norway.
Adopted at the board meeting of Y Global on the 27th of November 2012.
Some relevant UN resolutions:
- 194, addressing the issue of refugees and their right of return (adopted by the General Assembly December 1948)
- 242, addressing the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories (adopted by the Security Council 22nd November 1967)
- 1397, affirming the vision of a two-state solution in the region and addressing the need for safety of civilians and respect for International Law (adopted by the Security Council 12th March 2002)
- 1402, addressing cease-fire and withdrawal of Israel troops from Palestinian cities (adopted by the Security Council 30th March 2002)
- 1403, reaffirming Resolution 1402 (adopted by the Security Council 4th April 2002)
- 1325, on Women, peace and security (adopted by the Security Council 31st Oktober 2000)
1 Y Global uses the term Palestine about Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem. The UN often uses the term "The Occupied Palestinian Territory", and in Norway the term “The Palestinian Territory" is common. We choose to use Palestine because several of our partners use this and because it is easier to read. We still consider Palestine as occupied and not an independent state.
2 Amongst the human rights violated are the rights to movement, property, decent standard of living and self-determination, (See the web pages of the Israeli Human Rights organisation B'Tselem: http://www.btselem.org/settlements/international_law (29.10.12)).
4 15th World Council of YMCAs, Oaxtepec, Mexico, 14th-20th July, 2002. Resolution: Peace with Justice in Palestine and Israel.
YWCA World Council, Nairobi 2007. Resolution: Dignity, Human Security and Economic Stability of People in the Middle East http://www.kfuk-kfum-global.no/filestore/middleeastresulutionYWCA.pdf
5 See appendix 1.
6 UN's Human Rights Declaration and Conventions.
7 "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." Desmond Tutu
8 http://www.bdsmovement.net/ 29.10.12