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By Palestinians

The nature of Palestinian sovereignty

BY: Mkhaimar Abusada for Bitter Lemons

The Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted by the Arab League at its summit meeting in Beirut in 2002, is a comprehensive peace initiative first proposed by then-Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and re-endorsed at the Riyadh summit in 2007. The initiative attempts to end the Arab-Israel conflict, which means normalizing relations between the entire Arab region and Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied in June 1967 and a “just solution” of the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194.

One of the main elements of the Arab initiative stipulates: “The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since the 4th of June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The issue of sovereignty and independence is of great interest and importance to Palestinians. They have not experienced independence or sovereignty in modern history. After World War I, Palestine fell under the British Mandate until 1948, and then Israel controlled 78 percent of mandatory Palestine. The West Bank was then annexed by Jordan, and Gaza was administered by Egypt, both until 1967. As a result of the June 1967 war, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been living under Israeli occupation.

The Oslo accords, signed in September 1993, led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority over parts of the West Bank and Gaza. They have deprived Palestinians of any elements of sovereignty or independence and kept the PA under total Israeli control. Palestinian movement from and into the PA territories is subject to Israeli approval. Commercial exports and imports are also subject to Israeli laws and regulations according to the Paris Economic Protocol.

“Sovereignty”, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. The concept has been discussed and debated throughout history, from the time of the Romans through to the present day, where the notion of globalization has motivated new debates. Although the term has changed in its definition, concept and application, the current notion of state sovereignty is often traced back to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which, in relation to states, codified the basic principles of territorial integrity, border inviolability and supremacy of the state. A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction.

Sovereignty means the right of the state of Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations General Assembly, adopt the UN charter, and conform to international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all other related UN documents. The state of Palestine will also be subject to its own constitution and legal norms.

“Sovereignty” for Palestinians means a total end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It means that Palestinians alone will control their territory, air space, electromagnetic field and water within their own territory. It means the ability to enact laws and implement them over its citizens.

It also means the right of the Palestinian state to form its army and national security to defend territorial integrity and borders. It means the ability to defend the territory from outside enemies and aggression. But Palestine will not need to enter into military alliances, an act that violates the terms of peace and normalization with Israel.

Sovereign Palestine means the right to establish and conduct foreign and diplomatic relations with other countries to pursue peace and prosperity. No country can live in isolation from the community of nations. Countries cooperate in political, economic, security and cultural aspects, and Palestine shall be given the right to develop and pursue its diplomatic relations with Arab and Islamic–as well as western–countries.

It also means Palestine’s ability to administer and oversee the holy sites within its territory. Palestine is home to the three major religions, thus requiring it to respect and protect Jews, Christians and Muslims. Religious sites, especially those in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, must be accessed by their respective observers. Palestine must establish a ministry to preach peace, tolerance and acceptance among all people.

Sovereign and independent Palestine will not live in a vacuum. It will be part of the community of nations that respects international law and human rights, and will do all it takes to pursue peace, security and prosperity in the region.

Published 5/1/2011 © bitterlemons- api.org

Mkhaimar Abusada is a professor of political science at Al-Azhar university, Gaza.

Soldiers in Sarra


On one winter night, Israeli soldiers came to our village with dogs.  They began searching for something but we didn’t know what.

They reached our house at 2:30 in the morning.  They jumped over the gate, then they knocked on the door loudly.  We were not sleeping because we had heard bombs in the village.

My father opened the door and the soldiers told us to sit in one of the rooms downstairs.  Some of the soldiers watched us and others searched the house.  They asked about my brother’s room and checked it carefully.  My little brother, only seven years old, was shivering from the cold.  The soldiers didn’t find anything.

The next day, we were told that they arrested 18 boys.

A few days later, the boys were released.  We were told that all of this was only a training activity for the soldiers.

Innocents’ Rights


In May 2003, the Israeli occupation forces imposed a curfew on my village.  The curfew continued for several days, they didn’t allow us to go anywhere.  There was a food shortage, people needed essential things like bread, vegetables and milk for the children.

While this was happening, the schools where my sons and daughter attended were still open in a village nearby.  I decided to take them to school, a huge risk because of the curfew.

The Israeli tanks stopped opposite to our house because it was closest to the area that wasn’t under curfew and siege.  When the tanks went away, I took my sons and daughter to school.

They had a typical school day, as they had experienced before the siege.  At the end of the day we bought some food, and began walking home.

When we approached our neighborhood, it was imperative for us to go through wheat fields instead of going through the street that leads to our house. We walked into the field, but the Israeli soldiers saw us from their tanks.

They turned their machine guns toward us.  We felt so scared and frightened, we didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t have time to think.  I asked my children to lie on the ground under the wheat spikes.  We began to crawl while the bullets were going over our heads.  We were calling out to God to bless our lives.  Despite the scorching sun, we continued crawling until we reached the edge of a lemon and orange orchard.

We remained there for about two hours.  We were very tired and hungry and had only oranges to eat.  We finally heard the tanks leaving our neighborhood to return to the nearby Israeli settlement.  We quickly began to run out of the field.

We ran to our village and when we reached the main street, I found my husband and the Red Cross waiting there.  They all thought that they wouldn’t find us alive because witnesses told them that a woman with three children were stuck in the gun fire.

For us as Palestinians, this danger is a daily routine.  All of us hold our lives in our hands, not knowing what destiny awaits.

A 10-minute inspection added four months to education


In one semester during my study at the university in the West Bank, I had three consecutive exams.  On the first exam day as I was going to the university, I faced a very hard army checkpoint.

It was very crowded and the people were waiting in very long line.  People had to pass one-by-one, and I knew it would take me a long time to pass. That meant I’d may be late to the exam.

So, I tried to avoid the checkpoint by walking through the mountains.  I was caught by Israeli soldiers and I explained to them that I have a final exam but they did not care. They didn’t let me return home and they forced me back to the crowd, so again I had to wait for my turn to pass.

I reached the university too late and missed the exam.  The same thing happened on the way back home. I waited to pass for a long time and I reached home late. I didn’t have enough time to study for the exam the next day.

As a result of all this, I had to register the two courses again and delay my graduation for 4 months just because of a ten minute inspection.

I was disappointed and got angry, although I knew that others had suffered much more than me. Some have lost their lives because of checkpoints that prevented them from arriving at hospitals in time. Many women have been forced to give birth at the checkpoints.   They are the most difficult tragedy for us.

An architectural tour of the Old City in Nablus


Amjad is a mechanical engineering student at An Najah University.  This is the first solo video project for Amjad, who is hoping to combine his engineering work with his interests in the media and the environment.  He plans to continue his education after a few years of work.

Kids play violent video games in Nablus, West Bank


Haya is studying journalism at An Najah University in Nablus, West Bank. In January 2011, she will begin her M.A. in Filmmaking at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Here is her latest video from Nablus.

Messages to America

During the last three months, I taught a Spoken English class for adults who teach English to young people in Nablus and the surrounding villages.  During the class, we had intense debates, told jokes and shared stories about our families and life experiences, from the loss of our parents and grandparents to personal stories about the occupation.

I once asked my class, what, in their opinion, I can do to help make a change for Palestinians.  They all responded with the same answer.  They all said that I should share the stories of the Palestinian people.

Today we had our last class and I asked them each to write a message to those reading this site.

Here are their messages to you.

  • Hello friends,

I don’t know you individually and you don’t know me myself, but my short message for you is this.

Let politicians work in policy, this is their job, and let the world love its people.  We are two different groups of people but we share in our feelings of humanity.  We are all human and we should do our jobs for the world.  Give love, peace, happiness and hope toward humans, since we are not strangers who came from space or Mars.  My message for you, in brief, is this, “Warm words don’t cost much yet they accomplish a lot.”  We try to heal our wounds and pain from the occupation, especially Palestinian, Iraqi and Afganistani people.  So, we people have to like each other apart from politics since politics is a bad game.

All Palestinians love you and send their regards.

-Nisreen Ghanem

  • Dear Americans,

Freedom started from where you are and then spread to the whole world.  Americans are well known for freedom and equality.  No country is still under the occupation except for Palestine.  We trust the American people, that they can do something to help us get rid of the occupation.

A Palestinian,

-Mahmoud Bsharat

  • A message to America.

I hope you will treat all the citizens of the world the same.  Don’t humiliate people politically, then give them aid.  Please try to change your political policies around the world.  Life isn’t eternal, so make people happy.

-Muna Numan

  • Dear Americans,

I hope that you never experience being under an occupation as we are.  I hope you know the truth about our issue and I wish for you to come to my country to see and judge for yourselves.  I wish you won’t take any side, just be a fair judge.

I hope you won’t suffer as we do.

-Hasan Ali

  • A Message to the American people.

I am so happy to have this opportunity to write to you.  First of all, I would like you to know that we, the Palestinian people, are not terrorists. On the contrary, we are a peaceful and social nation.  We like foreigners, but our case is like that of any other occupied nation whose land is taken by strange people who don’t have the right to it.  We don’t want any financial help from anyone, but we only want your empathy and support.

-Samah Tuffaha

A few of the articles students’ chose for class discussions:
Liberating America From Israel, by Former Congressman Paul Findley
The Real Cost of US Support for Israel – $3 Trillion, by Christopher Bollyn
US hails ‘constructive’ direct Middle East peace talks, BBC News
US Military Aid and the Israel/Palestine Conflict
Support builds for boycotts against Israel, activists say
If Americans Knew – statistics

Poems by a Palestinian girl

In March 2009, I visited a friend’s home in Palestine.  Her young daughter, Nadine, wrote the below poems.

our country

you look see feel

but no

u do look

u do see

but u do not feel



and look around

u see up and down

every were no one wants u

just go away.

this is our country place and life

stop talking it away

when its not rifuallly yours.

you kill us

beat us

we fight back for our lifes

but wait

u fight to take this place

just go away.

it happend to u disscrimanasion

but u dont think of it at all

and do the same to us discrimanasion.

you kill us

beat us

but u never feel if we had the same wepinz

we would be wining.

this is not a fair fight

u have food supplize and family

we barly have any just go away.

dont u see what u have done

yove killed children for no reasen.

you through at us

we through at u

but wich one is stronger


just go away.

its  our country place and lifes

stop steeling it away

your smiling and happy for what yove done


The window

when u look threw the window what do u see

the wind there and the rain for me .

but look closley and see can u find the great wisdom and happyness for u .

look threw the right window that is for u

pick it with goodness and right

look threw the window that is bright.

there is the side of sadness and hate and the side to smile and be happy,

pick the right window when u you look closley you  will no the path foe you .

look threw the window that is right for you.

commmunicating peace

peace is the choice u pick in life

how u commmunicate peace

a lovely wonder and wisdom

you need look closly

and hold each others hands

and rome in harmony

and love to eachother

block the bitterness

enter the wonder and wisdom and have a peaceful life.


life is a great thing that u can sometimes dought  life passess fast and runs  long ways the choice of your life is up to you hold it tight so it never gets loose. dont you see what life is what ever u so will effect u pick the right choice.

peace freedom love

peace freedom and love

that what we need want it and make it bigger

bring the peace bring it strong so we can live toghther  and get along

we need it yes we do

also if we want the peace the love has to be there

peace oh peace pray for it so we can get along

we need it

we have to love so peace will be a peace and just get along peace.

believe in the peace

if we want peace we have to work and belive for this wonder to be and for peace to be come bigger we have to love and hold on to each other and make the peace a bigger and bigger if we want the the peace we have to live it   and want it we all get toghther  make the vive of peace stronger so we can live with happyness peace we need it in life  we have to hold is and beliven what is right choice and path to pick. pick it know and have the peace in your heart peace we need it some people dont want it but try to change there mind never never say that this can never happen peace is what we need PEACE.

the goal peace

peace peace thats what we need we want peace yes we do were striving for peace  little bye little bigger by bigger the steps get big the steps get small but alalong we succseed out goal peace in the middle east.