What is particular to the Palestinian case is the exceptional frequency with which the right of return was insisted upon, time and again, by the United Nations and the international community.
UNGA Resolution 194 clearly resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible”.
Israel’s admission as a member of the UN was made conditional on its acceptance and implementation of resolutions including UN Resolution 194; this demonstrates that without question, the UN and the international community saw Israel as fully responsible for the complete implementation of this right.
This right was further reaffirmed by the UNGA on more than 135 occasions, clearly reflecting the consistent will of the international community on this matter.
As The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah told Al Jazeera English on Saturday, “the basic issue of Israeli military occupation, colonization [and] apartheid is really the elephant in the room.”
Israel controls every aspect of Palestinian life in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
For example, the White House plan mentions “logistical challenges” Palestinians “routinely encounter” that “impede travel.”
“The most moral army in the world”
In reality, Israel imposes a biometric ID system at its military checkpoints all over the occupied West Bank to enforce a pass system on Palestinians that amounts to a high-tech version of what existed in apartheid South Africa.
Kushner’s plan to build a railway between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip would not dismantle this racist architecture but simply streamline it.
It is reminiscent of how Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt lauded “the updated facilities and security procedures” at the Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah from Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.
He called for similar “progress” at other checkpoints. There couldn’t be a clearer example of what South African anti-apartheid veteran Archbishop Desmond Tutu called polishing the chains of the oppressed.
There are other absurdities in the plan; for example, the White House cites the “limited access” Palestinian farmers have to “land, water and technology” for hindering the advancement of agriculture.
In reality, Israel has done everything to ensure such limitations. For instance, it bans Palestinian farmers from digging wells on their own land in the West Bank and even prevents them from collecting rainwater.
And in Gaza it bulldozes crops, sprays them with herbicides and shoots at farmers.
Israeli occupation forces also protect settlers as they steal, damage and destroy Palestinians trees in the West Bank, especially leading up to the olive harvest season, a pillar of Palestinian agriculture.
Kushner’s plan claims that Palestinian access to housing is due to “high real-estate prices across the West Bank and Gaza.”
Now why on Earth would Palestinians face a housing crisis? Could it be because Israel drastically limits their access to their own land while it accelerates the construction of Jewish-only settlements on it?