English translation: BNC statement against Munib al-Masri normalization project

The following statement was issued by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)  in Arabic (original here) in response to the launch of an initiative, discussed here in Ha’aretz, by Palestinian billionaire Munib al-Masri and Israeli supermarket businessman Rami Levi (whose supermarkets sell numerous settlement products, as well as branches in most settlements). Electronic Intifada blogger Jalal Abukhater discusses the BNC statement here. Below is a full English translation of the BNC statement:

The list of goods marketed by the Rami Levy retail chain built on the 1967 occupied Palestinian land has now expanded to include the marketing of the so-called Arab Peace Initiative. Despite the partial boycott announced by the Palestinian National Authority, including issuing a decree to boycott the products of the colonial settlements, however, Mr. Munib al-Masri, a Palestinian businessman and financier, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of PADICO, chose the Rami Levy store branch located in the Gush Etzion settlement to hold a public meeting with Israeli businessman (and owner of the Rami Levy chain) Rami Levi to announce the launch of a “partnership” that aims to promote the Arab Peace Initiative through the promotion of economic partnership. This partnership is contrary to Palestinian national interests and, therefore, should be terminated immediately.

The intimate relations between a segment of Palestinian capital and Israeli capital, details of which have recently begun to emerge, is one of the worst forms of normalization which gives the occupation state a fig leaf covering its continued occupation, ethnic cleansing, racism, the blockade of Gaza, the aggression of land confiscation and settlement building and the denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. The Palestinian capital that is complicit with Israeli partners in normalization, whether economic or political normalization, is ignoring all forms of Israeli oppression of our people, and clearly undermines the Palestinian national struggle for our inalienable rights to return, self-determination and national liberation.

The “Peace Initiative” endorsed by the Arab summit conference in 2002 was rejected by the Palestinian people because it does not include the rights of our people in the ’48 occupied areas and seeks to cancel the right of return for refugees through the formula of “an agreed-upon solution” with Israel, which necessarily means excluding the return of refugees to the homes from which they fled as affirmed in UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

Some may dismiss normalization with one of the largest promoters of Israeli settlement products and the fundamental flaws in the “Arab Peace Initiative” in order to say that what Mr. Munib al-Masri is doing contributes to promoting an initiative that has received the approval of Arab and Muslim countries as well as official Palestinian approval. But one cannot deny the fact that this initiative was buried since birth, rejected absolutely by Israel and still rejected today, and Israel’s refusal was demonstrated by invading the cities, villages and Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and the massacres which followed, particularly in the Jenin refugee camp, which heroically resisted the invasion. Now, in the presence of an Israeli government that is even more racist and aggressive in its defiance of international law and the rights of our people, we wonder what the reason is for the promotion of this initiative now by Mr. Munib al-Masri and his “partner” Rami Levi.

Munib al-Masri says in order to justify his strange and condemned partnership with Levy, “This new initiative is designed to market the Arab peace initiative in Israeli circles outside the peace camp, which supports the initiative but is ineffective.” But we say that those outside the so-called “peace camp” – mostly Zionist, rejecting most of the rights of our people, and accepting only a Palestinian state with incomplete sovereignty over only part of the land occupied in 1967 without the return of refugees, and without ending the apartheid system – are not dispersed groups, they have representatives, their voices are heard, there is no trouble in reaching them, and they account for the majority. They are represented in political parties holding the reins of government in Israel and have the final say in the Israeli political decision, and they have publicly stated that they are not in favour of the Arab initiative, but are instead seeking actively to accelerate the ethnic cleansing of our people in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Negev, and are in favour of committing more massacres against the Palestinian people and our Arab peoples.

We in the National Committee for the Boycott of Israel, Divestment and Sanctions strongly condemn the Al-Masri/Levy partnership and all similar normalization activities, and we demand to lift the political cover for such practices which are inconsistent with the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and even with the applicable laws of the Palestinian Authority. Finally, we urge our people to reject, denounce and work against all forms of normalization, and to boycott any economic or political partnership that is built on normalization and thus perpetuates the occupation.

We also call upon the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of our people, to not allow such practices of normalization under the pretext that “This initiative has received Palestinian support for its goals.” Our people overwhelmingly reject normalization and distinguish between the wheat and the chaff in every “initiative” that falls on the people, and are determined to continue their struggle to achieve all of their rights, at a minimum through ending the occupation, the return to their homes, and an end to Israeli apartheid. Those who claim to contribute to building our national economy cannot be allied with any form of perpetuating the occupation, the settlements, and the violation of our national rights.

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