In another two days the Palestinian people would mark the 53rd year since their Nakba - Catastrophe began. We the undersigned organizations and institutions write not to recall the history of their dispossession and exile. We write instead to solicit your intervention to end the human suffering in Palestine and ensure that the Middle East is not plunged into yet another war.
Despite your busy schedule heightened by the launch of your election campaign, we presume you must have seen, or at least heard, of the brutal murder of the four-month old Palestinian girl, Iman Hijju. We have heard no official condemnation from your government. All we have had is a rebuke by Minister of Middle East Affairs, Brian Wilson, of the Syrian President for describing Israelis as Nazis.
Sir, while you were launching your campaign from that girls' school in southeast London this week Palestinian children were scampering for shelter as their schools came under fire from Israeli artillery and tanks. During the last quarter of the year 2000, 49 cases of military attacks were recorded against Palestinian schools in the occupied territories. In other words 2.7% of the 1,838 Palestinian schools were subject to this punitive collective punishment. What would be your reaction if children in British schools were subject to such terror?
Quite evidently schools are not the only targets of Israeli state terrorism. Only last week, 5th May 2001, the Israeli army fired more than 80 rockets into residential areas held by the Palestinian Authority. Surely there are absolutely no provisions under international law or in the accords signed between the PLO and Israel that allow for such excessive use of military force against civilians.
Prime Minister, the eyes of the nation and, indeed, the entire world are upon you. The Palestinian people, more than any other, are also awaiting your next move. They are, of course, not hanging their hopes too high, as they know you are preparing to receive the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon in Downing Street. They would not be surprised if you entertain him, exchange diplomatic courtesies, and issue a joint communiqué calling for an end to Palestinian terrorism. Whatever the case, we must remind you that it was Ariel Sharon who in August 1953 led an attack against the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Fifteen Palestinians were killed. We can cite many more ghastly atrocities but would suffice only to add the massacre at Sabra and Shatila in which thousands were slayed.
On this the 53rd anniversary of the Nakba the Palestinian people are not seeking emergency relief or financial compensation for their losses and suffering. All they demand is the full restoration of their national rights foremost of which are the rights to return, self-determination and independence. We urge your fullest political support for this just and noble cause in the United Nations, European Union and other international fora. May we suggest that the first step in this direction must be the cancellation of Ariel Sharon's visit to 10 Downing Street.