We cannot forget 1948 and we won’t

Palestinian MP Haneen Zoabi (interviewed on Radio National Breakfast on Friday) spoke to ABC Radio PM last night. This took place before a well-attended event at New South Wales Parliament House last night to commemorate 61 years since the Nakba of Palestinian dispossession. Zoabi was the key speaker, in front of parliamentarians and members of the community:

MARK COLVIN: So how will Palestinians react as the new relationship between the US and the Obama administration coalesces?

Hanin Zoabi is the first woman elected to the Israeli Parliament on an Arab ticket.

She’s visiting Australia as a guest of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine.

I asked Hanin Zoabi about the apparent change in emphasis of American Middle East diplomacy.

HANIN ZOABI: We must not exaggerate the changes in the American, the USA policies, after all Obama administrative said they are committed, the USA committed, to a two state solution, which really indicates nothing for the Palestinians because we have been talking about a two state solution since Oslo and since Oslo the previous 13 years odd, Israel was negotiating from one hand and expanding settlements from the other hand. The settlements have been expanded three times since Oslo.

MARK COLVIN: But Joseph Biden made this speech where he said the settlements must stop and you must pull back from existing settlements.

HANIN ZOABI: Unless you say that you are freezing your support to Israel if Israel didn’t, not just stop expanding settlements, but she must also commit itself to dismantling the existing settlements.

MARK COLVIN: Yes, but don’t you see that as a change of emphasis at least from the United States?

HANIN ZOABI: There is a change, I think there is a change that the USA has reached the conclusion that its policy during the last six year seven year, during the administrative…

MARK COLVIN: The Bush administration.

HANIN ZOABI: The Bush administration was not an official policy and she needs now to reconsider its policy but she cannot. She has restrictions to the extent she can’t push Israel. She is at the end committed to support Israel, without putting pressure on Israel to really reach a just peace.

This will not shift. I think that we will witness a change in the Iraqi issue, in the Iranian issue and maybe in the Lebanese issue but not much on the Palestinian issue.

MARK COLVIN: And what about…?

HANIN ZOABI: That shift will be in the region but the Palestinian issue will not gain such a change.

MARK COLVIN: And what about the fact that there is a really hardline administration in Israel and that Avigdor Lieberman is the hardest line of all? He’s the foreign minister.

HANIN ZOABI: As a Palestinian I would say that Lieberman reflects in a more honest way the policy of Israel. So while the Kadima government, the previous government, said I am committed, she said that they are committed to negotiation but the Palestinian has, loses more from negotiation without results than from a clear policy of Israel saying that she even is not committed to a negotiation.

Me as a Palestinian, I see that the only winner from these negotiations is Israel because what Tzipi Livni, the previous candidate for government, said that this negotiation with Ramallah, with Abu Mazen, enables Israel to continue its policy in Gaza Strip, continue assassinations and continue building settlements.

So Israel used this negotiation in order to support her policies on the ground and in order to put new facts on the ground and to create this new reality, which make it so, so difficult for a sovereign Palestinian country.

At the end, when Obama says two countries, he must say a sovereign country Palestinian country and he must say at the same time that these settlements and the existing settlements, not just stopping the expanding of the settlements, and this massive building in Jerusalem is blocking a sovereign Palestinian country.

MARK COLVIN: We know that the two-state solution is your goal; but how do you get there?

HANIN ZOABI: I get there first of all it is part of my solution because when I said two state solution, I don’t agree with Israel as a Jewish state. I don’t mean that Israel should be a state for the Jewish because I am Palestinian, one of 1.2-million Palestinians in Israel and by saying Israel is a Jewish state, what I say, I say that I exclude myself from the definition of the state and I say that I have no right in Palestine as my homeland. I live in Nazareth, I didn’t immigrate to Israel, Israel decided to emigrate to me.

MARK COLVIN: This refers to Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be seen as a Jewish state.

HANIN ZOABI: Yeah but he is not alone in this. I think since Sharon this was a new emphasis, not a new demand, but a new emphasis for the whole Arab world and for the Palestinian to address them to demand them to admit, recognise Israel as a Jewish state and I think and the reality indicates that Jewish state is racist, discriminative definition. Because then you legitimise discriminating against me in order to give my land to the Jewish and new immigrants.

MARK COLVIN: So you want to go back to 1948, you want to abolish the Israeli state altogether?

HANIN ZOABI: No, no, no, no, no. I think that a just peace must recognise Nakba and the outcome of Nakbah in 1948,

MARK COLVIN: What is Nakbah?

HANIN ZOABI: It is the Arabic word”¦

MARK COLVIN: It means catastrophe.

HANIN ZOABI: Catastrophe exactly.

MARK COLVIN: And that’s how you see 1948?

HANIN ZOABI: Of course it’s a catastrophe.

MARK COLVIN: The establishment of a Jewish state.

HANIN ZOABI: The establishment of the Israeli state as it was. It could be we could reach a coexistence, an equal coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis in the same country, without expelling Palestinians.

MARK COLVIN: Could you?

HANIN ZOABI: Without expelling Palestinians. Now you cannot deny history; history and the rights of indigenous people. Israel will not have a secure and just peace without recognising. If Israel is committed to talk about a just peace well, let’s talk about refugees, let’s have Israel recognise the right of refugees to return back to their homes.

MARK COLVIN: Hanin Zoabi – the first woman elected to the Israeli Parliament on an Arab ticket.

That was part of a lengthy interview, which you can hear in full at our website from later this evening.

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