A Palestinian voice in Bristol

by Alex Kempshall

DR AQEL TAQAZ, the Vice Chair of the World Peace Council, spoke to a packed room at the Palestinian Museum and Cultural Centre in Bristol last Monday about “The Struggle for Palestine” and the serious difficulties and uncertainties in the region which have been exacerbated by recent American decisions.

Dr Taqaz is also a member of the Palestinian People’s Party, a component of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and a party within the Palestinian Authority government coalition.

Dr Taqaz explained that the recent Trump interventions had complicated matters in the Middle East. He condemned the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. He said that it was “a decision that was both contrary to international law and the decisions of the United Nations”.

The Palestinian peace campaigner also condemned the recent unilateral decision by US imperialism, against the wishes of all the other signatories, to terminate the international Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran.

Dr Taqaz underlined that these dangerous manoeuvrings of Trump increased the threat of war in the Middle East. He said that the policy of Trump was to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and he questioned what would this eventually mean for the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in Israel. Dr Aqel Taqaz then gave an overview of the 70 years of the Palestine tragedy when in 1948 Israel started a war and went on to occupy large parts of Palestine . In 1967 Israel seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More recently it has been building walls and cities to split the West Bank in the hope of weakening resistance to the occupation.

Dr Taqaz explained that the US, Britain and Israel have continued with their attempts to dominate the oil rich region by attacking Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. He warned that the Israeli government is moving to the right and is now solely a government for the settlers. Speaking of the future Dr Taqaz said that a two state solution is still possible. The Israeli occupation of Palestine must be ended and a Palestinian state created within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. He stated that true negotiations carried out in good faith were the only way to solve this problem.

He called on the international community to impose sanctions on Israel to force it to end the occupation. He said that everybody should do a bit to defeat this abnormal state and support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign to force governments to recognise Palestine. Gifts were exchanged between Dr Aqel Taqaz and the Palestine Museum Cultural Centre and the evening was rounded off with music from a group of visiting Palestinian artists.