‘Vatican’s recognition of Palestine - step to peaceful solution to the situation’
The Vatican has officially recognized Palestine as a state. Israel has said it damages prospects for peace in the region.
Meanwhile across the Atlantic in Canada, politicians are sending strong messages to pro-Palestinian activists, applying a "zero-tolerance approach" to their anti-Israeli stunts.
The main target is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) which was created in 2005 with endorsement of almost 200 Palestinian organizations, and has grown into one of the most powerful pro-Palestinian movements worldwide.
RT:Reports in the Canadian media say the government is even threatening to use hate crime laws against the movement, Ottawa said it's a lie. What attitude are you facing within the country?
Omar Siri: It’s shocking news that we heard earlier this week but at the same time not surprising. It’s unfortunate for three reasons frankly. First of all, the Canadian government has normally been a backstop of international law for decades and here is an instance in which it has chosen to go in the opposite direction. Just two weeks ago, the UN came up with the report stating that the Israeli government deliberately, intentionally targeted schools in Gaza in the last bombardment in the summer of 2014 that resulted in the deaths of 44 civilians which were inclusive of more than 2,000 Palestinians, a majority of them were civilians killed in the bombardment last summer. More than 500 of them were children. Clear violations of international law. Secondly, the fact of the matter is that the situation in Palestine continues to be atrocious for the Palestinians and we are not seeing any changes in that situation.
RT:Critics of your organization say it promotes hatred against Israel instead of peaceful co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians. Some members of BDS openly say they are against the two-state solution. Maybe there's something wrong with your tactics which causes this kind of backlash?
OS: The BDS movement is an anti-racist, anti-colonial movement. That’s the fact. And nobody can dispute that. The movement stands for the ending of the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and the dismantling the Apartheid Wall that continues, the recognizing of the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality and finally the respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of the Palestinian refugees and their right to return to their homes. That’s the fact, that’s what the movement stands for and it’s a non-violent movement. In one sense if there are those who are calling for a non-violent resistance movement - this is what it is. And it’s a call and an endorsement as a global solidarity movement that is endorsing and reacting to the call by Palestinian civil society organizations, more than 200,000 at the outset, that are calling for this movement and that’s what it stands for.
RT:The Vatican's become another state to recognize Palestine, after several European nations did the same over the last year. Does it change anything really?
OS: Sure. I think to build off of the last point, the organizations and groups who continue to endorse this movement one by one, here in Canada we see the United Church of Canada, Canadian Union of Public Employees, a number of trade union and now officially today’s announcement of the Vatican. These are hugely significant moments that cannot be overstated. What is left for the global civil society outside of Palestine sustaining solidarity with oppressed Palestinians who are suffering under an apartheid regime, and the Vatican has recognized that and it’s taking steps to see a peaceful solution to the situation in Palestine and standing with the Palestinians. It’s fantastic news but the movement continues, there are still lots of work to do…
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