Final statement of Bil’in Eighth International Conference. Bil’in and Bethlehem October 2nd – 4th 2013.
“Towards the Mobilization of Popular Resistance: adopting a unified strategy”
(In honor of the international struggler Stephan Hessel)
This conference coincides with more complex situation at the internal Palestinian level as well as international pressures by some Arab and international parties on the Palestinian leadership to step back from the Palestinian position to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which constituted the minimum of the Palestinian consensus. We considered the recognition of Palestine as an observer member as a leverage, support and victory for the popular resistance as well as a new political victory for the diplomatic resistance. The UNGA step has also motivated the popular resistance activists to take the lead in the reorganization, development and expansion of popular resistance. As activists and popular committees with the participation of a number of political factions’ leaders, we interacted on the ground to provide a new model in which the widest popular spectrum participated after achieving local and national victories against settlement and Wall policies and procedures in Bilin and Nilin, Nabi Saleh, northwest Jerusalem villages, Ma’sara, Walaja , Khader, Kafr Qaddoum, Gayyous, Tel Rumeida , Aqaba, Bodros, Burin, A’iraq Burin, Jerusalem, Shuhada Street, Susia, Beit Ummar , Artas and the Jordan Valley with all of its steadfast neighborhoods and towns. This continuous action and unrelenting struggle has highlighted the importance of adopting a popular resistance strategy and restoring the spirit of struggle and the culture of popular resistance against the occupation, settlements, wall, normalization and boycotting the Israeli goods.
Following the local successes, we as activists, popular resistance committees and bodies, insisted to develop the confrontation forms to adopt a distinctive struggle model in resistance.
This model was manifested in the closure of roads in the National Youth Week last year, the break in Rami Levi Market inside a settlement built in the occupied territories and imposing another influential resistant reality of high-impact and political significance in the popular resistance represented by building Bab Al-Shams Village as well as Al-manatir, Ahfad Younis and Al-Karamah tent villages. We also participated in a further escalating action through taking the lead of practical incitement to apply the advisory opinion of the Hague and we started cutting the fence that would be replaced by concrete wall in the villages of Rafat and Beitunia which was also preceded by the demolition of the wall in Nilin, Bilin and Qalandia and then advancing such an action in Aizareyya and Abu Dis where he activists surprised the occupation by demolishing the wall more than once. In addition, there were other forms of confrontation at checkpoints against the apartheid system and other actions, marches and sit-ins against checkpoints. There were other marches and sit-ins that targeted the closure of settlers’ roads the most recent of which was the closure of the road near the village of Qaryut.
This escalation approach came after strong and organized effort and planning through adopting secrecy as a new work methodology in order to surprise the occupation and achieve more effective goals which result in political and economic losses to the occupation and hit the illusion of claimed advanced security theories of the occupation government. It happened more than once that the occupation political leadership has interfered to be able to make decisions, for example, our stay in Bab Al-Shams has hit their security theories and political settlement decisions..
This effective and the growing approach takes time, organization and popular effort in order to achieve specific goals and meaningful political protest messages against the apartheid system and the construction of the wall and settlements. Therefore, we, the Preparatory Committee, have decided that the slogan for the next year will focus on mobilizing, developing and organizing popular resistance to serve the strategy of the Palestinian people as a popular resistance, with a most effective strategy that constitutes the minimum national consensus, as stated in the national consensus document. All the unimplemented agreements that have resulted from meetings held in Cairo and other Arab countries have always emphasized the adoption of popular resistance strategy in Palestine.
This conference was organized through wider participation and organization and holding a large number of meetings for the popular committees activists across the West Bank from north to south and the participation of popular bodies. There was also wider political support in the coordination and participation process supported by a number of popular and trade unions and civil society organizations. All this shows the need and necessity to change the balance of power which is in the favor of the occupation and that the occupation would never be ended without escalation in the popular resistance. This requires a collective participatory effort and collective political will to participate in the struggle and popular resistance in Palestine and not only to have slogans, wishes and positions announced in the media. Supportive practical and participatory steps are needed as well as activation of the leading role of political parties and factions without exception.
The conferees stressed the importance of popular resistance as a strategy proved effective as many popular resistance campaigns have recently expanded and launched in the occupied Palestinian territories. In addition, important developments at the popular resistance level were expanded at the international level to include filing legal proceedings against the beneficiaries of the settlement, the escalation of the boycott campaign of Israeli products and the visits to Palestine to participate in popular activities and demonstrations.
The Conference and its discussions have established a platform and a lever to form a preparatory committee to activate the widest popular coordination and to form a body and that contributes to the development of popular resistance in Palestine.
The key recommendations of the committees and the Preparatory Committee adopted at the conference:
- There was consensus by the participants at the Eighth Conference in terms of political factions, official level, popular bodies, trade unions, popular committees, local activists of the popular resistance and the support of friends in the international solidarity movement to change the name of “Bilin international Popular Resistance Conference” to become next year “Palestine Ninth International Popular Resistance Conference” and to form a preparatory committee after the end of the current conference to start the necessary arrangements to have it succeeded.
- The conferees agreed to form a preparatory committee to start dialogue for the formation of a joint body that is tasked to at least coordinate to unify all the popular bodies and committees to support an effective struggle plan.
- Increase and expand and develop various forms of popular resistance that are effective and of political significance and to make the transition from the protest phase to confrontation phase as it happened in Bab Al-Shams and other activities last year.
- Unifying discourse, concepts and terminology at the national level with regard to forms of popular resistance, its mechanisms and tools.
- Building and activating a legal body to protect the popular resistance activists at the local, regional and international levels.
- Ask the political leadership to stop the negotiations in the light of settlement and Judaization of Jerusalem and to ask for the release of all freedom, justice and humanity prisoners and to complete the steps and preparations to join the rest of the international organizations, especially the International Criminal Court.
- Developing the action and the participation of international friends and their involvement in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the colonization and apartheid government.
- Enhancing the relationship with the international solidarity activists and attract more peace and freedom activists.
- Asking the institutions, unions and associations and all peace activists and civil society in the world to work to conveying the Palestinian narrative as it is in reality to face the Israeli propaganda.
- Adopting the principle of financial transparency in the popular resistance committees, stopping individual contacts and relationships and working with all parties as a team with open transparently.
- Mobilizing popular participation, especially among young students at universities and schools, in the popular resistance campaigns, including the boycott of Israeli goods, effective events and activities that have political influence and circulating the addresses of popular resistance representatives and activists to facilitate communication.
- Asking the national forces to set the popular resistance programs on the top of their agendas starting from the boycott of Israeli products to intensive participation in the popular resistant actions.
- The international solidarity shall adopt the position of the popular resistance committees in the popular strategy under the leadership of the popular committees.
- Updating a joint database to facilitate communication between the popular committees and international solidarity movements.
- Determining various annual activities agenda in the various events in order to promote international participation.
- Identifying the titles of different campaigns in specific geographic areas in order to follow them up and actively participate at the local and international levels.
- Implement parallel activities and events in Palestine and outside Palestine.
The 8th Bil’in International Conference on Nonviolent Popular Struggle was an initiative of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC).
The PSCC are civilians, ordinary people, who are engaged in a Palestinian-led nonviolent struggle of Palestinian, Israeli and International activists for life and freedom, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.
The main goal of the conference was to strength and improve the coordination tools between the different implicated actors in the protection of Human Rights Defenders in Palestine just as general media, policy makers, and the Palestinian, Israeli and International civil society.
Last year several members from the international community, such as the American, the Spanish, the Italian and the European External Action Service representatives, attended the conference.
Internationally recognized politicians such as Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Luisa Morgantini and Jimmy Carter; together with prestigious figures in the field on peace building and Human Rights like Desmond Tutu have also joined the event in the past.
The opening session of this year´s edition was done by Abdallah Abu Rahma, head of the board of directors of the PSCC, recognized by Catherine Ashton and Amnesty International as a Human Rights Defender. The Prime Minister also participated in the opening season and several political figures such as Dr. Mohamad Shtaya, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Mr. Tayseer Khalid, Mrs. Khalida Jararor Dr. Ahmad Majdalani guided some of the discussions around the role of the Popular Resistance in light of the political movement.