The Palestinian historian and Professor Nur Masalha visited Universidad Europea de Madrid on May 17th. He held an interactive lecture about Palestine, also observed by the Palestinian Ambassador in Spain Musa Odeh and the spokesperson of the Embassy Marwan Burini.
Professor Masalha introduced the topic of Palestinian history and how the situation today arose. The main disaster for Palestine was the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) in 1948, when United Nations divided the country. Millions of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes. This was the beginning of the civil war between Palestinians and Israelis, and Professor Masalha outlined the suffering of the Palestinians in this conflict. One of his main points was that Palestine should be allowed to become a state of its own. The Palestinians are not claiming the whole of Historic Palestine, they would be happy with controlling the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which accounts for 22% of Historic Palestine.
The floor was opened up to questions, and the first was regarding the recognition of Palestine as a state, and the relations to Israel. Professor Masalha discussed the recognition of Palestine by the international community. The Israeli-Palestine conflict has been the conflict in the world with the most United Nations Resolutions, and both the United Nations and the International Court of Justice have classified the occupation of Palestine by Israel as unlawful under international Law. On the topic of violations of International Law, and how International Law can be used to the advantage of Palestine, Professor Masalha said that it “is a question of power” as the powerful countries can get away with violations of International Law. He also stated that “the protection of Israel by the US is illegal and immoral” and the support should cease. An example of the use of International Law to help Palestine was the Advisory Opinion by the International Court of Justice on the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2004.
When questioned about the role of Hamas, and what Hamas is, Professor Masalha stated that he believed Hamas is not a terrorist group, as some states have classified it as, rather a pragmatic nationalist movement fighting for the independence of the Palestinian people.
The closing remarks of the Palestinian Ambassador Musa Odeh was that “security can only come from peace” and that “peace can prevail, but it needs two parties”. His point being that both the sides of the conflict needs to come together and find a solution to the problem, and both side needs to recognize the needs and views of the other side in order to ensure peace.
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