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Status of Palestine in 2015

Academic and activist Mazin Qumsiyeh shares his insights on status of Palestine.

Some of this information is from a summary issued by the Negotiations Affairs Department (an independent group advising Palestinian negotiators):

- It has been 67 years since the occupation of 78% of Palestine in 1948.

- It has been 48 years since the occupation of the other 22% of Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) that started 1967.

- Today there are 12.5 million Palestinians 7.2 million of us are refugees/displaced people (six million from the ethnic cleansing of 1948-1950; 843,737 from 1967 Naksa; and 345,217 internal displacement within the green line; 57,669 internally displaced in 1967 areas.

- UNRWA has 5.4 million registered refugees and has established and operates in 59 official refugee camps (17 unofficial camps).

-Camps are unstable. As an example 162,000 used to inhabit Yarmuk Camp in Syria, most of them were displaced in the last three years and 1093 were killed or died of starvation in the besieged camp. A camp Imam gave a fatwa allowing the consumption of dog, cat, and donkey meat.   Desperate Palestinians are also drowining in the Mediterranean Sea and dying in places like Gaza and Syria, when they run out of options. Malnutrition, birth defects, cancer, and other health issues are skyrocketing.

-When the Balfour declaration was issued in 1917, there were some 850,000 Palestinians only 7% of us were Jewish-Palestinians (and most Jews were also opposed to Zionism).

- Roughly 6.5 million Palestinians still live in Palestine though they are restricted to use 8.7% of the land (Qumsiyeh calculation) and have no sovereignity even in those remaining areas.

-Roughly 6.5 million Israeli Jews live in historic Palestine, vast majority of them immigrants or children of immigrants. They have access to 91.3% of the land and have physical sovereignity over 100% of it.

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-Some 1500-1800 new Jewish Israeli NGOs are registered every year. Some 100 new Palestinian NGOs are registered every year. In total historic Palestine has the highest number of NGOs per population size of any place on earth.  Many if not a majority of these NGOs (Israeli and Palestinian) increase corruption and graft and help sustain the status quo of apartheid and racism.  A virtual industry of foreign aid is built around “peace” and “development” but actually entrench the apartheid system.

-By contrast, millions of good people with very limited resources do amazing work to help Palestine move forward. They include cadres of volunteers, the International solidarity movement, student bodies around the world, Palestine solidarity groups and more.

-In its ongoing policy of using citizens of Gaza as laboratory test subjects for new weapon development, Israel killed in its attack in Summer 2014 on Gaza 2,147 Palestinians. Most of those were civilians including 531
children and 302 women. The Israeli assault also left 11,231 injured including 3,258 Palestinian children.

-Israeli Jewish public voted in the most right wing government in Israeli history including ministers now serving that support ethnic cleansing and massacring civilians.

- There is increasing public support in Western countries for human rights of Palestinains and also for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to help end racism and ethnic cleansing.

- By contrast, thanks to massive lobby efforts and media control, politicians in Western Countries are acting as Israel’s henchmen including in efforts to combat BDS (and even suppressing free speech).

- There is increasing awareness of Western government hypocrisy/double standard  in regards to application of International humanitarian law and UN resolutions. This itself drives extremism and notions of “might makes
right”. Even among elites in power, they now realize that it is an impossible mission to claim to fight spread of a religious state in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) while maintaining a racist expanding religious state in Palestine (Jewish State of Israel).

Bottom line: There is lots of suffering that started with Zionist colonization and exacerbated with Arab leader betrayal but the Palestinian cause remains strong thanks to people resistance around the world. Together we are charting path to freedom and dignity against all odds. Key question is what each of us is doing personally to help or hurt (looking in the mirror).

A luta continua.

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. He is director of the main clinical cytogenetics laboratory and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Institute for Biodiversity Research. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke, and Yale Universities. He published over 130 scientific papers on topics ranging from biodiversity to cancer. He was chairman of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and currently serves on the board of Al-Rowwad Children's Theater Center in Aida Refugee Camp. He published hundreds of refereed articles and several books including "Mammals of the Holy Land", "Sharing the Land of Canaan: human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle" (English, Spanish, and German) and "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment" (Arabic, English, French, forthcoming in Italian). He also has an activism book published electronically on his web site (  His main interest is media activism and public education.  He  gave hundreds of talks around the world and published over 250 letters to the editor and 100 op-ed pieces and interviewed on TV and radio extensively (local, national and international).