A few days ago, I met a very interesting woman. For understandable reasons, let’s call her ‘Maria’. She is Greek-American. She was born in Tripoli, Greece. Her Greek is little, enough to remind us that “this language was given to me Greek”, and emphasizes her Greek ancestry. She married a Palestinian Christian in America, and after the Oslo Agreement, moved to the West Bank full of dreams of peace and progress. They believed that the agreement between Israel – Palestine would bring an end to the long conflict, and that it would open a new door for peace. The young couple took their dreams and hopes and moved to Palestine in the 1990s. They invested in a pioneer endeavor (I will not give details for understandable reasons). They expected that life would take the road for peace and development. Somehow like this is how some imagine will happen in a “reunited Cyprus” – as some frequently refer to the situation that will come about after an agreement for a bi-zonal, bi-communal new state of affairs or a new co-federal state.
However, history is relentless. Israel, for example, continued its strategy of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank regardless of the Oslo Agreement for peace. Building of illegal settlements continued. The oppressive measures continued, the wall, the checkpoints. The signing of the Agreement did not bring a solution for the Palestinians. Some of them obtained positions of power. They profit. They benefit on the backs of millions of Palestinians who suffer. While Arafat lived, corruption and involvement of Palestinian officials of the Authority hid in the shadows of his symbolic physiognomy. With his death, (for which many things are alleged), Palestinians - or at least some of them – decided that there is no hope with peaceful means to deal with the oppression, the apartheid and the tyranny imposed by the State of Israel. They looked towards the extremists of Hamas.
Maria is Christian. She is a western liberal, and she does not agree at all with the ideology of Hamas. She has an American passport. However, she disagrees with me when I name the men of Hamas “terrorists”. “When they have you in a cage, hungry, thirsty, without medicine and education, what else can you do but to scratch the cages of your prison”, she says. It is the oppression and tyranny that gives birth to the either way weak reactions of Hamas. And this is the truth. The infamous Hamas rockets, which supposedly threaten Israel, did not bring about practically any victims among the civilian population of Israel. The Israeli casualties were a result of the invasion which they themselves carried out in Gaza. The Israeli leadership not only is responsible for the death of thousands of innocent Palestinians, but also for the death of their own children, whom they threw unnecessarily into an unjust war.
Maria left for America in search of help for injured Christians of Gaza. And I was left with the bitter knowledge of an injustice, for which more or less, we are all guilty of. But with the tormenting thoughts of the future of my own people, who can easily be found in the same unpleasant situation in the framework of an agreement which seemingly will lead to a solution, but in reality will lead us to new bloody episodes. These thoughts may be useful as the United Nations Secretary General’s newly appointed Special Adviser of Cyprus, Mr. Espen Barth Eide, arrives from Oslo.
Note: The Oslo Agreement was agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians in 1993, and its aim was the start of the peace process for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
General Secretary and Parliamentarian
Green Party, Cyprus