May 29, 2017
Mohammed Khatib, the European coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, participated in the Euro-Mediterranean Workers’ Conference in Athens, Greece on Saturday, 27 May, delivering a speech in the opening event of the conference and focusing on the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons.
“Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons are the real leadership of the Palestinian national liberation struggle against Zionist colonialism,” Khatib said, emphasizing that the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners – suspended just that morning after over 40 days – had wide popular support. He denounced the attempts by Israeli occupation forces to suppress the prisoners’ protest and distort its image before the Palestinian public and the world. Furthermore, he warned against the role of the Palestinian Authority in seeking to lay claim to the accomplishments obtained by the prisoners while suppressing support and protests and continuing to engage in “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation.
He also noted that the Palestinian prisoners were confronting imperialism through their strike at the same time that U.S. President Donald Trump was in Riyadh and then in occupied Palestine to promote normalization with the Israeli occupation state and the further suppression of Palestinian rights and existence. Khatib warned against attempts to integrate the economy of the Mediterranean region with the Israeli state, noting the recent gas deals, pipeline projects and other initiatives meant to link the economies of Turkey, Greece, Italy and Jordan to that of the Israeli occupation, intensifying not only economic enmeshment but also military alliances at the expenses of the rights, wealth and existence of the Palestinian people.
He emphasized the importance of workers’ and social movements in Mediterranean countries in confronting and disrupting these attempts and escalating the struggle for boycott, especially against water, gas and oil deals designed to confiscate the wealth of the peoples of the region for the enrichment of the Israeli occupation, Arab reactionary regimes and the United States.
Khatib also denounced the role of the European Union in continuing to support the Israeli occupation 100 years after the Balfour declaration and the launch of British colonization in Palestine, noting that this accord between the British state and the Zionist movement was a “bankrupt agreement between colonizers.” He also particularly noted the role of the French state, with its lengthy history of colonization in the region, today suppressing Palestine solidarity activism while imprisoning Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine, for 33 years in French prisons. He urged building the international campaign to free Georges Abdallah alongside his fellow prisoners of the Palestinian cause.
Following his major speech at the opening of the conference, Khatib later presented at a workshop on political prisoners, in which he explained in detail the situation of approximately 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and their struggle for freedom and liberation. He reviewed the newly-suspended Strike of Freedom and Dignity as well as the history of hunger strikes in the prisons and the leading role of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement in the Palestinian national liberation struggle. The conference expressed its support for political prisoners around the world, including in Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, France, Poland, Argentina, Bulgaria and elsewhere.
In further discussion about Palestine, the conference discussed the importance of building alliances with the Palestinian workers’ movement and the Palestinian Left, adopting a call from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to build a “united anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist international initiative that will also fight all other kinds of reaction that are on the rise in the Middle East, the Balkans and the Mediterranean region at large.”