By Sohaila Barghash
On Wednesday, Palestinians are set to march across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, putting Israel on edge amid Eurovision festivities.
International rights group Amnesty International said in a statement released today that Israel’s refusal to grant Palestinian refugees the right to return has fuelled seven decades of suffering, urging Israeli authorities to respect the Palestinians’ right of return.
“Israel’s failure to respect the right to return for Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes in 1948 is a flagrant violation of international law that has fuelled decades of suffering on a mass scale for Palestinian refugees across the region,” said Amnesty.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa stated, “This weekend almost 200 million people will tune in to watch the Eurovision song contest in Israel, but, behind the glitz and glamour, few will be thinking of Israel’s role in fuelling seven decades of misery for Palestinian refugees.”
On Tuesday, the eve of Nakba Day, dozens of left-wing activists took to the streets of Tel Aviv, where the first Eurovision semi-finals were being held, they protested against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, shifting attention to its war crimes.
Furthermore, protesters carried banners reading “boycott Eurovision” and “songs and glitter cannot hide homeland being occupied”.
According to Amnesty, there are more than 5.2 million registered Palestinian refugees today, most of whom are living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The international rights group then urged Jordan and Lebanon to work on providing Palestinians with means of living and to repeal discriminatory laws that set obstacles for Palestinians to access employment and essential services.
Ever since Israeli singer Netta Barzilai earned Israel the right to host Eurovision, dozens of European artists signed a letter calling for the contest to be moved to another country.
Additionally, Iceland’s performers have vowed to leverage their platform to show the “face of the occupation”.
Today, many Palestinians live in overcrowded camps where they are denied access to essential services.
Philip Luther said, “The situation for Palestinian refugees is untenable and grows closer to breaking point with every year that passes. How much longer can Palestinian refugees be expected to be condemned to a life of suffering, deprivation and discrimination simply because of their origin?”