The following is the transcript of Press TV’s interview with Ralph Schoenman, author of Hidden History of Zionism on the development:
Press TV: Tell us what you make of the recent comments by General Ashkenazi?
Schoenman: I want to point out that this declaration by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi comes on the second anniversary of the Israeli genocidal assault upon Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead. But this statement comes at a very specific context, namely, a ceremony of welcome for the Chief of Defense Staff of Italy General Vincenzo Camporini.
The Italian chief was received by Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and he is scheduled to meet with Israeli military and security forces, and Camporini not only stated that he was there in respect to Gaza, but he has recently returned from Lebanon, where he had also noted the prospects of a new war and he stated that Italy is present in the Middle East and it is dealing with important issues of stability. He referenced to the Italian forces in Afghanistan and the so-called war on terror. So, this is a NATO alliance with Israel on the anniversary of the assault upon the people of Gaza.
It should be noted that today an open letter from Gaza was released by the Palestinian Movement representing all of its major organizations, Omar Barghouti (a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)) has sent out a letter which I was a recipient among so many others, declaring that the movement for the boycott of Israel centering around the massacre of Gaza is stepping up its effort in the light of this new, belligerent dangerous declarations by Ashkenazi and NATO representatives, the Italian chief of defense …
Press TV: In an interview with BBC, General Ashkenazi has said that there would be another war with Gaza, but has doubted about the time of such attack. Is Israeli high-handedness with Gaza only based on events or is it based on a master plan?
Schoenman: I think it is part of the general posture of the United States and its allies for the dislocation of the entire people in the Middle East and it is not unrelated to this unrelenting campaign against Iran and the prospects of a new war. That is very much underlined by the declarations of Camporini alongside of Ashkenazi.
It should be noted that the Palestinian movement has taken clear note of this new menace in the declaration they issued today to all solidarity groups and international organizations to demand an end to the siege; to protect civilian lives and property; to resist preparations for a new war and to demand immediate reparations and compensations with the devastations carried out by the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza. This is not just an idle declaration by Ashkenazi; this is a new warning of further escalation on the part of the Zionist state.
Press TV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would never accept the right of return to their homeland of the Palestinian refugees. What is the basis for such restriction?
Schoenman: You should bear in mind that the so-called refusal of the right of return for the Palestinian people is not just Netanyahu’s position, it is that of the entire Zionist apparatus, including the so-called Labor Zionists and of course the position of the United States as well and all of those who are engaged in the so-called peace process which has been indicated that it has nothing to do with peace and it is really about pacification of the Palestinian people.
The notion that those who have been massacred and expelled from their land with their homes and their property and their businesses seized from them; their orange groves, their olive groves their stone quarries and all of the resources of their country basically ravaged and confiscated by the Zionist apparatus and those people have no rights to their own patrimony and return to the land from which they were expelled, massacred, and the survivors expelled is of course an outrage which flies in the face of every understanding of democratic entitlement and makes a mockery of the notion of sovereignty. This is a colonial settler movement; a genocidal movement and from its inception it took the position that there were no Palestinians in this place. The operation proceeded on the basis of a land without the people for people without a land.
That has all the genocidal content that is unfolded in the past 140 years, so that the notion that the people who have been destroyed and expelled are not entitled to return to their country is central to the intent, which is not merely to prevent the return of those who have been removed, but to remove those who still remain.