See original post in Hebrew here
H/T to Eyal Niv, original author of content and reference list
Yesterday, Ehud Barak released an extraordinary statement: “The time for great political change has come, and we are wholeheartedly committed to the American Initiative”. Interestingly enough it was released as he approved 500 housing units within occupied territories, at the Palestinian people’s expense. So much for the “commitment” to the American Initiative. Barak spins yarns over how sincere our desire for peace is, but on the surface, he actively pursues the “Judaization” of greater Palestine. The US turned a blind eye. Eventually, the “natural growth” (of Jews, of course) bluff will be exposed, and we will have to start selling some other brand of smoke and mirrors. After all, Israel has a long history of unwilling negotiations. In fact, the entire negotiation enterprise is an excuse for maintaining the occupation and preserving the dispossession of the Palestinian people. In fact, you don’t need this new housing project and Barak’s statement to realize what the Israeli agenda is. New settlement projects abound, such as “Eli” and “Baal Hatzor Mizrach”, and the list goes on and on. It’s not just the settlers, state-run construction works are being carried out throughout the occupied territories. The IDF follows suit, and other than the construction of the defense or security fence, it has recently constructed a new Palestinian juvenile court . The IDF continues with the occupation, yet goes to great lengths to conceal its operations from international scrutiny. Nevertheless, the data are there for the world to see, and the international bank and dozens of studies demonstrate that the economical stranglehold continues and that the unlawful pillaging of Palestinian natural resources goes on as well.
The Palestinians are very well aware of all this, and are conscious of the fact that Israeli politicians continue to promote new settlements, and the restoration of disbanded settlements. They know full well what Israelis mean when they speak of a “Strategic Freeze”. In the future, we will use this alleged intermission to claim that the Palestinians are a non partner, and so we can carry on with our affairs as we see fit. (Sounds familiar? We’ve been there in 1999, as well as during the “disengagement” operation, which proved to be a similar political trick). That said, even the most optimistic Palestinians (and there aren’t too many of those left are beginning to despair. They tried everything by now: International aid, resistance by public demonstrations and strikes, public protests, hurling rocks, armed confrontation, terrorism and guerilla warfare, and yes, peaceful negotiations too. Time and again their legal rights were disregarded. Time and again they failed to bring an end to the occupation and gain their liberty, while new settlements continue to flourish. The reason for that is simple: Whenever the Israeli side finds anything unsavory during the negotiations, the occupation enterprise endures. If the Palestinians object to anything at all, yet again, the occupation enterprise endures. However you may slice it, the Palestinians end up losing, and they have no chance whatsoever against the might of the State of Israel. Were Israel really interested in ending the occupation, it could have done so a long time ago, or, at least, could endeavor to alleviate the problems it causes (e.g.: house demolitions, evictions, settlements, fences, check-points, etc.). In face of this scenario, former US President Jimmy Carter presented two possible strategic Palestinian moves, either which might finally put an end to Palestinian oppression. The first is a real veteran: A Palestinian Unilateral State Declaration. The other idea was to promote a new claim, saying that the current reality is de-facto a single state and demand equal citizenship for all its denizens.
As for the first option, it should be noted that Fayyad is not the first Palestinian leader to suggest a unilateral declaration. In fact, this is the umpteenth time such “threats” are made, mainly by Fatah leaders, in the last decade (Abu ‘Ala, Abbas, Arafat etc.). Arafat made that threat in the eighties, and put his money where his mouth was, and so did Haj Amin Alhuseini in 1947/8. Granting UN recognition is not an innovative idea, as the UN acknowledged the sovereignty of Israel’s neighbors, as well as that of the Palestinian state. In fact, the UN acknowledged the sovereignty of the Palestinian state with the same resolution in which it did so for the Jewish one. It’s been 60 years since: The Jewish state was born shortly afterwards, while the Palestinian State never did. The Palestinians hope that this time is going to be different because of global political changes that are beginning to take place. This time, they hope, world nations will acknowledge their re-founded nation, and accept it as a full member of the United Nations. By this very act, all settlements, the security fence (almost entirely built inside the West Bank territory), IDF facilities, water sources and natural resources plunders, and even the presence in East Jerusalem – all these would constitute a violation of a UN-member state sovereignty. Akiva Eldar further states with a sense of optimism coupled with wrathful prescience, that such a declaration would tie Israel in a Gordian knot, if, for example, world leaders will seek access to the West Bank.
So here’s a newsflash for Mr. Fayyad – Israel has occupied vast territories belonging to UN-member sovereign states for decades, some of these territories are still in Israeli hands. Israel couldn’t care less about what the great United Nations has to say about your submission to it. We occupied South Lebanon for 19 years, Egyptian Sinai for 14 years, and the occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights has been going on for 42 years, with no end in sight. This did not prevent us from building Jewish settlements in these territories, and dispossess the rights of their native populations. The Palestinian territories too have received UN and the International Court’s attention (The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, resolutions 194, 242, 338 and others). These resolutions are not ambiguous: Israel has no sovereign rights in neither the West Bank, nor the Gaza Strip, and the artificial creation of “East Jerusalem”. Simply put, should such a threat be carried out, it will make no difference whatsoever and it definitely will not end the oppression, because the Israeli agenda perseveres: “we are going to do as we please, global opinion notwithstanding, (even though this agenda is dangerous for Israel in the long-run). Indeed, world leaders’ visits may be embarrassing, but their effect is short, and Israel can always designate certain territories as “War-Zones” and thus prevent access of aircraft and foreign diplomats. In other words, unless global opinion regarding the conflict changes (regardless of the Palestinian declaration), no big changes are to be expected.
On the other hand, the other approach, that of pursuing the foundation of a single, democratic nation with a single citizenship, a Jewish-Palestinian state, heralds a true revolution. A claim for a true democracy, in which private and collective rights are grounded in constitutional law, is not only more reasonable and just (it will provide for West Bank Jews and Israeli Palestinians, as opposed to the deportation, segregation, the ethnic cleansing enterprise and economical hegemony currently in place); It will also cause a paradigm shift in the way this injustice is grounded in practice and in the Israeli Law and enforcement practices. This change will not only grant equal rights for the non-Jewish majority already extant in Israel-Palestine (this is true even before the Right of Return, which is why the anti-assimilation project was founded with such zeal), it will also change the way the world perceives the institutional ethnocentrism inherent in the “Judaizing” elements that have took possession of the Zionist enterprise, that seek domination by the creation of an artificial majority and by the force of arms. This claim will force people to wonder about the place of the state as the shelter of all its residents, and will hopefully raise the question: how can you deny people’s rights to influence politically, formally, at least, their livelihood and future. Our rights and their rights need not necessarily interfere with each other.
Problem is… the Palestinians aren’t particularly keen on the former suggestion, and are not interested in actualizing it. (And Israelis aren’t willing for either of the two).
Tzvi Barel, as opposed to Eldar, suggests a MORE sober analysis of what we can expect to see in the following months: a rehash of the disengagement and Oslo schtiks: “We tried, it didn’t work, there’s no partner”. This is true, without even mentioning Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip, or Hizbullah in the north, with which another conflict will tear down any peace initiative, artificial and constrained as it may be. Meanwhile, says Barel, the Palestinian and Israeli governments would be wise to take trust-building measures, not with each other, rather with their own citizens. and maybe, I should add, their mutual citizens.