Enforcement Needed, Not Negotiations

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned that region into a dangerous and smoldering tinderbox that can flare up anytime, sucking into its vortex a number of world powers.

This conflict, which has been raging for years now, continues to decimate the Palestinian population, destroy their lands and infrastructure, drain Israel ’s economy and seriously strain relations between the US and its Arab allies and Muslim nations all over the world.

It is obviously in the interests of not only Israel and the Palestinians but also the US and world at large to bring this conflict to an end.

The US, the international community, the Palestinians (both the Fatah and its supporters as also Hamas and its followers) and Israeli leaders have made public declarations to the effect that they are committed to a solution that embraces two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace side by side. The entire Arab world has agreed to recognize Israel if it withdraws to the 1967 borders.

And yet, though the quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians has been going on for generations now, a resolution of the dispute remains elusive.

There are two main reasons for this.

There are world powers eager to establish their presence in this strategic region. They fan the fires between Israel and the Palestinians and between Fatah (which controls the West Bank ) and Hamas (which controls the Gaza Strip). In the guise of helping one or the other, they pour in aid and armaments.

The chief reason however is that the Zionist leaders who control the government of Israel , though they pay lip service to peace and the two-state solution, persist in their determination and efforts to establish Eretz Yisrael on all of the land west of the Jordan River.

This was their intention when Zionism was born and this was the declared intention of the Israeli leaders when Israel was established in 1948. Israeli propaganda goes on claiming that Israel accepted the UN resolution but the Palestinians did not. In fact, Israel ’s acceptance was partial. It never accepted the boundaries as set out by the UN, and its leaders assured the Jews that the establishment of Israel was the first step to reclaim all of Palestine as it existed just prior to the creation of Israel. There is ample documentation of these assurances made by responsible Israeli leaders.

In pursuance of this goal, Israel fired the fist shot in 1967, launched the war, invaded and captured the West Bank, The Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, Sinai and the Golan Heights. Its dream of reclaiming all of Biblical Israel was realized.

Left to itself, Israel would not part with an inch of all this land. If it now talks of a two-state solution it is only because Israeli leaders realized, rather late in the day, that demographics would pose a serious problem to their holding on to all the land. Soon the Arab population would outstrip the Jewish population. Then Israel would cease to be Jewish. Alternatively, it would have to turn itself into an Apartheid State if it wanted to continue being a Jewish state. None of these two alternatives was acceptable.

And hence the “commitment” to two-states. But what Israel intends is to divest itself of as many Arabs as possible and corral them on small, disconnected pieces of land surrounded by Israel ! And call these conglomeration of Bantustans the state of the Palestinians, the second state with which it will live in peace side by side!

This, clearly, the Palestinians cannot and will never accept.

Bearing in mind this fundamental fact, all this talk of peace and the peace process is a farce, a façade to enable Israel to put more “facts on the ground” and consolidate its hold on the Palestinians. Israel’s refusal to meet the recent demand of the Obama administration to freeze all construction of settlements on Palestinian lands is stark proof of this.

Given Israel ’s firm resolve in this matter, seeking peace in the region through a negotiated resolution of the conflict by Israel and Palestinians is to keep barking up the wrong tree.

For the UN to take the Israeli-Palestinian issue out of its orbit and ask the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve the “dispute” by bilateral negotiations was an error to start with. To keep pressing for such negotiations is a grave injustice to the Palestinians. On the one side you have a powerful country, with an army among the largest and most powerful in the world. On the other, people who have no army, no armaments worth the name, their homes destroyed, their economy ruined, living under the boots of their brutal occupiers. They have no leverage. The situation is obviously and unbearably asymmetric. In such circumstances, to expect a just negotiated settlement between the two parties is unrealistic and naiveté of the first order.

Israel has, in defiance of a number of UN resolutions, continued to illegally occupy the Palestinian lands for more than 40 years now. It has been the longest and most brutal occupation in current history. Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians, demolished their homes, devastated their cities, confiscated their lands, ruined their economy and driven them to poverty. It continues to humiliate them daily and make their life as miserable as possible through a myriad of checkpoints within West Bank itself, making it impossible for the Palestinians to travel freely in their own land, keeping families separated, preventing timely access to hospitals, creating hurdles for students to go to schools.

And all this, to its shame and disgrace, has been going on in full view of the entire world!

If world leaders are serious about resolving this dispute justly and establishing peace in the region, they need to accept that this is not a dispute to be settled between two parties but a case of aggression and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel – an occupation that needs to be vacated.

The farcical peace process must end. The UN needs to live up to its responsibilities and take firm steps to bring to an end this illegal occupation. If it cannot take any effective action, as a result of having its hands tied through a veto by Israel’s “best friend” and ally, then those nations of the world that believe in justice and rule of law must start unilaterally and independently bringing pressure on Israel to vacate its illegal occupation and let the Palestinians establish an independent, sovereign, contiguous and viable state, even if it be on a mere 22% of the land they enjoyed prior to the establishment of Israel.

That is all that the Palestinians want. Surely that is not too much to ask for.

Israel is a rogue state and it is time for the international community to start making demand of Israel and treating it as a pariah that it has become. It is time for world governments and organizations to start boycotting Israel, divesting funds from it and corporations that do business with it, and imposing sanctions against it.

The occupation and the Israeli settlements and land grab are the root cause of the problem. The world community has accepted that the occupation and the Israeli settlements outside of the 1967 borders are illegal. Israel must be forced to vacate this illegal occupation and dismantle the illegal settlements.

If at all there are to be any negotiations, it is for Israel to plead with the Palestinians for concessions and accommodation, not the other way around.

When Iraq, which had plausible reasons for wanting to “reclaim” Kuwait (Kuwait was a part of Iraq till the British drew a line in the sand, carved it out of Iraq and made it a separate state) — when Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait, the international community acted swiftly and with resolve. Iraq was forced, and rightly so, to vacate the occupation. In fact, its army was chased almost to Baghdad , leaving a stretch of burned out tanks and personnel carriers and mangled bodies.

Why then is no effort being made to make Israel vacate its more than 40 years of brutal and devastating occupation? Why, instead of being treated as an aggressor and illegal occupier, is it being handled with kid gloves? Why is it being given an opportunity to decide when, with whom and on what terms will it “negotiate” the disgorgement of its ill gotten booty, and how much of that booty it will return to the rightful owners, the Palestinians?

The international community got the occupation of Kuwait vacated in quick time. It has given Israel more than 40 years to vacate its occupation of Palestinian lands. Israel has failed to do so till now and shows no signs of its intention to do so ever.

The comity of nations must act. There is not room for double standards here.

Gulamhusein A. Abba is an 83-year-old writer with more than 50 years in journalism. Originally from Bombay (now Mumbai), he has been in the USA since 1982. He was co-producer of a weekly TV show Earth Matters and is presently sponsoring another weekly TV show The Struggle. He is chairman of The Danbury Committee for World Peace and of Justice for Palestinians Committee and is a member of the Danbury Alliance, an advocacy group for the rights of immigrants and just and humane treatment of undocumented immigrants. He can be reached at: gaabba2000@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Gulamhusein.