A new political option for confronting Israel
- A new political option for confronting Israel
Hasan Abu Nimah
The Electronic Intifada
9 April 2010
As more people recognize that the "peace process" has come to an
unbridgeable impasse, there is debate. Some, especially those who
prospered from the path of failed negotiations, argue that there is no
alternative to continuing with the US-brokered "peace process." Others
intimate that a third intifada might be the solution and there have even been warnings of regional war. Others still suggest the Arab states should withdraw their eight-year old Arab Peace Initiative.
Neither war, nor an intifada in the sense of a violent Palestinian
response to Israel's unrelenting violent aggression are the only
alternatives. Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, recognized by foreign powers
as the head of the Palestinian Authority, has constantly expressed
strong opposition to any armed resistance against the occupier, and has frequently condemned and ridiculed resistance. And, after ignoring them for years, Abbas and his colleagues have lately started to endorse and even associate themselves with the nonviolent struggle of Palestinians in the West Bank, which are always met with Israeli aggression and brutality.
This however is not the only kind of nonviolence I see as a possible
alternative: there is also a political option. It is important to
recognize first that all efforts to settle the century-old conflict
caused by the Zionist invasion of Palestine have failed because they
were unjust, arbitrary, distant from legality, and did nothing to right fundamental wrongs.
A new political strategy would involve recognizing this basic
shortcoming and demand a return to legality, in effect a return to the
days before the 1991 Madrid Conference which launched the past two
decades of futile "negotiations" and accelerated Israeli colonization.
The Arab States, including the Palestinians, could demand full
implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 in the same manner as it was implemented on the Egyptian side leading to the total evacuation of all the Egyptian occupied territories including the removal of all illegally-built settlements on Egyptian soil. This significant precedent should apply to Syria's occupied lands as well.
All the dubious formulas of Oslo, the Quartet, the Roadmap, Annapolis
and the many other understandings should be dropped. The two-state
solution should be dropped, too. Once the occupation ends and the
Palestinians recover their territory they have the right then to
establish their state on it independently from any Israeli or other
foreign intervention. A Palestinian state on part of their historic
homeland is not an Israeli gift. It is a right Palestinians alone can
decide to exercise, if they so choose.
The Arab states should insist on a comprehensive deal ending the
struggle along such lines in its entirety. What applied to Sinai should exactly apply to the Syrian Golan Heights the West Bank including Jerusalem as the situation exactly was before the Israeli invasion on 5 June 1967. And as all Israeli settlements were removed from Sinai and Gaza they should be removed from the West Bank and the Golan Heights if international law is to be applied.
The Arab States should not withdraw their peace offer. They should
only amend it in accordance with the exact requirements of
international law. They should not declare war on Israel but they
should instead unite in demanding international justice in the United
Nations not the Quartet in accordance with the relevant United
Nations resolutions. They should not negotiate with Israel
except through the United Nations apparatus. They should suspend any dealings with Israel until Israel complies with international legality and until justice is realized.
The same should apply to the issue of Palestinian refugees, whom
Israel bars from returning home in defiance of international law,
justice and common practice because of its totally illegal and immoral
position that they are not Jews. International law does not permit such blatant racist discrimination, and Arabs are within their rights to demand it end in accordance with the law.
Under the prevailing circumstances all this may sound unrealistic.
Perhaps so, but it seems that achieving Palestinian rights via the path of endless, unprincipled negotiations, or working with the occupation itself, has proven even more unrealistic and counterproductive. If the total closure of the road towards peace is not going to turn into uncontrollable violence this should be seriously considered.
Continuing to negotiate with no purpose and no hope of progress with
an intransigent Israel only leads to the degradation of the Palestinian and consequently Arab standing and dignity. It also provides a convenient cover for continued Israeli colonization and judaization of Palestinian and Arab lands.
It is high time to admit that the peace process is dead; that Israel
has so far manipulated it to consolidate the gains of its aggression;
that exploiting Palestinian weakness and official Arab incompetence can only deepen the mistrust and the radicalization of Arab masses; and that the continued neutralization of the UN system is a recipe for
growing violence and terror worldwide.
Arabs should offer Israel a choice of either becoming part of the
region by respecting international law and implementing UN resolutions which would also guarantee whatever legitimate rights and concerns Israelis have or continuing in isolation if it chooses rejection, racism and intransigence.
Of course such Arab positions would be labeled as "radical" and "hard
line." The answer to that is simple: it is Israel's insistence on its
racist character and its defiance of the law that is radical, hardline
and aggressive. Palestinian and Arab insistence on the implementation
of UN resolutions that reflect a world consensus and universal rights
could not be more moderate or reasonable.
Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan
at the United Nations.
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