A new strategy for Palestine
The Arab League’s Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi has accused Israel of acting “above the law and accountability” over its “forever” annexation of the oil-rich Golan Heights, and has rightly called for the establishment of a “Special Court for the Palestinian Cause.”
But here’s the thing. Even in the unlikely event that such a court were to manifest, the Israeli government would simply brush-off its judgments just as it did when the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to tear down its separation fence. Israel has also ignored dozens of United Nations Security Council resolutions because as a nuclear-armed state under the protective umbrella of the United States, it can.
Over recent years, international sympathies have swayed toward the Palestinians as evidenced by an overwhelming vote in the UN General Assembly to accord Palestine non-Member Observer Status. Numerous European countries have passed non-binding resolutions recognizing the Palestinian State while others — the latest the Vatican — have afforded Palestine official recognition. That’s all well and good, but the stark reality is the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza is arguably worse off today than ever before.
It seems an age ago since President Barack Obama promised to devote his efforts to bring about a Palestinian state within two years. His resolve faltered at the first hurdles and last year he announced before a Jewish congregation in Washington that he was the closest thing to a Jew that ever sat in the Oval Office. Should Hillary Clinton take the next White House she will compete Obama’s boast. As Ben Norton wrote in Salon, “She sounds like Netanyahu.”
The vacuum left by Obama’s defeatism has driven France to take the lead. France’s foreign minister has invited his counterparts from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US to Paris to write a new page, a common strategy, toward the goal of a Palestinian State. “The possibility of two states, the only possible solution, is under threat,” he said. “It’s threatened by settlements, but also the absence of the prospect of negotiations.” France asserts it will officially recognize Palestinian should its efforts be unsuccessful.
If you are shaking your head saying to yourself “Here we go again, more futile talks”, I don’t blame you. All the Camp David, Oslo and road map meets raised hopes but turned out to be time wasters permitting Israel to continue with its expansionist policies until the land originally earmarked for a Palestinian State has been gobbled-up by Jewish settlements. The unpalatable fact is this: Unless Netanyahu is fully committed (or the US turns up the heat, which is as unlikely as Pod people descending from outer space) any international peace talks are doomed to failure.
A brand new direction is needed; even one that may require Arabs and Palestinians to hold their nose. Netanyahu is content with the status quo. There are no available sticks out there to deter him. He cares not a jot about insults, court decisions, or UN resolutions as long as he has the US in his pocket. However, there’s a chance that he could be persuaded with carrots.
As morally undeserving Israel surely is of incentives, isn’t it about time the quality of life of the Palestinian people was given priority? Nay, their very right to life in dignity and freedom! The more Israel is bashed, however legitimately so, it will behave like the man in an overcoat fought over by the sun and the wind, which argued over who could force the man to remove his outer garment first. The wind blew and blew but he only held it more tightly around him; then the sun shone brightly and he removed it himself.
It may be that a regional peace process would create a very different climate producing fertile soil to alleviate security concerns and promote prosperity.
Netanyahu has been making noises to that effect since 2014. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, he said, “There is a great shift taking place. We used to think that if we solved the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it would solve the larger Israeli Arab conflict. The more I look at it, the more I think it may be the other way around. That by nurturing these relationships…with the Arab world, that could actually help us resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…” He has also stressed that Israel and Sunni Arab states share the same enemies — Iran and Daesh.
This conscience-saving merry-go-round of international peace talks brokered by US presidents has led nowhere. Perhaps it’s time for Arabs and Israelis to sit around the same table face-to face. In the absence of any other solutions on the horizon, it’s surely worth a try.
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