Israel-US ‘solution’ a recipe for disaster
Nakba Day, which falls on May 15, is the annual commemoration of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in 1948. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the forced displacement of the Palestinians and the destruction of Palestine, when three-quarters of the population became refugees virtually overnight. The recent killings of unarmed protestors in Gaza by the Israeli army and the maiming of thousands more have made this year’s Nakba remembrance even more heart-rending. Some 70 percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees, displaced in planned and calculated terror operations carried out by Zionist militias.
The grief every Palestinian feels is heightened by the near-simultaneous anniversary that marks the creation of the state of Israel on the ruins of their destroyed homes. This year, Israel held lavish celebrations to mark what it says is the 70th anniversary of its independence. This only serves as a terrible reminder that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state is so very long overdue and the current US administration’s Middle East policy and sycophantic support of Israel has finally sounded the death knell of the “peace process.” The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a tragically poignant symbol of this. This is the same “peace process” Israel has used for 25 years as a cover to extend its illegal settlements as the US looked on. Today there are more than 600,000 illegal Israeli settlers on stolen Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The US’ “deal of the century” will be a knife in the back for Palestinians. Imposed solutions are not solutions. The unilateral actions of Washington and Tel Aviv cannot negate the inalienable rights of Palestinians. At the recent meeting of the Palestinian National Council — the highest Palestinian political authority guiding the policies of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestine Authority — the current crisis was discussed and the determination to continue the struggle for independence through an agreed political program was established as the strategy to gain freedom and to end occupation.
The US and Israel are following policies that are an attempt to create a regional reality without solving the Palestinian question.
The chaos and confusion sown by the US administration’s actions and words, however, causes more insecurity for the whole Middle East. The Americans claim they have won the war against Daesh, which they say has been dismantled, bringing greater stability to Iraq, Syria and the whole region. If this is true, it would be the optimum time to make bold steps to implement a just solution for the Palestinians that would lead to regional peace and security. The US administration has done the opposite. Its mind-boggling decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has made any plan, even if it had some workable components, utterly impossible to realize. A solution without Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state, albeit jointly with Israel, has negated the efforts of the majority of the international community to support an even-handed solution for the Palestinians.
The US and Israel are following policies that are an attempt to create a regional reality without solving the Palestinian question. Yet, if there is no real solution for the Palestinians — not even the ephemeral hope offered by an Israeli-sabotaged peace process — there remains a major question mark over the whole Middle East, as well as other regional powers.
The current Palestinian leadership is facing some of its greatest ever challenges, both financial and legal. It now needs the support of the international community more than ever to recognize an independent Palestinian state and to support Palestine in UN institutions such as the International Criminal Court. Internally, the long-awaited and hoped-for reconciliation with Hamas and the formation of a unity government does not seem any nearer and it may be that presidential elections will soon have to take place, which will create more uncertainty.
All of us who have worked a lifetime for the Palestinian cause can no longer rely on long-accepted international frameworks for peace. Instead, we look on with dismay at what is happening in Syria and Iraq.
As the last vestiges of optimism have evaporated, it is clear now that all the talk, posturing, and think-tank analyses of the two-state solution was a cover for the theft of vast and strategic areas of Palestinian land, making a sovereign Palestinian state an impossibility and a Bantustan Palestine the only reality. This has worked in tandem with the incremental ethnic cleansing of Palestinians inside Israel’s borders and in the Occupied Territories, and the strengthening of its apartheid regime. Israel, as it loses its last traces of pretension, may feel emboldened enough to expel still more Palestinians from their homes and land until the numbers reach the tens of thousands. This idea of mass expulsions and transfer does not seem so far-fetched if we think of the fate of the Rohingya, and who would have imagined five years ago that 10 million Syrians would become displaced?
What Israel is cooking up, with US backing, is a recipe for disaster for the Palestinians and the whole region, where instability and violence will reign supreme. Unless there are strenuous efforts to resolve the Palestinian question through the recognition of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders by the majority of world governments, through new strategies for peace, and through private investment and economic development, little hope remains on the horizon.
There are things that Palestinians can do while they live this endless nightmare, suffer its consequences and wait. They can attempt to restructure their social, economic and political institutions, to make reforms within the PLO and PA, to embrace BDS and other forms of peaceful resistance, and continue to work relentlessly on every diplomatic front available. As Palestinians, we have no choice but to do what we can until our time for freedom and justice comes.
- Professor Manuel Hassassian, born in Jerusalem, has been the ambassador of Palestine to the United Kingdom since 2005. He has served as executive vice president of Bethlehem University and representative for the university at the Ministry of Education and at the Association of Arab Universities.