Thursday, September 17, 2015

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The Conflict in Palestine - Peace Only Comes with Justice

Steven Katsineris lambasts the no man, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel. Steven Katsineris is a Melbourne based writer and activist.

In a speech some time ago in Washington the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said, no to sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians, no to the return of Palestinian refugees, no to a return of the 1967 border lines, no to conceding major Israeli settlements, no to a Palestinian state without Israel controlling the border along the Jordan Valley and no to negotiations with the Palestinian unity government.

With such blatant Israeli intransigence, what is there left to discuss in peace talks?  

Further, Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu stated Israel would “be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state.” The Palestinians have already lost over 78% of historical Palestine to Israel. The remaining 22% of the Palestinian territories consists of the Israeli blockaded Gaza Strip and fragmented segments of the Israeli occupied West Bank, with Israeli settlements, forts, walls, fences, roads and other infrastructure everywhere surrounding them and under the control of the Israeli army, settlers and police.

With his situation what is left for the Palestinians to build a feasible state on, some 10% of Palestinian land with Israel maintaining effective domination over the “Palestinian state.”? It seems the only issue to discuss is what small morsels of land Israel will allow the Palestinians to have for their illusory state. 

More than 460,000 Israelis now live in settlements beyond Israel’s 1967 borders, on Palestinian land in the West Bank that was captured during the war. Israel intends to continue to expand its illegal West Bank settlements and keep building in the major settlement blocs. And Israel is adamant that it intends to keep them in any future peace agreement. Israel’s settlement policy violates international humanitarian law and UN resolutions. And these Israeli policies and continued settlement construction are precisely the main obstacles to peace and a lasting solution to the Palestinian problem.

What sort of future Palestinian state is possible considering the facts on the ground that Israel has created in the occupied territory? On the West Bank, Israeli rule is pervasive. Jewish settlements are all over the place, with bits and pieces of Palestinian territory encircled by Israeli settlements, walls and military bases. The West Bank has been described appropriately as a portion of Swiss cheese, the Palestinian areas being the small holes, surrounded by the larger Israeli part. Israeli military forts and positions sit on the hilltops; Israel controls the road network and checkpoints, aquifers and other resources. Daily life, movement, the economy, everything is dependent of the whim of Israel’s military rule, its laws, regulations and curfews. 

The Israeli government also wants any future Palestinian state to have only limited independence, have no military forces, with Israel retaining control of the state’s borders, airspace and the fertile Jordan Valley. Israel also wants its military forces to have free reign to operate in the Palestinian areas. 

Given this situation, a viable Palestinian state cannot be built on such a minuscule area, in reality a micro, mini-state lacking any actual political, social, military and economic independence and any real resources. Yet this is exactly the kind of state that the US government and Israel support and propose to set up. This is not an independent, genuine Palestinian state, nor is it a just, legitimate solution to the Palestinian Problem. Israelis will only have peace when the Palestinians have justice. The key to resolving the issue is to restore the Palestinian people’s rights and give them their homeland back. 

It is precisely the intransigent stance and actions of successive Israeli governments that has destroyed the prospect of the two-state solution. The sweeping changes that Israel has made in the West Bank prevent any real possibility for genuine Palestinian self-determination and the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state. This is only possible in one state for all those peoples to live in equality, whatever their religion or beliefs. Any other purported solution for the region is now utterly futile, unworkable and unrealistic.

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