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“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it!” — Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan,
Last week the resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status to a non-member observer state at the U.N. was approved by a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions. President Mahmoud Abbas, who made a personal appeal to raise the Palestinians’ status from an “entity” to a “non-member observer state”, won his bid and returned to cheering crowds in Ramallah in the West Bank. The opposition came from the usual corner: Israel, United States and Canada, joined by the Czech Republic, Panama and four Pacific island nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau were the only countries who voted ‘no’. Meanwhile, the whole world — or at least the portion of it naive enough to sense independence – will quickly realize that the whole exercise was a farce.
Indeed, hours after the UN has moved to declare Palestine is a State, the Israeli government announced the construction of 3,000 new settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, cutting the West Bank itself in half. As they say, this is not only a “game-changer, it’s a game-ender.” So why would ‘President’ Abbas and the PLO insist on the recognition of Palestine as a non-member state by the UN General Assembly. What difference will it make? How will that change the situation? Will we see an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands? What will happen on the ground the next day, the next year or the next decades for that matter. Nothing!
Nothing substantial that is.
The vote has, in the writings of the Financial Times, highlighted “Israel’s growing international isolation.” But it won’t bring the PLO a seat at the UN, or a formal recognition as an independent country. That can only come from the Security Council, and not many people see that happening with the US, and other European countries wielding their veto power.
In fact, Israel and the US continue to insist that independence can only be obtained through ‘direct negotiations’. The trouble is that not much remains to negotiate. While proclaiming that it [Israel] wants only peace and security, everyone already knows there is simply no ‘peace process’ where Israel is concerned and hasn’t been for a long, long time, if ever. In fact the Palestine Papers (confidential documents released by Al-Jazeera and related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations documents) have shown long ago that Israel was not interested in an equitable two-state solution with the Palestinians. The secret documents revealed that even the most ‘generous’ offers of land and security by the Palestinians in a two-state paradigm were rejected by Israel.
This new UN observer status will hardly push Israel to accept the two-state solution. To begin with, the idea of the two-state solutions was a sort of comedown for the Palestinians: A shift from active resistance to passivity to accommodation and collaboration. Accepted by the Palestinians and the Arabs as a compromise solution after their failure to impose their will by force, the strategy was equated as credible and good for all the parties. By then Israel which was ‘winning’ in all fronts didn’t mind losing the peace. So it continued to discuss and negotiate peace, but mostly to buy time to cement its grip on the land on which Palestinian state could have been established. In fact, the whole chatter was really just one big distraction…something to keep the world distracted and looking the other way. And today… Voila! No one with a map of the territory thinks there is any way to create a state of any kind there. How on earth would any one push heavily armed and ideologically driven Jews to walk away from the land they have declared to be their God-given home.
All we can say for sure is, this is a conflict driven from its origins by Zionism’s exclusive sense of entitlement to the land. Has there been Palestinian violence all along? Of course! Is it always justified? No! But what would you do if someone said to you there is no place for you on your own land and home, that your very existence is a “problem”? Would you just go away just because another person, another people wanted you to?
So yes, the whole Palestinian ‘acceptance’ to negotiate a two-state solution was a God sent proposal for Israel, in that it allowed it to ‘negotiate’ while consolidating its control of the whole West Bank. It allowed Israel to methodically break the territory into dozens of enclaves that it alone controls, expand its programs to Judaize the Jordan Valley, reject the right of return of Palestinian refugees, neutralize Gaza, become the only nuclear-armed superpower of the region, absorb the Arab city of Jerusalem within the greater Jewish Jerusalem, and now mobilize the US Congress to attack Iran. Israelis seem confident that as long as the U.S. financial, military and diplomatic support remains, they will not have to budge. Its grip on US foreign policy is complete. Also what luck for Israel to have to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership who lacked decisiveness, courage, and the ability to inspire and lead!
Seventy or so years later consider some questions on the case:
• Today what possibility is there for the Palestinians to regain their land? None! There is no land left for them to have a state.
• What possibility is there for a viable, I repeat viable, Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel? Not a chance!
• Any creative idea acceptable to Israel for solving the problem of Jerusalem? Not a hint!
• Any chance for Israeli Jews to relinquish their exclusive privileges and acknowledge the right of return of Palestinians expelled from their homes, in other words to adopt the one-state solution. Not an iota!
• Any chance for Obama, now free of his electoral chains, to give the peaceful effort of Abbas a chance at life? Zero!
Are we being extreme? Of course not! Prophecies like these may go very wrong, but every reader of this article knows the occupation will not end and that even in the best of all scenarios, there will be an apartheid style Israel next to a fragmented and useless Bantustan. Once again, the world may consign millions of Palestinians to a bleak future of permanent exile in camps and across the globe for years and years and years… In the broader geopolitical chess game, President Abbas is chess mate! But what kind of a ‘winner’ will Israel be?
To be continued…