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New Palestinian strategy needed

Published Sep 22, 2012 03:02am


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IT is one year this week since the Palestinians applied for UN membership. President Mahmoud Abbas’s impassioned plea to the UN’s General Assembly for support of the We Palestinian case on 23 September 2011 won him much praise, even from his detractors. But came to nothing.

Abbas, though, has recently threatened to relaunch the application if Israeli settlement expansion continues. This time he would seek non-member observer state status, but it may come to nothing again. Only a bankruptcy of ideas could be driving him towards this move, given the present US acquiescence to regional Israeli hegemony, and Israel’s success in diverting world attention from the conflict on its doorstep to Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons.

The president also faces trouble at home. The economy, dependent on aid, is staggering under a chronic budget deficit and external debt of a billion dollars, nearly a fifth of GDP. Donor funding has declined, and the Palestinian Authority has delayed paying 153,000 employees. Mass strikes and demonstrations have rocked the West Bank for days.

The protesters want an amendment of the 1994 Paris protocol, part of the Oslo accords that govern economic relations between Israel and the PA. Its main effect has been to keep the economy dependent on Israel. It pegs its tax rates to Israel’s much higher ones, and lays open its markets to Israel, though the reverse is not true. The resulting poverty and 40 per cent youth unemployment have pushed people on to the streets.

Given this situation, should there not be a reassessment of Palestinian strategy? To date there is no sign that the Palestinian leadership, or indeed any official body, can think beyond the two-state solution. Yet the facts on the ground point to a very different conclusion. Israel now controls 62 per cent of West Bank land — including the fertile Jordan Valley — and has resisted every call for a settlement based on a two-state solution. Despite this, the west has been extremely reluctant to press Israel.

Today’s Israel-Palestine is demonstrably one state. But it is a discriminatory state operating an apartheid system against the Palestinians with impunity. Gross economic inequality is one blatant indicator of this system.

This situation demands a new Palestinian strategy, a Plan B that converts the Palestinian struggle into one for equal rights within what is now a unitary state ruled by Israel. The first step requires a dismantlement of the PA, or at least a change of direction for the leadership. The PA’s role as a buffer between the occupier and the occupied should end, along with the illusion of a spurious Palestinian autonomy it has fostered.

The PA’s new relationship with Israel should be restricted to pursuing the rights of its occupied people, including the right to political resistance. Without a middleman to hide behind, the reality of Israel’s occupation will be exposed, and the logic of a civil rights struggle will be inarguable. Israel has enjoyed a cost-free occupation, with a Palestinian leadership that does Israel’s administrative and security work and a donor community that picks up the bill. At one stroke, Plan B shreds these fig leaves.

The 2.5 million potential new Arab citizens of Israel would be able to challenge its much-vaunted democracy, and upend the old order in the Palestinians’ favour. Will they have the courage to grasp the challenge? — The Guardian, London

Note: Ghada Karmi is a research fellow at the University of Exeter, south-west England.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (2) Closed

Maryamz Hz Sep 22, 2012 07:49pm
i think its between Palestine and Israel and that other countries and extremist factions who do the bidding for some countries should stay out of their business so they can solve their problems without interference.Both sides have made mistakes in past and present.Both sides want peace. People from both sides have created peace teams TOGETHER and are working outside of the government in peaceful dialogue and have established long term friendships between Israeli and Palestinian people. Many countries are fighting over land. Dialogue is the best solution, but outside factions and countries are stirring up the pot. If Iran stays out of the business of others, there are peace possibilities. Ask Iranian people, they have a war in their hearts because they have no destiny of their own. The government owns them and there is no escape.Therefore dialogue with the best interests for both sides..
Ali Shallwani Sep 22, 2012 08:40pm
We can continue feeling frustrated and betrayed. The atrocities committed against the Palestinians will continue and Israel, with the support from the Americans will not only expand its occupation, but continue its discriminatory way of governing, where Palestinians are faced with daily humiliation. The solution, while simple, is almost unachievable - and that is, in order for us to put a stop to it, we must be united. We should all be one, regardless of which sect we belong to, we need to focus our frustration towards the enemies, not burning or damaging our own property, to put ourselves further behind in economic recovery. Look at how all the Jews are united - doesn't matter what part of the world they live in, they are always watching out for their interest. Unity brings strength. With all the resources that we Muslims are blessed with, our united front can in fact, control the rest of the world. But alas, that is unachievable. Our personal greed takes the best of us and we become our worst enemies. And that is where the problem lies - we cannot blame others, when we don't have our own house in order.