The Palestinian leadership is making medium-term preparations to go to the United Nations to ask for a declaration of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders (i.e. in the West Bank and Gaza).
The move comes because the Obama administration’s attempts to kickstart the peace process have crashed and burned, as Elaf pointed out. The Obama team told far rightwing Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Israel was to cease creating new colonies on the West Bank in preparation for the resumption of talks. Netanyahu defied Obama, insisting that new Israeli squatter settlements would be started in the Palestinian West Bank.
The Palestinian leadership had made an Israeli settlement freeze a prerequisite for new talks, and so refused to sit down with the Israelis as long as the latter were stealing ever more Palestinian land.
Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he might well not run for president again, given complete Israeli intransigence and expansionism.
Since the Netanyahu government is about the least likely government to negotiate a Palestinian state within 1967 borders you could imagine, the Palestinians are giving up any hopes that talks will lead anywhere. Moreover, since Netanyahu has secret plans to build thousands of further Israeli houses on Palestinian land in the next few years, time is short. If it has not already happened, the likelihood is that a Palestinian state will become impossible very shortly simply because the West Bank looks like Swiss cheese because of all the Israeli colonies on it.
A Palestinian state is important because the Palestinian people are stateless. Being without citizenship in a state leaves people vulnerable and without rights, since there is no state that will defend their rights. If someone just moved into your house while you were out watching a movie, you could ask the police of your town to remove them, with reference to the property deed that you filed with your municipal authorities. But if Israelis take over Palestinian land, the Palestinians have no one to complain to. The Israeli courts favor the colonizers and don’t recognize Palestinian rights. Palestinians, being stateless, do not have the right to have rights. The children of stateless people often lack access to education and other services.
As such, the Palestinians are the most oppressed people in the world. There are other peoples who feel that they have the wrong citizenship and would like to secede, but at least they have a government and rights within that government’s framework. They have someone to give them a passport, which Palestinians do not. There are other peoples that are in conflict and being killed in fair numbers. A not insignificant number of Palestinians has been killed by the Israelis, whether through often indiscriminate and disproportionate violence or through food and services blockades (a lot of Gazan children are stunted owing to the bad nutrition caused by the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which is an illegal collective punishment of noncombatants,including children.) But of course there are other groups that are killed in larger numbers. But I would argue that the psychological toll taken by the imposition of statelessness on a people is more debilitating than the knowledge that some of the group has been killed by oppressors.
European Jews themselves were made stateless by Nazi decree, as were millions of other Europeans (leftists were denaturalized by Franco in Spain, e.g.). In the post-WW II world, citizenship has become recognized as key to basic human dignity and civil rights. There are only about 12 million stateless now, and the Palestinians are the single largest group of them.
If there is not a two-state solution, with the Palestinians gaining citizenship in that way, then ultimately there will be a one-state solution, and Israel will over the long term be forced to take them on as Israeli citizens. Boycotts of an Apartheid situation will grow in Europe and elsewhere in the world, and Israel is vulnerable to such pressures. The US has so far backed even the worst Israeli policies to the hilt, but those days may be coming to an end, and anyway the US is now itself an indebted nation rather than a creditor. It is the creditors who are in the position to deny Israel access to world credit markets over time.
I know it is hard to imagine now the situation in 50 or 75 years, but I believe it will be increasingly unfavorable to Israel if the Palestinians are kept as chattel without basic rights deriving from citizenship. The rise of al-Qaeda and other radical movements is intimately linked to the oppression that the Palestinians suffer, and that wave of radicalization is not over. The Israeli and Neoconservative hawks who hoped that if Saddam were removed from Iraq, that Iraq would suddenly turn friendly to Israel have been proved fools. The ways in which Israel lost both the Lebanon war of 2006 and the Gaza War of Winter 2008-2009 in the court of world opinion are astonishing if the situation is compared to 1967, when the West supported Israel to the hilt in its war with Egypt. The trend lines are downward.
So if the Palestinians could get the UNO to declare a Palestinian state and pressure Israel over it, they would actually be doing the Israelis a huge favor.
The bully Netanyahu announced that if the Palestinians unilarerally declared a Palestinian state, then Israel would immediately formally annex the largest Israeli settlements on the West Bank. It is unclear why Netanyahu thinks a formal annexation would be meaningful. Israel has already de facto announced that territory and no one in Israel is even hypothetically offering to give it back. The question is not what has been annexed but what will be annexed. There is every reason to think that the Israeli far right will just steal all Palestinian land over time if this sham ‘peace process’ continues as it has since 1993.
Aljazeera English reports on the Apartheid roads of the West Bank, on some of which Palestinians are forbidden to travel.
Aljazeera English interviews a Gazan ambulance driver about the events of the past three years.
The USG Open Source Center translates or paraphrases reports from the Palestinian press about Israeli attacks on Palestinians:
‘IDF Wounds Gaza, W. Bank Farmers, Makes Arrests; Settlers Raid Hebron’s Old City
West Bank & Gaza Strip — OSC Summary
Sunday, November 15, 2009 . . .
IDF [Israeli Army] Wounds Gaza Farmer, Arrests 4 W. Bank Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center, website of HAMAS, in English reports at 1104 GMT on 15 November: “Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up four Palestinian citizens in the districts of Bethlehem and Ramallah for interrogation at dawn Sunday (15 November), local sources reported. They added that IOF troops chased and wounded a Palestinian worker from Masliya village, east of Jenin city, also at an early hour on Sunday. They said that the soldiers fired at Khaled Abul Rub, 25, and wounded him in the feet while others were detained for working in 1948 occupied lands without permits. The Israeli occupation police said that they arrested 252 Palestinians from various West Bank districts over the past couple of days for working in the 1948 occupied lands without permits.”
Bethlehem-based, independent Ma’an News Agency in English reports at 1349 GMT on 15 November: “A Palestinian farmer was injured by Israeli fire east of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on 15 November, medics said. According to medical sources at Beit Hanoun Hospital, the farmer sustained several gunshot wounds in both feet while he was tending his land. Local sources in Beit Hanoun identified the farmer as 28-year-old Mahmoud Za’anin.” Israel Issues Demolition Notices for 9 Hebron Homes
Ma’an in English reports at 1311 GMT on 15 November: “Israeli forces distributed demolition warrants to nine Palestinian families from the Al-Hathalin area south of Hebron, near the Karmiel Israeli settlement. According to local resident Imad Al-Hathalin, the families in question recently sent letters to caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad asking for his intervention to stop the demolitions from proceeding. Al-Hathalin explained that the demolition notices included residential homes and a chicken den.”
Israeli Settlers Raid Old City of Hebron, Cause Damage
Palestinian Information Center in English reports at 1005 GMT on 15 November: “Jewish settlers wreaked havoc in the streets and homes in the Old City of Al-Khalil (Hebron) on 14 November that caused material damage to Palestinian citizens, local sources reported. They noted that the Jewish settlers started their rampage with a provocative march in the city streets that turned violent when the settlers attacked Palestinian homes and shops and assaulted their owners. Israeli occupation forces (IOF) were deployed in the alleys of the Old City of Al-Khalil and the Ibrahimi Mosque to protect the Jewish settlers while celebrating one of their feasts. In Yatta village, Al-Khalil district, a 65-year-old woman was injured along with three kids when eight Jewish settlers threw stones on them. The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) only a few days earlier delivered notifications to 12 citizens in the village warning them that their homes would be demolished. The IOA delivered similar notifications to 9 families in Rujaib village, Nablus district, on Saturday. The families appealed to human rights groups and the media to back their case, as tens of women and children inhabit those homes and implementing the oppressive decision would leave them in the open without shelter.” ‘
End/ (Not Continued)