Israel, backed by the US, has started a campaign to preempt a Palestinian drive to win United Nations recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israeli in the 1967 war. If such a recognition is secured, it will neither lead to an establishment of a Palestinian state nor would it stop the continued Israeli colonisation of Palestinian lands. Nevertheless, Israel is mainly concerned that the Palestinian move would restore the United Nations resolution – and international resolutions – as the main reference for solving the conflict.
This latest of Obama’s statements may be the closest the president has come to legitimising illegal Israeli settlements… Obama’s idea of Palestinian self-determination is for Palestinians to accept whatever Israel decides.
Solidarity activists have traditionally been embraced, virtually adopted even, by their host communities. That they should be killed by those they were trying to defend generated shockwaves that reached deep into the heart of Palestinian communities across the world.
[S]ome American officials and pundits are searching for any kind of interpretation that will enable them to divorce US support for the Israeli occupation from America’s relations with the Arab world. By claiming that the Palestinian issue is no longer central to Arab thinking, they imagine that the US can simply impose a ‘solution’ that ensures Israeli hegemony in the region and falls short of accepting the Palestinian people’s right to exercise self-determination.
The era of using the Palestinian cause as a pretext for maintaining martial laws and silencing dissent is over. The Palestinians have been betrayed, not helped, by leaders who practice repression against their own people… Equally, it is no longer acceptable for the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas to cite their record in resisting Israel when justifying their suppression of each other and the rest of the Palestinian people.
In the wake of the recent attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, warned that Christians face a campaign of “religious cleansing in the Middle East”. But, given Western governments’ colonial history and double standards on human rights, Arab Christians would be better served by an end to destructive Western intervention in the region than by sympathetic statements.
The central difference between the US and the EU is that most European countries, rhetorically at least, believe that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict must be based on international law and UN resolutions, while the US seeks to negate these to ensure that any solution is based on Israeli-manufactured facts on the ground.
The idea of dissolving the PA has many supporters – both inside the Palestinian territories and among the Palestinian diaspora. But this must not be a leap in the dark: the Palestinians must be prepared for the consequences of such a move and it must be undertaken as part of a clearly defined resistance strategy.
At the beginning of his term, Barack Obama became the first US president to call for a halt in Jewish settlement construction in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories as a prerequisite for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But if a deal that stipulates a partial 90-day freeze of settlement building in return for US military and political incentives is reached, he will become the first US president to legitimise the Jewish colonies.
The basis of the Palestinian claim to nationhood and independence rests on the fact that Israel was established on Palestinian land. But Israel is demanding that Palestinians not only forget but legitimise their own dispossession by accepting the essentially racist claim that Israel is a Jewish state.
PLO official: “We are not afraid of the outcome of the talks. There is nothing Abu Mazan (Abbas) would or could accept. But going to the talks has undermined our battle to isolate Israel.”
Henning Mankell, aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla: “We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates … The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.”
Vague promises to extend the partial freeze on settlement building and to alleviate some of the daily hardships encountered by Palestinians are no more than the blackmail tactics Israel has always employed against those under its control.