(Part One was published on 09.03.2012)
Map story of Palestinian nationhood
The opinion makers are polarized according their political bias, and rarely change their ideas because of facts. They assemble facts to suit opinions. Depending on whom you read, the latest disaster is the fault of the Jews, the Moslems, and the infidels, the Arabs or the United States. If we believe the pundits, the latest crisis, whatever it is, has inevitably proven both that the anti-Zionist Noam Chomsky and the pro-Zionist Charles Krauthammer were absolutely right in their analyses. The Gush-Shalom movement, the Yesha Council, United Rabbis for Greater Israel, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, all claims that they knew and warned of the impending disaster and all of their contradictory analyses and solutions could have averted it if adopted in time. Likewise the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), CAIR and the Arab League can explain exactly how they predicted what would happen, and how it came about because nobody listened to them.
You may get reinforcement for your ideas from such summaries. You may get “talking points” that will allow you to become part of the great parade of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations that substitute for thinking and dialog in the region. In this way, you can impress your friends and dialog partners with pseudo-facts or one line quotes from Gandhi or Herzl or Haj Amin El Husseini or Osama Bin Laden and win arguments: “The Jews became a nation in 1312 BC – there is no such thing as a Palestinian People” or Jabotinsky said that we have to broom all the Arabs out of Palestine.” It may impress people, but it is probably not a way to find the truth. It is not a way to solve the problem. It is a way to become part of the problem, a soldier in the armies of hate and disinformation.
Two State Partition Solution – The British first partitioned Palestine in 1922, cutting off Transjordan from the Palestine mandate of the League of Nations, along with the announcement by Winston Churchill that the Mandate called for a Jewish home in Palestine, but not necessarily in all of Palestine. The Peel and Woodhead commissions of 1937 and 1938 recommended a further partition, into a tiny Jewish state and much larger Arab state. The Arabs rejected this solution and the British abandoned it. The UN called for the establishment of two states in UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which became the basis for the establishment of Israel. The Arab countries opposed Resolution 181, and were also not enthusiastic about creating a Palestinian state, preferring to divide the territory of Palestine between them.
While Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 1920’s caused little alarm, the situation escalated markedly with the rise of Nazi persecution in Europe. Large numbers of European Jews flocked to Palestine, inflaming nationalist passions among all Arabs, who feared the creation of a Jewish state in which they would be the losers. Palestinian resistance erupted into a full-scale revolt which lasted from 1936-39. This revolt, which in some respects resembled the intifada of the late 1980s, was the first major outbreak of Palestinian-Zionist hostilities.
Although the strict terms imposed on Transjordan since 1921 prevented Emir Abdullah from establishing official contacts with Palestinian Arabs under the British mandate, he nonetheless gave refuge to Palestinian leaders and political activists. He constantly warned the British against earmarking Arab lands for a Jewish national home and allowing increased Jewish immigration to Palestine. He also intervened at various levels on behalf of the Palestinians, while warning of impending disaster should a diplomatic solution to the problem not be found. His predictions fell on deaf ears, but came true nonetheless.
As the Jewish population in Palestine increased sharply during the 1930s, fighting between Jews and Arabs increased also. Both sides blamed the British, who failed miserably in their attempts to reach a settlement acceptable to all. The conflict was muted by the onset of World War II, during which both sides cooperated with the British. Transjordan’s Arab Legion also joined the side of the Allies, helping the British and the Free French drive the Vichy forces from Syria.
The crisis of Palestine reached a boiling point in the years immediately after the war. With international sympathy firmly behind the Jews in the wake of the Holocaust, Zionist leaders pressured the British to admit thousands of displaced Jews. At the same time, underground Jewish groups such as the Irgun and the renegade Stern Gang initiated a campaign of terrorism against the British. Washing its hands of the whole imbroglio, Britain declared in February 1947 that its mandate over Palestine would end on May 14, 1948. The matter was then addressed by the United Nations, which, after rejecting various plans, voted for the partition of Palestine in November 1947. The plan called for the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, with al-Quds (Jerusalem) to be placed under UN trusteeship. More than half the territory, including the valuable coastal strip, had been allotted to the Jews, who only owned about 6% of the land. The Arabs were shocked, and conflict was inevitable.
On May 14, 1948, the British terminated their mandate over Palestine, and the Jews immediately proclaimed the independence of the state of Israel. The Soviet Union was the first country to recognize Israel, followed promptly by the United States. The tragedy of Palestine was born.
There isn’t any single Israeli view; rather, there are many different Israeli views, which differ widely in their content:
Most Israelis see the predominant Palestinian views of the peace process that do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and indicate, in their opinion, that the only real long-term Arab goal is the complete destruction of the Jewish state.
Jews hold that Zionism is not colonialism, since it does not wish to enslave any other peoples or lands, or to exploit them. Zionism is limited solely to allowing Jewish people to have a state in one small area. To the objection that the Palestinians were being exploited simply by the Israelis living on what used to be their land, Israelis reply that the Palestinians were, up until recently, on a path to their independence from Israel, a path from which, as most Israelis now feel, the Palestinians diverted by starting a war against them.
At stake is the very existence of the state of Israel. Israelis regard many of the Arab criticisms against the state of Israel as threats to the state’s existence, and point out that against the multitude and power of the Arab states, there is only one Jewish state, which, as they feel, should behave vigilantly, and in particular never give up if bullied.
There isn’t any single Palestinian view; rather, there are many different Palestinian views, which differ widely in their content:
Palestinians feel that the Jewish state of Israel was established under conditions that were deeply unfair to them. Some do not oppose a Jewish state as such, and all Palestinians feel that it should not be established at the expense of another people. They argue that after World War II, the world allowed a state for Jewish people in Palestine to be made without much concern for the existing Arab population.
They further support the statement made by Count Bernadotte concerning the right of return of refugees: “It would be an offense against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine” (UN Doc Al 648, 1948). Count Folke Bernadotte was subsequently assassinated by the Stern gang, widely considered to be a terrorist organization.
Palestinians claim that they have International law on their side. To take a few examples, UN General Assembly Resolution 194 calls for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return. UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. The Fourth Geneva convention forbids an occupying power to settle seized territory. General Assembly Resolution 446 has declared that the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal. However, there are doubts as to whether the return of refugees is compatible with the continuous existence of the state of Israel, and the preservation of a “just and lasting peace” in the region.
Palestinians point out that Israel continued to expand the settlement community in the occupied Palestinian territories throughout the Oslo peace process — Palestinians claim this was done to make any meaningful Palestinian state impossible. The settlements are off limits to Palestinians, while any Jew in the whole world can at any time choose to settle there. In 2000 at Camp David the Palestinians were offered an independent state composed of most of Gaza and the West Bank. Led by Arafat, the Palestinians rejected this offer, claimed that this state would be a “Bantustan” (a state divided in many pieces or fragmanted states) and walked out of the negotiations. The Israeli proposal was rejected. President Clinton and the Israelis asked the Palestinians to offer a counter-proposal, but Arafat refused and went back to the West Bank. Later, further negotiations did take place, but they were terminated by the Israeli side as Israeli government policy held that it was futile to negotiate while actually under fire.
In 2002 Saudi Arabia offered a peace plan in the New York Times, as if it were its own original idea, the UN’s resolutions which call for withdrawal from the territories in addition for full recognition of Israel by the whole Arab world. This proposal was backed by the entire Arab world. The Israeli government was not prepared to discuss this proposal.
Many Arabs deny that historical grounds can justify the existence of a Jewish nation today. They hold that events that happened thousands of years ago do not justify evicting the Palestinians from what they see as their homeland.
Some Arabs maintain that there is nothing wrong with Jewish immigration into Palestine, in itself, any more than there is with Jewish immigration into any other part of the world. But most of the Jews arriving in Palestine did so with the intention of taking it over and establishing a Jewish majority state. Most Arabs maintain that Israel’s settlement policy is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a crime against international law. On their view, Israel, because of its expansion of settlements, has the lion’s share of responsibility for the failure of the peace process.
There is an old saying: “No one can unscramble scrambled eggs.” That cliche is true. And in no circumstance is the application of that quip more apropos than in the current Middle East conflagration.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a “scrambled” mess that has a meager possibility of resolution in the foreseeable future. The blood-thirsty Palestinians, with their Muslim background, would like to see all of the people of the state of Israel gone —preferably dead! The Israelis equally long to see the infidel Palestinians banished to some remote desert —at least somewhere out of their “sacred” territory. But both want the same real estate, and thus far each has been unwilling to work seriously for a peaceable coexistence. And definitely this is a situation where it takes two to tango, yet both have been doing the war dance!
It does not require a “Solomon” to see that if these hostile parties do not attempt to find a workable, side-by-side plan for neighborliness, like Eugene Field’s “gingham dog and calico cat,” they will consume one another eventually.
Just who does own the deed to the land over which these feuding peoples are willing to shed so much blood? That’s like asking who owns Texas — the “Texicans” or the Mexicans? It once belonged to the latter, you know. Who has the title rights to the vast western region of our nation? The Apaches, the Comanches, the Sioux, the Utes —or the U.S. government? Need we rehearse who took what from whom? The tragic point is: history cannot be undone. Men must learn to live together in peace, and, to some extent, accept the long-standing status quo, if there is to be tranquility and prosperity in their lives. Complicating this issue is the belief, entertained by Israel, that she has a “divine right” to the territory east of the Mediterranean.
(The Middle East Conflict by Wayne Jackson at christiancourier.com)
“Palestine became a predominately Arab and Islamic country by the end of the seventh century. Almost immediately thereafter its boundaries and its characteristics — including its name in Arabic, Filastin — became known to the entire Islamic world, as much for its fertility and beauty as for its religious significance…In 1516, Palestine became a province of the Ottoman Empire, but this made it no less fertile, no less Arab or Islamic…Sixty percent of the population was in agriculture; the balance was divided between townspeople and a relatively small nomadic group. All these people believed themselves to belong in a land called Palestine, despite their feelings that they were also members of a large Arab nation…Despite the steady arrival in Palestine of Jewish colonists after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174,606 against a total of 1,033,314.
In 1948, at the moment that Israel declared itself a state, it legally owned a little more than 6 percent of the land of Palestine…After 1940, when the mandatory authority restricted Jewish land ownership to specific zones inside Palestine, there continued to be illegal buying (and selling) within the 65 percent of the total area restricted to Arabs.
Thus when the partition plan was announced in 1947 it included land held illegally by Jews, which was incorporated as a fait accompli inside the borders of the Jewish state. And after Israel announced its statehood, an impressive series of laws legally assimilated huge tracts of Arab land (whose proprietors had become refugees, and were pronounced ‘absentee landlords’ in order to expropriate their lands and prevent their return under any circumstances).
Joseph Weitz was the director of the Jewish National Land Fund…On December 19, 1940, he wrote: ‘It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country…The Zionist enterprise so far…has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with ‘land buying’ — but this will not bring about the State of Israel; that must come all at once, in the manner of a Salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe’…There were literally hundreds of such statements made by Zionists.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”
“Before the end of the mandate and, therefore before any possible intervention by Arab states, the Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied…most of the Arab cities in Palestine before May 15, 1948. Tiberias was occupied on April 19, 1948, Haifa on April 22, Jaffa on April 28, the Arab quarters in the New City of Jerusalem on April 30, Beisan on May 8, Safad on May 10 and Acre on May 14, 1948…In contrast, the Palestine Arabs did not seize any of the territories reserved for the Jewish state under the partition resolution.” British author, Henry Cattan, “Palestine, The Arabs and Israel.”
(The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict by Jews for Justice in the Middle East at ifamericansknew.org)
For about 40 years, there has been an international consensus that Israel must stop colonizing territory outside its 1967 borders. The consensus has been blocked by the United States, in isolation from the international community (much like the USA’s isolated, strong support for South African Apartheid). Every year there is a UN vote on the issue, and every year it goes about 165 to 2, the world against the US and Israel. This continues under Obama. All human rights groups support the consensus, as does Hamas, the Arab League, Iran, the Organization of the Islamic Conference… Virtually everyone, except the US and Israel.
To get a quick visual understanding of the difference between Gaza and Israel, take a look at the images of people and cities being wantonly pummeled by Israeli terrorism when you search the word “Gaza“, and the images of opulence, wealth and luxury that come up when you search “Tel Aviv“.
It is not expansion of the huge settlement and infrastructure program (including the separation wall) that is the issue, but rather its very existence—all of it illegal, as determined by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice, and recognized as such by virtually the entire world apart from Israel and the United States since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who downgraded “illegal” to “an obstacle to peace.”
(On Israel-Palestine and BDS, Noam Chomsky, July 2, 2014 at thenation.com – This article appeared in the July 21-28, 2014 edition of The Nation)
So you’ve heard about the sufferings endured by Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. You’ve seen pictures of Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombs, read about targeted killings, learned about the West Bank separation barrier and checkpoints, and heard of the hardships, discriminations and humiliations daily endured by the Palestinian people. You’ve seen the UN and other international organizations repeatedly issue sharp criticisms of Israel for its actions. You’ve learned of the Palestinian exile, and of their decades-long struggle for the land.
Any decent, justice-seeking person who hears of such suffering would, and should, act to stop it, correct it, and make it known. But what is the best way to stop Palestinian suffering? What if its true roots are more complex than they are often made to appear? What if many of these sufferings turned out to be ultimately self-inflicted – what then? How best to end them?
Following Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs’ declaration “Palestinian Authority doesn’t exist,” the relationship between the State of Palestine and Israel is deteriorating rapidly. Historical moments cannot be analyzed by the rules applied to regular ones. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cannot consider the aftermath of Palestine having been recognized as a state by the UN as a moment in which he can continue things as usual. For a similar reason, Yasser Arafat couldn’t sign the agreement proposed in Camp David in the year 2000. At such moments, future implications must be carefully considered.
The favorite argument of the Hebrew media regarding the Israeli negotiations with Palestine is that the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit between US President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat proves that a comprehensive peace agreement is not possible. Barak offered what to Westerners looked like a good deal. In several stages, Palestinians were to achieve sovereignty on over 92% of the West Bank and Gaza while Israel would have dismantled over 60 settlements. Israel was to keep Kiryat Arba (adjacent to the holy city of Hebron), a road connecting Jerusalem with the Dead Sea, and parts of Jerusalem’s metropolitan area. Yet, all these were secondary to the central issue: the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Israeli negotiators proposed that the Palestinians be granted administration, but not sovereignty, over the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City, with the Jewish and Armenian Quarters remaining in Israeli hands. Mahmoud Abbas, at that time Arafat’s chief negotiator answered, “All of East Jerusalem should be returned to Palestinian sovereignty. The Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall should be placed under Israeli authority, not Israeli sovereignty. An open city and cooperation on municipal services.” This issue could not be solved; the last serious negotiation between Israel and Palestine ended with no results.
Here is a letter Letter That Albert Einstein Sent to the New York Times
1948, protesting the Visit of Menachem Begin:
Letters to the Editor
New York Times
December 4, 1948
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughoutthe world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.
Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.
A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants ? 240men, women, and children – and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.
The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.
The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.
In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.
The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.
There are, of course, a number of different ways to look at the current round of the Middle East Peace talks, possibly the longest continuous entertainment spectacular on the planet since Johnny Carson retired after 30 seasons on The Tonight Show. One might well wonder why it has been so difficult to create a Palestinian State of some kind, a development that would seem to be in nearly everyone’s interest and which would also impact on many related issues, to include international terrorism, instability in Lebanon and Syria, Iran, and even Arab democracy. The reason is, of course, simple, involving Israeli unwillingness to permit such a state to come into existence coupled with the United States role as an enabler of Israel. So the peace process spins on and on.
(Palestine’s Quislings: A Hand in the Till Not on the Tiller, Philip Giraldi, Published on AntiWar.com, January 9, 2014 at ifamericansknew.org)
The Palestinian people have already been carved up into a multitude of constituencies. There are the Palestinians under occupation, those living as second-class citizens of Israel, those allowed to remain “residents” of Jerusalem, and those dispersed to camps across the Middle East. Even within these groups, there are a host of sub-identities: refugees and non-refugees; refugees included as citizens in their host state and those excluded; occupied Palestinians living under the control of the Palestinian Authority and those under Israel’s military government; and so on.
(Can the Arab World be Turned into Gaza’s Jailers? Divide and Rule, Israeli-StyleJonathan Cook
CounterPunch, June 26, 2007 at ifamericansknew.org)
The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has added another milepost with Israel’s initiation of Operation Pillar of Defense. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is retaliation for rocket attacks launched by Hamas against Israel. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has said those rocket attacks were designed as a retaliation for the continued occupation and blockade of Gaza by Israel, which does not recognize Hamas as a legitimate government of the Palestinian territory.
This cycle — one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict retaliating for actions by the other side, which were retaliations for previous actions — is a familiar and dispiriting one for neutral observers to watch. A look at just the recent history of the conflict makes clear that both sides in the conflict have taken offensive actions — in both senses of the word — and that both have legitimate grievances against the other. Unfortunately, that means both sides have reason to mistrust the other, and both sides can persuade themselves that they are the aggrieved party in the conflict.
(The Neverending Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Explained by Jeff Fecke, November 30, 2012, at care2.com)
Every form of traditional and cyber media is saturated with debate and commentary. Characteristically, it is vehemently polarized, full of more empty talking points than verifiable facts, and virtually always spinning around unproductive tangential issues: who started it, whose weapons are less immoral, who is a terrorist and who isn’t, which incendiary statement is the vilest, who deserves what, who has right to what, ad infinitum.
(The Simple Issue Missing From Debate Over Gaza: The Legitimacy of Palestinian Resistance By Brian K. Barber at AlterNet)
Who started this so-called ‘conflict’?
It is not a “conflict.” It’s an invasion, an occupation and a massacre.
We have Israel the 4th most powerful military force in the world with the most technologically sophisticated weapons provided by the U.S. and the entire military might of the entire western world behind this Zionist enclave and then we have a defenseless people with sticks and stones and AK-47′s and unguided rockets without explosive heads, the Palestinians trying to fight for survival and we call this “a conflict”? This is how absurd it is. It’s completely unjustified.
The United States, this bully gangster country does everything in its power to weaken and undermine and threaten any country in the Middle East that tries to help the Palestinians, eg: Iraq, Iran, Syria. The Arab “governments” that care nothing for the Palestinians are the ones that are fully supported by the United States and propped up, eg: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia.
The United Nations Security Council did not even ratify the partition plan. It is a myth that the United Nations put an approval stamp on this.
This is equivalent to somebody breaking into your home and demanding that you leave because they say that thousands of years ago their ancestors lived here. It’s as bizarre as that
(People use deceptive language to whitewash the true nature of the so-called Israel-Palestine “conflict.” by Brandon Martinez at veteransnewsnow.com)
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City on July 22, 2014
AP Photo/Hatem Moussa at theatlantic.com
An explosion during an Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip early in the morning of July 26, 2014
Reuters/Ronen Zvulun at theatlantic.com
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City on July 29, 2014
AP Photo/Hatem Moussa at theatlantic.com
Mahmoud Abbas, in his capacity as chairman of the PLO, has twice petitioned the UN to accept Palestine as a member state. In September 2011 he approached the Security Council and asked for full membership for Palestine. The petition did not receive the nine required votes. In any case, the United States would have vetoed the petition, preventing it from being passed on to the General Assembly for a vote. On November 29, 2012, the sixty-fifth anniversary of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 partitioning Palestine, Abbas asked the General Assembly to accept Palestine as a non-member observer state, the same status enjoyed by the Vatican (and Switzerland before it joined the UN). This request was overwhelmingly approved with 138 votes in favor and 9 against, with 41 abstentions. The no votes came from Israel, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.
The vote had no effect on the ground. Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It did, however, open the possibility that Palestine could approach the International Criminal Court to pursue Israeli officials for crimes committed in the course of the occupation.
International opinion is nearly unanimous that a two-state solution, including a sovereign Palestinian state, is the best if not only way forward in the century-old conflict over historical Palestine. Yet there is no visible movement toward achieving this outcome.
One reason is the seismic rightward shift in Israeli Jewish opinion, which since the outbreak of the second intifada holds that no peace is possible with the Palestinians. Rather than “conflict resolution,” many feel, Israel should pursue a policy of “conflict management.” Partly to cater to such opinion, and partly to please the powerful settler lobby, recent Israeli governments have been unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Settlements grow apace.
A second reason is the split between Abbas and Hamas in the Palestinian body politic. Their dispute over strategy—negotiations versus resistance—divides ordinary Palestinians as well. Meanwhile, Palestinian citizens of Israel and refugees in neighboring Arab countries are adamant that a comprehensive peace must include them. There are increasingly pressing questions about the viability of the two-state vision and even the utility of international law for delivering a minimally just “solution” to the question of Palestine.
Still a third reason is the lack of political will in Washington, where the Obama administration (for the time being, at least) retains stewardship of the “peace process.” In the spring of 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry began traveling frequently to the Middle East in an effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a two-state solution. He succeeded in doing so, and at the time of writing maintains a brave face in public about the possibility of success. There is no indication, however, that a peace agreement is on the horizon.
In January 2014 President Obama himself told the New Yorker that he estimated the chances of a successful conclusion to negotiations to be “less than 50–50.” In our judgment, the odds are much lower.
(Primer on Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict at merip.org)