…..recognizing Palestine. Here follow thoughts from Jeff Halper on the recent huge majority vote by the UN General Assembly to give Palestine status as a “non-member observer state”.
Thoughts from Jeff Halper
On one level, the General Assemblyas overwhelming vote to recognize the state of Palestine represented a significant achievement for the PLO/Palestinian Authority. It reaffirmed international support for Palestinian self-determination and demonstrated just how isolated Israel and the US are on this issue. The significance of the vote went beyond the merely _symbolic._ Unlike previous attempts, some even supported by Israel, to recognize a _Palestine_ but without borders, the UN resolution explicitly recognizes _the State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967._
This deals a death blow to the Israeli assertion that there is no occupation, a claim based on Israelas invention of a highfaluting Principle of the Missing Reversionary, by which it argues that occupation can only occur when one sovereign state conquers the territory of another sovereign state, thus dismissing Palestinian national claims. Though never accepted by the international community anyway, that Principle is now gone. The territories occupied by Israel in 1967 are officially recognized as sovereign Palestinian land, Occupation is an undisputed fact (as the ICJ reaffirmed in its 2004 ruling on the Separation Barrier), and Israel does stand in gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Its actions and policies, including house demolitions, constitute grave violations of human rights, and perhaps worse; war crimes and crimes against humanity.
All this is why Israel, the US, Britain and others sought to pressure the Palestinians into agreeing before the vote that they would not turn to the International Criminal Court, to which they now have access. Will they use the political leverage it affords them? This is the question of the day. The UNas recognition of Palestine is meaningful only if the Palestinians use it to take steps that will weaken Israelas hold on their land. If they in fact turn to the ICC, if they insist on negotiations based on the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN resolutions rather than trying to simply negotiate around Israelas _facts on the ground_ as they have so far, then perhaps this resolution has some meaning. Thus far the Palestinians have failed to act on their diplomatic achievements. And this is the suspicion: that a deal was struck, perhaps when Hillary Clinton visited Ramallah in the midst of Israelas latest assault on Gaza, allowing the PA to have its moment at the UN without being _punished_ by the US or Israel _ if it simply leaves it at that.
The UN resolution also contains two key terms that would spell the end of Israeli settlements as well as its attempt to impose a form of apartheid: it calls for a _contiguous and viable_ State of Palestine._ But herein lies the rub: we at ICAHD have long argued that the two-state solution is gone, buried under Israelas massive _facts on the ground_ (Meron Benveniste argues that it disappeared already in the 1980s). Israelis completely missed the significance of Israelas _punishment_ when it finally came (contrary to assurances given to Clinton). They have no idea what E-1 is or why it is so crucial to a contiguous Palestine state. I wrote several years ago that construction there would signify an end to the two-state solution _ a view that successive American administrations have held as well. ICAHDas Matrix of Control tour takes participants to the Maaaleh Adumim settlement where they clearly see the implications of Israeli construction in that strategic area.
On paper, then, the UNas recognition of a Palestinian state, the enhanced ability it gives the Palestinians to effectively pursue diplomatic and legal channels in their quest for self-determination, and the legal and political inadmissibility of Israelas actions on the ground, including house demolitions, all give new life to the two-state solution. Logistically it is also possible; after all, around 90% of the _settlers_ live in the OPT for economic and not ideological reasons, and would be willing to move if their standard of living was not compromised. But this is all on paper. In reality, there is a complete lack of will on the part of the international community, currently and historically, to pressure Israel into actually leaving the Occupied Territory, including enough of East Jerusalem that a coherent Palestinian city can once more be established. Even given the outrage prompted in Europe by Netanyahuas decision to build in E-1, British Foreign Secretary William Hague dismisses any notion of actual sanctions on Israel (despite the fact that Itay had taken British diplomats to E-1 and had briefed Alistair Burt, head of the Middle East and North Africa Desk of the British Foreign Ministry, on the disappearance of the two-state solution).
ICAHD congratulates the Palestinians on their formidable achievement in delegitimizing the Occupation and reaffirming Palestinian national rights. It seems, however, that the political task before us is to begin envisioning a one-state solution and legitimizing its very discussion. Our Palestinian partners have only begun to move in that direction, but it is clear that a genuinely sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state will not emerge alongside Israel. A main role for ICAHD in the future is helping to articulate an inclusive and just solution, one that has yet to emerge.
11 December 2012