17 days ago

Israel-Hamas war & the way forward

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In 1948, with the blessings of the British rulers who ruled Palestine from 1917-1948, Palestine was formally partitioned, establishing a Zionist settler colonial state, what was meant to be a Palestinian one, thus turning Europe's longstanding problem of anti-Semitism into Palestine's Zionist problem.

The British colonial rulers actively fostered Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1930s. To settle the Jewish immigrants, the British had confiscated land from Palestinians and violently suppressed incipient Palestinian nationalism. This British-fostered Jewish immigration to Palestine led the size of Jewish population to rise from 11 per cent in 1922 to 17 per cent in 1931 to 30 per cent in 1939.

During and following the 1948 Palestinian war after the partition,  about 700,00 Palestinians were driven out of their land. Zionist militias and the Israeli army destroyed over 500 Palestinian villages. Israel also appropriated 78 per cent of the territory of Palestine, including the larger part of Jerusalem following the 1948 war. The 1967 war provided Israel with the opportunity to further expand its territory including East Jerusalem.

On October 7 this year, the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas did not only strike at the Israeli military and colonial settler outposts, it also struck at the imperial forces that enabled Israel, a racist colonial settler state to perpetuate its occupation of Palestine and  murder Palestinian people with impunity.

While the attack was not surprising as reflected in UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' comment that it "did not happen in vacuum", the scope and the nature of the attack against Israel have no precedence in the 16 years of Hamas rule in Gaza. It appears the severity of the attack had stunned Israelis and shaken their sense of invincibility.

In the wake of the Hamas attack, with the full military backing by the US, Israel has invaded and promises to annihilate Hamas. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu even told the world that 'our civilisation is at stake' to justify the bloody massacre in Gaza. In fact, Israeli cabinet declared war on Hamas and begun aerial bombardment indiscriminately killing thousands of civilians including children and destroying major hospitals and basic infrastructures and displacing about 1 million Palestinians.

Renowned writer, filmmaker and activist Tariq Ali told Afshin Rattansi of RT that Netanyahu's government is trying to quash any possibility of a Palestinian state while the US is fuelling Israeli arrogance. He also told that US carrier strike groups stand guard to defend Israel against possible intervention from Iran.

Israel continues to attack Gaza with impunity. The civilian death toll is staggering. By the middle of November more than 11,000 Palestinians including about 4,500 children were killed and  close to 30,000 including about 9,000 children injured. Not just in Gaza, the ongoing campaign of killing Palestine in the largely Jewish settler occupied West bank is escalating.

Incredibly during all this carnage, Washington and Tel Aviv are working on their vision for the Palestinians after the war. Of course, it is the creation of another Bantustan like in the West Bank where 33 per cent of the land is now occupied by Jewish settlers and the Israeli army. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he envisions an 'indefinite' Israeli occupation of Gaza after the war. As if the long-standing blockade is not an occupation. This goal tells us a lot about the war being waged on Gaza - it is a war of displacement and ethnic cleansing.

The US backed Israeli genocide in Gaza is now aimed at complete ethnic cleansing of Gaza. A leaked Israeli Ministry of Defence intelligence document six days after the Hamas attack calls for the permanent forced transfer of the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million Palestinians to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The former long time New York Times Middle East correspondent Chris Hedges has pointed out that this forced transfer of Palestinians has "long been the dream of Israeli crypto-fascists…..Jewish extremists". Hedges then went on to add that these very people now "make up the ruling coalition government" in Tel Aviv.

In an interview with the Washington Post, the leading mouthpiece of the US corporate media, the New Yorker Daniella Weiss, a veteran leader of the Israeli settler movement also expressed similar view  saying that they (Palestinians) should be dispersed to countries like Egypt and Turkey and Israelis should resettle in Gaza.

The corporate media in the West and in the US, in particular, accepts Israeli narratives as fact. As the events unfold in Gaza, the corporate media continues to publish inaccurate, prejudicial and harmful misinformation aimed at tarnishing the Palestinian resistance and demonise the Arabs. The leaders of the UK, US, and EU are also sending a message 'we absolve you' to Israel as it bombs civilians. French President Emmanuel Macron even declared to create a military coalition to fight Hamas without mercy.

The corporate media in the West reflexively also dismisses any Palestinian nationalist impulse as terrorism. The real issue is not terrorism but the establishment of the racist colonial settler state of Israel on Palestinian lands in 1948.  This instantly made every act of Palestinian resistance into "terrorism" including Hamas' attacks on Israel on October 7 by the corporate media.

Professor Ilan Pappé, renowned Israeli historian and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, discussed with Afshin Rittansi of RT about the incapability of Israeli public showing compassion for the people killed in Gaza by Israeli bombardment and for Palestinians living under occupation since 1948.  He then opined that we might be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Zionist Israel project.

Fyodor Lukyanov, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy in Russia in a recent article also opined that " Israel's problem is that the overwhelming power advantage it has relied on for three quarters of century is no longer a reliable guarantee of its existence. The overall balance in the region will not shift in the Jewish state's favour, and its patron's attention may be diverted by other internal and external crises."

For decades in the attempts to bring peace and reconciliation to historical  land of Palestine, the "two state solution" has long been agreed upon framework by  the UN and  most countries around the world including in the West.  The two state solution envisages the creation of two states - one Israeli and  one Palestinian. The proponents of the idea have religiously been adhering to the two-state solution as the only way forward.

It is to be noted that the UN Resolution 181 adopted in November, 1947 to partition Palestine  was a non-binding resolution and the UN Security Council did never officially adopt it.

PLO leader Yasser Arafat accepted the Oslo Accord (1993) which was sold as the two-state solution although there was no mention of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel in this accord. Arafat did so against warning from his best friends and colleagues. In fact, the Oslo Accord enabled Israel to control the land of Palestine without incorporating the Palestinians living there as citizens.

The two-state solution has also been the political Zionist plan because they can manipulate that idea as they have successfully done over the years with active support from the US. The US sponsored Abraham's Accord is the most modern manifestation of that manipulation to create conditions for Palestinian statehood. These conditions are so unrealistic that there will never be a Palestinian state.

As Zionism is fundamentally a colonial settler movement, it was interested in having as much of the land  of Palestine with  as few Palestinians on it possible. Unlike the annihilation of the indigenous population in North America, in Palestine the policy to eliminate Palestinians was to be carried out through ethnic cleansing and segregation i.e., apartheid as in the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, Gaza has become a concentration camp for Palestinians.

Also, the Israeli political Right wishes to annex territories by driving Palestinians out or restrain it through an official apartheid system like what was done in White South Africa. On the other hand, the Israeli Political Left wishes to create two Bantustans-- one in the West Bank and the other in Gaza which will allow Israel to control Palestinians indirectly.

A senior ranking UN Human rights official, Craig Mokhiber issued a damning condemnation of both the viability and morality of the two-state solution. In a letter of resignation from his position he said " The mantra of the "two-state solution" has become an open joke in the corridors of  the UN, both for its utter impossibility in fact, and its total failure to account for the inalienable human rights of the Palestinian people."

Now questions are being asked how Palestine can escape the misery imposed by the Israeli state. Eminent historian Ilan Pappe argues for one state solution to the crisis. But the idea of one democratic state in historical Palestine is not a new one. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) chartered a clear vision for  Palestine to establish a secular democratic state in historical Palestine including the right of return for Palestinians to their pre-1948 homeland that was now under occupation (the 1968  Palestinian National Covenant). A similar proposal was made by the late Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said in 1999.

A one state idea is not something of a wishy-washy future possibility; it already exists in historical Palestine in the form of an apartheid state called Israel. In fact, Israel killed the two-state formula long time ago. Israel now maintains a one-state reality on its own terms where Palestinians are permanently relegated to a lower status, where they remain segregated politically, socially and economically. Following their visit to Israel in late June this year, Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon warned that a "one state reality" was now rapidly extinguishing the prospect of a two-state solution.

An article published in Foreign Affairs (April, 14, 2023) says "Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, one state controls the entry and exit of people and goods, oversees security, and has the capacity to impose its decisions, laws, and policies on millions of people without their consent".

Even the PLO leader Hanan Ashrawi who once supported the two state solution now believes that the option is dead. She told RT "I think the two-state solution is dead. That agenda has been destroyed by Israel by its actions." Also, a very large proportion of young Palestinians have now joined the campaign for a one state solution.

Now a single secular democratic state stretching from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea is perhaps the only option to stop the continuing Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. In such a democratic and secular single state where Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews will be living together as equal citizens with equal rights based upon human rights and the rule of law.  This is the only option that has any chance of delivering lasting peace. Politicians and policy planner who ignore this option will only further enable Israel to continue with its systematised and generalised apartheid system where Palestinians will continually be subjected to systematic discrimination, violence and dispossession from their land.

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