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Abunimah: Palestinian focus should be on attaining rights, not statehood

Israel/Palestine
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From Ali Abunimah’s article “A Formal Funeral for the Two-State Solution” in Foreign Affairs:

Ultimately, any successful strategy should focus not on statehood but on rights. In its statement on the UN bid, the BNC emphasized that regardless of what happens in September, the global solidarity struggle must continue until Israel respects Palestinian rights and obeys international law in three specific ways: ending the occupation of Arab lands that began in 1967 and dismantling the West Bank wall that was ruled illegal in 2004 by the International Court of Justice; removing all forms of legal and social discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and guaranteeing full equal rights; and offering full respect for Palestinian refugee rights, including the right of return. Palestinians and Israelis are not in a situation of equals negotiating an end to a dispute but are, respectively, colonized and colonizer, much as blacks and whites were in South Africa. This truth must be recognized, and pushing for such recognition would resonate far more with the Palestinian public than empty statehood talk.

Indeed, such a strategy has worried Israel enough that it has enlisted the U.S. in the fight against what Israeli leaders term “delegitimization.” “Delegitimizers” are supposedly not seeking justice and full human and political rights for Palestinians, but rather seeking the collapse of Israel — much like East Germany or apartheid South Africa — through political and legal assaults. According to Israel and groups supporting it in the United States, virtually all Palestine solidarity activism, especially BDS, is “delegitimization.” Some Israelis, including even former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have warned that fighting a movement calling for universal civil and political rights would only make Israel look more, not less, like an apartheid state, worsening its situation. But Israeli elites have come up with no plausible response to the reality that within a few short years — because of Palestinian population growth and Israeli settlement construction — a Jewish minority will be ruling over a disenfranchised and subordinated Palestinian majority in a country that cannot be partitioned.

The plans for truncated and circumscribed Palestinian statehood, which successive American and Israeli governments have been prepared to discuss, fall far short of minimal Palestinian demands and have no hope of being implemented (as the dramatic failure of the Obama administration’s peace effort in its first two years underscores). Even President Obama, in his speech to the Israeli lobbying group AIPAC last May, called the status quo “unsustainable.” But he offered no
new answers.

These, then, are the lines along which the battle for the future of Palestine are going to be fought, no matter how many U.S. envoys head to Ramallah and Jerusalem to try to revive negotiations in which no one believes. Meanwhile, the UN bid should be seen not as the means to give birth to the Palestinian state but as the formal funeral of the two-state solution and the peace process that was supposed to bring it about.

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About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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