By Rima Najjar Merriman
After all the hasbara and whitewashing Israel has been vigorously conducting, the conversation about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally changing – at least among activists and academics. Here is a distillation of Israel’s problem and a proposed solution.
Bottom Line about Israel
Israel is already Greater Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley. It is an apartheid, racist state no doubt about it (see Ben White if you need documentation about the more than 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against 48-Palestinians). Its rationale for existence is to be a Jewish state. To that end it has invented an ethnicity for Jews (as separate from the religious identity). So now it is looking for ways to be an ethnically-pure Jewish state and also claim to be a modern democracy (as, thankfully, it doesn’t want to be a theocracy). Contortions to that effect are beginning to take place now in the Knesset, since Israel wants to have its cake and eat it too. Where are the indigenous people of historic Palestine in this equation? Nowhere. Israel can hardly bear to utter the word “Palestinian”, let alone admit to their human rights.
Oslo Needs to be Dismantled Now
The Oslo Accords served as a fig leaf to consolidate and deepen Israel’s control over Palestinian life.
Here is what Palestinians can and should do to help themselves:
Oslo needs to be dismantled, because that’s where Israel is getting its “legitimacy” to rob and dispossess Palestinians. This means the PA in its present shape has also got to go and, in its place, we need a representative Palestinian government (that includes representation of the refugees, the shatat and 48 Palestinians), as opposed to a puppet government, as is the case now. With such a government, we then must work towards a democratic state in historic Palestine.
The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status.
Justice and Only Justice
78% of pre-1948 Palestine (now Israel) and more than 50% of the Palestinian people (who are outside the West Bank and Gaza or inside Israel) cannot be excluded from peace-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
QUESTION: Why have the various peace settlements between Palestinians & Israel failed? [Example, 1991 Madrid, 1993 Oslo, 2002 Road Map, and the current Arab League/US proposal]
ANSWER: Because they were all based on four unjust assumptions. 1) The Palestinian refugees of 1948 would not be a factor in negotiations, 2) The Palestinian of 1948 in Israel would not be part of any comprehensive settlement and 3) The only Palestinian territories subject to negotiations would be the vanishing East Jerusalem, the Jewish settlement-riddled West Bank and the refugee-crammed Gaza and 4) “Peace” constitutes only Partial return of 1967 occupied lands and the rejection of Palestinian national rights.
ISRAEL: You cannot have peace and at the same time diminish and negate Palestinian existence and the rights that naturally attend it.
And here is the only workable vision as delineated in Madrid and London, 2007 by The One State Democratic Group:
A Just Peace for Palestinians and Jews
– The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status;
– Any system of government must be founded on the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens. Power must be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all people in the diversity of their identities;
– There must be just redress for the devastating effects of decades of Zionist colonization in the pre- and post-state period, including the abrogation of all laws, and ending all policies, practices and systems of military and civil control that oppress and discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or national origin;
– The recognition of the diverse character of the society, encompassing distinct religious, linguistic and cultural traditions, and national experiences;
– The creation of a non-sectarian state that does not privilege the rights of one ethnic or religious group over another and that respects the separation of state from all organized religion;
– The implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 is a fundamental requirement for justice, and a benchmark of the respect for equality.
– The creation of a transparent and nondiscriminatory immigration policy;
– The recognition of the historic connections between the diverse communities inside the new, democratic state and their respective fellow communities outside;
– In articulating the specific contours of such a solution, those who have been historically excluded from decision-making — especially the Palestinian Diaspora and its refugees, and Palestinians inside Israel — must play a central role;
– The establishment of legal and institutional frameworks for justice and reconciliation.
– Rima Najjar Merriman teaches at Al Quds University in the West Bank. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.