Risks Worth Taking to Save Palestine

By Jamal Kanj

The outcome of peace negotiations and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been irrational and incongruous.

The first has led to a quadrupling of the population in "Jewish only" settlements.

Conflict, however, contributed to its slowest growth – or sometimes decreased – during periods of unrest throughout the first and the second Intifada.

The peace process must be profoundly flawed if it results in practices that perpetuate conflict and undermine peace.

Israel has used peace negotiations to distract the international community from its overt and covert policies, under which it has extended control over 62 per cent of the West Bank.

Of that, about 75pc was dedicated to benefit 500,000 Jewish settlers. This equates to 5,428sqm per settler.

Native Palestinians saw their land shrink to less than 1,270sqm per person.

In further violation of Article 4 of the Geneva Convention, 73pc of the West Bank’s water aquifer benefits Israelis outside it – and an additional 10pc is guzzled by "Jewish only" colonies in the occupied territories.

Agriculture is a major industry and main source of income for many small family farms.

Still, Palestinians receive less than one-10th of the water allocated to irrigate lush landscapes and lavish swimming pools in the Jewish only settlements (83 cubic metres a year per Palestinian versus 1,450 cubic metres a year per person in Jewish only settlements).

As a result, 90pc of Palestinian farms are forced to rely on outdated, rain-fed agricultural methods to survive.

According to a European Union report in 2011: "If current trends are not stopped and reversed… the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders seems more remote than ever. The window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing."

Considering these glaring facts, the Palestinian Authority must seriously consider its options and put an end to international indifference, or risk being seen as an unwilling accessory to a hideous occupation.

The peace process has created an ensconced new class of VIP and privileged Palestinians who seem to be more interested in maintaining their gains rather than jeopardising them by exploring alternatives.

Collective Palestinian destiny should not be determined by individual gain, nor by the electoral politics of who occupies the White House.

Neither should it wait for an Israeli government elected by a public that prefers status quo over a rigorous peace process.

In September 2011, the Peace Quartet requested both parties to submit within 90 days a detailed position paper on borders and security issues. Palestine did, Israel has yet to respond.

The Palestinian Authority must stop vacillating and consider freezing official and unofficial contacts with Israel until it complies with the quartet and the roadmap. If the quartet can’t force Israel to comply, the Palestinian Authority must start taking calculated progressive measures to end the impasse.

First, a united Palestinian government must seek UN recognition irrespective of the US threat to cut aid. No self-respected government trades its national sovereignty for aid.

Second, and following UN recognition, it should dismantle the Palestinian Authority – making Israel the occupier of an internationally recognised state instead of the undefined status it has under the Palestinian Authority. Third, there should be general civil disobedience to nudge the international community and make the apathetic Israeli public understand that peace is a two-way street. Each of the above options comes with potential risks, but there can be no risk greater than the irreversible "demographic Jewish revolution" undermining the basis for an independent Palestine.

– Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: jkanj@yahoo.com. (This article first appeared in Gulf Daily News – www.gulf-daily-news.com.

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