By Marion Kawas
There is a recent surge of official voices in the West that are alarmed at the agenda of the new Israeli coalition government. Many western liberal governments are offering slightly more than their usual token objections to Israeli policy, including some European threats of sanctions if Israel implements its new annexation plans.
Is all of this because of concern for the human rights of Palestinians? Or concern for the “rule of law” that they are so fond of referencing?
Or is it because they know that formal Israeli annexation of new chunks of the occupied Palestinian territories will be the final blow to the moribund “two-state solution”? A mirage that for over a quarter of a century has legitimized and fueled the status quo of Israeli settler colonialism and continuing ethnic cleansing, but with “plausible deniability” for many international players.
Once this new annexation is implemented, even though it is really only a legalization of what already exists on the ground, then the “two-state” carrot can no longer be dangled in front of Palestinian and Arab eyes as any type of legitimate approach.
Since the signing of Oslo in 1993, this flawed approach has been a bonanza, not just for successive Israeli governments, but also for many others. How many countries have increased and normalized diplomatic and military cooperation with Israel; how many governments have increased free trade agreements with Israel, in the process blessing the fruits of an illegal occupation; and how many have been able to dismiss legitimate Palestinian resistance and grievances under the ruse of negotiations over the illusory and promised but never delivered “two-state” future?
Annexation by any other name…is still annexation.
All the while in these last 27 years, Israel has at least tripled the number of illegal settlers, pushing Palestinians off their lands, crippling Palestinian agriculture and development, and then killing or injuring Palestinians who dare to protest. All with the blessing of the international community as long as some lip-service is paid to the mantra of the “two-state” solution. As long as one adds some sentence at the end of a press release committing to a “negotiated settlement based on two states”, then support of Israeli military brutality can carry on unexcused.
Not that any of this should come as a surprise. Back in 1992, even before the Oslo Accords were on the table, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was blunt in stating the purpose of such endless negotiations. According to the NY Times, he was quoted “in a published interview…as saying he wanted to drag out peace talks with the Palestinians for a decade while vastly increasing the number of Jewish settlers in Israeli-occupied territories”.
And even if we accept the hypothesis that some analysts are now putting forward that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority were misled and duped by these Israeli-US schemes, we have to ask: For 27 years? Perhaps five years, after which the promised Palestinian state was supposed to be implemented. But over a quarter of a century? Even the late Yasser Arafat finally realized the strategic error involved in the quagmire of the Oslo Accords, a realization that many would argue cost him his life in 2004.
And it is not as if there weren’t already precedents for US deception regarding the Palestinian movement. In 1982, then US special envoy Philip Habib guaranteed the safety of people in the refugee camps if the PLO agreed to leave Beirut. Written notes stated: “We also reaffirm the assurances of the United States as regards safety and security…for the camps in Beirut.” And we all know the tragedy that quickly followed, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, where over a thousand unarmed Palestinian men, women, and children were butchered and driven out of their homes yet again.
All those now finally finding their voices to criticize Israel’s new annexation plans should know that their words ring hollow, unless they are backed up by significant and concrete steps to hold Israel accountable. The absolute minimum would be sanctions on the government and state of Israel until it respects international law. Imposed immediately! Anything less is just naked deception, aimed at keeping Palestinians under the boot of Zionist colonization permanently.
– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.cpavancouver.org.