What’s the Next Step for Palestine?

By Tallha Abdulrazaq

After Barack Obama’s recent pro-Israeli address to the world regarding the vision of the US for the Middle East in light of the ongoing events of the Arab Spring, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bellicose attitude towards Palestinians so brazenly on display during his speech to Congress, the Palestinians seemingly have only one sensible course of action to take; self-reliance, and a total withdrawal from the defunct peace process.

Obama and all his predecessors have shown more interest in pandering to AIPAC to acquire extensive campaign funding for their re-election than an interest towards peace. In a complete removal from the principles of political realism, the US has consistently failed to realise that clinging onto Israel with an all-or-nothing attitude is not conducive to their national interest. Indeed, it was not too long ago that General David Petraeus commented on the danger that this pro-Israeli attitude poses to American interests and national security. However, his words have been ignored and tucked away in a dark corner where no one will hear them again.

This detachment from reality is because the American political system is so heavily infiltrated by large corporations and lobby groups with access to considerable resources that it is essentially a hostage to the highest bidder. If Obama, or anyone else who finds himself in his position, wants any chance at all at being re-elected, then he knows his only hope is to be a good pro-Israeli. Obama mentioned that even during these tough fiscal times, the US has increased its military aid to Israel to ensure that it always has access to the latest, best, and deadliest weapons in its quest to maintain its illegitimate occupation of Palestine.

Even more is the fact that, during his speech, Netanyahu (one of few foreign leaders to actually address Congress, which demonstrates his considerable influence) had the gall to use the bible as proof that Jews, and not Palestinians, are the rightful occupants of “Judea and Samaria”, and these of course are the Israeli names for the occupied West Bank. What is instantly striking about this is that he said this to the congress of the so-called bastion of Western secular democracy, and to the deafening sound of applause. For a secular state, it is incredible how AIPAC funding can grease enough palms to make the bible a relevant political document. This says a lot about secularism, and a whole lot more about Western hypocrisy when Islamic democratic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood are so quickly demonised.

In light of the above, it is clear that the Palestinian factions must stay the course for national unity. Fatah need to distance themselves from the image of treachery that they have rightfully earned in light of their collusion with Israeli officials, and Hamas need to regain the trust they have lost by loosening their iron grip on the Gaza Strip, allowing more public freedom of expression, and doing their best to facilitate the Gazan economy once the Rafah border with Egypt opens.

Once the reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions has been consolidated, paving the way to democratic elections (again) and a new and legitimate Palestinian government, then the Palestinians should announce independence at the UN. Although this will have to pass through the UN Security Council first which will undoubtedly lead to a veto vote from the US, this will further demonstrate to the world that the US, the “honest broker”, is losing its grip on reality, and will allow Palestinian diplomats to seek stronger ties with countries in areas such as Latin America that have shown an interest in recognising a Palestinian state even without the approval of the UN.

Palestinian aspirations for self-determination and their own state are legitimate, whatever Israel or the US say, and so therefore they should seek the more rewarding path of perhaps going it alone. This does not mean that the Palestinians walk out of international forums, but instead they continue to insist on their rights for a state with its own military and national security apparatus, the Palestinian right of return to all of Palestine before the existence of the state of Israel, and also to continue to press for sanctions against Israel. This will obviously not have much actual diplomatic effect, but it does insulate Palestinians from the accusation that they are not engaging with the world at large via the UN. Once the world sees that the UN is impotent and unable to truly help the Palestinians, none can blame them for reaching out to neighbouring and sympathetic states in the Arab and Islamic world or even further afield. By strengthening their diplomatic ties with other states, it gives the Palestinians an unofficial international legitimacy that will further isolate the symbiotic, even sado-masochist, US-Israeli relationship and their policy of delegitimising and even dehumanising the Palestinians. Official or otherwise, the feeling of legitimacy can and sometimes does lead to the reality of legality, and this is what the Palestinians should aim for.

Obviously, this will not be easy. The dominant international system as it is always punishes deviation from the status quo so as to deter those who seek true change, unlike the deceitful words of Barack Obama. The Palestinians could find that the US and Israel will try to isolate them diplomatically by applying pressure on the Palestinians themselves via economic and military means, or by strong-arming their allies and sympathetic states. However, it is worth the risk as, as Obama himself said but failed to act upon, the current status quo is unsustainable and even humiliating to Palestinians. If the Palestinians announce statehood in September and face unacceptable pressure from the US and Israel, then it may be high time for them as a united whole to withdraw their extended, open hand that was searching for a partner for peace, close it into a fist, and strike back with a third intifada against illegitimate Israeli tyranny. This time, they may find an ally in Egypt and others who risk appearing to be complacent amongst their Arab and Islamic populations.

– Tallha Abdulrazaq is a political commentator. Visit www.thewarjournal.co.uk. Talha contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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