Sunday, July 22
Latest News
  1. Israel's Foreign Ministry criticizes CNN, BBC Gaza tweets
  2. The Syrian Army advances toward Golan Heights border
  3. Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians, including woman, in West Bank
  4. Israel to reopen Gaza's main crossing if peace persists
  5. Druze MKs: 'Nationality law' discriminates against minorities
  6. Israeli settlers storm Hebron-area village
  7. Over a thousand of right-wing Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque
  8. Israel shells Hamas site in Gaza after 'infiltration' reported
  9. Ceasefire declared following violent night in Gaza
  10. Israel hits several areas across Gaza, Presidency warns of escalation

Establishing a sovereign bantustan

Sept. 2, 2011 5:48 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 5, 2011 7:19 P.M.)
By: Jalal Abukhater
Our struggle is not for symbolic statehood; it is a struggle to gain basic rights.

For more than six decades, we have been fighting for our right of return, our right to live in our ancestral homeland, our right to be treated as equal citizens, and our right to live in dignity.

But our leadership is risking all of that in order to establish a sovereign state on a tiny piece of our much bigger homeland, a desperate move leading to what can literally be described by the term "bantustan."

As Virginia Tilley writes, it is no exaggeration that this plan, well-meant by some, "raises the clearest danger to the Palestinian national movement in its entire history, threatening to wall Palestinian aspirations into a political cul-de-sac from which it may never emerge.

"The irony is indeed that, through this maneuver, the PA is seizing -- even declaring as a right -- precisely the same dead-end formula that the African National Congress (ANC) fought so bitterly for decades because the ANC leadership rightly saw it as disastrous.

"That formula can be summed up in one word: Bantustan."

If we cannot learn from recent history, what will we ever achieve? We are being lured into a trap where the rights of millions of dispossessed refugees are at risk. But who is listening?

A few months ago, I questioned the motives of many Israeli anti-occupation leftist groups, and asked them to endorse the one democratic state solution as it is the only solution out there that could end the struggle and guarantee justice and equality for both sides.

If I have learned anything from debating with my Palestinian friends in the last few weeks about the September move, it is that I should address them, my fellow Palestinian countrymen, in the same tone, if not harsher regarding this topic. Let us get over talking hope, and move toward understanding the actions and consequences of this move.

If we were to see the West Bank and Gaza Strip instantaneously liberated as soon as the United Nations recognized us as a state, I would not worry as much because then the leadership would be slightly more able to sort out bigger matters related to refugees. But the reality on the ground says something else.

Ali Abunimah, in an op-ed for Al Jazeera English, notes that "Lebanon has been a member state of the United Nations since 1945 and yet this did not prevent Israel from occupying southern Lebanon from 1978 until 2000. Israel's occupation of Lebanon ended not because of any international pressure, but only because the Lebanese resistance drove Israel and its collaborating militias out. …

"Similarly, since 1967 Israel has occupied the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria (also a UN member since 1945). There has been virtually no armed resistance on the Golan Heights nor has there been any international pressure for Israel to withdraw or for Syrian refugees to return to their homes. … Why would the situation in the "State of Palestine" be any different?”

While the Israeli occupation in the West Bank is going nowhere after Sept. 20, our leadership is insisting that now is the time to declare statehood, ignoring the consequences of this action.

The Palestinian delegation to the UN has been warned that the move risks the rights of the Diaspora and 1948 Palestinians as it "terminates the legal status held by the PLO in the UN," according to a legal opinion by international law expert Guy Goodwin-Gill of Oxford University.

In his seven-page document Goodwin-Gill, a member of the team that won the 2004 non-binding judgment by the International Court of Justice that the route of Israel's wall was illegal, sheds light on the legal risks behind recognition of a Palestinian state: Millions of refugees could lose their representation at the UN.

"In my opinion, current moves to secure recognition of statehood do not appear to reflect fully the role of the Palestinian people as a principle party in the resolution of the situation in the Middle East," Goodwin-Gill concludes.

"The interests of the Palestinian people are at risk of prejudice and fragmentation, unless steps are taken to ensure and maintain their representation through the Palestinian Liberation Organization, until such time as there is in place a State competent and fully able to assume these responsibilities towards the people at large."

The Boycott National Committee has also warned of harsh consequences of the bid.

Many non-Palestinian activists, rights groups, politicians, and lawyers are voicing their concerns, but not all are able to protest the leadership’s decision because it is an exclusively Palestinian matter.

Unfortunately, not many Palestinians are fully aware of the risks, and over 6.5 million of them in the Diaspora will face the consequences of an action taken by a leader for whom they did not vote nor agree that he speaks for them. The move is an action that a low percentage of Palestinians agree upon but, unfortunately, it is going to be forced upon them.

The leadership in Ramallah is fully aware of the consequences, but their action is the result of anger at the failing peace process that they worked on for decades. This anger is pushing them toward an irrational move -- anything to claim as a success of their own making -- while ignoring the consequences. This move aims to separate and break bonds among Palestinians all over the world; the Palestinian leadership should know better and seek a solution that guarantees the rights of all the Palestinians they "represent."

Whenever one speaks about the September bid, you hear "veto". Everyone seems certain that the US will use its veto power in the Security Council to halt any unilateral attempt seeking a declaration of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. Some say the UN delegation will seek other routes to bypass the Security Council; others say it will be the end of the road.

Many Palestinians claim that the move is a win-win situation. If we succeed, we get our state. If we fail, we avoid the consequences of having succeeded and we can seek another solution. It is irrational, I know. But most Palestinians are ready and will gladly accept any outcome from the September move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the bid because he benefits from controlling the illegal settlements in the West Bank. He wants to maintain control over all strategic areas and water sources. He aims to maintain our status quo in many separate, open-air prisons across the West Bank.

But I see no reason for US President Barack Obama to oppose it. Personally, I doubt the US will use its veto. Through this solution, the US would be able to put an end to 64 years of continuous struggle and favor the Zionist end of the equation. Of course, having said this, putting an end to our struggle in this way would harm us a lot as I have argued earlier.

The two-state solution will cause fragmentation of the Palestinian people, more separation between those in the West Bank and Gaza, those in Israel, and those living in the Diaspora. It will forcibly take away the rights of millions.

The author is a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. He is a senior at Friends School in Ramallah and blogs for The Electronic Intifada, where a version of this opinion originally appeared.
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2018