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Analysis: Netanyahu reveals the true face of Israel

Dec. 9, 2012 11:20 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 10, 2012 10:14 A.M.)
By: Rashid Shahin
Less than 24 hours after the world community decided to vote for Palestine and give it non member observer status, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rightist government smacked the supporters of Israel, especially the leaders of the USA, the UK, Germany, and Canada, in the face.

Netanyahu reacted with scorn and contempt to the UN resolution, which was adopted by the world community, when he announced Israel's plans for building 3,000 new settlement units.

For Palestinians who have experienced Israeli policies and measures against them since before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the Israeli step was not surprising or shocking.

Palestinians believed, and still do, that those immigrants, who came from overseas to settle in Palestine, were coming under the slogan "a land without a people for a people without a land" and that these immigrants will never admit the fact that there is a Palestinian people.

Zionists, who uprooted Palestinians from their lands, believe that those who were living on this land were no more than a few scattered Bedouins and backward tribes, who would flee and never think of returning or demanding their rights to this land.

This thinking can be heard when listening to Israeli politicians say that there was no place called Palestine until 1967, ignoring the fact that Palestine was mentioned in the Old Testament and in correspondence before and during the First World War which mentions Palestine.

Israeli politicians were playing this another way until recently, when they repeatedly said there is no Palestinian partner, in order to de-legitimize the Palestinian leadership, although they are alleging that it is the Palestinians who are trying to de-legitimize Israel.

The Palestinian President reaffirmed on many occasions, including in his speech at the UN General Assembly, that he is not seeking this goal, and that he recognizes Israel as a legitimate state in the region.

When Israeli leaders speak about the settlement of the conflict based on a two state solution, this is just another deception, especially as the new plans to build 3,000 units will divide the West Bank in two, making it impossible to have a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

Those who remain committed to a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, as most of the Israel politicians say they are, must not impose preconditions, such as that the Palestinian state should be demilitarized, or that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Such sectarian calls based on religious grounds, do not fit with the era of globalization and modern communications but drag the world into a new dark feudalism, at a time when the world desperately needs to eliminate extremism, racism and fundamentalism.

With regard to negotiations, the world has witnessed two decades of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, during which time Israel created more facts on the ground in order to frustrate the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the number of colonies built in the occupied territories has dramatically increased and the number of Israeli settlers living in these colonies has more than doubled.

After twenty years of negotiations what was the result? For how many more years should the Palestinians negotiate with Israel to end the occupation and to have their right to build their State?

Israel is one of the most powerful states in the region, and when the world speaks about Palestinian rights, the Israelis start speaking about the vital security needs of Israel, but what about Palestinian needs?

It must be understood that for the Israelis and for the world, time is running out, and the space for the two states solution is narrowing. In a few years, if Israel continues expanding and building new colonies in the Occupied Territories, it is no secret that such a solution will evaporate and it will be too late.

The Israeli plans, particularly inside and around East Jerusalem, will make it increasingly impossible to see two states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. That is why it is not strange to listen to calls for a one state solution; in fact the calls for such a solution are increasing from people on both sides and from supporters around the world.

This is not the time for unnecessary provocation by the Israelis to create more obstacles ahead of the Palestinians in their right to have their own state, nor is it the time to punish the Palestinians for their aspirations. It should be the time for the world to work together to prevent the Israeli plans which aim to remove all rights from the Palestinians.

Palestinians have suffered for many decades, homelessness, misery and frustration; hostility has shadowed the region for too long. Now it is time to put an end to the conflict, by taking measures and actions to make Israel realize it has something to lose and might well be held accountable in accordance with international law if it is not going to change its policies and comply with international conventions.

The Israeli plans must open the eyes of all world politicians, especially those who did their utmost to convince Palestinians not to go to the UN; they must realize now that it is not the Palestinians who are the problem in ending this conflict.

It is obvious that it is colonial ambition that governs the Israeli mentality as was revealed by Netanyahu’s intentions. He aims to annex the largest possible area of the occupied Palestinian lands and prevent the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

Since the countries of the world admit that this land is an occupied land, they should take all necessary steps to prevent the Israeli government from building colonies in the occupied lands according to international law. Such plans and projects on the occupied land must be considered illegal and must be strongly condemned.

It should be clear that E1 area where Netanyahu is accelerating settlement is an area of strategic importance for the Palestinians. If Israel were to implement the plans announced, it would cut out Jerusalem from the West Bank, which would make a two state solution impossible.

Palestinians cannot digest the sight of Western leaders speaking about human rights in the Arab Spring countries, while Palestinians have lived for decades under a brutal and harsh occupation; they believe that Western policy of double standards should come to an end.

It is time to tell Israel clearly that things have changed and it will not be acceptable to continue this occupation, and that it must end and Palestinians must be given the chance to practice their rights equally with other peoples of the world.

This week, Thomas Friedman -- a long supporter of Israel -- wrote "the far-right group running Israel today is so arrogant." If even Friedman sees Israeli leaders this way, then the world must do something to stop them from dragging the region into an unknown destiny.

The author is a Palestinian journalist based in Bethlehem.
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