Saturday, April 30

September 2011 – Unilateral Declaration of a Palestinian State?

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...Image via Wikipedia

The Israeli Government is now going into a kind of phobia. The Palestinian Authority threatens a unilateral declaration of independence on September 2011. The P.A. will apply to the UN for admission as a fully independent state.

It is very unfortunate that there have been no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for quite a while. P.M. Salaam Fayad has been very busy trying to establish an infrastructure within the West Bank in preparation for the time when Palestine gains its independence. He is a pragmatist and is not a member of Fatah. The problem is whether he has the power to achieve this aim. So far, he has had some success in winning over the PA to his way of thinking. The Palestinian security police have improved and there is cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in this area.

Nevertheless, much work has to be done and this can only be achieved when Israel decides to withdraw from the occupied territories and at the same time negotiations over security issues, future economic and cultural cooperation that is beneficial for both peoples must be negotiated.

Another big problem is the final borders issues between Israel and Palestine that has not been solved. Another issue is the problem of Gaza under Hamas rule. Hamas and Fatah are at loggerheads and the chances of them settling their differences are slim. World opinion is gaining ground at a rapid pace in support of a unilateral declaration of independence for Palestine and Israel cannot ignore this as much as it would like.

Israel is also complicating the issue by building new Israeli settlements in occupied territories since the settlement freeze period had expired. The idea of this is to make it more difficult for the Palestinians to achieve independence. If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do begin, many outstanding issues need solving including the settlers on the West Bank should if they decide to remain there. What will be their status? Will they agree to become Palestinian citizens? The chances of this are zero.

Time is not on Israel’s side and if the UN General Assembly agrees to adopt a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the US would probably veto the resolution and this would mean that the occupation would continue for an unlimited time. The spirit of the recent uprisings in the Arab states will also have an effect on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is hoped that it would pressure the Palestinians of Gaza to demonstrate and revolt against the brutal Hamas regime. Hamas is racist, anti-democratic and tolerates no opposition to its rule. The murders that Hamas has committed against the Palestinian people of Gaza have been overlooked by many freedom activists in the world.  The flotillas that move towards Gaza’s seas are ample proof of this. They fight for the removal of Israel’s blockades but not for the removal of the cruel Hamas regime who is responsible for Israel’s initiating these blockades. These so-called freedom-fighters are strengthening Hamas and in so doing are increasing the suffering of the Palestinians of Gaza. 

On Wednesday 27th April 2011, Mahmoud Abbas the Fatah President of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas' Khaled Mashal signed an accord that may bring the two sides closer to some kind of rapprochement. This took place in Cairo to the surprise of everybody. Both sides agreed on two points:

1. Palestinian General Elections will be held in a year's time.

2. Rehabilitation of Gaza's infrastructure must be undertaken.

According to President Abbas, this will not effect the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on an eventual peace agreement.

Naturally, PM Netanyahu's reaction was a knee jerk panic reaction when he should have sealed his lips and those of his coalition. Instead he said the usual expected statements that there will be no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians if Hamas and the PA unify unless Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist. He said the obvious which should have been unsaid only two hours after the Hamas-Fatah agreement was signed. He sent an ultimatum to the PA – they agree either to negotiate with Israel or to form a coalition with Hamas. The latter is unacceptable to Israel.

It is hard to believe that this mini-accord will be more than just that. The differences between Hamas and Fatah are so great that it is hard to believe that the gaps will be bridged.

After all, Hamas is on the verge of losing their proxies - Hezbollah (militants from Iran and Syria). This could result in Hamas moderating its stand towards Israel. The usual mantras in the Middle East are changing due to the Arab uprisings and Syria's President Bashar Assad's security forces brutally shooting Syrian demonstrators in cold blood. Assad is using the same cruel tactics as Ahmadinajad of Iran in suppressing opposition to their cruel despotic regimes. There are reports that Iran is aiding Assad in suppressing the uprising. Ahmadinajad knows that his regime will be on the firing line from the Iranian opposition. The Palestinian people of Gaza have had enough! They want to rebuild their lives and Israel is not their priority for destruction. It probably never was in the first place. Hamas, which is losing its proxies, are seeking other avenues to justify their existence. As the winds of change envelope the Middle East, Hamas - the despotic terrorist regime is not immune to the changes.

The turmoil and instability in the Middle East has resulted in Hamas putting out feelers to seek a new proxy. It is conceivable that the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt has played a part in bringing Hamas and Fatah to some kind of agreement. This is especially significant since Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power. One must remember that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and this mini accord with Fatah may be the beginning of a new direction in the unification of Gaza and the West Bank after the upcoming Palestinian elections.

It would be interesting, in view of the changing circumstances resulting in an agreement between Hamas and Fatah, whether the support for a unilateral declared Palestinian state will lose its momentum. After all, the E.U, U.S. and Russia regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Netanyahu Government must also share the blame for the Hamas-Fatah mini-accord. An action always causes a reaction in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. A lack of any action is worse. It results in a stalemate and new alliances result aggravating a situation that does not improve. Every time there is an individual act of Palestinian terror it serves the Netanyahu Government’s aims – the building of more illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and thus making a Palestinian state more difficult to achieve.

The Hamas-Fatah mini-accord could result in Hamas moderating its attitude towards Israel as its despotic proxies have been weakened. Israel, on the other hand, must make a move towards getting the peace process started once more. Freezing settlements and confidence building measures must be undertaken. By doing this, Hamas will be weakened considerably as the wind will be taken out of its sails. Hamas appealed to Fatah for negotiations. They are showing signs that they are seeking another partner to replace Iran and Syria whose present regimes are weakening.

The scenario is not as terrible as the right wing in Israel imagine. It can be dangerous if the Netanyahu Government does not accept the changes occurring in the Arab world and carries on business as usual as if nothing has changed. There are many risks to Israel if they continue in the same “no movement” mode and are oblivious to world opinion. September 2011 is not so far away and they have to come to terms with a Palestinian state even if there are no negotiations. There has been enough time wasted. Time is not on Israel’s side. The chances of it being viewed as an apartheid state old white South African style may become a reality. Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel could be the next step.

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