Our life has been closer to a sci-fi movie than to reality these past few months. News of the virus spreading across the globe, countries struggling to respond, news of death and recovery, cures and vaccines, international economies facing new modules that have never been tested before, and therefore, facing outcomes that cannot be rationally predicted. All of this has created a chaotic fluid situation where mass confusion is running the show. And while the whole world is faced with these unprecedented challenges, Palestine stands alone in dealing with yet another challenge, one that has been there for centuries, an oppressive, brutal, and violent occupation that does not care about a deadly disease that is invading the universe, an occupation that is determined to instill its own horrors on the Palestinians as it proceeds with a premeditated plan that aims to destroy any possibility for the creation of an independent, viable, and sovereign State of Palestine.
According to Israel: The “Deal” must go on!
Thinking about a time before corona, seems like a faint memory, but strangely enough, only a few months ago, on January 28, 2020 to be precise, Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu emerged as two partners celebrating a high-level merger of some sort. In front of the press and in a room filled with high-level, rich, and mostly Jewish guests. You could see the triumph, satisfaction, and victory in everybody’s eyes, but what you couldn’t make out from that picture and the question that was on a lot of minds while watching the event unveil, is “which side does any of those guests belong to?”. It seemed more like an arranged family marriage then it was an announcement of a peace deal, especially with the actual second party to this deal missing all the fun. I will not bore you by reciting pages and pages of immoral, oppressive, and unjust dictations that make up this document, instead, I’ll only mention a few to give a general understanding of what was proposed to the Palestinian side (or was being shoved down their throat to be more exact).
A deal is defined as “An agreement entered into by two or more parties for their mutual benefit”. So right off the bat this long-awaited, so-called “Deal of the Century” that claims it will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, would lose its allure. Although to be fair the deal does meet some of the definition stated above, the only problem is that Palestine is not one of these two or more parties celebrating and benefiting from it, instead, this deal was actually entered into by Israel and the USA.
As you browse through the 181-page document, you will not find the word “occupation” mentioned anywhere, not even once. That cannot be right! It is a plan that aims to end the conflict, isn’t it? Well, the answer is “no”, the “deal” assumes that everything Israel did since before its creation and until now is justified. It has never been an aggressor, an occupier, or an oppressor of any kind. Israel had to do what it had to do, in order to “survive”. Not only that, but Palestinians also need to realize that in the slim chance that Israel eventually agrees to allow for the creation of that shell of a Palestinian State, that state will be controlled in every aspect imaginable by the Israeli Army. They will still be able to raid cities, break into homes, take prisoners, demolish buildings, and collectively punish a nation. Same old same old, but the only difference would be the signature at the end of that document by the Palestinians, agreeing to their fate and surrendering to Israel’s will. Rebranded acceptable occupation that cannot be fought or held accountable; a very convenient and practical resolution that does not involve giving up any of the occupied land; a camouflaged one-state solution with two systems.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
The hypocrisy of the century forces Palestinians to accept the annexation, the occupation, the reality of living in cantons connected by bridges and tunnels, the reality that Israel will keep Palestinian prisoners and could imprison many more, the reality that Israel will control the land, water, sky, and anything else that lies in between, and then some more. In return, they might be eligible for a state, but wait there is a catch! Palestinians also must agree that their current prosecutor will also be their future judge, which brings us to the next point.
Your Security is My Command
I mentioned before that the word occupation was not hinted to even once in the “Peace and Prosperity Plan”, on the other hand, the word “security” was mentioned more than a hundred times. Israel’s security of course, not Palestinian and Israeli, just Israel’s which is above everything and everyone. According to the deal, Palestinians need to prove they can meet Israel’s security demands. These security demands that until now gave Israel in its rhetoric, an excuse for the killing, destruction, violation of international law and human rights, and not to mention its repetitive war crimes. Violence is not the answer and should never be tolerated or condoned. What Israel and the US choose to deliberately ignore is that occupation, oppression, and injustice, are the causes of that circle of violence, and lack of security in the region. Making the occupied responsible for the occupier’s security instead of ending that occupation, will only push things towards the abyss. Denying the right of a nation to use tools especially developed by the international community to protect it against such aggressions, and using all powers to prevent these organizations from performing their duties towards that nation, is the real source of terror, chaos, and instability, not the other way around.
The notion that Palestine was “a land with no people waiting for a people with no land” was far from true when the first Jewish immigrant arrived in Palestine and is still untrue today, a simple fact-checking can prove that. More than 700,000 people were kicked out of their homes in 1948. Today they amount to 6,000,000 people of whom this plan is trying to make disappear. On the other hand, the “deal” states that Israel deserves compensation for the expense of absorbing the Jewish refugees. So, Israel should be paid for bringing its people “home” in order to create its state, and at the same time would not only assume no responsibility for the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people (who were actually living on that land) in the process for it to achieve that, but it would also deny their right of return? Is this rational, fair, or even humane? That is the irony of the century. A just solution would have been to implement UN resolution 194 which was a condition that Israel fully agreed to, to become a member of the UN, and then ignored before the ink even dried.
The Economic Mirage
Let us put all those points aside for a sec and consider only the economic part of the deal. The Palestinians will still be on the losing end of it, even if they get all of the questionable, conditional 50 billion dollars, right after signing (which is not the case). Why is that you might ask? Well, the answer is really simple. According to a report published by the UN titled “Economic Costs of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinian people: Fiscal aspects”, Israeli occupation cost Palestine 47.7 billion dollars and that’s just over the 2000-2017 period. So, as you can see, Israel already owes Palestinians more than the 50 billion they and the US are parading in front of everyone’s eyes as if money can substitute freedom, sovereignty, and self-determination for the Palestinians. Just because this strategy worked with some mercenary characters, shady organizations, or even some Banana Republics, does not mean that everyone is ready to sell their values for the right price. The Palestinian cause is priceless to its people, leadership, and to millions of others all over the world, and no amount of money or threats can change that, which is baffling to Israel, the US, and their old and new allies. If Israel would only end its occupation instead, and allow Palestinians the freedom to reconstruct their own economy, it would be a much faster and cheaper solution to a self-sufficient, sustainable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel, “if” that is what Israel and the US were aiming for with this deal!
This Land is My Land and That Land is Mine as well!
The US does not own Palestine and as such, is in no position to gift Palestinian land to anyone. “The deal” decided that it’s in the “future Palestine’s” best interest to accept that Israel will permanently occupy East Jerusalem, to welcome the annexation of 30 % of the West Bank, and submit with appreciation to the transfer of all illegal settlements to the state of Israel. Being the power that it is, the United States can try to dictate what it wants and try to twist arms to get its agenda going. It could bribe and intimidate countries that are supposed to be the gradians and supporters of the Palestinian cause. It could also protect Israel’s colonial-occupation and apartheid, and Israel could benefit from this unconditional support and feel free to destroy any prospects of a humane solution to the conflict, but neither Israel nor the US or any other country will ever be able to make the Palestinian people, or their rights to a free, independent, contiguous, and sovereign Palestinian State, fade! A true testament to that is how the Palestinian cause keeps prevailing time and time again in the face of continuous attempts to eliminate it, but alas, it only gets stronger. Its righteousness is what guards it against every sordid scheme, and its history, culture, flag, people, and leadership will forever be a thorn in the side of every treacherous soul.
So, why would the Palestinians pass on such an opportunity to accept a deal that is “overly good to them”? You tell me! The real test we are faced with right now is how united and decisive the international community and the international institutions are, against such actions. What message will we be sending to those who think that the “might is right” philosophy of power, will legitimize and legalize the egregious violation of international law and human rights. You can find hundreds of those violations in the proposed “Peace and Prosperity Plan”. Do we want “The end justifies the means” mentality to prevail? Do we want to set a precedence that will only lead the world down a very slippery slope? Do we want to let the utter deliberate disregard for international law and United Nations resolutions, and the denial of basic rights of nations, to have no repercussions? Not intervening before it’s too late will result in apartheid made permanent by “The only democracy” that exists in the Middle East, while the rest of the world watches or some even being paid or extorted to play along. If the international community is interested in finding a solution that would create a just and long-lasting peace, then it should immediately assume its responsibilities, force Israel to end its occupation, and recognize the State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. An easy solution that is by the book!
If a salesman tries to sell you a piece of swiss cheese that you know has been sitting on the shelves for almost a decade, no doubt your answer to that will be a big “no” thank you! Those who unfortunately ignore the smell and buy it anyways, will definitely end up with an upset stomach, but if that salesman tries to shove that piece of cheese down your throat, they should not expect you to go down without a fight.
First Counselor Mona ABUAMARA