Pessimism is high as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defies the recent UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement regime by escalating this illegal policy and President-elect Donald Trump prepares to settle into the Oval Office.
It’s easy to see why people are pessimistic about the prospects for the Palestinians to achieve their freedom given these two characters’ rejection of their fundamental rights.
For example, Trump blasted the Obama administration for not vetoing the resolution and tweeted his reassurances to the Israeli occupation regime that things will be different come January 20 when he is inaugurated.
So the US will go from having an administration that feigns to respect international law and Palestinians’ rights while in deed supporting the occupation regime to having an administration that drops all pretenses and openly expresses its contempt for international law and prejudice against the Palestinians.
But that’s actually the best thing that could happen for the Palestinians.
See, the Obama administration has made a last-ditch effort to try to salvage the so-called “peace process” — and that’s a very bad thing for the Palestinians as this is the means by which Israel and its superpower benefactor have long blocked implementation of the two-state solution.
Yes, successive US administrations have expressed support for the two-state solution, but this support is rhetorical only, and in actual deed US policy has long been rejectionist. John Kerry this week outlined several principles of US policy he claimed were intended to preserve the two-state solution, but if one knows how to decipher the coded language of his diplo-speak, one can see that his speech was simply a reiteration of the US’s longstanding rejection of the two-state solution.
For example, his speech contained the Big Lie that UN Resolution 242, passed in the wake of the June 1967 “Six Day War”, called on Israel to withdrawal from the occupied territories after a final peace agreement is reached that would define the parties’ mutual border. That is false. Resolution 242 does not require the Palestinians to negotiate with the Occupying Power over how much of their own territory they may keep for their own state.
For more information, read Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. You’ll learn:
- How to decipher the government’s euphemistic language designed to manage perceptions about the nature of US policy toward the conflict
- How the so-called “peace process” has been used to block implementation of the two-state solution (see particularly Chapter 2, “The ‘Peace Process'”)
- The truth about the meaning of Resolution 242 that has become obscured by popular myths
- And, of course, much, much more!
Had Hillary Clinton won the election, we could expect US policy to remain as it has under Obama. However, as Trump has said, under his administration, things will be different. His administration, as he’s made clear, will drop all pretenses of neutrality and efforts to maintain the perception of the US as an “honest broker”.
If the US was able to restore faith in the “peace process”, the Palestinians would be lured into returning to negotiations and the status quo of Israel’s occupation regime would be sustained.
However, with Netanyahu in power in Israel and Trump in power in the US, there is no chance of maintaining any semblance of credibility for the “peace process” — and that’s cause for celebration.
Rather than being lured back into pointless negotiations with the occupation regime over how much of their own land they’ll be able to keep for their own state, the Palestinian leadership will be pressured by its own people to turn to the international community for support for their rights.
While the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established to serve as Israel’s collaborator in sustaining the occupation regime, there is a possibility that, so long as the “peace process” is good and dead, it will do what is necessary and seek legal remedy through the international institutions now available to it (since the UN recognized Palestine as a non-member state in 2012).
It was precisely such pressure from his own people that forced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek UN recognition of statehood in 2011 (a failed effort) and again in 2012 (successfully). With this accomplishment, Palestine has recourse to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and International Criminal Court (ICC).
And while Abbas has to date been reluctant to sue Israel at the ICC for its crimes against his people, with the “peace process” lacking any credibility whatsoever, given the duo of Netanyahu and Trump, he will be left with little choice but to do so. If he doesn’t, he risks what little credibility of his own he has left as a leader.
If the PA under Abbas won’t do what is necessary, the Palestinians will have to rise up and find a new leadership that will. One option would be for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to absolve the PA entirely, which would indeed seem to be a prerequisite for seeing an end to the occupation, given the purpose for which the PA was established.
If a Shimon Peres were in office in Israel and the US had four more years of Obama’s policies, the risk would be very great that the credibility of the “peace process” could be sustained and the international community would buy into the whole charade, which would mean the perpetuation of the status quo.
But with things such as they are, the prospects for an end to that status quo are greater than ever. Now is not the time to give into pessimism and hopelessness, but to push harder than ever to help effect the paradigm shift necessary for peace and justice to be realized.
Things are looking up, ironically enough, precisely because it is Netanyahu in power in Israel and Trump who will be in power in the US. Those interested in seeing an end to the violence and freedom for the people of Palestine must recognize this opportunity and seize it.
This article was originally published at Foreign Policy Journal.