By Jamal Saad
The United Nations Security Council has voted to reject the proposal submitted by the Palestinian Authority to end the Israel military occupation, recognize the state of Palestine on the 1949 armistice line (the so-called ‘Green Line’) and “the just settlement of all other outstanding issues, including water and prisoners”. To be honest I did not know that the United Nations, with its long history of failure regarding the Palestinian cause, had suddenly found a magic wand and in the blink of an eye Israel’s military occupation will be eliminated and we’re all going to live happily ever after.
Like most Palestinians I believe we have the right to take any approach we see fit and must use all methods necessary to end the suffering caused by Israel’s oppression of us through its illegal military occupation. But once again this rejected proposal clearly shows that power counts more than morality and justice. There is clearly no doubt that it is state power and interests which determine a state’s foreign policy. Otherwise why would a country like Nigeria vote against the just and legal demand of the oppressed people of Palestine? How else can anyone explain Western politicians and states betraying their own principles of democracy and the rule of law?
It also shows their hypocrisy and a continuation of a policy of double standards when it comes to the Palestinian cause. The United States and Australia voted against the motion and Britain abstained, proving the direct complicity of these countries in maintaining the Israeli military occupation and therefore the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people. By these actions, international organizations such as the United Nations are not only seen as ineffective but also as a proxy for the powerful to maintain their influence and domination. And without a radical change in the voting structure of the United Nations, world peace will only ever be a dream that can never be achieved.
Since its artificial establishment in 1948, Israel, like any other colonial power, has tried with all means possible to justify its right to exist in Palestine; principally by denying the existence of the indigenous Palestinian people. The use of force and power of a strong military machine has been Israel’s way of conducting its policy to determine its own existence. This has been encouraged by the financial, military and political support Israel receives from the United States which has positioned Israel as a superpower among its neighboring countries and within the region.
During the 66 years since its establishment in1948, Israel has exercised its military power and repeatedly engaged in wars and conflicts, more so than any other state in the region. Israeli state policy of warmongering is not new: this ‘tactic’ lies deep at the heart of its origins. The Palestinian Nakba of 1948 continues until now. It is a modern human catastrophe that has still not been acknowledged by those who committed the crimes of ethnic cleansing and the attempted eradication of Palestinian society. In 1967 the process continued with large-scale enforced expulsions and further attempts to destroy Palestinian society. Despite the internationally-recognized illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, the ongoing and relentless Jewish expansionist policy of settlement continues and ensures the colonization of all of Palestine, by any means possible.
In contrast, a powerless PA, which has for so long relied on endless negotiations and Israeli security arrangements for its existence, takes a different approach. In reaction to its failure (of which serious questions must be raised over the ability and judgment of the PA leadership and its inability to build and mobilize sufficient state support) to achieve enough votes in the UN, it has responded by signing the Rome Statute with the intention to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). Is it too late, or better than nothing? Personally, I don’t think that turning to international law will solve our problem or guarantee liberation.
I also have little faith in the current PA leadership to exercise our rights within the ICC and to take Israeli war criminals to court. This decision is a reaction rather than a strategic move towards protecting Palestinians’ rights. Why now and not during the previous and multiple attacks on Gaza where Israeli war crimes were witnessed (and documented) globally? The PA’s autocratic and narrow political vision has, so far, been entirely dependent on others: the US, the EU, the Quartet, even Israel. And now the PA is looking to a powerless international agency through which no state is even compelled to uphold or implement its decisions. The apartheid wall Israel has built, creating Palestinian ghettoes, is a clear example: the ICC ruled that the wall contravenes international law and should be dismantled. It’s still there.
If politics are based and function on interest and power then the Palestinian leadership must wake up and understand our power can only come from the people, that is all Palestinians wherever they are, not just those in the West Bank. Our struggle for liberation relies entirely on our summud, our ability to withstand the relentless oppression, and our energy to persist in our demands for justice. Our interest is in our rights and dignity, our freedom and liberty, our democracy and tolerance: our interest is definitely not, therefore, in a virtual state that solves nothing and denies the resolution of any, let alone all, of our demands.
- Jamal Saad is a Middle East political analyst and co-founder of Ahdaf, an organisation supporting youth empowerment, community development and access to education in Palestine. He was born in Deheishe refugee camp, Bethlehem, occupied Palestine. After the second Intifada he moved to London to continue his studies, gaining undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Middle East politics. He blogs at http://liberalpalestinian.org. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.