When he began his first period in office in 1996, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received advice from a group of scholars and experts. Under the chairmanship of Richard Perle, one of the staunchest of US Zionist neo-conservatives, the group aimed to formulate an alternative strategy to Oslo-Taba, which was associated with the Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. The primary recommendation of the Perle group was “the withdrawal from the terms and references of the peace process as illustrated in Oslo and Taba”. Netanyahu, and his successors, have been faithful to this recommendation, in terms of the implementation of Defensive Shield and the reoccupation of the West Bank and a return to the unilateral policy of imposing “facts on the ground” through confronting the international community; all, of course, at the expense of the legitimate human rights of the Palestinian people.
Today, after a year or more in office for the second time, Netanyahu is taking another strategic step on the way to destroying the Oslo accord, what preceded it and all agreements that followed. The Order issued by the military and Israeli courts to expel about 70,000 Palestinians who live in their own land on the occupied West Bank is intended to erase all traces of previous agreements between the Israelis and Palestinians. In the process, whatever has been achieved through these agreements, as modest as the achievements are, will be destroyed including the return of thousands of Palestinians and the relatively free movement between the West Bank and Gaza which has become a haven for all those hounded by settlement bulldozers and the decisions of military courts in Jerusalem.
If the far-right government succeeds in implementing its racist resolution, the Palestinians will face a third wave of official mass displacement – ethnic cleansing – following the disaster of 1948 and the setback of 1967. The latest military Order will have serious repercussions, not only in Palestine but also in countries that will have to take in these new-old refugees.
However, perhaps the most serious aspect of this move by Israel in terms of content and timing, is that it carries the seeds of a “final solution” to the “problem” of Palestinian demography which haunts the Zionist state. The right-wing, which does not want the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination and build an independent state under the slogan of “two states for two peoples”, also totally rejects the alternative of “one state for two peoples”. The solution, as those of the right see it, is the deportation of the indigenous population, not only from Israel and within the “Green Line”, but from the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza , all of which constitute the territory of the prospective Palestinian state. This ethnic cleansing will complete the process started in 1948, which has been gaining momentum ever since.
In terms of its timing, the Order coincided with the intensification of attacks on Jerusalem and Palestinians’ holy sites – Christian and Muslim – in a clear demonstration of Israel ‘s insatiable greed for grabbing land after expelling its population. In this sense, the military Order is tantamount to a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and their legitimate national rights, and the Arab nation as a whole, particularly the “Ring States” adjacent to Palestine.
Netanyahu is “de-legitimizing” the presence of 70,000 Palestinian citizens in their homeland in order to legitimise the presence of more than half a million illegal colonial-settlers on Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank . By doing so he is not only administering a coup de grâce to the “peace process” but also giving the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, as well as supporters of justice for the Palestinians in the West, a stark choice: either join the absurd negotiations and the vain pursuit of the “only strategic peace option”; or engage in an alternative strategy combining political activity and resistance to meet the requirements of the moment and promote the Palestinian national interest. In other words, Palestinians are being told to roll over and die; Israel has no intention of allowing a Palestinian state to come into being within the pre-1967 borders or any other borders. This third wave of expulsions could signal the beginning of the endgame.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.