By Zuhair Andraos
With complete disregard for international law, Israel continues to impose new facts on the ground; the latest instance being the approval by the Knesset committee of a law concerning a referendum to be held on its occupation of Syria's Golan heights.
The real tragedy in all of this does not lie in the green light given to the Jewish state by the US and the gang of European hypocrites, nor in the official Arab regimes' inaction. It is in the Israeli claim that it is an oasis of democracy in the Middle East. Since when do genuine democracies occupy others' land illegally?
One does not need to be a genius to guess that the people of Israel, who were responsible for electing the current extreme right-wing government, will vote overwhelmingly to keep the Golan Heights under Israeli control. Given the fact that Israel's is a government that believes in the racial supremacy of the Jewish people and the right of all Jews all over the world to migrate to their Jewish state, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that all Jews will be asked for their opinion on the Golan Heights. After all, it is the worldwide Jewish Diaspora which pays to help Israel's illegal settlement programme. In the unlikely event of a referendum vote to withdraw from the Golan, we could also expect to see compensation claims being submitted to the Syrian government for the money invested during the occupation. In many ways, the whole Zionist project that is Israel revolves around economic activity; from the Balfour Declaration, when Britain infamously promised land over which it had no ownership or control to a third party at the expense of the indigenous people, through to the present day when, with Arab land and Western investors the Israelis are able to occupy Palestine and an important area of Syria.
Thus, at a time when Zionism and its pet state, Israel, are working on the development of settlements in Palestine, the Arab project is heading inexorably towards extinction due to our inaction. The difference between the Zionists and the Arabs is clear: they act, but we just speak and invent rhetorical slogans, with the official Arab regimes becoming addicted to condemnation, denunciation, more condemnation and empty threats; to this can be added a new word to the Arabs' lexicon resentment.
It is important to pay attention to the deterioration of the Arab project, if it can be called that, which probably started when the Arabs failed to use the oil weapon to pressure the United States and Israel. Apart from that weapon, they have nothing in their armoury, so they are ineffective, playing second-fiddle with no real influence. Since the Arabs still consider the issue of Palestine as their first priority, it is our duty to highlight this.
When I interviewed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in August 2000 I asked him about the refugees' right of return and stressed that all Palestinians, wherever they live, should take part in the referendum proposed by the President on the right of return. I said that those Palestinians living inside Israel must have their voice heard too on this vital issue. President Abbas was clear about this: "You will not take part in the referendum on the right of return, you are Israeli Arabs." It is this approach, of negotiation and compromise, which has torn the Palestinian people to shreds: those in Israel; those in the West Bank; those in the Gaza Strip; and those who are refugees outside in countries near and far. This is, of course, entirely consistent with the Zionist intention to fragment the Palestinians into family, tribal, communal and political groupings, hoping that they will never all be able to agree on something like the right to return; in short, this is the classic colonial tactic of divide and rule.
Until now, the Palestinians' trump card has been the non-recognition of Israel, but even this has been taken from them by their supposed leaders in exchange for limited authority over the rump territory of the West Bank. Moreover, formal recognition of Israel would be a prelude to the final relinquishing of the right of return. Britain established the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to ease the Palestinian pressure on Israel but the Zionists are spinning the East Bank state into the Palestinians' alternative homeland. When I was last in the Jordanian capital, I asked one of the hotel staff about the right of return and he replied jokingly, "In return for five thousand dinars?" He added that even this requirement is not on the agenda any more.
Many a true word is spoken in jest, says an old English proverb. When I told my journalist colleague about the hotel employee's reply he said, "The vast majority of Palestinians in Jordan are now playing for their futures. What I heard, whether is it the full truth or not, is an alarm bell for Palestinians all over the world".
Unfortunately, when we say that the Israelis are working on a "two state solution", what they mean is a Jewish state in all of historic Palestine, and a Palestinian state in Jordan. The Palestinian leadership must wake up to this devious plan before it's too late.
The author is a Palestinian writer in Nazareth
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.