Israel is a de facto, not a de jure, entity. The League of Nations’ “mandate” given to Britain to turn Palestine into a “Jewish homeland” was as baseless in law and morality as was its successor, the United Nations’ partition plan of November 1947, because the UN charter does not give that body any right to divide countries and create new ones. Even that dubious partition plan was later suspended and a high-level UN representative, Count Bernadotte of Sweden, was despatched to Palestine in 1948 to try to find an amicable diplomatic solution; he was murdered in broad daylight by Jewish terrorists in Jerusalem on 17 September, 1948. Thereafter, the UN abandoned its efforts to find an amicable and just solution to the Palestinian problem.
Hence the Israeli state, which appeared unilaterally on 15 May, 1948 after its forces had expelled the majority of the rightful inhabitants of the country and what was accepted by its neighbours as a result of the Armistice agreements in April 1949, is only a de facto reality and will remain so until its Palestinian victims accept it. Israel is the only state in the world which has not defined its borders because it believes in continuous territorial expansion at the expense of the Palestinians and other neighbours.
Upon its acceptance as a member of the United Nations, Israel gave solemn pledges to the world body that it will allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, farms and orchards but this promise remains totally unfulfilled to this day. Meanwhile, Jews from any part of the world are offered automatic citizenship of Israel by virtue of its 1950 “Law of Return”. Even Palestinians living inside the pre-1967 borders of the state do not enjoy full citizenship rights as they cannot buy Jewish lands and are under continuous threat of expulsion by Jewish politicians who do not tire of repeating that Israel is a “Jewish state” and must remain so. Arab homes and Islamic heritage sites inside Israel are demolished at will and land is confiscated as a matter of routine.
With the exception of the October (Ramadan) 1973 War, which was started by Egypt and Syria to liberate their lands occupied by the Zionist state since 1967, Israel has started every single war in the Middle East in order to expand at the expense of its neighbours. With blind American and western military and economic support, Israel has won every war against regular armies while it has lost every war against popular movements. This was seen in May 2000 and again in June-July 2006 when it failed to defeat Hezbollah in Lebanon, despite 32 long days of Israeli aggression. It again failed to defeat Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the December 2008-January 2009 invasion despite using every possible conventional armament for 22 days against an unarmed, impoverished and exposed civilian population and primitive armed resistance. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are the only movements which have forced Israel to seek ceasefires and to withdraw from South Lebanon and the Gaza Strip respectively in 2000 and 2005.
There is a clear lesson for us in these examples: that the extraordinary Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine can be pushed back and defeated by popular resistance movements using unconventional tactics; not by under-equipped regular armies whose governments are subject to regional and international pressures.
Israel has been able to continue its occupation, oppression and continuous expansion as a result of the vicious exploitation of world sympathy arising from the obscene Nazi Holocaust and cultivating the false image of a small, defenceless country surrounded by powerful enemies. Today, this image lies shattered and the world is increasingly questioning Israel’s expansionist and colonial policies; there is a genuine question mark over the legitimacy of the Zionist project at the expense of the Palestinians. There has also been an extraordinary show of support around the world for the Palestinians in Gaza as people have realised the Israeli reality and the government’s ruthless colonial policies as a western proxy. Today, Israel is the only “democracy” implementing openly racist policies and denying rightful Palestinian refugees of their natural right to return to their homes and lands.
The world is also beginning to understand that the Palestinians are fighting a just war against an occupying power and that this is a legitimate resistance, the likes of which is a sacred right for all people living under occupation. This right is enshrined in The Hague Agreements of 1899 and 1907, the Geneva Protocols of 1925, the International Human Rights Declaration of 1948, UN General Assembly Resolution No. 1514 of 1960 and Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Today the world has also revised its policies towards Hamas, the main resistance force in Palestine. Many countries and international organisations have opened contacts and negotiations with the Islamic Resistance Movement, directly or indirectly, because it has proved not only to be popular but also a sensible and responsible party which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 under extremely difficult circumstances, not least an Israeli-led international blockade.
Whatever international support and acceptance Israel has beyond western capitals is due to the Oslo Accords by which Israel was able to show to the world that it has made peace with its victims and has solved the “Palestinian problem”. In reality, though, Israel has only created two Bantustans in Palestine on the South African apartheid model. While the Palestinian Authority (PA) areas in the West Bank have 560 Israeli army checkpoints today and witness ever-increasing Jewish settlement activity on what is supposed to be PA-administered land, the Gaza Strip remains under a strict and almost total economic and humanitarian blockade, imposed since early 2006 when Hamas won a clear victory in democratic elections. In effect, the Palestinian Bantustans are worse than those which were created by the apartheid government in South Africa, but the PA leaders do not have the courage to say so in public. They are fearful of telling the world that Oslo has collapsed and failed due to Israeli insincerity and that a new and serious effort should be made to solve the Palestine-Israel issue. The endless process of “negotiations” between Israel and PA interlocutors for the past two decades demonstrates that this barren route is going nowhere, even if it continues for another two decades. The only option available to the Palestinian negotiators in this process is to surrender to Israeli diktats.
The PA, in its present form, serves only two purposes: it shows to the world that the “Palestinian problem” has been solved to some extent, and it provides security to Israel and prevents resistance activity in the occupied West Bank. Even Yossi Beilin, the Israeli interlocutor during the Oslo negotiations, advised PA President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2012 to disband the failed authority in order to expose Israel.
The state of Israel should be taken to the international criminal court wherever possible and tried for its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, especially those committed in the Gaza Strip, where a totally unnecessary and one-sided war was waged on an unarmed and impoverished civilian population which has been resisting against occupation and the unjust blockade. Israel should also be made to pay reparations for the wanton damage to life and properties it inflicted and continues to inflict on Gaza due to its illegal blockade and intermittent attacks and military incursions.
However, what we see instead is that Israel is threatening to wage another, more ferocious, war on the people of Gaza. Even if Israeli war criminals’ prosecution at the ICC is thwarted by its western backers, more credit and notice should be given to the Russell Tribunal, which has examined Israel’s record and found it wanting; the final session of the tribunal took place in Brussels, 16-17 March 2013. A similar tribunal was established to look at the US military’s record in Vietnam.
The time has come to punish Israel for its crimes and force it to become an ordinary state in the region forsaking its hegemonic dreams over the Middle East and role as a western policeman in the area. Our failure to bring the Zionist state to its senses will waste a great opportunity. Already, Israel is feeling the heat. A committee has been formed in the office of the Israel prime minister to tackle this very likely eventuality and Israeli army officers and political leaders, who are widely suspected of having a role in war crimes, are being advised by the Israeli government to skip certain capitals where they may be arrested and put on trial.
The Oslo Accords are long dead and there is no hope that any other “two-state solution” based on the ideas of the “International Quartet” or other regional or international forces will ever succeed due to the refusal of Israel to give back the fruits of its past aggression. The fact that it has ignored dozens of UN Resolutions and continues to trample over Palestinian rights speaks volumes about its sincerity and intentions.
The time has come for the notion of a viable two-state solution to be buried forever. We must revive the original plan for a single democratic state in Palestine free of Zionist ideology, where Jews and Arabs will enjoy equal political and democratic rights. This is the only solution to allow the right of return of the Palestinian refugees; absorb the illegal Jewish settlements built on stolen lands; and cater for the illegal immigrants flooding Israel who are most vocal about expelling the original inhabitants from their historic homeland. This practical, just and humanitarian solution will also contain Israel as an expansionist and threatening entity which has become a danger to the peace and stability of the whole region. The Middle East will have no security or stability without the effective “de-Zionisation” of Palestine.
The writer is chief editor of The Milli Gazette, New Delhi
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.