Saturday, October 10, 2015

Answer the Palestinian Question

The recent spate of violence in Israel, centered around stabbing by both sides, and presumably triggered by restrictions placed at the disputed Temple Mount/al Aqsa mosque, is a worrying trend that frustration is growing on both sides over an unsustainable status quo. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has placed some emergency measures, they may only cure the symptom but not the whole problem. The real question is of the future of Palestine and the answer, while not easy, has to come sooner than later to avoid yet more escalation. Except for its staunch ally America and possibly its new ally India, Israel is very much turning into a pariah internationally, which is a matter of deep concern for its wellwishers who wish to see it assume its rightful place as a free nation.

The biggest problem are the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal by International Law and which no country will accept as being sovereign Israeli territory, not even Israel's allies. President Obama, who is the head of state of the US whether Netanyahu likes him or not, has repeatedly demanded that these settlements be halted, and has been rebuffed each time, one of the key reasons Israel-US tensions have been on the rise. These settlements make Israel's claims of wanting peace sound hollow as it looks to make a Palestinian state impossible through a thousand cuts. If a two-state solution is even on the cards, these settlements must not only end but be reversed altogether as a violation of International Law.

If, on the other hand, a two-state solution is not an option for Israel, as Netanyahu has said before, then the only solution is a one-state solution comprising both Jews and Palestinians, under the same law. This effectively means that the dream of the Jewish state would be impossible. The alternatives are thoroughly unacceptable to any decent human being: creating an apartheid state that discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, or a Nazi solution of wiping out the Palestinians altogether. If Israel chooses either of these two, not even the US will be able to save it from the massive international backlash that it will face. There is no deal of propaganda, or even truthful explanations, that can explain a dead child.

Indeed, by choosing either of these two - the one-state or the two-state solution - Israel would be on a much stronger footing. It could easily invade an independent Palestine and tear Hamas apart by citing the rocket attacks as a declaration of war, and this time the typical leftist excuses of Palestine being ravaged by Israeli occupation would not hold water. While this might sound terrible, it is necessary in dealing with terrorists supported by a state (a lesson that both the US and India should learn in Pakistan) and indeed, perfectly justified as self-defense. If Palestine and its people, including Hamas, were to be absorbed into Israel, then Hamas would simply be an insurgent group that could be dealt with without the problems of the Oslo accords, and so-called questions of human rights would simply be subsumed as an internal affair.

More than the Palestinians, Israel has much to gain from concluding the long-drawn out peace process, which is what Israel's supporters greatly desire. For as long as the Palestinian question looms over its head, Israel remains handicapped globally. And as a corollary, status quo hurts Israel as much, if not more, than Palestine.

No comments: