December 17 , 2010
Brazil Recognizes Palestine
Last week the government of Brazil formally recognized the independent state of Palestine made up of the entire West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. This is a momentous event, one followed by recognition from Argentina and soon from Uruguay. These three South American countries, part of the regional grouping known as MERCOSUR, have led the way forward for peace and justice in the Middle East. Needless to say, their actions have been condemned by Israel, and have caused great consternation and worry among the Israelis.
For over 20 years, from the time when Yasser Arafat and the PLO first recognized Israel and committed to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, the Palestinians have pursued some sort of negotiated end to the occupation and freedom for themselves, along with justice for the refugees who were created through the ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948 when Israel was formed. But this pursuit has been in vain. Instead of an end to the occupation, they have only gotten more occupation. The number of Jewish settlers tripled, and continue to expand. The current government of Israel is run by a right-wing coalition committed not to peace, but to more and more settlements. Despite a laundry list of bribes from Obama, the Israelis have refused to stop more settlements and land confiscations while “negotiating” the end of the occupation. It is obvious to the rest of the world that the two things are mutually incompatible, and there is no point in trying to negotiate with the Israelis.
The Palestinians have two choices. They can either disband the Palestinian Authority and force Israel to resume full and direct occupation of both Gaza and the West Bank, or they can pursue independence through the international community.
The first option must be carefully considered. Disbanding the PA and giving up on an independent Palestine would make sense, provided the Palestinians then take the next logical step. They must demand citizenship within Israel. For the Israelis to deny them that is apartheid. And Israel should be then ostracized and sanctioned just as harshly as South Africa was until they ended apartheid. The Israelis in fact deeply fear this possibility. The latest demographic report from Israel’s leading demographer, Professor DellaPergola, concludes that Jews now are a minority of the total population in Israel and the Occupied Territories. This minority status is going to steadily progress as Palestinian births exceed Jewish ones by 50%. The land from the Jordan River to the sea is becoming steadily more Arabic-speaking Muslims. This is the greatest challenge facing the future of Zionism as it is conceived by most Israelis.
But there is another option for the Palestinians. Negotiations with Netanyahu are of course utterly pointless. The most he will offer is scraps of territory but no proper state, an Israel that controls the water, borders, airspace, and telecommunications of any Palestinian “state”, and he will never part with East Jerusalem but will annex large sections of the West Bank. This is not a “ two-state” solution, it is one state for the Israelis and a prison camp for the Palestinians.
Instead of trying to get a just deal with the Israelis, the Palestinians should go to the international community and pursue recognition of Palestine based on the 1967 borders. Brazil and Argentina have already done so. All 50 Muslim countries should do so, and then a campaign to get the EU, China, Japan, India, Russia, and Latin America and Africa to recognize Palestine should be pursued. Palestine should be admitted to the UN, and sanctions placed on Israel for occupying a sovereign neighbor. Even if the US were to oppose this, many European nations and Russia would support it. Eventually, the weight of the entire world on one side would force the issue.
What if every country that recognized Palestine banned direct flights to and from Israel until the occupation ended? The isolation and condemnation of the planet would be hard for liberal and secular Israelis to bear. Many of them would decamp to the US or Britain or elsewhere, depriving Israel of hundreds of thousands of its most productive citizens.
The Israelis for now are relying on the US to veto any move in the UN Security Council to recognize Palestine. Such a resolution would have to be complied with by Israel. It is interesting to consider what President Obama would do towards the end of his Presidency if the Israelis never did negotiate a just peace with the Palestinians. Would he, as a final act, recognize Palestine? Comments can reach me at Nali@socal.rr.com.