Monday, 25 June 2007

KEEPING ON A STEADY COURSE TO APARTHEID by Jeff Halper

For all the attention and hysteria the latest events in Gaza have
generated since the Hamas "takeover," for Israel they represent
nothing but a minor blip in its inexorable drive towards its own
unilateral "solution:" apartheid. Israel's end-game, explicit and
unruffled by the recent turmoil on the ground, is clear. It is laid
out in detail in the Convergence Plan" Olmert presented to a joint
session of the American Congress in May, 2006, based on Sharon's plan
of "cantonization." With minor adjustments, it constitutes the plan
Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is quietly advancing with the
help of Condoleezza Rice, and it is accepted in its entirety by Ehud
Barak, the newly-elected leader of the Labor Party, who played a key
role in its formulation. The Israeli plan for apartheid is as follows:



(1) Creating a truncated Palestinian "state" comprised of four
disconnected cantons, three in the West Bank and Gaza. By annexing its
major settlement blocs defined by the Wall, Israel thereby expands
onto 85% of the country, leaving the Palestinians confined to
impoverished enclaves on the remaining 15% of the land. In such a
"two-state solution" Israel would control the borders, external and
internal Palestinian movement, the "Greater" Jerusalem area, all the
water resources, the air space, the communications sphere and even the
Palestinian state's foreign policy. Such a Bantustan would have no
genuine sovereignty or viable economy – but would have to accept all
the traumatized and impoverished Palestinian refugees.



(2) If this fails, primarily because Israel cannot find the quisling
Palestinian leader who would sign off on a Bantustan, Plan B – the
Livni-Rice plan – calls for the unilateral declaration by the US of a
"provisional" Palestinian state with no fixed borders, no meaningful
sovereignty and no viable economy, squeezed between the Wall, Israel's
eastern "demographic" border incorporating the settlement blocs, and
the Jordan Valley, Israel's eastern "security" border. The
Palestinians would thus be left in the limbo of a "provisional" state
indefinitely – or until they agree to a Bantustan – all in conformity
to the parameters of the "Road Map."



Period. Regardless of the "peace initiative" of the moment – the Road
Map, the Saudi initiative, the summit at Sharm el-sheikh, the
appointment of a Middle East envoy – all these plans will have to
conform to one of these alternatives or be doomed to irrelevance.



What happens in Gaza, then (tellingly nicknamed "Hamastan," the
Palestinian cantons of the West Bank now dubbed "Fatahland"), is
therefore irrelevant to Israel, since Gaza represents nothing more
than a tiny part of the tiny Palestinian Bantustan (about 8%). Whether
Gaza would have been "quieted" after the Israeli disengagement as
Sharon had planned, exporting cheap labor into Israel and perhaps
enjoying limited economic growth, whether it was merely isolated and
impoverished due to US and Israeli sanctions after the Hamas election
victory or whether, as happened, it explodes, nothing will hamper
Israel's ceaseless process of consolidating its hold on the West Bank.
Sooner or later, in the Israeli-American plan, Gaza will fall into
place.



Not only are the Palestinians irrelevant, in Israel's view, but the
Hamas "takeover" is actually a positive development, since it furthers
the apartheid process. A key reason why Palestinians voted for Hamas
was the perception that it would resist pressures to accept a
Bantustan better than the weak, vacillating Fatah movement, which was
seen as little more than Israel's policeman in the Territories.
Israel, the US and a complicit Europe is thus seen as trying to
isolate precisely those who truly resist the Occupation while
"strengthening" Abbas and the "moderates" – "moderate" defined as
those willing to pacify the Palestinians without securing their
fundamental right to a sovereign and viable state of their own. The
American-sponsored program of arming Fatah against its own people,
complete with "lending" them an American general (Dayton), only
confirms these suspicions, especially if they make Abbas dependent
upon outside forces for his survival.



Israel and the US are doing in microcosm in Palestine what the US is
doing throughout the Muslim world, forcing the Palestinians to choose
between two unacceptable options: either the prospects of an apartheid
regime which is all the "moderates" can deliver or continued
resistance to occupation and apartheid under Hamas at the price of
international isolation and an unwanted process of Islamization. Where
are the true liberators who can deliver a viable Palestinian state
while recognizing – though standing up to – Israel? Where are the
progressive leaders who represent the wishes of the overwhelming
majority of the Palestinian people? Where are the "strong" leaders
that Bush claims are lacking on the Palestinian side? Either dead, the
victims of a 30-year campaign on the part of Israel to eliminate any
effective Palestinian leader, or languishing in refugee camps or in
exile, or in prison. If Marwan Bargouti and the prisoners of all the
factions who produced the Prisoners' Document, the only viable peace
plan that has any chance of success, were free and allowed to lead
their people, the Israel/Palestine conflict could be resolved
tomorrow.



What is lacking, of course, is good faith. The will among governments
to stand up for Palestinian rights and against Israeli apartheid is
totally lacking. The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz (21.6.07) noted the
cynicism underlying the recent Olmert-Bush meeting. "Olmert reached an
understanding with…Bush during his visit to Washington that it is
necessary to support Abbas," a senior political source in Jerusalem
said. "The decision to aid Abbas was made despite skepticism about his
chances for success, in view of past experience. Olmert and Bush
agreed they must not allow the impression that Abbas failed because
Israel or the U.S. failed him."



Israel is not going to bolster Abbas – unless he becomes the
collaborator Israel is looking for, which he won't. Olmert has already
announced that there will be no final status negotiations in the
foreseeable future. So neither the Saudi Inititative nor the Sharm
meeting will lead to genuine negotiations. The US, with its moribund
Road Map, will not facilitate the establishment of a viable
Palestinian state and Europe will not act independently to do so, even
in its own interest. The Palestinians, for their part, are powerless
to achieve a viable state on their own and will continue to be beaten
and blamed for their own incareration and resistance.



Our governments have failed us. Unless we, the people worldwide, can
mobilize grassroots opposition to the Israeli-US-European Occupation,
a new apartheid regime,in the Holy Land no less, will soon emerge
before our very eyes. Its only when the people lead that our "leaders"
will even contemplate doing the right thing.

(Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (ICAHD) and a candidate, with the Palestinian peace
activist Ghassan Andoni, for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He can be
reached at .)

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

Really good post.

I don't know why progressive people accept the so called two state solution.