After 20 years of a failed and fictitious peace process, there is no more room for ‘processes’ that serve as substitutes for peace. There is nothing left to clarify between the two sides. The only possible compromise for a peace agreement is well known.
By Rona Moran and Hana Amouri (Translated from Hebrew by Itamar Haritan)
The ongoing “peace” negotiations are headed for failure. Everyone knows it. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu know it, as do the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, who are participating in the negotiations under heavy American pressure. The U.S. knows it too — since the collapse of negotiations in 2000, all those grandiose declarations periodically issued by U.S. presidents and secretaries of state have a tendency to evaporate quickly, leaving behind them momentary glory for the declarers, and additional legitimacy for preserving the status quo, deepening the occupation and the perpetuating the conflict for the residents of this country.
The current situation is comfortable for the ruling parties in Israel. Most Israeli ministers do not bother to hide their intention to continue the colonization process in every part of the country. A small minority in the governing coalition, along with the Labor Party, expresses consistent support for “the peace process,” which may fool the well-intentioned observer to think that it wants a process that ends in an agreement. In practice, however, they support a peace process and not a peace agreement. In other words, they support an endless process that makes it possible to preserve American support and good relations with the international community, while shoring up the major settlement blocs and allowing various corporations to continue to enjoy enormous profits from the ongoing occupation and from the total dependency of the Palestinian economy on the Israeli economy.
It may be that the present situation is comfortable for Israel’s ruling parties. It may be that for many in the Israeli-Jewish public, the words “occupation” and “peace” sound like echoes from the past, words that are no longer relevant for present-day discussion. But for a great many Palestinians, this dummy peace process, a process that reinforces the existing situation, is insufferable. First and foremost, because it perpetuates occupation, colonization and daily violence, and dispossesses more and more Palestinians of their land.
The colonization process sentences Palestinians to a life of oppression and poverty; tens of thousands live in the shadow of fences and walls under harsh restrictions; tens of thousands of people in Hebron live at the whim of a group of Israeli settlers, led by a lawless gang of extremists; over 200,000 Palestinians live without civil rights in East Jerusalem, while countless others live in villages or towns subjected to constant harassment by Israeli settlers. They cannot, and they will not, accept the continuation of a “negotiation process” that perpetuates and exacerbates their suffering. This dead-end process is creating a deadly bomb under the feet of both our peoples, a bomb that will explode with tremendous force in the near future.
After 20 years of a failed and fictitious peace process, there is no more room for “processes” that serve as substitutes for peace. There is nothing left to clarify between the two sides. The only possible compromise for a peace agreement is known; there is no other alternative. The last and only historic compromise that the Palestinian people can accept and live with is well-known: a sovereign Palestinian state in all areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem; a full Israeli retreat to the Green Line; dismantling the settlements and rehabilitating the settlers within Israel; and full realization of the right of the Palestinian refugees to return. There is room for negotiations whose aim is to determine exactly how and in what ways and conditions this compromise will be carried out. There is no point to any other negotiation.
It is possible to reach a peace agreement on the basis of a partition of the land into two states, with the Green Line as the border and a solution to the refugee problem. Even so much as a sketch of such an agreement, however, is absent from the negotiation table. But it is not only what isn’t on the negotiation table that points to the real position of the Israeli negotiators, but also what is. Netanyahu’s condition that Israel be recognized as an exclusive Jewish state is not only a ridiculous demand that Palestinians declare their acceptance of Zionist ideology. Along with Lieberman’s proposals for territorial and population swaps, this demand exposes the Israeli intention to act against Palestinian citizens of Israel if should the government be required to carry out another pullout from the West Bank.
In other words, the Israeli government views one part of the Palestinian people as a hostage that can be threatened and perhaps even forced to pay the price for any compromise with another part of the Palestinian people. Under such conditions, there is no partner for peace among the Israeli political leadership.
About a month ago, we, members of the Tarabut–Hithabrut movement, participated in a conference in Hebron together with activists representing three Palestinian left-wing organizations in the West Bank: the People’s Party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). With great courage, the Palestinian left-wing activists made it very clear that despite their desire for peace, they oppose continuing the present negotiations. As their partners in the struggle against the occupation, we surely agree.
Together with our partners in the Palestinian left in Hebron, we want to say loud and clear: stop the negotiations now! In their present form, the negotiations are no more than just another tool used to expand Israeli control and deepen the occupation. They hold neither hope nor a chance for a better life in this country and mainly serve as a provider of raw material for Israeli hasbara. Anyone who desires to live a joint Jewish-Arab life in this country, in conditions of democracy and justice, can pressure the Israeli government to choose a solution that has already achieved international legitimacy — a Palestinian state alongside Israel with the Green Line as the border. However, the longer this theater of peace lasts, the more distant this solution becomes.
Don’t want sovereign borders? It is also possible to establish a democratic, binational state on the entire country without partition. However, a solution of this kind will also include dismantling of the settlements, returning land and the return of the refugees. Whether it will be one state or two, at the end of the day we will remain two peoples under one state framework. Recognizing this binational civil partnership is the basis for the possibility of a sound, democratic life. Any other form of cleverness is no solution and will not lead to any peace.
Rona Moran and Hana Amouri are activists in the Tarabut-Hithabrut Movement. This post originally appeared in Hebrew on Haokets.