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Editorial: What next for Palestine?

We are shocked at the current US campaign to rob a future Palestinian state of viability and genuine independence (see the front page interview with Norman Finkelstein).

The best case scenario in the foreseeable future for both Palestine and Israel is an authentic two-state solution which allows a Palestinian state on the 1967 ‘green line’ borders, meaning the West Bank , East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. This means the evacuation of illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank (which house over 300,000 Israelis), and the reclaiming of their stolen lands by the Palestinians.

Hanan Ashrawi, member of the executive committee of the Palestine liberation organisation (PLO) clarified recently that: ‘Any person, be he [or she] Jewish, Christian or Buddhist, will have the right to apply for Palestinian citizenship.’ However, a new Palestinian state would not accept ‘ex-territorial Jewish enclaves,’ whose residents seek to maintain their Israeli citizenship status.

A genuine two-state solution has long been the international consensus. With minor border adjustments between Palestine and Israel, and some arrangement for connecting Gaza to the West Bank, this would give Palestinians some security for the first time. Far from threatening Israel, removing this constant source of friction with the entire Arab world strengthen Israeli security and normalise its position in the Middle East.

What the US is seeking to impose on Palestine is something quite different – making the Israeli separation barrier the new international frontier, well inside the 1967 borders (and taking a chunk of the most fertile land on the West Bank in the process); absorbing East Jerusalem into Israel; and giving Israel authority over the major settlement blocs.

The Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc, which has four settlements within it, and nearly 40,000 settlers, will divide the West Bank in two (once the adjoining E1 settlement area is developed). Ma’ale Adumim’s mayor, Benny Kasriel, said in 2004 that the settlement bloc ‘was established to break Palestinian contiguity.’

In other words, to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestine.

Destroying peace

The major obstacle to achieving a genuine two-state solution has for 40 years been the United States, which has supported Israeli governments (both Labour and Likud) in continuously building settlements (‘facts on the ground’) and blocking any opportunity for peace.

To take just the last bout of Israeli violence, there is clear evidence that the eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012 was ‘a pre-emptive strike against the possibility of a long-term ceasefire’. The words of Gershon Baskin, the Israeli peace activist who had negotiated a draft ceasefire agreement with Hamas strongman Ahmed al-Jaabari days before the Israeli attack. Al-Jaabari was the first victim of the bombardment. (See PN 2552-2553.)