The Modern Occupation

November 2, 2010

This article gives a detailed historical account of the formation of Israel, preceded by a description of the current occupation. – Ed.

By Shashwat Sinha

The Middle-East is burning; it is one of the few regions of the world including some parts of Africa that has not seen peace since decades. War, violence, impoverishment, lack of any semblance of justice has become a part of the daily lives of the people in the Middle-East.

The core issue that has cast its shadow over the peace in the region is the Israel-Palestine ‘conflict’ which involves Arab population living in Palestine, Israel and neighboring countries. The ‘conflict’ is a euphemism for land grab by Israelis that started mainly in 1967 has continued till date. Palestinians have lost virtually all their land to Israel, they now live on segregated isolated dots of land completely surrounded by Israeli territories. The kind of aggression, occupation and mass-murder that Israel has perpetrated in the region is matched and preceded only by land grab and genocide that occurred in the Americas after Columbus landed on its shores. It is déjà vu in human history, where, now in today’s modern world, several centuries later, a similar story of dehumanization and dispossession of an entire indigenous population is being repeated and the US is now its major sponsor. It is compounded by the fact that it has elements of apartheid that existed in South Africa, which was for decades, again supported by the US.

A non-militarized Palestinian population completely dispossessed from most of their lands, living as refugees in their own country and completely dependent on foreign aid for their survival are fighting this impossible war for their rights, dignity and sovereignty. There have been a few advances but mostly setbacks for the Palestinian cause in the last four decades and the world has effectively been a mute spectator.

In the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict is the issue of settlement of Israelis in the occupied Palestinian lands, now majorly going on in the occupied West bank. West bank and Gaza are the only places where majority of Palestinian population is now cramped and that too is being eroded each passing day. A freeze on settlements is the only way to a dialog for any peaceful and meaningful solution but in the long history of the region, settlements have just expanded.

A recent UN human rights report by Richard Falk states that continued settlement construction has gone to such an extent that it will probably make Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land quite irreversible. The occupation tantamounts to de-facto annexation of Palestinian land. Richard Falk also said that this undercuts the assumption behind the UN Security Council that the Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967 was temporary and reversible. An earlier UN report says that Israel forcibly denies Palestinians access to nearly one-fifth of Gaza Strip land and 85 percent of its naval territory.

In 1980, Israel declared occupied Jerusalem as its capital, which has not been recognized by any other country including the US. The historic city has many holy places for Jews as well as Muslims, the latter much larger in number and it includes the third holiest place for Muslims, the al-Aqsa mosque. Israel has steadfastly resisted division of Jerusalem and continues to occupy East Jerusalem. With the far right party led by the extremist Benjamin Netanyahu now in power in Israel, hopes of peace and justice for Palestinians have further been dashed with evictions of Palestinians from the occupied East Jerusalem and demolition of their homes.

In mid-October, Netanyahu offered to ‘partially’ freeze settlements if the Palestinian Authority (PA) were to accept Israel (now most part of the region) as a Jewish state. The Palestinians rejected the offer, pointing that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was irrelevant and detrimental to the peace process. They instead reiterated their long standing demand that the US administration set the 1967 lines as the starting point for negotiations about final borders. The Palestinians recognized Israel through PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) in 1993 but have adamantly refused to recognize it as a Jewish state for fear that doing so would prejudge the fate of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

They also note that Arabs make up around 20 percent of Israel’s population. This is significant in the light of a recent law passed in Israel that requires all non-Jews to take the ‘oath of loyalty’ if they wanted to stay in Israel. This is also in-line with the constant denial of Israel of the ‘right of return’ of the Palestinian refugees of the 1967 war to their former homes. It sees it as a threat to destroy the state of Israel by sheer demographics. For that reason, Netanyahu is hell-bent on recognition of Israel as Jewish state which will serve the demographics by ignoring the Israeli-Arab citizens of Israel.

Replying to Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official’s objections, senior Israeli cabinet minister Silvan Shalom commented that “it was unacceptable to return to the lines of June 1967. There is a very large consensus in Israel on this point.” The ‘consensus’ is now routinely flaunted by the Israeli administration shutting off and suppressing alternative voices of peace like that of left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz who calls this a “major diversionary ploy” and the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot accusing Netanyahu of trying to “torpedo” the talks.

The peace voices from non-Jews are nearly intolerable for Israeli administration. In September, Israel deported peace activist and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire (she won Nobel Prize in 1976 for her extraordinary actions to end sectarian violence in her native Northern Ireland) for her ride on a humanitarian boat to Gaza. In her words, “There will be peace in this country, I believe it, but only when Israel ends apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

Netanyahu’s belligerence has continuously increased since Obama’s speech in Cairo when Obama addressed the Arab world right after his election as the President and showed a conciliatory gesture. Israel took great exception to the speech and since then has snubbed the US administration more than once following its own path and aggressively and openly flouting any recommendations for restraint from its protector (the US).

Netanyahu in 2001 had openly said that “the US cannot come in the way of Israeli expansionism.” This attitude has proven to be quite a sore in Obama administration’s eyes. Still when President Obama made the Israel-Palestine conflict the centerpiece of his address to the UN General Assembly, it was only filled with hollow words and rhetoric like “vows to end settlements.”

After a ten month long moratorium on settlement construction ended in September, the settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem resumed building new homes with bulldozers in action in the settlement of Oranit. The Israeli military reportedly also destroyed hundreds of gravestones in a centuries-old Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. The settlements have aggressively continued in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem in last 17 years since the Oslo Agreement. In this time there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of settlers and the settlements have nearly doubled. The settlers in West Bank oppose any freeze in expansion of settlements and resort to violence and terror if any such proposal surfaces.

In early October the Jewish settlers in the West Bank set a Palestinian mosque on fire in the village of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem opposing a call for freeze on settlements damaging parts of the mosque and destroying about a dozen copies of the Quran. The Palestinian Authority condemned the arson but unfortunately, such acts of aggressions are no exception and have become a part and parcel of Palestinian lives.

These acts connived by Israeli administration have routinely halted talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli administration. Any efforts by Obama administration to appease Netanyahu and provide incentives for settlement freeze have been completely ineffective. The International Court of Justice and endless United Nations resolutions have ruled that settlements are illegal and should be removed but the settlements have continually expanded.

The settlements are only the facade of a complex and profitable system that includes checkpoints, road segregation, security zones, the ‘apartheid wall’ and ‘natural reserves.’ Palestine remains divided, segregated and deprived of most basic living conditions. The Israeli blockade in Gaza and West Bank has prevented flow of basic necessities like food, medicines and water. One of the casual activities of Israeli troops is to target practice at water tanks at the top of Palestinian buildings.

This maze of blockades and check points has for years gobbled the land, water resources and the economic space of the independent Palestinian state supposedly being negotiated in this same period. Nearly 60 percent of the West Bank and 80 percent of water resources have been consumed this way leaving Palestinians cramped and miserable in their own homeland.

Any attempt to bring aid to the suffering Palestinians have been foiled by the Israeli forces with hardly any exception. This year is remarkable in the number of attacks on boats, ships and flotilla carrying aid to Gaza. Despite signs of peace and aid on these vessels, the Israeli forces intercepted such convoys and took people on board as prisoners thereby preventing any aid to reach the Palestinian shores. It is notable that even peaceful ‘Jews’ are not allowed to bring aid to Gaza. Jews supporting the right of Palestinian people are now labeled as ‘self-hating Jews.’ Palestinian activists are obviously beyond redemption.

Israeli military court routinely convicts peace activists, a recent conviction was of Abdallah Abu Rahma, a prominent Palestinian peace activist who heads a group opposing Israel’s separation wall through the West Bank. In late September, nine passengers on board a Jewish aid boat Irene that was prevented from reaching Gaza were apprehended by Israeli forces miles off the shores of Gaza. The passengers accused the Israeli military of excessive force in seizing their ship and the Israeli activist and former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira said he was beaten and shocked with a taser gun. They were attempting to deliver a symbolic load of humanitarian aid to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.

The Jewish Boat to Gaza was the latest attempt to break the blockade since Israel’s deadly attack on an aid flotilla in May. The attack on flotilla motivated British activist Patrick Audai to take part in a convoy of some forty-five vehicles carrying aid to Gaza via Turkey. The convoy, dubbed Viva Palestina, was also stopped and was allowed to pass through only in October end. President Obama had personally warned Turkey in August that unless it shifts its position on Israel and Iran, it could be cut off from future US arms deals.

The stories of aggression and brutality are endless and chronicling them and the misery and impoverishment of Palestinians requires volumes. However, just looking at the recent incidents as mentioned above can give some perspective to the unsuspecting reader, not to mention the carpet bombing of Lebanon in 2006 and massacre of over 1300 Palestinians in December 2008 for which Israel was seriously reprimanded in the Goldstone report, Goldstone himself being a staunch Jew. The Obama administration had vehemently discredited the report as being one-sided; the US was the only country protecting Israel. The so-called “peace negotiations” between Israel and Palestine brokered by the United States have been instruments of continuing and complete subjugation of Palestinians. Israel has never refrained from attacking occupied West Bank and Gaza strip even in the midst of ‘peace talks.’

Negotiations between two unequal parties cannot succeed. On one side there is Israeli government that controls the land, roads, airspace, borders, water, electricity, trade and economy of the Palestinian side, while possessing a powerful military establishment and on the other side is Palestinian Authority that has no military or any perceivable power and exists as a sort of fiefdom within the Israeli matrix of control. Then there is general public in Israel with a ‘consensus’ that has dramatically shifted towards right and on the other hand there is divided Palestinian population with total dependence on foreign aid and declining democracy and human rights. To top it, the Palestinian Authority is continuously pressured to provide security for its aggressor while leaving its own people completely vulnerable to any attack. A stray rocket by Palestinians or Hamas has always been responded with brute and disproportionate Israeli force costing hundreds of lives.

Probing the reasons for US support for Israel

For a casual observer it might appear puzzling as to why the US would support a tiny, parasitical country very much dependent on its massive military, technology and economic aid when the whole world condemns Israeli actions in unison. The curiosity might lead one to believe the role of a strong Jewish lobby in US administration, academia and public sphere which exercises this incredible control over the foreign policy of the United States. This however would be a case of the tail wagging the dog. It is a careful and well crafted propaganda that perpetrates the view that the unwavering support of Israel by the US administration is due to the influence of Jews in the US, Jews being in powerful positions and generally a moneyed class in the US.

Contrary to the propagandist perception, the US has used Israel as a ‘wedge’ in the middle-east to serve its interest of exploiting the region’s resources (oil). Imperial powers like the US have no ‘permanent friends’ but only ‘permanent interests’ and the US is only pursuing its interests through Israel. Although highly unlikely, the policy may shift against Israel at any point of time. Apartheid in South Africa is a good example which flourished with US support and aid but ended as soon as the US made a policy shift against it. Israel has served as a watchdog for the US in the middle-east as it was for the French and British imperialist powers in the first half of the twentieth century. It has re-paid the benevolence of the US in kind by performing most nasty acts and covert operations for the US in the middle-east and around the world.

In 70s and 80s Israel provided critical support to apartheid when it was inconvenient to Washington. With South Africa, Israel built an electric fence along the Namibian-Angolan border; Namibia was a colony of South Africa and Angola had SWAPO guerillas. During 80s, Israel trained Guatemalan army when it was carrying out genocide against the indigenous population. The Israeli police joined hands with CIA to train Chilean torturers and other Latin American countries. It helped in proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua; gave military aid to Taiwan; undermined Algerian revolution; the list goes on.

In the middle-east it has been most beneficial to its sponsors; it has served to check the Arab nationalist movements. Israeli bombers destroyed an Iraqi nuclear plant when Iran-Iraq war was raging and the US was against Iran as the US installed Shah had been overthrown in 1979. In a myriad different ways existence of Israel in the heart of the Arab world has distorted regional development for the benefit of imperial powers. Most leaders in the US view the aid to Israel as money well spent.

A Modern History of Israel

The history of inception of Israel can give further perspective to the current nature of the state of Israel. Israel started as a colonial project with political Zionism at its roots, that took shape in the late-19th century Europe under Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist. In 1896, Herzl published Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews), offering his vision of a future state; the following year he presided over the first World Zionist Congress.

The first large wave of “modern” immigration, known as the ‘First Aliyah,’ however had taken place much earlier in 1881, as Jews fled pogroms in Europe including Russia. The Palestinians helped them settle in the region and mingle with Arab population. The Jews settling were not all Zionists and many were quite progressive and considered Zionism as a fringe movement. The early Zionists had considered several sites as their future homeland like Uganda, Argentina and Palestine but they soon settled on Palestine basing their claims on existence of Jewish kingdoms 25 centuries before! In the words of Jewish writer Erich Fromm, “If all nations would suddenly claim territory in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse.”

The two Austrian rabbis who came to investigate Palestine wrote to the first World Zionist Congress that “the bride is beautiful but married to another man;” in other words, another people already inhabited Palestine. Undeterred by this the Zionists indulged in the racist propaganda that Palestine was “a land without people for people without a land.” It had striking similarity to Spanish conquistadors and European settlers in the Americas who claimed America was a vast ‘wilderness’ but at the same time mercilessly slaughtered the natives. A British diplomat at the time had surveyed Palestine and had reported that every piece of arable land in the region was under cultivation. Herzl and other Zionist leaders were aware that settlements alone cannot bring their colonial project to fruition. They actively sought sponsorship and protection of the then imperial powers promising them to support their interests. It was the British who played the key role in giving material shape to Zionist ambitions.

At the start of the twentieth century much of what is middle-east today was part of Ottoman Empire based in Turkey. The shameful World War I which was fought mainly to divide the territories for exploitation had imperial nations Britain, France and Russia secretly signing Sykes-Picot agreement for dividing the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of war. After Russian Revolution of 1917, Russia renounced its territorial designs and made the despicable Sykes-Picot agreement public. This however did not prevent Britain and France to divide the Ottoman Empire after World War I and as a result the French occupied Lebanon and Syria and the British occupied Palestine, Transjordan and modern day Iraq.

In November 1917, came the infamous Balfour Declaration in which the British ‘legitimized’ the existence of a Jewish state in the heart of Palestine declaring that the ‘non-Jewish’ people had a right to co-exist. These ‘non-Jewish’ people comprised 92% of the population and were Arabs. After back-stabbing the Arab Hashemite King Hussein with whose critical help, the Ottoman Empire was defeated, the Arab aspirations of having independent state were buried and instead the region was divided into several statelets like Kuwait, Jordan etc. As compensation British made Hussein’s sons Kings of two of its colonies Iraq and Jordan.

Thus, the British conquest of most of middle-east in 1918 and Balfour Declaration in 1917 set the stage for the Zionist project to take off. With the help of French, in 1920 Greater Syria was dismembered and Arab nationalism was completely crushed. The British saw establishment of a Jewish state in the heart of Arab lands of immense benefits to them strategically and economically with a means to control Suez Canal. It was under these ‘auspices’ that the project of Israel took roots.

The land for settlement was initially purchased from absentee landlords who mainly lived in Jerusalem, and with the British sponsorship and US funding, the settlements rapidly grew. The Zionist movement had a lot of elements common to reactionary, nationalist and fascist movements in Europe after World War I and it was amenable to British. Though Palestine was a British colony, a de-facto Jewish government was established in Zionist controlled areas. While there were inevitable clashes between Zionist leaders and British (as we see today between Israel and the US) but their essential relationship was of two colonizers, one big and the other small.

Ben Gurion who became the major Zionist leader, proudly called the settlers ‘the conquistadors.’ The dispossession of an entire people was not possible without violence and Palestine was no exception. The Palestinians resisted the occupation. The most famous and protracted uprising (Intifada) of Palestinians during 1936-1939 that occurred mostly in rural areas against British colonialism and Zionist settlements was finally crushed with a massive British military force. The defeat and repressive laws post revolt left Palestinians largely eroded of their militancy.

On the other hand, World War II greatly strengthened Zionist forces. The US and other western imperial powers hardly paid any attention to genocide of Jews at the hands of Nazis and in fact favored Hitler for their own anti-Semitism and smashing of labor unions in Germany. The mass murder and persecution of Jews made almost 400,000 Jews want to immigrate to the US but the US closed its doors to them fearing they would bring with themselves radical ideas of socialism and communism. As Winston Churchill wrote in one of his articles that there were ‘good Jews’ who were Zionists and then there were ‘bad Jews’ who were socialists. Supporting establishment of Israel as a land of Jews was a more convenient solution and though the US itself being anti-Semitic at the time along with other powers greatly supported the cause of Israel. It deflected the progressive Jews.

The World War II left British bankrupt and they handed their colony of Palestine to the UN and the UN without consulting with Palestinians passed a resolution for its partition in 1947. Intense US pressure played key role in voting in UN. The Soviet Union supported this UN resolution 181 mistakenly thinking that Israel would be a friend, most of its population being pro-socialism. The basic colonial character of establishment of Israel and its leaders was overlooked.

The Soviet support of Israel was a death blow to Arab, Palestinian national movements and communist parties in the region. Despite owning only 6% of land and 35% population Israel was awarded 55% of the Palestinian land. 44% of the land was given to Arab Palestinians with 1% being “international zone” which included Jerusalem. It was the most humiliating and debilitating non-military attack on Palestinian identity and sovereignty and the declaration of partition meant war. The armed militia Haganah had already formed by the Second World War under Ben Gurion who came to be the first Prime Minister of Israel. The news of Partition delighted Ben Gurion immensely and from then on the uprooting and expelling of Palestinians continued with full force.

For Israel, 55% of the land was not enough, and it immediately began military expeditions to seize as much land as possible. The trained Israeli forces defeated poorly equipped and mostly spent Palestinian forces in the 1948 war and “declared” their independence. The ethnic cleansing and massacre of Palestinians had begun and this was to continue for decades to come. Much emboldened by the UN’s decision of partition, Israeli raids into Palestinian territories resulted in villages being wiped out with unspeakable atrocities. The horror stories of raids of Israeli forces are well documented. The slang terms of “Iron Wall”, i.e. brute force and “transfers” meaning expelling of Palestinians became corner stones of Israeli policy. The colonial project was in place and the modern occupation had entrenched its roots firmly in Palestinian soil with pro-active support of Britain and the United States. India was among the first nations to recognize the state of Israel.

By 1955 France had become a major state ally and supplier of arms to Israel. With the US and France support in 1950s-60s, Israel developed nuclear weapons which Israel to this date refuses to acknowledge (The International Atomic Energy Agency has remarkably succeeded in rejecting resolutions calling on Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty every time). When Nasser of Egypt nationalized Suez Canal in 1955, Israel with the help of British and French launched an attack on Egypt under the false pretext of ‘retaliation’ for a fabricated Egyptian attack.

By this time, new and much stronger imperial powers in the US and USSR had emerged on the world scene and their stern threats forced Britain, France and Israel to withdraw their forces in a humiliating defeat. The 1956 Suez War led to bringing of Israel completely to the US camp, Israel recognized its new master. By its next war in 1967 against Arabs, Israel was closely allied and supplied by the US military. In a lightning strike in 1967, famously called the Six Day War, Israel captured the remaining 22% of historic Palestine. It was a coordinated strike against Egypt, Syria and Jordan with full backing of the US forces and its navy. This was another watershed event in the history of the Middle East. Ten years earlier, Gen. Mattiyahu Peled who took part in Six Day War told Haaretz that “the thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only a bluff which was born and developed after the war.”

The Prime Minister of Israel of the time, Menachem Begin, an extreme right winger also later exposed the utter falsity of the claim of retaliation. The Six Day War convinced the US that Israel could be a highly effective weapon against the Arab liberation and nationalist movements. Israel proved to be a loyal watch dog of US interests (oil) in the region when the US was pre-occupied with Vietnam War. Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza only in 2005 facing intense criticism and pressure from international community. However, Gaza still remains militarily surrounded and cut-off from the rest of the world. The free movement of Palestinians is almost impossible and it remains as the British Prime Minister David Cameron described as Gaza the biggest ‘prison’ camp in the world condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza aid flotilla. Israel defended the attack.

The resistance to occupation however continued in forms of PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) formed in 1964 and much active after 1967 War, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP and other women’s and youth organizations along with armed resistance. The battle of Karameh, Jordan in 1968 saw about 200 Palestinian backed by some sections of Jordanian army fighting a much powerful and equipped Israeli force. The Battle of Karameh had an electrifying effect on renewing armed struggle and wiping out the memory of defeat in Six Day War. Later Jordan under the regime of King Hussein, a puppet at the hands of the British and the US bombed Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan; the Palestinian refugees comprise two-thirds of Jordanian population. The left-wing Syrian government hesitated to intervene for the fear of air-strikes of Israel and as a result over 15,000 PLO fighters were killed by Jordanian army.

Following this defeat the epicenter of struggle of Palestinian resistance shifted to Lebanon. The 1973 Arab-Israeli War was the only one not initiated by Israel in which Egypt and Syria launched coordinated attacks on Israel to regain lost territories and gained some initial victories. They were finally repulsed by Israel owing to massive military and arsenal aid by the US. This war led to a nuclear flashpoint which was prevented only when USSR threatened retaliation. It greatly enhanced the Palestinian cause. The captured Sinai Peninsula was finally returned to Egypt in 1979. The 1973 war finally led to Camp David accord brokered by Jimmy Carter and was a disaster for the Arab world. Though hailed in the West, it led to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and an occupation of Lebanon for 18 years costing thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian lives. No Arab country had the resources to challenge the Israeli army funded and supplied by the US.

Later 1987 ‘Intifada’ began in Palestinian refugee camps and became a big movement, in 1991 Oslo accord had to be signed which was to determine status of all parties and regions involved. However, nothing happened. Relentless repression led to al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 and the struggle has continued since then. The US has seen several anti-war movements since then and the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition has spearheaded the movement against occupation.

The Israel-Palestine issue is striking by the fact that when countries were overthrowing the yoke of colonialism in the first half of the twentieth century and gaining independence, Palestine was surreptitiously and insidiously being colonized. It was a calculated and pre-meditated project that kept most of the world population blinded by its false propaganda while the colony grew in the meantime. This colonization and occupation is a deep regression in modern human history where against all odds and supreme difficulties people have stumbled towards a relatively more democratic world. When colonies seem a thing of distant past, here we have live and bleeding Palestinian colony. The difference between Palestinian situation and of Iraq and Afghanistan is that in Iraq and Afghanistan American civilian population is not occupying lands and settling down there. It is a military occupation, which we might hope against all hopes to end in the future. But for Palestine, there is no reverting back to its own free country, the best it can now get is a fractured two state solution carved out from its own lands.

It is shameful what has undergone and what is going on, a most demeaning legacy of imperialism thrust on the proud Arab population. The conditions have been created such that the Palestinians accept the second class and slavish status in their own country and subject themselves to the mercy of Israeli troops, who would continue with their unabated atrocities.
Being protégé of the US, Israel has not cared about any international law, treaty or convention and has played its role exactly as the US wanted, being a wedge and a base of the US in the Arab world. Any peace proposal has been consistently and vehemently vetoed by the US in the United Nations and has allowed Israel to indulge into unspeakable atrocities with impunity. It is now impossible to go back to a single state of Palestine which could have been the true justice for the Palestinian people.

Still Palestinians want to make peace with Israelis; the wars, aggression, mass-murders and refugee like status have made Palestinians wish for peace and normalcy sooner than later. There is almost a consensus among Palestinians (Norwegian-based group FAFO findings) and in the Arab world for a two-state solution with pre-1967 borders. But the occupation and settlements have gone so far that the two-state solution itself is in jeopardy and this has always been the ulterior motive of Israel. The Israeli establishment is aware of the fact that beating their hard-line positions on issues like Jerusalem and borders mean transforming the idea of Palestinian statehood into something much less: a client state with isolated clusters of land in a system of segregation. The Road Map issued by the so-called Quartet (the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia) in 2003 said that all settlement activities must stop but neither the United States nor the Quartet could exert serious pressure on Israel to stop settlements. The only way to save the two-state solution is for the Palestinians to declare the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem, and to demand that the world community recognize it and its borders as it did in the case of Kosovo. That would also mean supporting the right of Palestinians to struggle nonviolently to end the occupation of their state. Any future negotiations, therefore, would not be about the right of the Palestinians to have their own sovereign independent state, but rather about how to apply and implement that right. This would be a true test of the state-building strategy of the United States and the donor community and would demarcate the difference between support for free Palestinian institutions in a sovereign and viable state, or footing the bill of occupation to maintain the apartheid system denying Palestinians their human and national rights.

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