Sunday, 19 May 2019 08:43

Give peace a chance

Written by

The anti-Israel demonstrations that were held recently in London, Germany, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands last week clearly showed that the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Forces against helpless Palestinians deserve unequivocal condemnation by the world.

What is really frustrating about the asymmetrical conflict between Israel and Palestine is the fact that the Trump administration, just like its predecessors, remains committed to ensuring Israel’s military dominance in the region.

The entanglement of the US in this protracted conflict has inevitably aggravated the situation by financing and supporting Israel’s settlement programmes in the occupied territories. Put in another way, Israel and the US have never been committed to the peace process. As long as the US provides the support, Israel will use it to suppress the Palestinians.

What Israel aims to achieve is very clear for the world to see, which is to annex the occupied territories, reduce the Arab population as well as to disperse the refugees and crush any manifestation of Palestinian nationalism or culture.

Israel’s policy towards Palestine is consistent with the rejection of any political settlement that accommodates rights of the indigenous population. Clearly, Israel is not in support of a two-state political settlement that would include recognised borders, security guarantees, and reasonable prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. What is more, Israel’s conduct in dealing with Palestinian transgressions has been over the top.

While it is true that certain segments of Palestinian society are equally responsible for soliciting retaliations from Israel by launching terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, the latter, however, has used excessive force in responding to Palestinian provocations and the rate of Palestinian civilian casualties is alarming.

A precursor to the ongoing schism between Israel and Palestine is the setting up of the state of Israel in 1948, the subsequent attack by the Arab armies in 1967 and the 1973 attack against Israel by Egypt and Syria, also known as the Yom Kippur War.

It should be highlighted that the Arabs of Palestine were not in favour of a Jewish state and large-scale Jewish immigration which more often than not had led to dispossession of their lands. The Arabs were not consulted in the preparation of the European plans to facilitate the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

While it may seem natural for the Arabs not to peaceably accept the confiscation of their land, this protest by the Arabs is described as anti-Semitism in certain Western circles. The West tends to accept the position expressed by Lord Arthur Balfour, author of the Balfour declaration of 1917, in which Britain promised a Jewish national home in Palestine, as the natural point of departure.

Arab opposition to Britain’s proposal to establish a Jewish state was an open secret and could be tied to president Woodrow Wilson’s King-Crane Commission findings in 1919 which reported that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. The commission also estimated that nearly all of the Arab population in Palestine were emphatically against the entire Zionist programme, and warned that to subject them to this programme would be a gross violation of the principle of self-determination and of the people’s rights.

More importantly, the world should be reminded that the establishment in Palestine of a national home of the Jewish people was premised on the condition that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. What has happened is anything but respect for Palestinian rights.

The rape of Palestinian human rights is very well documented. President Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is an excellent rendition of Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians. Under this oppressive system, Israelis are totally dominant and tend to suppress violence by violating Palestinians’ basic human rights. Palestinians are being herded into places that are surrounded by walls, fences, and Israeli checkpoints reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s Auschwitz concentration camp.

But over the years, many Arab states have come to accept the sovereignty of Israel. Despite the many road maps to peace that were brokered by the superpowers, peace between Israel and Palestine remains elusive. One of the many contributing factors for the continued conflict is the Israelis’ thirst for Palestinian land.

The growing conflict between Israel and Palestine is also related to the condoning of illegal actions of the former by a pliant American administration, and Israel’s continued defiance of United Nations Resolution 242 which is still the binding law that condemns the acquisition of land by force and requires Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories.

On their part, the Palestinians have to stop honouring suicide bombers and targeting Israeli civilians.

Most of all, both conflicting parties have to be willing to give peace a chance.

Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk is the director of the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia

Published in: New Straits Times, 19 May 2019