Mint Press: Why Palestinian Statehood Poses Such A Threat To Israel

“Israel fears Palestine, as its existence simply denies and poses a challenge to its territorial claims. Everything Israel has done since 1948 has been toward the annihilation of Palestine. There is no tip-toeing around it. Of course Tel Aviv will oppose Palestine’s statehood claim.”

By   MintPressNews.com  

Benjamin NetanyahuIsrael’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. Israel’s prime minister said Sunday that the public expects the government to “return to normal conduct” and hinted at the possibility of early elections if his coalition does not overcome a crisis linked to a contentious nationality bill that would enshrine Israel’s status as a Jewish state. (Photo: Ronen Zvulun/AP)

Refugees in their own land, stateless within the ever-shrinking borders which Israel concedes to assign them, faceless and voiceless before the international community as their legal status continues to ring hollow — the Palestinian dossier remains the unclosed chapter of a crisis which has been unfolding since 1948, when Israel declared its own statehood.

In the wake of Israel’s latest mass aggression on Gaza, this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, also known as the “50-day war,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to take his people’s fight for official recognition before the United Nations.


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Abbas confirmed on Dec. 15 that he would press forward with a fresh bid for statehood before the U.N. Security Council. His call has echoed across the political spectrum, with both Hamas and Fatah — the major Palestinian political factions — standing in agreement.

Yet Israel is said to be equally determined to destroy such ambitions — especially since it understands Palestine as an inherent threat to its own existence.

Saying what Israel has long thought — and, one might add, lived by — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a press conference in July: “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

Netanyahu was thus implying that Palestine will never be more than a concept, a fairy tale — an assessment confirmed by The Times of Israel founding editor David Horovitz, who has been described as one of Netanyahu’s most staunch supporters by Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper.

Palestine’s race for statehood first materialized with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at an extraordinary session of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s legislative body, in Algiers on Nov. 15, 1988. Almost three decades have passed, and the Palestinian desire to become a full-fledged entity and undismissable institutional reality should soon reach the floor of the U.N. When it does, the world will be able to look on as the fate of an entire people plays out.

The state and the people former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir so keenly dismissed as non-existent, are determined to prove Israel wrong by reclaiming their place under the sun.

 

“A grave mistake”

Map of PalestineWith tensions and passions running high, Netanyahu’s July declaration that there will never be a Palestinian state summarizes the reality Palestinians have faced for the past six decades.

“Israel’s hegemonic ambition includes and relies on the destruction of Palestine. As long as a Palestinian identity remains alive Israel will never completely establish its legitimacy or affirm its right to be. Israel was built on the blood of Palestine. For six decades Israel has tried to wash off the stain and it has failed,” Marwa Osman, a political analyst with Strategic Foresight Group, told MintPress News.

“Israel fears Palestine, as its existence simply denies and poses a challenge to its territorial claims. Everything Israel has done since 1948 has been toward the annihilation of Palestine. There is no tip-toeing around it. Of course Tel Aviv will oppose Palestine’s statehood claim.”

Although a Palestinian statehood bid has remained at the heart of all peace negotiations with Israel, standing as the main roadblock to any lasting and meaningful agreement, Sweden gave Palestine’s statehood ambitionsa shot in the arm this fall. After Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made his intention known to the world in September, Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström declared on Oct. 30: “Today the government takes the decision to recognise the state of Palestine.”

Wallström added, “It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. We hope that this will show the way for others.”

Sweden is the second country in Western Europe to recognize Palestine as an independent state. Iceland’s parliament voted for recognition of Palestine in 2011.

However controversial Israel made Sweden’s move out to be, such a show of solidarity with Palestine sent ripples across European capitals, giving more clout to an entire people’s calls for political self-determination and institutional recognition.

Within weeks of Sweden breaking away from an overwhelmingly pro-Israel political narrative, France also decided to send a message to Tel Aviv. Though solely symbolic, France confirmed on Dec. 2 that its National Assembly had voted in favor of a motion recognizing Palestinian statehood, underscoring a dramatic shift within the European Union vis a vis the Palestinian dossier.

With support for Israel running thinner in the EU on the back of blatant war crimes and grave human rights violations against Palestinians, Israel has withdrawn behind its strongest ally, the United States. Asked onDec. 18 about the language used in the PLO’s draft to the U.N. Security Council, which calls for Palestine to be recognized as an independent and sovereign state, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “It is not something we would support.”

“We have seen the draft. It is not something we would support, and we think others feel the same and are calling for further consultations,” Psaki added.

Angered by France’s symbolic move toward recognizing a Palestinian state, Netanyahu was quoted by Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons as saying France had made a “grave mistake.”

In a piece written for Truthout in 2012, Noam Chomsky, acclaimed scholar and thinker, described Gaza as “the world’s largest open air prison.”

“It hardly takes more than a day in Gaza to appreciate what it must be like to try to survive in the world’s largest open-air prison, where some 1.5 million people on a roughly 140-square-mile strip of land are subject to random terror and arbitrary punishment, with no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade,” Chomsky wrote.

Israel has all but made Palestine disappear. Yet Palestine appears to have found a new footing, its people animated by a renewed sense of purpose in spite of their suffering.

“With nothing else to lose but themselves, Palestinians could yet rally behind the one thing which unite them all — Palestine. And this is what terrifies Israel,” said Osman, of the Strategic Foresight Group.

 

Israel “in a panic”

“The State of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, the only state that we have, and the Palestinians demanding a state do not want to recognize the right to have a state for the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in response to France voting in favor of Palestine statehood in late November.

“By defining Israel’s identity and existential claim on the sole basis of its Jewishness, Netanyahu states in no clearer terms that Palestine’s survival equates to Israel’s demise and ultimately its negation — or so Israel thinks,” Mojtaba Mousavi, a political analyst and editor in chief of Iran’s View, told MintPress.

“Israel’s entire narrative relies on the principle that Palestine is but a figment of the Arab imagination, that only its [Israel’s] people have a legitimate claim to the land. Should Palestine come alive in the eyes of the international community, Palestinians would have something tangible to rally behind and fight for. Israel fears the power such renewed hope would give Palestine,” he added.

Seeing pressure from the international community mounting, Israel and its prime minister are, as Robert Fantina wrote this month for CounterPunch, “in a panic.”

“It seems that Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu is all in a dither because much of Europe seems on the verge of recognizing Palestine,” Fantina wrote.

In attempt to rally the troops under Israel’s flag, using peace and world stability as his ultimate argument, Netanyahu slammed France’s defiance, clamoring, “Such a move is contrary to a peace agreement, it will thwart all future negotiations and bring about an escalation.”

Going one step further in his assertion that no good could come of Palestine ever being recognized as a legitimate state within the parameters of international law, Netanyahu warned: “This move [France’s non-binding recognition of Palestine] is a negative one and will backfire.”

While Palestinian officials still face a very likely U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council, the cat — Palestinian statehood — appears to be most definitely out of the bag, putting both Israel and Palestine before a looming ultimatum.

One of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, alongside France, China, Russia and the United Kingdom, the U.S. has the right to veto any resolution it disagrees with. It is worth noting that the U.S. has systematically invoked and asserted its veto right in relation to Israel.

What would happen should Palestine succeeds? And what if it fails?

Ironically, Israel now finds itself in the same predicament Palestine was forced into in 1993, when Yasser Arafat, a founder of Palestine’s Fatah political party and then-chairman of the PLO, was pressured into unilaterally recognizing “Israel’s right to be” as a pre-condition or pre-amble to the Oslo Accords. As Fantina noted, “No one in the world except the Palestinians seemed too upset about that at the time.”

In a letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Arafat wrote:

“The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era in the history of the Middle East. In firm conviction thereof, I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments:

The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.

The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.”

Yet, if Palestinians had to bow to international pressure in the name of peace, Israel appears determined to beat the drums of war to defend its stance toward negating Palestine. And Washington remains in Israel’s corner.

Speaking from Colombia on Dec. 12, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has worked to revive peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over the past year, told reporters: “There are a lot of different folks pushing in different directions out there, and the question is can we all pull in the same direction.”

“We’re trying to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict, and we’re exploring various possibilities to that end.”

 

War as a solution

As Fantina expressed in his report for CounterPunch, Israel will likely answer Palestine’s calls for statehood by inflicting yet more pain and terror upon a population which has yet to grieve the thousands of lives lost in the latest assault on Gaza.

“Israel will, in all likelihood, escalate its terror against Palestine. The Gaza Strip may be bombed again, there will be an increase in house-demolitions in the West Bank, and more men, women and children in the West Bank will be arrested and held indefinitely without charge,” Fantina wrote.

If the words of Israel’s economy minister Naftali Bennett are an indication of Tel Aviv’s stealth, violence could rear its head again — and sooner rather than later.

On Dec. 12, Bennett told a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies conference in Herzliya, Israel, that — as The Jerusalem Post put it — “[t]he Palestinians’ behavior shows they’re not worthy of a state.”

“I won’t give territory in the Land of Israel to Arabs. We have to stop apologizing to the world. There was never a Palestinian state here… There was a State of Israel, 2,170 years ago; we celebrate it on Hanukka. It existed 3,000 years ago, too,” Bennett continued.

Keen to underscore his unequivocal rejection of Palestine, Bennett concluded: “When Israel says clearly, without stuttering and without apologizing, that we do not agree to committing suicide and building a Palestinian state on Israeli land, the world will eventually understand.”

Hayim Yilin, the head of the Israeli settlement of Eshkol in the Western Negev, recently warned of a pending retaliation war against Gaza, telling the Middle East Monitor, “In the light of the current escalation, war with Gaza is just a matter of time.”

“Whoever thinks that military deterrence is the solution for tranquillity is mistaken. Wars are treated only by politicians, who can achieve security and tranquillity after wars … Israel now finds itself facing an exploding situation that is leading to a new war,” Yilin said.

Indeed, Israel hit Gaza on Dec. 20 for the first time since the August cease fire. Although no casualties have been reported, the development could provoke further bloodshed.

Beyond Israel’s refusal to recognize an independent state of Palestine as a reality lies a very real fear that years of occupation and abuses will need to be addressed before the International Criminal Court. As Norman Pollack, an analyst on the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism, noted to MintPress: “Israel’s Achilles heel is the International Criminal Court — to get it before that body requires statehood, I imagine, and in any case statehood would multiply respect and recognition.”

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam
Catherine is a political analyst ​and reporter ​for MintPress focusing on​ the Middle East and the rise of ​radical movements. The Associate Director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies, she has contributed her analyses to the Middle East Monitor, Foreign Policy Association, Your Middle East, IslamistGate, Majalla, ABNA, Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, Eurasia Review and many more.

One comment

  1. The Fury of a Patient Man · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.

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