Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Proximity Mloximity -- Will at Kabobfest

I was just wondering, is there anyone in the world who believes the Israel-Palestinian ‘proximity talks’ being mediated by the United States will amount to anything positive at all?

First of all, such shuttle diplomacy is really the United States doing the negotiating, as it mediates between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is completely US-initiated, with the PA lagging behind and Israel being dragged into this charade even further behind. The PA-fantasy of an engaged United States that pressures Israel to make major concessions on the central issues — Palestinian sovereignty and real borders — still appears leagues away. And they can only participate cynically because they expect nothing worth pinning any political capital on, yet hope to show that both, they were willing while Israel was not, and that they somehow actually represented the Palestinian people. It’s a farcical balance given the fundamental bias the U.S. exhibits towards Israel.

While any negotiations between any occupier and occupied tend to be absurd, when they do not entail any down-side to failure by the occupier, any cost for failure, they are especially pointless. Given that no Palestinian movement for freedom or international solidarity campaign have really forced Israel to negotiate, expecting anything via talks is purely wishful thinking. And the United States does not have the will or internal cohesion (in terms of domestic politics), to really get Israel to shed its colonial ambitions.

This is one reason that the two-state solution, for all the hype it is given, is really political fantasy. Even if the serious political will did evolve among Americans and Israelis, there would be no guarantees that Israel would really permit Palestinian sovereignty, especially not while so many Israelis consider the West Bank their’s and would violate Palestinian sovereignty at the threat of the drop of a hat.

The best and most realistic option is an integrated one state since there already is one state in place, and it is expanding its control over and presence in the occupied territories. While Israelis will tend to fear this more than two states, it is the most practicable in terms of something Palestinians can struggle for since it then becomes about equality under the law. This is a stronger moral claim and is ultimately harder to refute than is the collective claim of territory-based, real national sovereignty — an impossibility next to a belligerent Israel.

It is time the Palestinians shed the nation-state dream, one I should add has hardly been good to Egyptians, Lebanese and Iraqis, for example. We can celebrate being Palestinian, have our culture and even fly our flag without having a Palestinian dictator and cabinet. Our best hopes for the future lie in democracy, and no state existing to satisfy the security of another — especially the current Israeli police state — can be a democracy. The Palestinian fight for democracy in one state would be joined by true Israeli democrats, and the Jewish state would instead be a state of its citizens.

We are coming to a place where the ideal solution is also the most practical. And all that stands in the way are some corrupt or unimaginative politicians and outdated policies. This new direction forward must come from the ground up.

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