New trends on the Palestinian street

There is a surprising murmuring heard in the Palestinian Arab street. Israel should take notice.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar,

OpEds Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Eliran Aharon

Another US-European dynamic was set in motion recently in an attempt to reawaken the Israel-Palestine issue by means of an international conference, whose mandate is to restart the peace process and establish two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side on the west of the Jordan.

The French are at the forefront of this effort and that fact gives rise to several questions, for example: Why the French - and why now? How will the Israelis and Palestinians view the idea? The answer to the first question is obvious. A good many French politicians fear the Islamic terror that has hit France hard over the past three years: Toulouse, Paris, Hypercacher, Charlie Hebdo, the Batkalan pub, Stade de France Stadium and three restaurants. The French government hopes that Jihadists will see France in a different light if they help establish a Palestinian State - and leave the country alone.

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Another factor motivating the French members of parliament and other nations to support establishing a Palestinian Arab state is the growing number of Muslim voters in Europe and the politicians' feeling that the road to their ever-islamicizing electoral districts must be paved with the fulfillment of voter expectations – to wit, the advancement of the Palestinian Arab state.

This is of a matter of grave significance. The Europeans insist Israel must accept a Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria, one likely to become another Hamas stronghold in addition to Gaza, solely due to electoral considerations - and possibly in order to enhance European security by  helping to calm the Jihadists who roam freely throughout the continent.

Beyond amazement at the immorality of it all, there is also the possibility that the Europeans have it all wrong, because the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) state they wish to establish is going to infuriate the Jihadists, who see the PLO as a non and possibly even anti-religious organization. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is engaged in a struggle and finds itself in fierce competition with religious movements such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Salafists. Establishing a "secular" state with the support of France and other European countries may raise the ire of Jihadists against these countries and even encourage terror against them.

The problem is that these European nations, led by France, do not see the obvious: The Hamas movement won the elections for the Palestine Legislature in 2006 and still has a majority in that body. Can the European nations guarantee that this will not repeat itself in the Palestinian state they are so set on establishing? Or do they have a way of ensuring that Hamas does not take over that Palestinian state by force as it did in Gaza in 2007? Since there is absolutely no way to guarantee the above, it must be presumed that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will become a Hamas terror state sooner or later, as did Gaza, and bring with it all the problems the Gazan Hamas state poses for its citizens and those of Israel.

New trends

The Europeans, it seems, are not aware of new trends developing in the Arab communities of Judea and Samaria. Twenty three years have passed since the Oslo Accords were signed and the hopes that filled the Arab street in Judea and Samaria at the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 have turned to disappointment. Israel did not retreat from significant areas such as Jerusalem and continued, in their view, to rule the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria by means of the Palestinian police and PA institutions. The PA is seen as corrupt, unconnected to the public and uninterested in its problems and hopes. The PA is the largest employer in Judea and Samaria due to the enormous sums that flow into its coffers from overseas, and when the money gives out, it turns to other donors.

Many of the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria feel that the Palestinian nationalist project starting with the establishment of a state is not achieving its goals. The first,  freeing all of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, is not realistic, as Israel refuses to commit suicide and the world will not agree anyway. Establishing a Palestinian state on part of the land would constitute a grievous and unforgivable sin as it would legitimize the Jewish state built – in their view – on Arab and Islamic land, therefore it is preferable not to create a state that grants legitimacy to the "1948 Occupation," that is, Israel as it existed for 19 years from its establishment until June 4, 1967.

A second reason is disappointment in the PA which, instead of becoming a stable platform on which a state could be built, became a corrupt and despicable organization whose ruling echelons take care of their personal bank accounts before making sure that their immediate and extended family benefit as well, and last of all, if any money is left, "care" for the man in the street. In addition, the split between the PLO and Hamas, the state that Hamas established nine years ago in the Sinai Desert and the threat it poses for the PA's rule, are the main reasons an increasing number of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are fed up with the whole idea of a Palestinian state.  The liberals among the population certainly do not want to live under the Islamic Sharia Law that will force them to accept a lifestyle that is diametrically opposed to the one to which they are accustomed.

The Arabs of Judea and Samaria know that Israel is not going anywhere, that the Jews will remain where they are forever and the one state option seems a much more realistic scenario than another Arab state that might easily end up like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen or even Lebanon. The supporters of a one-state-solution, mostly in secret, call for dismantling the PA, sitting down with the Israelis, taking what they can get and allowing Israel to run the new state as well as it runs its own, in contrast to the surrounding countries and the Palestinian State that might simply follow in the PA's footsteps.

Bassem Ayd, a human rights advocate from Jericho, recently declared, at a conference held in Ariel University, that the biggest disaster that befell the Palestinians was not the 1948 Nakba (literally "catastrophe", referring to the establishment of the Jewish State), nor the 1967 Arab defeat and resulting "occupation", but the establishment of the PA in 1993. The Palestinians would be better off living in one well-run state with the Jews than in another failed Arab state whose fate will be that of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and even Jordan, he asserted.

As a result of this sort of discussion's beginning to take hold, several new organizations have sprouted, or are in the process of coming into being - organizations whose goal is to remove the establishment of a state from the Palestinian Arab agenda. What they have in common is the suggestion to replace that idea with a new one: joining Israel and having Israel run the area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.

One of these organizations is called "The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on the Land of Historical Palestine," headed by Munir Alabush of Tul Karem, and established in Ramallah in May 2013. The organization's founding charter says as follows:

"The catastrophe of the Palestinian people has continued for over a century. This catastrophe began with the Balfour Declaration, issued on November 2, 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Walter Rothschild, a leader of British Jewry for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The Balfour Declaration was followed by the imposed British Mandate for Palestine of 16 September 1922, which denied the Palestinian people their natural right to self-determination and the establishment of their independent state on their national land.

"This catastrophe was aggravated by the disaster of the Nakba of 1948, which resulted in the seizure by Israel of most of the Palestinian territory, the displacement of almost 750 thousand Palestinians, and the establishment of the State of Israel on Palestinian territory. This disaster was then followed by the Israeli aggression of 1967, which resulted in the occupation of the remaining Palestinian territories (the West Bank of Jordan and the Gaza Strip and the Sliver of Hamma) and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the newly occupied territories. This was accompanied by attempts to obliterate the national Palestinian personality, which represents a depth of civilization and a historical connection of the Palestinian people with their national home.

"International and regional efforts and initiatives followed one another from the early 1930s onwards with the view to finding a just solution to the Palestine Question and to putting an end to the Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli conflicts. These efforts, however, ended up in failure, due to Zionist intransigence and racialist mind-set, such as do not accept the other, deny the presence of the victim and correlatively hide criminalities committed by Israel. In the shadow of the Oslo Agreement, Israel waged a frenzied settlement campaign to change the fait accompli on the ground and to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. In doing so Israel went to extremes in denying the presence of the Palestinian people and dedicated its own understanding of the territory occupied in 1967 as a disputed territory, not as an occupied territory.

"With the launch of the contemporary Palestinian revolution at January 1, 1965 and the assumption of the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) by the Palestinian resistance in the year 1968/1969, the Palestinian resistance considered the one democratic state (ODS) on the land of historical (mandatory) Palestine to be a just solution for the Palestine Question. This solution was, however, quickly followed by a transitional solution (i.e. return of the refugees, self-determination, independent state with Jerusalem as its capital), which was then effectively reduced to what was is known as the two-state solution and was in effect predicated on the recognition of the Israeli occupation of the part of Palestine, the part it had occupied in 1948.

"The resumption of the one democratic state solution comes today in the shadow of the occlusion of the political horizon, the failure of all attempts at a fragmented settlement of the Palestine Question, the continuing Israeli seizure of land and “judaization” of Palestinian territories, the denial of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people and the reduction of the Palestinian presence into unviable, disconnected and isolated bantustans, thereby making the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state impossible, rendering the interim self-government arrangements of  the Oslo accords into a permanent status.

"Thus, we are experiencing all-embracing and deep crises and a closure of the political horizon under an occupation that costs Israel little, additional to thede facto annexation by Israel of most of Palestinian land, consolidating a single state and a fascist and racist system based on racial discrimination in law (that is, apartheid). Additionally, we now face a new Israeli condition demanding that we recognize the State of Israel as a “Jewish” state in its Zionist interpretation, even without a definition of its borders, implying the writing-off the right of return for 1948 Palestine refugees and opening the way for displacement of our people living in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1948. All of these enable Israel propel the conflict into a dangerous stage, which forewarns of a bloody explosion and ethnic cleansing, thereby bringing about yet another stage of the kind of human tragedy in which the Palestinian people have been living since the disaster of 1948.

"Faced with this gloomy and bitter situation, establishing a one democratic state on the land of historical (mandatory) Palestine, a democratic state for all its inhabitants, based on a democratic constitution, the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantee freedom, democracy and equality of rights without discrimination based on race, religion, gender, colour, language or political or non-political opinion, national or social origin, wealth, place of birth or any other status – establishing this state is, indeed, a just and feasible solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"Our initiative comes as a continuation of the efforts by the groups that preceded us in conferences and activities held and pursued in different places throughout the world suggesting the establishment of the one democratic state as a solution, with the Munich Declaration as a common denominator.

"Our commitment to the choice of a one democratic state on the land of historical Palestine is based on the following:

"The Palestinian people is one people embracing all of its components: in the territories occupied by Israel in 1948, in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 and in the refugee camps built in the 1967 occupied territories and in the diaspora. Despite their subjection to different systems and laws, the Palestinian people maintained their unity and their national identity. The Palestinian people living in apartheid Israel are not integrated in Israeli society. After 60 years of attempts to impose upon them co-existence and after subjecting them to ethnic cleansing, they still uphold onto their national identity. At the same time, all Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 1948 and in the 1967 Israeli occupies West Bank and the Gaza Strip resist Israel’s occupation policies, particularly Israeli settlement policies, seizure of land and apartheid measures and policies impinging upon all walks of Palestinian life and implemented by the Israeli occupation forces.

"Likewise, Palestinian refugees in refugee camps in the diaspora and in foreign countries continue to uphold onto their national affiliation and Palestinian identity, rejecting all plans for resettlement and refusing alternative homelands to their own national home. There are universal values to which civilized nations aspire. These represent freedom, justice, equality, democracy and the acceptance of the other, regarding cultural, racial and religious differences as an enrichment for the society, rather than as a cause for racial discrimination. Therefore, all Palestinian strategies of resistance ought to be guided by these values, namely, human rights values, and by the standards of international law and predicate the struggle on this basis.

"Palestine is the place where the religions were revealed. It is not possible for the followers of any one religion to expel the followers of other religions or to attempt to make one of the religions the standard of the political system in Palestine. All systems or strategies of resistance should be based on respect for all religions, including respective religious symbols, places of worship and sacred places as well as encourage religious tolerance and coexistence among the followers of different religions. The fundamentals of social justice and equal opportunities for all citizens of the one democratic state, embracing all its ethnic and religious components, fair redistribution of public resources and respect for women and gender equality for women and men in all walks of life are to be cornerstones of this state.

"Jerusalem is the capital of the one democratic state. Solution of the refugee problem implementing United Nations General Assembly resolution No. 194 of 1948, by which every Palestinian in the world will have the right to return to Palestine; to recover his/her properties and real estate or receive fair compensation in the event he/she not want to return; to receive fair compensation for the suffering that they have incurred as a result of their displacement from their homeland; and by which every Palestinian internally displaced person (muhajjarun) inside Israel be able return to their villages and properties out of which were expelled in 1948.

"Recovery [of] the rights of 1948 Palestine refugees and Palestinian internally displaced persons does not entail expelling any Jewish family from Palestine, but on the contrary – aims at effecting a historical reconciliation among all inhabitants of Palestine, embracing all their components. We further fully realize that all the other solutions suggested (such as the two-state solution or the confederal solution) do not provide a just solution to the refugee problem, such as guarantees their right of return to the residence from which they were expelled. In fact, some of these solutions barter the establishment of a Palestinian state with the implementation of the return of the refugees to their abode.

"The establishment of one democratic state will be able to provide a solution to the conflict at chore, and address all the elements of the conflict in historical Palestine as well as build a regime based on justice, equality and democracy. A democratic state cannot be an aggressive state, will not be motivated by expansionist greed, and, hence, it will not be in conflict over borders with any neighboring state. Being established on the land of historical Palestine the one democratic state will be an indivisible part of the regional system, cooperating and in harmony with the rest of the regional states, rather than in contradiction or conflict with them.

"One would expect the Zionist movement to refuse this choice because the said movement is based on a racialist and apartheid basis, and on the non-recognition of the other. It is a movement based on colonization, occupation and settlement, predicated on force and suppression.

"The principle of acquisition of territory by force is totally and absolutely rejected. It cannot constitute a basis for an acquired right, individually or collectively. The Zionist colonial settlement in Palestine is, therefore, an illegal settlement and cannot at all be accepted as a fait accompli. Confronting this settlement will be central to the resistance program of this Popular Movement. Further more, the establishment of a one democratic state does not entail marginalizing combating the policies and designs of the Israeli occupation, the cause of the daily suffering of the Palestinian people, highlighted by settlements and land grabs, the “judaization” of Jerusalem and other aggressive actions. In fact, resistance to Israeli occupation settlement policies and the policies and measures of Israeli apartheid is central to the combative program of our Popular Movement.

"In order to achieve a just solution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict we, the signatories here-under, have decided to declare the launch of “the Popular Movement for One Democratic State on the Land of Historical Palestine” and strive to reach all our people, wherever they live including the general public in Israel, particularly those who have an interest in this choice. The Popular Movement will try to gain the backing and support of all the forces committed to freedom, justice, equality and democracy in our attempts to develop policies and procedures adequate to resisting  and putting an end to the Israeli racist system of apartheid and occupation. The success of this choice will, therefore, represent a civilized model for the achievement of peace, co-existence and democracy as well as for solution of conflicts among peoples."

The statement ends here. Although it contains sections which are not music to the Israeli ear and cannot possibly be accepted by Israel – one of them being the "right of return" – this document does not talk about the establishment of a Palestinian Arab State as the only option and not even as the preferred one.

Israel will not, of course, have to accept this document, but what can be seen is that it expresses Palestinian abandonment of the idea of a separate state and that is its importance.

Written for Arutz Sheva. Translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky.





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