Israel: winning the battle, losing the war

Nadia Hijab:

“The Palestinian Authority has no clear counter-strategy and has not been willing to invest in the sources of power necessary to achieve Palestinian human rights, even though there are many avenues available — diplomatic, economic, mobilization of Arab and international civil society — that could effectively challenge Israel.

Palestinian leaders have tinkered with the edges of the Oslo framework, such as the effort to seek U.N. membership for the disconnected fragments of land now called “Palestine.” But they are fearful of completely breaking away and losing even the minimal privileges Israel grants them as well as the U.S. and European aid necessary for their survival. Their lack of strategy and inability to muster the necessary counter-power contributes, wittingly or unwittingly, to Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.

By contrast, Israel has been following a clear strategy for over six decades: more Palestinian land, fewer Palestinian people. Having effectively made 60 percent of the West Bank off limits to the Palestinians through barricades and the Separation Wall, it is now focused on squeezing them out of East Jerusalem, which it has illegally annexed — a move not recognized by any world government. To do so, Israel uses a mixture of bureaucratic measures, including: denying permission to build; imposing very high taxes; home demolitions and evictions; and annulling the Jerusalem residency of Palestinians who are caught studying and working outside the city, even if they do so in neighbouring Ramallah.

Every so often, Israeli leaders launch a trial balloon to define the shape of their hoped-for final outcome. Last week, for example, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested that Israel should take “unilateral action” regarding the territories. Recent attacks against UNRWA are part of a continuing Israeli campaign to question the right of the Palestinian refugees and exiles to return to their homes and lands, and even their existence.

Yet, even as Israel wins the battles in this century-old conflict over the land of Palestine, it looks increasingly likely to lose the war. The present-day settlement and ethnic cleansing have drawn attention to the original injustice behind the creation of Israel, when the same methods were used, and have brought into the foreground the underlying racial discrimination of what is in effect a colonial enterprise“.

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