In This Message:
(1) “A New Strategy Is Needed for the Palestinian People”: Discussion with Two Palestinian Activists — reprinted from Issue No. 225 — Feb. 5, 2020 — of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, France
(2) Palestine: There Will Be a One-State Solution. But What Kind of State Will It Be? — by Yousef Munayyer, reprinted from Foreign Affairs (November-December 2020)
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(1) “A New Strategy Is Needed for the Palestinian People”: Discussion with Two Palestinian Activists
(reprinted from Issue No. 225 — Feb. 5, 2020 — of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, France; the discussion took place Jan. 31, 2020)
Activist No. 1:
This Trump plan for Palestine was prepared long ago — at least the last two years. The first act was Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the “eternal and indivisible capital of the State of Israel.” The second act was the recognition by the United States of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights [part of Syrian territory occupied by Israel]. The third act was the removal of U.S. subsidies to the budget of UNRWA [the United Nations agency in charge of Palestinian refugees]. Today it’s the announcement of this “Deal of the Century.”
It should be noted that everything in this plan is already being implemented by the Israelis: the annexation of the Jordan Valley is underway, as is the implementation of the Israeli law on settlements. On the ground, in the daily life of the Palestinians, all this is already happening. The plan announced by Trump only formalizes and recognizes by the Americans what is already being put into place.
Representatives of the governments of three Arab countries were present when Trump announced his plan: Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. The plan is thus also an opportunity for official recognition of the “normalization” of relations between the Arab regimes and the Zionist State. We know that these Arab regimes have never supported the Palestinian people, that they have always been allies of the Americans and Israel. But until now they have done so discreetly. Now it is on the public stage.
For me, the main problem today is in the Palestinian camp. We know very well that Fatah [the party of Yasir Arafat, which heads the Palestinian Authority that emerged from the 1993 Oslo Accords – editor’s note] and Hamas [the Islamist party that is in power in the Gaza strip – editor’s note] are not going to do anything against this plan. To invoke the Oslo Accords in this situation — as Fatah (or Hamas (which is also part of the Accords, in fact), or the other Palestinian minority factions are doing — is a dead end. Trump’s plan is a way of announcing the death of official Palestinian organizations. It’s very sad to say, but we have to face the truth.
We need a new strategy that takes into consideration the views of all the components of the Palestinian people, both in Palestine and in exile. We need a new strategy to make it clear that the State of Israel is a colonial-settler State on the whole territory of Palestine, and not only in the territories occupied in 1967 (West Bank and Gaza). We need a strategy that sets itself the objective of dismantling the Apartheid system and establishing a new, secular and democratic State, a State for all its citizens: Jews, Palestinians, etc.
Perhaps this disastrous situation is an opportunity to put our political demands and aims back in order, so that we’re not just on the defensive.
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Activist No. 2
It has to be said: The Trump plan is a scam. The plan has been in place for a long time. To cut off all UNRWA funding is to try to put an end to the central issue of the refugees’ right of return. “Recognizing the nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish State” means giving up the possibility for Palestinian refugees to demand their right of return; since if they are not Jewish, they have no right to return to a “Jewish State.”
It also must be understood that the announcement of this plan was prompted by the particular needs of Netanyahu and Trump, both of whom are experiencing internal political difficulties. It was necessary to make an announcement, a “media coup” for the benefit of these leaders. But the plan, I repeat, is already being implemented in life.
The content of the plan is to turn the areas with a majority Palestinian population into tiny bantustans which will be “autonomous” from each other. One observer said ironically: this agreement is a Swiss cheese — cheese for the State of Israel and holes for the Palestinians.
So, the problem of the Palestinian leadership is there. I read yesterday that Mahmoud Abbas ordered the Mukhabarat [political police] of the Palestinian Authority to send a large number of plainclothes agents to the protest demonstrations in Nablus and Ramallah. They were instructed to be present among the demonstrators to prevent anyone from burning a portrait of Trump.
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(2) Palestine: There Will Be a One-State Solution. But What Kind of State Will It Be?
By Yousef Munayyer
[Note: Following are excerpts from a longer article first published in Foreign Affairs in its November/December 2019 issue. The excerpted section was translated into French and published in Issue No. 224 of Tribune des Travailleurs, the weekly newspaper of the POID in France. Yousef Munnayer is the past executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.]
For nearly three decades, the so-called two-state solution has dominated discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the idea of two states for two peoples in the territory both occupy was always an illusion, and in recent years, reality has set in. The two-state solution is dead. And good riddance: it never offered a realistic path forward.
The question, then, is not whether there will be a single state but what kind of state it should be. Will it be one [promoted by Trump and Netanyahu] that cements de facto apartheid in which Palestinians are denied basic rights? Or will it be a state that recognizes Israelis and Palestinians as equals under the law?
The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to abandon its advocacy of a two-state solution, an idea that has become little more than a fig leaf for the United States and other great powers to hide behind while they allow Israel to proceed with de facto apartheid. Instead, Palestinians should acknowledge the reality that there is and always will be only one state between the river and the sea and focus their efforts on making that state a viable home for all of the territory’s inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike.
Advocates of equal rights for all must take steps to make sure that “one-state solution” does not become as empty a slogan as “two-state solution.” To focus and ground their vision, they should therefore propose not only a new state but also a new constitution.
Some will dismiss this vision as naive or impractical. To them, I would ask: More naive and impractical than unscrambling the omelet that the Israeli occupation has created? How many more decades of failure must we endure before we can safely conclude that partition is a dead end? How many more people must we condemn to oppression, violence, and death?
The idea of equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a shared state has been around for decades, perhaps as long as have efforts to partition the land. But it has always been cast aside to accommodate the demands of Zionism, even at the expense of peace. Countless lives have been lost, and generations have had their rights denied, all while partition has become less and less realistic. Neither side can afford to go on this way. Now is the moment to adopt the only genuine way forward: equal rights for all.
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