Do us all a favor, implement international law

Even before the Palestinian-Israeli conflict took on its full dimensions, the rhetoric of demography was used to sell the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. Jewish leaders suggested in the early twentieth century that this region would be a suitable "land without people for a people without a land." The activation and acceleration of Jewish immigration in the first half of that century was, among other things, a tool to manipulate local demography. Too, the activities of armed Jewish organizations, some of them deemed terrorist groups by the British mandate authorities, were certainly aimed at pushing the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine out of the land into a stateless diaspora, thus helping Jews to win the population race.

More recently, the demographic component of the conflict has taken on increased urgency, for Israel in particular. In spite of all efforts to manufacture an Israeli citizenry that is as "purely" Jewish as possible, there remain some one million Palestinians in Israel’s borders. Also, because the occupation of the rest of historic Palestine, i.e. the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, persists and has been consolidated by the construction of settlements within these occupied areas, the green line has nearly disappeared. Israel now finds itself in a situation where experts are warning of a demographic majority of Palestinians "from the river to the sea."

That has many Israelis worried, and creates a dilemma for Israel’s right-wing leadership which on one hand wants a Jewish state for ideological reasons, but on the other hand wants to maintain Israeli control over as much as possible of the Palestinian occupied territories for historic and religious reaso! ns. That dilemma has been picked up on, not only by Palestinians, but also by the United States administration, which has begun to warn Israel against consolidating and maintaining the occupation.

Israel would do itself a favor if it would stop trying to have its cake and eat it too. The pursuit of two contradictory policies is harming the Palestinians, who are being deprived of their natural right to independence and statehood. It is also, however, proving detrimental to Israel.

"Population imbalance" is only a problem in the context of crises and war. That is why the only way out for both Palestinians and Israelis is to adhere to international legality which means an end to the occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the removal of the illegal Jewish settlements there in order to open the way for the establishment of a separate and independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel.