Exploring other paths to Peace

Perhaps Israel’s most successful delaying tactic in respect to Palestine and peace has been the idea that there can only be a negotiated settlement to the illegal occupation, and that such negotiations can only be carried out between Israel, its patrons, and a pre-approved Palestinian peace partner. A peace partner is a person, or group of people who have already met the conditions that Israel and the US demand as preconditions for being worthy of discussing with Israel, why Israel should end its illegal occupation. Among these pre-conditions is the coerced recognition of Israel’s hotly disputed Biblical right to the land, and an agreement that no matter how many, or what violent acts Israel may carry out against Palestine, Palestinians must never retaliate in like manner against Israel. They call this “renouncing violence” and to date, Israel has refused not only to renounce violence; Israel refuses to end its violent raids, kidnappings, and illegal detentions of Palestinians. It continues to allow illegal settlements to be built on Palestinian land, and it also refuses to arrest and punish illegal settlers who move into the occupied territories, and carry out crimes that have been documented by numerous human rights organizations, and deemed ethnic cleansing, which is a war crime. It is also worth noting here that the US State Department designated the illegal settlers movement a terrorist movement, still there is no punishment or even censure of this movement and its leaders for the crimes against Palestinian civilians carried out almost daily by these armed and violent groups.

The fact` that after more than 60 years, the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine continues in this way, should be enough to convince us that this game has gone on long enough. Israel should not be allowed, under any pretense, to continue its brutal, unjust and illegal subjugation of the Palestinian people for another day, let alone another 60 years. As far fetched as that might sound, another 60 or more years is where we are headed unless some decent law abiding people decide that the so-called Middle East Quartet, which was created to find an end to the conflict has failed and should be disbanded. The Quartet is complicit with Israel and hardly capable or inclined to uphold the law in respect to this conflict, or Palestinian rights. The UN Security Council is equally either incapable or disinterested in either peace or justice if it means demanding that Israel abide by international law. We can perhaps understand that the Quartet countries are trapped in the ethos of ancient Crusaders, and are incapable of mustering the moral clarity required to end this occupation, opting instead to attempt to legitimize Israel’s war crimes by designating the victims of Israel’s criminal occupation, terrorists, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. There is no explanation for UN Security Council unwillingness to act to end Israeli violence, lawlessness and the illegal occupation, except perhaps the desire to see international law cease to exist as an impediment to the imperialist aspirations of most of its permanent members.

All of this said, it seems apparent that there must be other paths to peace that have gone unexplored, and whose time may have arrived. One such path is a legal path that emphasizes international law and treaties, and that demands that all parties to the conflict act within the limits of the law or face international condemnation. It might also include the right of the International Criminal Court to take jurisdiction over the conflict, and to appoint a body of legal experts who would issue a series of recommended judgments to the ICC Chief Prosecutor, that would guide the parties to peace. These might include a determination of where Israel’s exact pre 1967 borders exist. The court could order an end to the occupation, and demand that the UN Security Council pass a resolution calling for peacekeepers from several independent nations to be deployed to carry out the transfer of illegal settlers to Israel, and to oversee the demolition of all illegal settlements, checkpoints, and other effects of the illegal occupation. A time table might be given for Israel to withdraw its troops completely, that would coincide with the transfer of the illegal settlers. Israel would also be ordered to demolish its apartheid wall, thereby restoring all illegally confiscated land to the Palestinians. The court might also be the recipient of the Palestinian declaration of statehood that would immediately be recognized by the court, the UN Security Council, and the General Assembly. Such recognition would also likely be forthcoming from all of the unaligned countries, and the Muslim and Arab countries, and peoples.

It is clear to most that Israel and the Palestinians will not be able to achieve peace so long as Israel is allowed to continue to undermine and violate the rights of the Palestinian people with impunity. For reasons that go unexplained and unknown, neither the US, or the Quartet, or the UN Security Council seem sincerely interested in the fate of the Palestinians, and so are not capable of serving as either arbitrators or mediators in respect to negotiations or a final solution. That leaves the International Criminal Court to take up this issue, and to bring it to a proper legal conclusion, using the authority of the court to legitimize all orders and judgments.

It is time for us to abandon the tried and failed approach to peace that has kept both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples embroiled in conflict for more than 60 years with no end in sight. We are fools to believe that peace will result from splitting the occupied territories, isolating Gaza, starving its people and collapsing its economy, while herding Mahmoud Abbass and his contingent of co-opted, and coerced peace partners off to Annapolis for private arm wrestling, brow beating, and talk of Palestinian state delaying tactics. It is time to end the occupation of Palestine, and to establish a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The International Criminal Court may be our last hope for a legal resolution, and conclusion to the conflict.

Gwynne Dwyer, an independent journalist writing from London, wrote in an op-ed, “Rice can’t revive Mideast peace plan” the following, “There will be no comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal in this decade. In the next decade there could be war.” Dwyer might have added no Palestinian/Israeli peace deal either, but for different reasons. Dwyer says that the Israeli people don’t trust Arab and Muslim commitments to past treaties. The truth is that Arabs and Muslims haven’t seen Israel abide by a single agreement that it has ever entered with Arabs or Muslims. Most believe that this is because Israel’s Talmudic law says that Israel is not obligated to honor treaties or agreements made with non-Jews. This should make it clear that only international law, and dispassionate courts can serve as the real arbitrator of a just, equitable and comprehensive peace.