Road Map to What: Apartheid or Peace?

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In May 2003, the long awaited “Road Map” to peace was presented by the so-called Quartet: EU, UN, Russia, and the US. This Road Map envisions a Palestinian state within 3 years by the year 2005. While the Palestinian leadership has basically accepted the Road Map without any future modifications, the Israeli state was unwilling to accept the Road Map as it customarily put up 15 more road blocks all in the name of its own security and illegal settlements. In response to these reservations, the US has promised to consider Israel’s concerns, but is still unwilling to alter the basic contents of the map. The basic contents of the Road Map to peace calls for the simultaneous actions of Palestinian groups to end terrorism on Israelis and Israel to! withdraw from all Palestinian controlled areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Recently, Sharon has made pseudo-political moves to dismantle insignificant outposts and settlements, even lifting some travel restrictions on Palestinians in order to return to work in Israel. However, Israel continues to assassinate Palestinian resistance groups while hypocritically calling such groups to be dismantled. Not surprisingly, the US government condones ongoing Israeli terror operations in the occupied territories while condemning legitimate Palestinian resistance. As such most Palestinians, for obvious historical reasons, don’t trust Sharon as the Israeli government continues to envision a future Palestinian state made-up of non-contiguous islands that are surrounded by Israel’s new apartheid concrete wall– the final borders lines of the future Palestinian state.

 

Also, the Israeli state is still unwilling to accept the right of return for over 4 million Palestinians who were forced to leave during the many illegal wars against the Palestinian population. Another unrealistic sticking point is Sharon’s insistence that all legitimate Palestinian resistance groups, such as Hamas and Al Asq Martyrs, be disarmed and that all attacks on Israeli citizens end. Of course, Israel forgets that its military is the major cause of terrorism in the region. With such Israeli hypocrisy, Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian Prime Minister, has wisely respond to Sharon’s foolish expectations by pointing out that it would be political suicide for Palestinians to disarm as long as the Israeli military continues to illegally occupy Palestinian controlled areas and as long as Israel continues to hunt and assassinate Palestinian political activists. Abbas has rightly called for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups. However, as long as Israel continues to occupy, confiscate, and resettle on Palestinian lands, Palestinian resistance groups have every right to continue to target Israeli soldiers within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian lands is in the baldest language a daily act of terror as it continues to indiscriminately decimate Palestinian livelihood. As such I would like to present a commonsense road map to peace that is not only realistic! but is in accordance with international law, which the US and Israeli governments have mocked for the past 50 years.

 

Before the possibility of peace and justice in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I think it is vital to understand Israel’s perspective on a future Palestinian state. While Sharon is projecting a false image of a practical statesman willing to make colossal compromises on what is legally Palestinian lands, Sharon along with his hard-line thugs such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Simon Peres have not and will not compromise their long held policy of a Palestinian state that is disconnected, surrounded and controlled by the Israeli military. Peres has remarked that any future Palestinian state will consist of the present Palestinian controlled areas (which is 10% of the West Bank and 2/3 of the Gaza Strip), and that not one single legal Jewish settlement will be dismantled. In a well-known speech in the Israeli Knesset, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following comments: “Is there a state without contiguity? Is there a state without an army? Is there a state that does not control its own borders? Is there a state that does not control its own water resources and airspace? I am telling you there is no such state.” In other words, Netanyahu envisions a Palestinian state that controls small tiny dots of the West Bank and the Gaza strip and nothing else. Such a state will not control its own borders, natural resources, airspace, and security. It won’t control anything.

 

In my opinion, the Palestinian Authority mustn’t accept such a pathetic apartheid like definition of a future state as the Israeli government will continue to control the present and future destiny of the Palestinian population. Such a vision of a Palestinian state is simply meant to keep the Palestinians under the firm military thumb of the Israeli regime. I will present a more realistic state that will allow Palestinians to control their own lives and future destiny without the dark shadows of the Israeli military lurking on every side of the future Palestinian state. Despite Sharon’s new found largesse spirit to surrender some of the illegally stolen and occupied Palestinian lands, Sharon still holds to the Israeli hard-line view of a decapitated future Palestinian state. A leopard like Sharon can never change his true political spots of racism and terrorism. In a recent article, Ran Ha Cohen has made the following observation on Sharon’s vision of a future Palestinian state: “Sharon stresses it over and over again: the “state” will have no borders with Jordan or Egypt, it will be surrounded by Israel from all sides, it will be demilitarized, Israel will control its water and its air space; and the Israeli settlements, consuming about 50% of the West Bank and a third of Gaza and still growing, will all remain intact, and with them the entire network of checkpoints, military bases and roads open for Israelis only, that turn the Occupied Territories into a block of Swiss cheese (as Arafat once put it), with the holes left to the Palestinians. This Palestinian state will be no more a state than ! the South African Bantustans in the darkest days of Apartheid! . It will be the ultimate camouflage for the ongoing occupation (Say No to a Palestinian ‘State’ Letter From Israel, Nov 13, 2003).” Well, so much for Sharon’s Oscar winning performance as a generous statesman who is willing to make painful concessions as he returns some of Israel’s illegally occupied lands back to their rightful Palestinian owners.

 

This traditional Israeli policy of perpetually controlling and occupying a future pockmarked Palestinian state is being brutally implemented in the ongoing apartheid wall that will not only surround and dissect most Palestinian controlled areas, it will also be de facto the future borders of the Israeli state living in security and peace. In another penetrating article, Apartheid Wall (Letter from Israel, May 21, 2003), Ran Ha Cohen exposes the ugly duplicity of the so-called Road Map to Peace: “A central function of the “Road Map” is to distract from the actual map of the Palestinian territories. This map is being radically altered, and unlike the Road Map, which will be forgotten like all its cynical forerunners (“Zinni Plan”, “Tenet Plan”, “Mitchell Report”, “Regional Peace Conference” etc.), the geographical map of Palestine is here to stay, with a huge Wall now being built in its middle é the “Security Fence” in official Israeli language, in fact an Apartheid Wall.” Cohen rightly argues that the present wall being built around and through Palestinian areas is meant to be the final map in which Palestinians will be forced to either accept or reject this arbitrary map. If they reject it, Palestinians will be labeled as malcontents who are more interested in terrorizing Israelis than peace. Whereas Sharon and company will be falsely portrayed as shedding tears for peace and not violence on Barak’s mythical bended knee. So what? Well, the real intent of the wall is to arbitrarily draw a new map, which will basically allow Israel to control most of the West Bank as it continues to control and occupy these lands! . “The UN Resolution of 1947,” Cohen points out, “allocated 45% of British Mandate Palestine to a Palestinian State. In 1948, Israel occupied 78% of the land, leaving just 22% é the West Bank and Gaza é to the Palestinians. This is all they have been demanding since 1993. Now, Israel is robbing more than the better half of these 22% left. Six million Israelis are to have about 90% of the land (and water), whereas three-and-a-half million Palestinians, many of them refugees, are pushed to starve into what is left, locked behind gigantic walls in open-air prisons, with no land, no water and no hope. The moral way to peace, love and security, no doubt (Apartheid Wall).”

 

While this new Apartheid Wall being built is essentially the political and geographical implications of Israel’s long held policy of eternally controlling the West Bank and Gaza strip and thus carving out a mutilated and weak Palestinian state, the future Palestinian state, in accordance with International Law, must be a viable and legitimate state. Such a state must consist of every single square millimeter of the West Bank and Gaza strip prior to the June, 1967 war. In accordance with numerous UN Security Council resolutions, Israel must withdraw all its troops from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As long as Israel occupies Palestinian lands, there will NEVER be peace. The borders mustn’t be negotiated at some future date. On the contrary, the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state must strictly abide by the UN designated GREEN LINE, which was drawn before the 1967 war. The future borders of this state will be drawn between Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Syria. The future Palestinian state must control 100% of its natural resources, borders, airspace, and military. A future Palestinian state must decide on the merits of creating its own military as a practical deterrence to future Israeli aggression. A future Palestinian state must be contiguous: it must be one connected entity with unbroken stretches of land. If such a future state is not contiguous, it is not a legitimate and viable state, it is simply another aboriginal reservation ! controlled by its colonizers.

 

What about the issues of Jerusalem, the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, and the Jewish settlements? As for the Jerusalem issue, a future Palestinian state must have its capital in East Jerusalem. Contrary to International Law, Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem. As for the right of return, if Israel doesn’t want Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, it must give financial compensation to each and every single refugee and it must allow such refugees to settle in the West Bank or Gaza strip. But, in accordance with International law, Israel must accept those Palestinians who desire to return to their homelands. In accordance with International Law, every single Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza strip is illegal. As such every single Jewish settlement must either be dismantled or be under the complete authority of the future Palestinian government. The majority of Jewish settlers will never agree to be under the authority of any future Palestinian state. As a result, the only practical solution to this issue is for all Jewish settlements to be dismantled and settlers transferred into the Israeli state. As for who will foot the bill, the US government should be morally responsible to finance such new settlements for Jewish settlers in the Israeli state. Instead of bank rolling Israel’s military machine and such illegal settlements, the US should do the right thing and assist! these illegal Jewish settlers in settling in the state of Israel.

 

There are obvious Israeli land mines on this so-called Road Map to Peace. The Israeli leadership, contrary to what is portrayed in the western media, is unwilling to part with a single inch of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In fact, as part of its traditional policy of controlling most of the West Bank and Gaza strip, it is now constructing an 8 Meter concrete wall, Security Fence, down the middle of the future Palestinian state. Many call this the new Apartheid Wall as Israel will continue to occupy and control the West Bank and Gaza strip. Once the political and theatrical dust settles from this so-called Road Map to peace, it will soon become clear that Israeli bulldozers still control most of t! he West Bank roads. If there is going to be a legitimate and viable Palestinian state, it must consist of ALL the West Bank and Gaza strip with the borders being exactly the same as they were prior to the June, 1967 war. Such a state must control ALL its natural, legal, military, geographical, and political resources. If such a state is anything less than these items listed above, it will never be a legitimate state that determines its own future.

Alden C. Mayfield, a Canadian Scholar residing in Asia, contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN).

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