Over the past few days, two interesting developments happened regarding Israel-Palestine. A few days ago, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres suggested that the UN could station peacekeepers in Palestine to “protect Palestinian civilians.” There are several astonishing aspects of this proposal. First, the UN leader did not propose this as an even-handed gesture, as the international body is wont to do (because it doesn’t wish to appear to be taking one side over another). His announcement was intended to protect Palestinians solely. It surely comes in the aftermath of nearly 170 Gazans murdered by IDF snipers during Great March of Return protests each week (two Palestinians were murdered last Friday to add to the toll). The world (excluding Washington DC) is slowly coming to the realization that this is an unacceptable bloodbath. This awareness has arrived glacially unfortunately. But Guterres’ proposal is yet another indication that the world is developing a consensus on this slow-motion massacre.
Israel, of course, rejected the proposal out of hand. And Guterres covered all the bases by acknowledging his proposal would only work if both sides agreed to it. The Palestinians would embrace it readily. So that left Israel to be the rejectionist party (as usual). At some point in the future, the world will tell the parties that they have no choice and the UN or some other international force will be stationed there whether they agree or not. Unfortunately, there is literally no chance any Israeli government would ever agree to this plan. Which is why it will eventually have to be imposed, probably after Israel engages in the sort of massacre Milosevic orchestrated in Srebrenica. It gives me no comfort to predict this. But it will happen. It’s only a question of when and how bad it will be.
In one thing Israel has pursued its objectives shrewdly. Like the frog in a pot of water, the temperature of the water rises so gradually that before he realizes his fate, it’s too late for him to hop out. Israel is doing the same to the Palestinians. They squeeze rights and the life out of them via increasingly savage and oppressive policies. Eventually, (or so Israel hopes) the Palestinians will have the life strangled out of them and they will be left limp and lifeless. Israel refuses to acknowledge that the Palestinians can never be overpowered in such a fashion.
The final straw may come if Israel decides to take a risk and physically expel Palestinians from their lands (inside &/or outside Israel), anticipating the world will not manage to mount a coherent response to such ethnic cleansing. It may be unlikely today. But things that were unimaginable a decade or two ago have currently happened. Who, for example, could imagine that Meir Kahane’s views would be the dominant motif in Israeli political life today? It would be as if the views of George Lincoln Rockwell, a pioneering neo-Nazi from the 1960s, would be embraced and become policy of the ruling American political party (gulp…).
An Israeli Prime Minister Named “Mohammed”
Today, news reports recount that Pres. Trump met with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Washington about a month ago. The King told him that Palestinians, especially young people, were increasingly abandoning the two-state solution and turning to one-state as the only remaining option. Trump responded, in that case it’s only a matter of time before Israel has a prime minister named Mohammed. The sources have softened the astonishment of this comment by saying it was said half in jest. But the truth is that Trump is right.
However, he is right only if Israel becomes a democratic state. If not…if, for example, Israel either expels Palestinians or refuses to grant then voting rights or citizenship, then Israel will be a fully apartheid state a la South Africa.
Returning to Trump’s comment, liberal Zionist two-staters both in Israel and the U.S. have been saying virtually the same thing for years. The only difference is that they didn’t express their fears so starkly (give credit to Trump for his unfiltered id). The truth is that the rejection of the two state solution by virtually every Israeli government of the past 25 years has ensured the only remaining option will be one state. This, in turn guarantees there can no longer be a Jewish state.
Why? Because Israeli leaders have increasingly posed a dichotomy between a democratic and Jewish state. They continually and relentlessly rejected democratic values and embraced Jewish supremacy and theocracy. Perhaps at one time in the past there could have been a state that was Jewish and democrati, if Israel had approached the issue differently. But there is no longer such a choice. It is either one or the other. I, for one, reject the Jewish (perhaps we should call it a “Judean” state to differentiate from normative Judaism) state model offered by Israel’s increasingly racialist government. The only option remaining is a democratic state which empowers all citizens regardless of ethnicity or religion.
That’s why Trump semi-serious statement is indeed prescient. If/When Israel does have a prime minister who is Palestinian, then we will know that democracy has succeeded and theocracy been vanquished.
Israel-Hamas Ceasefire #1,000,001 Negotiated via Egypt
Israel and Hamas have been negotiating indirectly regarding a ceasefire in Gaza. We are hearing all sorts of proposals many of which are pie in the sky: a new seaport, a new airport, exchange of prisoners, the end of the siege, etc. The truth is that this will come to nothing as every other ceasefire has. The main reason is that Israel only wants a ceasefire on its terms and when it’s in its interests. People in the south are angry at the continuing unrest. They want relief. That offers Netanyahu two options: another massive invasion of Gaza with thousands of dead (mostly Palestinians, but some Israelis as well); or a ceasefire.
Note that the Israeli version of the ceasefire (actually Israel is denying it’s even negotiating such a plan) essentially returns to status quo ante. In other words, Gaza gets nothing except a few palliatives (a few more trucks bringing goods in or out) and Israel gets everything it wants. This is a recipe for more of the same bloodshed.
There are vague promises: if Hamas is good, then Israel will consider X; if Hamas is even better, Israel will consider Y. It all amounts to a hill of beans, to quote Casablanca.
The last ceasefire was negotiated by Ahmed Jabari, who was blamed (by Israel) for the capture of Gilad Shalit. After the ceasefire was signed, Israel assassinated Jabari. The current ceasefire is being negotiated by Salah al-Arouri, who is blamed for the murder of three Israeli settler children in an incident which sparked the 2014 Gaza invasion. My prediction: Arouri is not long for this world. His death will mean nothing. He will be replaced by Hamas. And Israel will only succeed in mollifying its hardline nationalist voters who Netanyahu needs in the next election, whenever it happens.
This is the definition of insanity: repeating the same (destructive) action over and over despite its failing to ever bring the desired result.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.