PACE take on the two-state solution.(in the light of the declaration of a sovereign Palestinian state by the UN)
Come September the United Nation will preside over a motion put forward by the Palestinian National Authority to declare unilaterally the birth of an independent Palestine based on the 1967 borders. Over 150 countries have expressed their support to the declaration, a move considered to be necessary in order to establish a lasting peace in the Middle east with the cessation of hostility between Palestine and the Jewish entity of Israel.
While the establishment of a sovereign state of Palestine is looked upon with great enthusiasm by the world community, the reality by which such declaration have any locus standi may be non-existent. If so than the call for the United nation to pass a resolution for Palestine to be declared an independent state would be assigned to just purely an academic exercise. It may not change the status of the West Bank as an occupied territory nor will it have any bearing on the siege that is being continuously imposed on Gaza.
Let us consider the historical background which have lead to the present scenarios surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. First when Israel launched the June offensive of 1967 (the Six Day War) and annexed all the remaining 23% of historical Palestine in the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza plus Sinai and territories belonging to Syria and Lebanon to the north, the United Nation passed the 242 resolution ‘urging’ Israel to relinquish the territories occupied and withdraw back to the 1967 borders. There is a fundamental problem with 242, even the Arab League has rejected outright because 242 has been left to Israel to make liberal interpretations as to what they would consider as the occupied territories. To Israel, 242 has given them the liberty to decide which additional territories they gained during the Six day War, as occupied and which is rightfully theirs. To this Israel has never recognized East Jerusalem as an occupied territory and has even declare Jerusalem as the united and eternal capital of Israel. From 1967 right to this day, there has been a sustained effort by Washingto DC to recognize the West Bank not as an occupied territory but rather as a disputed territory. In order to systematically deny the rights of the Palestinian people on the remaining 23% of historical Palestine for a homeland and self determination, Israel resorted to settlement activities for immigrant jews in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (the settlements in Gaza were torn down before Israel pull out in 2005 and than imposes the debilitating siege from 2006). Eventhough the Oslo Accord of 1993 and the Roadmap of 2005 has envisaged the birth of a soveriegn Palestine state, these peace accords and initiatives only strengthened the clutches of the Zionist regime on the occupied west bank and East Jerusalem. Tel Aviv continues on a policy of land confiscations, home demolitions and citizenship/residency status revocation to make way for more jewish only settlements in the occupied territories. They have one aim in mind i.e. to create a landscape reality that is no longer feasible and possible for an establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestine. At best the so called envisaged sovereign Palestine is more akin to a Bantustan, a patchwork of territories with limited Palestinian authority, divided by large swath of housing estates for the citizens of Israel.
Even if the United Nations vote in favour of an independent and sovereign Palestine (assuming that the US would be kind enough not to veto the proposal), it would be meaningless and has no practical implications. First there is no definite boundaries of the so called Palestinian state, as it would be the prerogative of Israel to decide where would be the international boundaries between the two countries. This did not consider the separation wall that cuts into the occupied territory and misappropriating more Palestinian lands into the so called Israeli security zone. What about the status of the Jewish settlements that have dotted the West Bank, which in effect has become a part of Israel? Not only it has no control over a large part of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the so called sovereign Palestine state has no borders of her own. The so called international border would be made up by the Separation wall that was built to imprison Palestinians in enclosures and impede their movement in their own country.
What is the position adopted by the Palestinian authority in Gaza? The Hamas lead government in Gaza has maintained that Israel has to withdraw to the 1967 borders without making reference to Resolution 242, dismantle all the settlements in the West bank, secede Jarusalem completely to the Palestine National Authority and to honour the rights of the refugees to return to their homeland. If these conditions are met than the so called two-state solution can be considered, one where Palestine will be based on the 1967 borders as Jerusalem as the undisputed capital of Palestine. As to the future of the co-existence of Palestine-Israel as neighbouring states, Hamas would be willing to work on a long term ceasefire which gives an assurance to the end of hostility between the two countries over a specified period, but in no unequivocal terms Hamas would recognize Israel, an act that constitute a betrayal to the Palestinian people and the cause of the muslim ummah.
Assoc prof Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor
Palestine Centre of Excellence