Which Way Palestine?
The latest round of Israeli atrocities in Gaza did not seem to affect governments and people around the world in any moving manner though the way Israel wreaked havoc was simply appalling. The conflict in the densely populated Gaza Strip between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis erupts every few years and has all but obliterated the much-talked about Palestinian-Israeli peace process that the late Yasser Arafat initiated and that was taken up by his successor, Mahmoud Abbas. In recent years, there has also been talk of a two-nation solution which would have allowed the Palestinians and the Israelis to live as neighbors but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli military have simply destroyed the possibility of any such development taking place and have continued to pummel the Gaza Strip. To counter this sort of high-handedness, the people of Gaza, assisted by Hamas, have had no alternative but to show their resistance to Israel. The conflict has created nothing but mayhem for the 1.8 million Palestinians who live in the territory and lead lives of penury. The latest carnage has aggravated tensions among the Palestinians to the extent that a third Intifada or uprising may just be in the making.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu has his way, any Palestinian state on the West Bank would only exist under Israeli occupation – something that is obviously not acceptable either to the Palestinians or the international community which has always pushed for the two adversaries to make peace and live as two separate nations. For this to happen, the Arabs must accept the existence of Israel as a reality in their midst. At the same time, Israel must also stop its bullying tactics and should not be bolstered by all kinds of support that it gets from the west, especially the United States. It is very much clear that the Israelis are only concerned with their own security and what happens to innocent Palestinian men, women and children is not their bother. Their aggressive junta believes that the country’s military might is the only way that peace can be hammered together in the region. In order for them to do that, their foremost priority is to snuff out all militant organizations opposed to the existence of Israel, such as Hamas. Over the years, a good portion of Israeli society has also come to support the hawkish Israeli stand, especially since the 1993 Oslo Accords broke down though they were designed to move a peace process towards a two-state solution. Despite the illegality under international law, Israel has continued to construct settlements on the West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu has particularly been very active in this pursuit during his tenures. The settlements have continued to sprout and it is obvious that in such an environment, bloody conflicts between the two sides keep occurring from time to time.
Where are Palestine and Israel headed? None of the two sides have come up with a strategy aimed at bringing about a permanent solution to the conflict. They are only engaged in short-term tactical gains and will keep on fighting against each other for these gains in the coming years, without paying heed to the future of the people, especially the Palestinians. A political commentator has rightly described Israel as one of the world’s last colonial powers and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as its unruly subjects. Will this ever change? Perhaps yes, if Israel finds itself suitably challenged, the west develops a more balanced view of the conflict and of Israel’s role in the region and the Islamic world displays better ownership of the Palestinian cause.