No hope for change for Pales­tini­ans post-Is­raeli poll

Is­rael has cre­ated the sec­ond-worst apartheid sys­tem in hu­man his­tory

Cape Times - - OPINION -

Q:

Will the out­come of the Is­raeli elec­tions this week make any dif­fer­ence for the Pales­tini­ans?

Not at all. I do not think that the elec­tions in Is­rael will make any dif­fer­ence, as there is no dif­fer­ence po­lit­i­cally be­tween the two com­pet­ing camps.

One mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the world me­dia is to de­scribe one camp as left and the other as right, but there is no left in these elec­tions.

The Gantz camp is an ex­treme right-wing camp com­pet­ing with an­other more ex­treme right-wing camp, which is that of Ne­tanyahu.

If you ex­am­ine ev­ery is­sue re­lat­ing to Pales­tine of the two camps, there is no real dif­fer­ence.

They all want to keep Jerusalem an­nexed, to deny the Pales­tini­ans the right to have East Jerusalem as their cap­i­tal, to keep the Jor­dan Val­ley un­der Is­raeli con­trol, and nei­ther will re­move any set­tle­ment and will en­cour­age set­tle­ment build­ing.

Both are against the rights of Pales­tinian refugees, and against the estab­lish­ment of a Pales­tinian state. Both speak about a self-gov­ern­ing sys­tem un­der Is­raeli con­trol, sim­i­lar to the Ban­tus­tan au­thor­i­ties you had here.

The Gantz party talks about sep­a­ra­tion, which is about sep­a­rat­ing the Pales­tinian peo­ple from their land. It is quite pos­si­ble that the two par­ties may form a na­tional coali­tion.

Both par­ties sup­port the racist State Na­tional Law which was passed in the Knes­set, which ex­cludes Pales­tini­ans from the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. Both par­ties are con­sol­i­dat­ing a sys­tem of apartheid.

Q: A:

If Is­rael moves ahead with an­nex­ing the Jor­dan Val­ley and 30% of the West Bank, how will Pales­tini­ans re­act?

Ne­tanyahu’s plan is to an­nex 62% of the West Bank through two mech­a­nisms: by im­pos­ing Is­raeli sovereignt­y over the Jor­dan Val­ley (32%), and im­pos­ing Is­raeli law over the set­tle­ments which oc­cupy 30% of the West Bank, called Area C. His plan will be co-or­di­nated with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. All Pales­tini­ans, re­gard­less of their ide­ol­ogy, are uni­fied against such a plan.

There is no hope of talk­ing about ne­go­ti­a­tions with the estab­lish­ment in Is­rael be­cause the bal­ance of power is skewed in their in­ter­ests. What we

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need is a uni­fied strat­egy to change the bal­ance of power. The strat­egy should be based on six pil­lars of strug­gle: pop­u­lar non-vi­o­lent resistance, boy­cott di­vest­ment sanc­tions and in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity, in­ter­nal uni­fi­ca­tion with one uni­fied Pales­tinian lead­er­ship, rein­te­gra­tion of all Pales­tini­ans in the di­as­pora around one goal, pen­e­tra­tion of the ranks of those who sup­port Is­rael’s poli­cies.

We need to ex­plain to them that what Ne­tanyahu and the Is­raeli govern­ment are doing is drag­ging the Is­raeli peo­ple into a sys­tem of apartheid which is not com­pat­i­ble with Jewish val­ues. Is­rael has cre­ated the sec­ond-worst apartheid sys­tem in hu­man his­tory.

The Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity should also stop se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence co-oper­a­tion with Is­rael, as it only ben­e­fits Is­rael. There has been a de­ci­sion by the PLO struc­tures, in­clud­ing the cen­tral coun­cil, to stop such co-oper­a­tion, but un­for­tu­nately it has not been im­ple­mented.

Q:

Do you still be­lieve in a two-state so­lu­tion?

What we need is a na­tional di­a­logue, and we should speak specif­i­cally about one is­sue: if Is­rael kills the two-state-so­lu­tion, we have to unify and de­mand a one-state so­lu­tion.

One state with full demo­cratic rights for ev­ery­body, like it hap­pened in South Africa. In my opin­ion, Is­rael has al­ready killed the two-state so­lu­tion.

The lazi­ness and lack of ac­tion from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is also to blame, as it has failed to trans­late its sup­port of the two-state so­lu­tion into ac­tion.

The only thing that can deter Ne­tanyahu and stop this process is if those coun­tries which say they sup­port the two-state so­lu­tion im­pose sanc­tions on Is­rael for vi­o­lat­ing in­ter­na­tional law.

What is a more clear vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law than an­nex­ing the

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oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries, or im­pos­ing racist laws? Con­fis­cat­ing peo­ple’s homes and lands, and daily se­vere vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights?

What is the re­ac­tion? State­ments. State­ments don’t worry Ne­tanyahu – only puni­tive acts and sanc­tions do. I al­ways won­der why other coun­tries are sub­jected to sanc­tions for doing far less than what Is­rael has done, while Is­rael is treated with im­punity and as if it is above the law.

Q:

Is there any real chan­nel of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship and the White House?

None, be­cause the White House vi­o­lated all agree­ments and un­der Trump has be­come a par­tic­i­pant in vi­o­lat­ing in­ter­na­tional law. It has closed the PLO of­fice, cut off all aid to the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity and at­tacked the UN Re­lief and Works Agency, which is help­ing Pales­tinian refugees.

They cut one-third of its bud­get and are try­ing to de­stroy it. Ev­ery UN ses­sion, they are tak­ing com­pletely bi­ased de­ci­sions in favour of Is­rael, and this ad­min­is­tra­tion is fol­low­ing a very dan­ger­ous pol­icy of en­cour­ag­ing set­tle­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, which is il­le­gal un­der UN res­o­lu­tions.

A:

What other tan­gi­ble steps should the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity be tak­ing?

There are many things the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity could be doing. Europe is one of the largest trad­ing part­ners of Is­rael, and if they ap­plied

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their own laws, they should re­strict re­la­tions with Is­rael as Is­rael is vi­o­lat­ing Euro­pean laws.

Com­plete sanc­tions on all set­tle­ments and set­tle­ment prod­ucts, UN pub­li­ca­tion of all com­pa­nies that work in the set­tle­ments as this is il­le­gal – this was a de­ci­sion taken by the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil but never im­ple­mented. These are not sanc­tions against all Is­raeli peo­ple or Jewish peo­ple. We should be clear: it is against the poli­cies of the Is­raeli govern­ment.

What South Africa did to down­grade its rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Is­rael is a good step and it has to be fully im­ple­mented. It is one mes­sage that many coun­tries could re­peat, like they did in 1967 af­ter Is­raeli ag­gres­sion against Arab coun­tries.

This is a strong diplo­matic in­stru­ment that has to be used. Some­thing has to be done to stop the in­va­sion of Is­raeli sys­tems into Africa, where Is­rael is abus­ing the needs of some coun­tries for se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary equip­ment, wa­ter and ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems.

They are try­ing to bribe some gov­ern­ments to es­tab­lish re­la­tions with Is­rael, when in the past they had reser­va­tions about that be­cause of the vi­o­la­tions of Pales­tinian hu­man rights.

One thing that coun­tries can do is to stop pro­vid­ing aid to Is­rael. Is­rael is the largest re­cip­i­ent of US aid in the world. Coun­tries can also stop mil­i­tary co-oper­a­tion with Is­rael and stop buy­ing their mil­i­tary equip­ment. I be­lieve In­dia now has agree­ments with Is­rael for mil­i­tary equip­ment worth $12 bil­lion (R176bn).

Each time we have a visi­tor from South Africa, they say that the apartheid sys­tem in Pales­tine is far worse than they had in South Africa

Q:

What would you like South Africa to do, go­ing for­ward?

No coun­try can un­der­stand our suf­fer­ing bet­ter than South Africa be­cause you had it. Each time we have a visi­tor from South Africa, they say that the apartheid sys­tem in Pales­tine is far worse than they had in South Africa. That is be­cause it’s a com­bi­na­tion of apartheid, oc­cu­pa­tion and eth­nic cleans­ing.

We hope South Africa can be an avant-garde in BDS (the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment)... South Africa is on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and it can play a use­ful role in sup­port­ing us.

I want to em­pha­sise that noth­ing I have said de­nies or ig­nores the suf­fer­ing of the Jewish peo­ple, whether dur­ing the Holo­caust or anti-Semitic times. Ac­cus­ing Pales­tini­ans of be­ing anti-Semitic is very silly be­cause we are also Semitic peo­ple – cousins of Jewish peo­ple.

We are not against the Jewish peo­ple but against the sys­tem of colo­nial­ism, apartheid and op­pres­sion. When we strug­gle, we strug­gle for us and them, be­cause their fu­ture is so linked to our fu­ture. There will never be peace in this re­gion un­less the Pales­tini­ans are free.

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AC­CUS­ING Pales­tini­ans of be­ing anti-Semitic is ab­surd be­cause Pales­tini­ans are also Semitic peo­ple, says ac­tivist Mustafa Bargh­outi.

THE Spring­bok squad is mul­ti­cul­tural and speaks to all South Africans, and should not to be ex­clu­sive to pay-per-view tele­vi­sion, says the writer.

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