As Abba Eban once said, “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” He’s again right, this time about the Palestinians. At a time when Israel is taking a hard right turn, becoming evermore resolute to withhold from the Palestinian people their basic right to statehood and freedom, rather than unite to pose a formidable resistance and opposition, the West Bank and Gaza are growing further apart. And rather than putting a halt to any dialogue with the same Israel that refuses to recognize the first free and democratic election results in the Arab world, Mahmoud Abbas continues to court even the new Lieberman government in Jerusalem. But, it is not all too late.
Following the Oslo Accords in the early 90’s, it seemed that most Israelis were ready to end their 3-decade long occupation and subjugation of millions of Palestinians, and to begin a new chapter in the history of our two people, a history that has known more bloodshed than joy. It seemed, back then, that Israelis were ready to give up on grander dreams of an Israel “from the river to the sea”. But today, things look very different. As each government, from Left, to Center-Left, to Right, continues to disobey Supreme Court rulings to dismantle illegal settlements, and indeed authorizes the continued expansion and buildup of new settlements in the West Bank, Israel is de facto destroying any possibility for a two-state solution.
It is quite incomprehensible that the same Israelis who fear a non-Jewish majority in Israel would ever elect to power precisely those who are leading us down that road, but that’s reality. Perhaps there’s some bizarre fantasy amongst most, that if only we make the Arabs’ lives more miserable, eventually they’ll get up, pack up their bags, and board the first KLM flight out of here. That goes for the 20% Arab population in Israel, and of course for the 4 million Palestinians under Israeli rule. Who said Apartheid can’t end in massive “voluntary” transfer?
But with the assumption that no one in his right mind would ever allow Israel to ethnically cleanse the entire West Bank and Gaza of millions of people, what we’re left with is still 4 million-and-growing population, without a nation. And these people are under Israeli rule, for bad and for worse. One day, when enough Jewish settlements surround Arab towns and villages, even a Bantustan-solution will no longer be viable, and the world will have to decide whether it accepts a one-state Apartheid rule, or not. So far, the world has been lulled to sleep by various Israeli governments pretending to opt for a two-state solution. Europe, especially, has been extra-numb when it comes to Israel, perhaps out of last-remaining feelings of guilt going back some 70 years.
But the day will come, when the U.S., Europe, Russia, China, and other significant world powers will wake up. And when they do, they will ask Israel to make its choice – continue to rule as an Apartheid and pariah state, and suffer the consequences, or incorporate all the Palestinians in free and democratic fashion into the U.N.-recognized State of Israel. De facto and de jure, that would mean 4 million new Israeli citizens, and the end to Jewish majority in Israel.
So now the question is, why are the Palestinians still putting up a fight? Why is Hamas still trying to “liberate” all of Palestine? Or even lands occupied after 1967? Why is Abu Mazen still intent on achieving a two-state solution? Can’t Hamas and Fatah see that neither is possible? Why not change both the tactics and, more importantly, the strategy?
What if tomorrow evening, right at prime-time, Abu Mazen made a televised appearance that could go down in history as “The beginning of the non-violent end to the Jewish State”? What if Abu Mazen would shock the world, by informing his viewers that the Palestinian Authority, on behalf of the Palestinian people, has decided to part with its separate national aspirations and, instead, is hereby declaring its loyalty to the Jewish State of Israel? Furthermore, Abbas will announce the dismantling of all Palestinian governing bodies effective immediately, including the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. For all practical purposes, Abbas will “hand the keys over” to Israel.
What will Israel do? Could it ignore this shutdown of all command and control mechanisms in the West Bank? Could the Israeli army remain outside of Palestinian towns, if no Palestinian police is there to provide minimal security both to its own citizens, as well as to the Jewish settlers? Chances are, Israel would have to re-conquer the entire territory once more. It would have to establish its own governing bodies, as it did for nearly 3 decades. It would once more become solely responsible for the Palestinian people.
And to top it all off, Mahmoud Abbas will present a new motion to the U.N. General Assembly, asking it to recognize the current Palestinian territories as part-and-parcel of the State of Israel. Recognizing that two viable states could no longer be formed, Abbas would say, the Palestinian people have chosen to accept their “ruler” as their own.
Could the world now demand of Israel to annex the entire territory under its control, and to fully incorporate the entire Palestinian people into this newly-formed State of Israel? What choice would the world have? What choice would Israel have? We would have no choice. We would have to either provide 4 million Palestinians with new Israeli citizenship (with all its freedoms and rights), or officially become a full-fledged Apartheid state.
I’m beginning to believe that for the Palestinians, this somewhat-crazy idea is actually not so crazy at all. Even at the risk of allowing the Israeli army to again control all Palestinian towns and villages, and to further embed its corresponding Apartheid rule, the likelihood for the world to soon demand a one-state solution is far greater than attempting to achieve it any other way.
Let every Palestinian mother and child wave the blue-and-white flag of Israel, up high and proud. Let all resistance movements hand-in their weapons. Let the Palestinian dream of a Palestine end. And let it be replaced by the acceptance of Israel as the only state possible “from the river to the sea”.
What could we honestly do about it?