Palestinian people power – could it be a game-changer?

In theory their best weapon is their very existence and the demographic time-bomb it represents, but… It’s reasonable to assume that Israel will continue to work on defusing it by means which could go all the way to a final round of ethnic cleansing.

It was Sharon as prime minister who started the work of defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation by ordering the withdrawal of Israeli settlers and IDF forces from the Gaza Strip. At the time, and with the assistance of the mainstream Western media which (generally speaking) is terrified of offending Zionism either too much or at all, it was presented as Sharon seeking to advance the peace process. That was Zionist propaganda nonsense.

According to a recent report in Ha’aretz by Barak Ravid, even Netanyahu has now accepted that Israel must make some withdrawals from the occupied West Bank “if it is to preserve a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel.” After his return from America that’s what he told a shocked cabinet meeting when he presented to it a report by the Jewish People Policy Institute on demographic changes among Jews and Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank. The report was based on the demographic data of Prof. Sergio DellaPergola which shows that, in a number of years, the demographic trends will result in a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

So very probably the time is approaching when Netanyahu, if he can overcome the opposition of some of his lunatic cabinet colleagues, will announce Israel’s intention to make some limited withdrawals from the occupied West Bank. He will present them as “painful concessions” on Israel’s part and proof that it is serious about peace. The truth will be rather different. The withdrawals, if they happen, will be for one purpose and one purpose only – defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation in order to preserve a solid Jewish majority in a somewhat reduced Greater Israel, a Zionist state with borders taking in about 40% of the West Bank including all of Jerusalem.

As things are and look like going, that (about 60% of the West Bank with bits and pieces of pre-1967 Israeli land thrown in under the heading of “swaps”) is the best deal the Palestinians are ever likely to be offered by any Zionist leadership; and it is, of course, totally unacceptable. So back to the main question – What, really, can the Palestinians do themselves to get some bargaining power?

The answer I want to float came into my mind when I was reading a recent column by Uri Avnery. He was writing about the “nightmare” that has haunted Israel since 1948. What is it? “The 750,000 refugees and their descendents, some five million by now, will one day get up and march to the borders of Israel from North, East and South, breach the fences and flood the country.”

In my view getting up and marching to the borders of pre-1967 Israel is what the Palestinians should now do, and not only the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip prison camp. They should be joined by Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. To guarantee peaceful proceedings on their part, the Palestinian marchers should be completely unarmed – not only no guns, but no stones.

Of course Israel would seek to prevent it happening by banning Palestinians assembling in numbers on the West Bank and, also, by threatening the frontline Arab states with reprisal attacks and even war if they allowed Palestinians in numbers to enter I967 Israeli occupied Arab land from their territories. But with effort and commitment on the part of the Palestinians it could be made to happen.

Just imagine it… Several hundred thousand or better still one or two million Palestinians or more marching peacefully to the 1967 borders.

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