Putting Palestine back on the agenda

By asserting that Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence (a ludicrous assertion) and beating the drums for war with it, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has succeeded in getting Palestine off the political and mainstream media agenda and winning more time for Zionism to consolidate its occupation of the West Bank. (As Barak Ravid noted in an article for Ha’aretz, “The Presidential election season in the United States is obviously an especially good time to enlarge settlements in the West Bank and strike new roots in the Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.”)

Question: What can be done to put Palestine back on the agenda?

Answer: Close down the Palestinian Authority and by so doing make Israel fully responsible for its occupation.

As my regular readers know, I advocated this course of action many months ago, but the case for actually doing it has now been well made by Yossi Beilin, the Israeli who has worked harder than any other for real peace with the Palestinians. (Beilin served as a minster in the cabinets of three Israel Prime Ministers – Rabin, Peres and Barak; was the architect on the Israeli side of the Oslo peace process; worked on the Beilin-Abu Mazen talks between 1993 and 1995; and launched the Geneva Accord with Yasser Abed Rabbo in 2003Incidentally, I agree with Beilin. The Oslo process was not doomed to failure from its beginning. As Arafat once said to me, it could have worked if Rabin had not been assassinated by a Zionist zealot and if the U.S. and other major powers had insisted that Israel honoured the commitments it made).

Beilin delivered his call for action in an open letter to Palestinian “President” Abbas published by Foreign Policy. It was headlined Dear Abu Mazen, End This Farce.

Here is part of what Beilin wrote:

I admit that I never believed the moment would come when I would have to write these words. I am doing so because U.S. President Barack Obama has convinced you not to announce, at this point in time, the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority’s institutions and the ‘return of the keys’ of authority for the Palestinian territories to Israel. Because there have never been serious negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the last three years, and because you did not want to perpetuate the myth that a meaningful dialogue existed, you have been sorely tempted to declare the death of the ‘peace process’ – but the American president urged you to maintain the status quo. It is a mistake to agree to Obama’s request, and you can rectify this.

You and I both understand that the current situation is a ticking time bomb. From my point of view, what is at stake is the loss of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. From yours, it is the loss of the chance for an independent Palestinian state. And from both of our points of view, the failure of the two-state solution risks a renewal of terrible violence.

Anyone who believes these things must take action. You can do it, and for this step you do not need a partner. A declaration of the end of the Oslo process – justified by the fact that the path to a permanent-status agreement is blocked – is the most reasonable, nonviolent option for putting the subject back on the world’s agenda, with the aim of renewing genuine efforts to reach a conclusive solution.

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