Saturday, 13 March 2010

Misplaced optimism over US Anger on Israel

Joe Biden, the Vice President of the US, has expressed his displeasure at the latest plan by an Israeli Local Authority to build hundreds of new settlement homes in the Occupied East Jerusalem. In particular he criticises the timing of the declaration hinting at its effect on the eminent resumption of peace initiatives. Yesterday, the US State Department let it known through the press that Mrs Clinton has expressed her displeasure at the plan while talking to the the Prime Minister of Israel. It must be noted however, that Mr Biden appreciated the response of Mr Netanyahu, who criticises the local Jerusalem Municipality which approved the plans.
Given the close relationship between US and Israel and the strong political influence that Israel enjoys in the US, this latest expression of displeasure by the two major figures of US Administration come as surprise to many. Already, some commentators has began to express hope that perhaps time has come when US may be just about willing to harden up over Israel. They hope that US will finally show courage and free herself from pro-Israeli bias to bring genuine pressure on Tel Aviv to play fair.
However, this apparent harshness of US and the glimmer of optimism seems to be misplaced and premature, to say the least. For Israel has expressed no desire to call of the announced plan to build new settlement homes neither has the US demanded that it must stop. Furthermore, the Palestinian side remains divided and deeply engaged in internal power-fighting. The Global community, in particular EU and US is taking advantage of the disunity on the Palestinian sides to further their own ideological and hegemonic interests.
There are, of course, other more pressing issues which would make is almost impossible to reach a settlement. Million of Palestinians remain in refugee camps for three generations or perhaps even more denied of minimum standards of life. No body seems to be concerned of their conditions nor willing to play fair on their rights to return. The Palestinian Authority is weak and frail, totally dependant on the Masters in Washington, Brussels and Riyadh. Israel, for their part, is determined not to recognise Israeli Arabs living in Israel as equal to other citizens let alone allowing any more return to their homeland. The world community, for its part, seems to be too happy to forget the Palestinian refugees for now. That leaves aggrieved Palestinians convinced that only armed struggle can ultimately ensure justice for the oppressed and occupied people of the Holy Land of Palestine.
In the light of the situations on the ground, given the geo-political dynamics of our world and considering the complexity of the issue, a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in harmony, peace and prosperity seems ever more illusional. Indeed, I, like many others, are now convinced that two-state solution is in fact impractical thinking and has always been an unrealistic expectation. Besides, a two-state solution defies established values of humanity, civility and justice. What's more is that two-state solution is an insult on the good people of Israel and Palestine where Jews, Christians and Muslims has lived for centuries in peace and harmony.
If a solution is to be achieved in the Middle East Conflict which we must, we need to redefine our values and re-formulate our strategies. We need to commit ourselves to achieving justice, human dignity and freedom for all people of the divine land. We then need to insist all the players that they accept these values and commit to them. Those who fail to live up to this demand must be confronted in all ways necessary. What this practically means is that we need to recognise the legitimate expectation of people to get back their own land, ensure equality of all citizens, establish system of governance representative of all people. Only then and then alone will we find a solution to a problem which has spanned over almost a century.

Published on The Financial Express on 20 March 2010.

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