No people on earth have battled for their right to live independently and in dignity as long and hard as the Palestinians. The tragedy is they have been abandoned. Their traditional champions either have problems of their own or feel impotent against the joint might of the Jewish state and its backer the United States where states are passing laws defining criticism of the Israeli state as anti-Semitic.
Last week, the Knesset wilfully knocked every vestige of Israel’s claim to being a democracy on the head with a law that sanctions apartheid. It declares that a ‘United Jerusalem” is Israel’s capital despite East Jerusalem’s legal classification as ‘occupied’.
This heinous law solely recognises the right of Israeli Jews to self-determination leaving 1.8 million Arab citizens of Israel (Palestinians in 1948 areas) out in the cold and has enshrined the promotion of Jewish colony while Arabic is no more an official language on par with Hebrew. It has rendered Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence affirming equal social and political rights for all “no matter their religion, race or sex” null and void.
Emboldened by Trump, Netanyahu is on a roll. There has been no independent inquiry into the killing of protesters in Gaza. There has been no United Nations censure of Israel’s latest bombing of the Strip.
Israel is among the only nations on the planet that need not fear sanctions whatever crimes against humanity it commits. As numerous votes in the UN General Assembly evidence the sympathies of the vast majority of its member nations rest with the Palestinians but their voices do not count.
The Trump administration has proffered a green light to Benjamin Netanyahu to do his worst after gifting him with the biggest prize of all — occupied Jerusalem. Only a dyed-in-the-wool optimist will foresee the emergence of a contiguous Palestinian state on ’67 lines with Jerusalem as its capital or even a compromise one-state solution providing Palestinians equal rights with Israelis.
The only looming prospect is a no-state solution, a demilitarised entity peppered with Jewish colonies remaining under Israel’s domination with its ‘capital’ in Abu Dis, a little-known village bordering East Jerusalem. This is nothing short of occupation’s continuance covered by a fig leaf.
Trump’s trumpeted deal of the century is still under wraps but it is rumoured that Gaza would be hived off reliant on Egypt for electricity, water and access to airports and ports. It is likely that Cairo is under pressure to donate part of northern Sinai to enlarge the most over-crowded piece of real estate on earth.
There would be no right of return for the millions of Palestinians still subsisting in camps. That right is reserved for European Jews and others claiming they are returning to their ancient Biblical homeland but does not exist for Palestinians whose forefathers were forced from their homes at gunpoint.
Today the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is being mercilessly trampled upon and humiliated. Why on earth would Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas trust Trump’s team to be an impartial broker! After all, the priority of this Leader of the Free World is to keep his evangelical Christian Zionist base on board to bolster his party’s hopes of its continued domination of Congress not to mention his own plans to run for a second term.
Right to resistance
In recent days, the US denied entry visas to six Palestinian officials planning to attend a UN meeting to discuss development goals even though Palestine was granted ‘non member observer state status’ in 2012.
Earlier this year the US cut aid to UNRWA, the UN agency that takes care of Palestinians in dire need as well as the PNA until it ends payments to the families of those imprisoned for resisting occupation.
Resistance is the Palestinians’ right under international law supported by a UN Resolution passed on November 28 1978 that “reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle.” But why am I bothering to bring up laws when neither Trump nor Netanyahu give a hoot about international justice and even less about human rights! The UN is now a shadow of its former self, brought to heel by threats delivered by Ambassador Nikki Haley, the darling of American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The US has pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council due to its perceived hostility to Israel and the Council’s last session was boycotted by Israel. However, Haley and her Israeli colleague Danny Danon will no doubt be mollified that an Israeli law professor has been selected to chair the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Committee.
This is not the world I grew up in. Bullies rule and cowardly leaderships bend their heads along with their principles. I would like to believe that the Palestinian struggle has not been in vain but I fear that if they succeed in obtaining their God-given right to freedom I and the millions of others who truly care will be long gone.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.