Sumera B Reshi
Horrific, appalling and dreadful pictures of Gaza and its people flashed on the TV screens, social media and other online news portals. Are you kidding me, 60 people dead and 2,700 wounded, among them, 1,360 by gunshots in just one day and you justify that you have every right to defend your borders. Between 30 March and 11 May, Israeli forces shot dead more than 40 unarmed Palestinians and wounded over 2,000 during the Great March of Return series of protests in Gaza.
Oh! Palestine how much of blood you need, how many lives you want and how long will the innocent Gazans endure this tragic war for their homeland snatched by murderous occupants? How long can the civilized world accept Israel’s bleak excuses and accept the massacre of innocent Palestinians? I believe the so-called civilized world will never wake up because they are ignorant of Israel’s expansionist design.
By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the US has committed the shameful historic act. Now the Palestinians are left alone, defenceless, powerless and without the least support from their Arab brethren or the international community. Actually, President Trump decided to stab Palestinians in the heart last December. Trump killed every hope of peace in the Middle East between Palestinians & Israelis. Experts say that the peace process now is both dead and pointless.
The month of May proved the bloodiest month in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Angry clashes erupted in the West Bank on as the Middle East braced for violence over President Donald Trump’s contentious decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, it appears the US authorities had have turned a blind eye to blatant violations of international law and humanitarian principles, at times, rather they have provided the state of Israel with substantial foreign aid that makes the job a little easier.
As the US is the first country which based Israel’s right to choose Jerusalem as its capital, now to call the US as an honest broker is a waste of breath. On this subject, Donald Trump has shown himself to be as ignorant as he is partisan.
Gaza has had its bloodiest day in years on Monday, 14th May after Israeli forces shot and killed 58 Palestinians and wounded at least 2,700 as tens of thousands protested along the frontier against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem with the glossy inauguration of Washington’s new mission about 60 miles away in an affluent Jerusalem neighborhood. The US president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, celebrated the opening to clapping and cheering from the US and Israeli VIPs.
In the meantime, Gaza was in utter chaos. In Gaza’s hospitals, dozens of casualties were in a critical condition including a 14-year-old boy. The sky was blackened with thick smoke as protesters lit tyres. The six weeks of protests led up to the 70th anniversary of Nakba on May 15, literally, the ‘catastrophe’, their mass expulsion and dispossession 70 years ago as the new state of Israel was built on the ruins of their homeland.
The US also choose to move its embassy on May 15 while ignoring Palestinian’s claims. In a way, the US put the seal on the season of chaos.
To save itself from international criticism, Israel portrayed the protestors as terrorists rather ‘murderous rioters’ and a ‘security threat’ backed by Hamas. The truth is rather different, there is no border because there is no Palestinian state. Israel has made sure of that the Palestinians live under occupation, with Israel controlling every aspect of their lives. In Gaza, even the air and sea are Israel’s domain.
The irony of the fate is that the victims are themselves the culprits. Palestinians have been enduring the victimization for 70 long years. They have been blamed for their own exodus because they followed the instructions of radio stations to leave homes until the Jews of Israel were driven into the sea. The radio broadcast was a hoax and actually never existed. Palestinians were tricked then and now as well and even media hasn’t been honest to the Palestinian cause and has termed the recent Israeli killings a ‘crackdown’. However, Amnesty International termed the events a “horror show”.
Now with the US Embassy in the Jerusalem, Palestinian right to return seems doubtful. “Israel has all but abandoned the possibility of a Palestinian state writes Robert Frisk, a British journalist who works for the independent.co.uk. Further, Michelle Goldberg, an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times writes that as long as Trump is president “it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity”.
Since 1948, when Israel occupied Palestine, Palestinians are being treated as non-people. They are in a terrible position in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. Israel’s decade-long blockade, Arab neglect and a prolonged hostility between Palestinian factions have all served to drive Palestinians to the brink of starvation and political desolation. Gaza has thus been suffocated by all these factors.
Gaza is a human garbage that everyone has ignored. Neither Israel, nor Egypt, nor even the Palestinian Authority wants to take responsibility for it. Gaza comes into focus when rockets or other attacks provoke a fully-fledged war. And then the civilized world wakes up from its sleep, then people come to know there is a place called Gaza.
Moreover, President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has hardened the argument for a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Palestine is in a complex position. Israel won’t absorb three million West Bank Palestinians because they believe that means the end of the Jewish state. Also, Palestinians aren’t ready to live under military occupation but have seen two states as their hope.
However, Israel firmly believes that the Palestinian areas would be considerably less than a state. Even Israeli Premier, Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “state minus”. Israel is of the view that the Palestinians could achieve statehood in a confederation with Jordon or Egypt, as part of Israel or perhaps even independently but not soon. Officially, both have supported the notion of a two-state solution but Trump’s Jerusalem declaration changed the calculus once for all.
Trump administration hasn’t endorsed a one-state solution, nevertheless, it is working on its own peace plan by saying that any final agreement, including borders, be negotiated by the two sides. Since Trump finally recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital with no mention of a Palestinian claim on the city, was seen as putting his thumb on the Israeli side of the scale.
Martin Indyk and Daniel Shapiro, who both served as U.S. ambassadors to Israel under Democratic administrations, argue that moving the embassy could actually jumpstart the peace process if paired with recognition of Palestinian claims to the eastern half of the city.
Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian negotiator, said that Mr Trump’s declaration was the death knell for the two-state solution and that Palestinians should shift their focus to “one state with equal rights.” His position has since gained a footing among the Palestinian leadership.
According to Mustafa Barghouti, a physician who sits on the P.L.O.’s central council said, “as per this notion, the Palestinian movement would shift to a struggle for equal civil rights, including the freedoms of movement, assembly and speech, and the right to vote in national elections. Which could mean a Palestinian could be the prime minister”. However, many believe that one-state notion is a bitter solace for Palestinians after decades of striving for statehood under the Oslo peace accord, and has achieved little sideways from providing cover and buying time for Israel to expand settlements.
The Trump administration believes that hardline Israeli and their supporters think that the only way to create peace is to defeat the Palestinians, by forcing them to accept terms that Washington and Jerusalem dictate. Thus, resoluteness, in the face of adversity and occupation has become integral to Palestinian identity over the last 70 years.
Experts say that the deadly protests in Gaza on 14th May were not about the US embassy rather intended to demonstrate that the Palestinians will neither submit to Israel dictates nor accommodate themselves to their current conditions. And Israeli economic impoverishment of Gaza with Egyptian help hasn’t forced Palestinians to halt their struggle for justice.
Since the US openly recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and also moved its embassy to Jerusalem the argument that the western side of the city will be the capital of Israel could not pacify Palestinian concerns for three related reasons as per the experts.
- Firstly, the Israeli government does not recognize the distinction between East Jerusalem, where Palestinians have insisted their future capital be in a negotiated peace process, and West Jerusalem and has done everything possible to erase the remnants of the city’s division.
- Secondly, the U.S. government no longer recognizes the Occupied Territories as occupied, providing political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s slow-rolling annexation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
- Thirdly, the Palestinians regard the Oslo peace process and everything that came after it as a ruse that served only to add settlers, settlements, and roads precluding a Palestinian state. Thus there is no reason to believe the US officials when they declare their intention to forge peace.
The US has already supported Israel’s occupation and with the relocation of the US embassy, it has willingly given up the issue which has to generate more power to the Israeli establishment. No doubt Palestinians including Hamas as well as Israel have been obstinate. In 2008, Mahmoud Abbas rejected an offer from the then Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert which experts believe would have ended the conflict and the opportunity was lost due to Abbas’s obstinacy.
Now it is 2018 and Israeli occupation on Palestinian land is a stark reality. With decades of the blockade, Gaza is crumbling under its own weight and the US authorities – past and present, however, repeat their commitment to a non-existent peace process concluding in a two-state solution.
In addition, president Trump grossly miscalculated the likely Palestinian response when he recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital even the former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said that there will be the negative Arab reaction, large, swift and significant.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of an Arab reaction, nor was the response from Arab authorities very huge. All of them opposed Trump’s decision but none severed their diplomatic or business ties either with Israel or the US.
Similarly, former secretary of state, John Kerry criticized Israel but Kerry’s criticism came a bit late. No matter how valid some of Kerry’s belated observations about Israel’s expansionist policies would have been, they might have had rather more impact four or even eight years ago.
For many years, political heads across the globe have reprimanded Palestinians for using violence and scolded Hamas for firing rockets out of Gaza. Does the civilized world have any alternate for the problems of Gazans or Palestinians? No, they don’t that is why Palestinians prefer to take up mass civil disobedience, their plight is barely attracting attention, let alone sympathy.
Instead, they are being criticized for ‘breaching the border’ and threatening Israel’s security but what about Palestinians security? It appears the only way out for the plight of Palestine is to keep quiet, allow their home to be pillaged and their children to be starved and wait for the world to wake from hibernation.
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