Monday, February 4, 2008

The interior diaspora

A just settlement of the Middle East conflict will have to consider the voices of Palestinians living inside Israel

By Ben White
The Guardian

"Last week, the Israeli attorney general ruled against reopening the investigation into how 13 Palestinians (all but one of them Israeli citizens) were shot dead by police during unrest in October 2000. The decision did not come as much of a surprise, given the seven-year long refusal to bring charges against either police or senior officials.

These deaths - and indeed, the subsequent lack of accountability - have served as a reminder of the difficult relationship between "Israeli Arabs" and the Jewish state. With the creation of Israel 60 years ago, four-fifths of the Palestinians inside the new state's borders were expelled; the others remained (albeit with a quarter becoming "internally displaced").....

The official peace process's marginalisation of the Palestinians in Israel and in exile is no accident - key players stand to benefit from the existing framework. The western-approved Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, who like Abbas and Fayyad are almost exclusively drawn from Fatah, would dearly love to have their Oslo role of compromise-making "statesmen" reaffirmed by the establishment of a truncated Palestinian fiefdom. Israel, meanwhile, desperately needs to smother or confuse discussion about both its own Palestinian population and the refugees, since their rights cut painfully to the core of the conflict.....

In fact, Palestinians in Israel and the refugees have featured in Annapolis diplomacy, but only in so far as their basic rights are being implicitly repudiated, with Olmert's demand that the Palestinian party recognises Israel "as a state for the Jewish people"....."

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