Thursday, May 15, 2008

Expulsion and dispossession can't be cause for celebration

The demand to make Palestinian rights a reality is no longer simply a matter of justice but also of self-interest

Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday May 15 2008

".......Meanwhile, the western failure to take responsibility for the gaping wound it has inflicted on the Middle East is allowing the chances of the most plausible settlement - the much-acclaimed two-state solution - to slip away. While all Palestinian factions are in practice now prepared to end the conflict in exchange for 22% of historic Palestine and acknowledgement of the refugees' right to return, there is clearly not remotely the commitment necessary in either Israel or its US sponsor to push through even such a lop-sided settlement. And as the carving-up of the West Bank into walled reservations, ever-expanding colonies and settler-only roads make the prospect of a viable state appear increasingly unlikely, it also seems to many Palestinians to have less and less to do with their aspirations to self-determination and dignity.

For some, that means returning to the goal of one state for both peoples - which has very few takers among Israeli Jews. Given that Palestine has effectively been one state under Israeli rule for more than 40 years - longer, for instance, than East Germany existed - others are being drawn towards a struggle for equal rights on the anti-apartheid model. Now there are almost as many Palestinians in Palestine as Israeli Jews, that appears an increasingly realistic option. It also causes panic in the Israeli establishment: "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses," Olmert warned recently, "and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights ... the state of Israel is finished."

What is certain is that there is no future for either Israelis or Palestinians in managing the status quo. If the Palestinians face nothing but shelf agreements and continued repression - 312 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military this year, 197 of them civilians, while five civilians and five soldiers have been killed on the Israeli side - the prospect must be of an escalating spiral of violence and misery. The commitment to Palestinian rights should first of all be a question of justice. But, given the toxicity this conflict brings to the entire relationship with the Muslim world, it is also a matter of obvious western self-interest. "

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