Blatant hypocrisy on display again

'The world should stop believing that the United States is going to one day help Palestinians achieve their dream of having their state.'

Nazari Ismail
22 Apr 2024 09:05am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by AFP
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by AFP

ON September 13, 1993, the United States, under the presidency of Bill Clinton, helped to broker the historic Oslo Accord, which, among others, envisioned the creation of a Palestinian state existing side by side and at peace with Israel, the basis of the so-called `Two-state solution'.

On the lawn of the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yassir Arafat signed a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. They agreed that a Palestinian Authority (PA) would be established and assume governing responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over five years. Then, permanent status talks on the issues of borders, refugees, and Jerusalem would be held.

The US has been championing the two-state solution ever since, even though almost everyone knows by now that Israel has no intention to allow the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Not only did current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly state many times that he is opposed to the idea of the creation of an independent Palestinian state, but the Israeli parliament overwhelmingly also voted on February 21, 2024, to reject any "unilateral" recognition of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Israel has relentlessly proceeded with its actions of seizing Palestinian lands and building settlements on them. As the Oslo Accords slowly broke down, Israel tripled its settlement building. As recently as March 22, 2024, Israel's cabinet minister, Bezalel Smotrich, announced the seizure of 10 square kilometres (3.8 square miles) of Palestinian territory in the West Bank to build more settlements.

Despite the above developments, the US continued to stress that the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the two-state solution. Therefore, on April 18, when the United Nations Security Council deliberated on a request by the Palestinian Authority to recognise Palestine as a state and thus become a full member of the United Nations, one would expect the US, being the leading proponent of the two-state solution will be the strongest supporter of the resolution. Instead, the US vetoed it. The US was the only member of the UNSC that opposed the request, whilst 12 other members supported it, and two, the UK and Switzerland, abstained. As a result, Palestinians will have to contend with its current status of non-member observer, which was granted to it by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

The US's veto brings its hypocrisy once again out to the open. It says one thing but acts in a way that is opposite to what it says, which is not a surprise since we are witnessing the US displaying the same attitude regarding the ongoing genocide in Gaza, where it will express its disagreement with the genocidal actions of Israel there, which have now resulted in the death of more than 34 thousand Palestinians - primarily women and children, but at the same continue to supply the Israeli military with weapons for Israel to use to kill the Palestinians.

The US veto was condemned by almost all members of the UN, except for Israel, of course. Israel was scathing in denouncing the UNSC's action to discuss the matter. As stated earlier, Israel has consistently opposed any proposal for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state and is, therefore, wholly opposed to the two-state solution.

The primary reason why the two-state solution is unacceptable to Israel is that it is anathema to the very objective of Zionism set by its early founders and adherents when they decided to set up a homeland for Jews in Palestine, which is supposed to encompass all of Palestine, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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They were very clear from the beginning that their project in Palestine was not merely a colonial project but a settler-colonial project, which, therefore, requires the demographics of the state to be of the kind where the population of the state is wholly Jewish or predominantly Jewish, even though the Jews were mainly immigrants who came from Europe.

As a result, the Zionist leaders had always perceived the indigenous Palestinian population to be a significant obstacle to the project, who must eventually be removed from the land, even though the latter were the indigenous people of the land and constituted more than two-thirds of the population of Palestine in 1947, one year before the state of Israel was formally declared.

At that time, the Jews controlled only 6 per cent of Palestine. However, the Western powers used the United Nations to help the Zionists achieve their plan by partitioning the land and giving almost 55% to the Jews, even though they were the minority and were also immigrants, and the rest to the indigenous Palestinians. Nonetheless, the Zionists were still not happy with that decision because they wanted more land, hence the murderous attacks by Jewish paramilitary gangs against Palestinian villages, which caused more than 750,000 terrified Palestinians to leave their homes and villages to save their lives and never allowed to return home until today, even though the UN passed resolution 194 in 1948, that reaffirmed their right of return.

The Zionists were very clear that their project to set up a state exclusively for Jews, which stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, could not be achieved if the Palestinian refugees were allowed to return. Moreover, for them, the settler-colonial project was not yet complete. Hence the deliberate attack on the Arab armies in 1967, which led to another war. The outcome of the 1967 war enabled Israel to control 100 per cent of Palestine, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The United Nations nonetheless declared their occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal and, under resolution 242, ordered them to retreat to the borders of 1967. Israel has ignored this order till today.

However, the demographic problem was still unsolved because millions of Palestinians did not flee the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli solution was to keep the Palestinians under continuous occupation. In this way, Palestinians can never obtain their rights as citizens of Israel, thereby preserving the demographics in favour of the Jews.

In the meantime, Israel continued to expand the number of settlements in the West Bank, which was the policy of all the governments of Israel, whether they were on the left or right of the political spectrum. Every single Israeli government since 1967 has built new settlements, which they always termed 'Judea and Samaria' and which they consider to be an essential part of 'Eretz Israel' (Greater Israel).

Even the government of Yitzhak Rabin, the left-leaning prime minister and co-signatory to the Oslo peace plan accelerated the number of settlements. The number of settlements tripled during his leadership, even though settlement-building was against international law.

In 1995, just after signing the Oslo Accords, the Rabin government also spent US$600 million on paved roads connecting settlements in the West Bank, which predictably were off-limits to Palestinians, proving once again that he was never serious about letting Palestinians control the West Bank under the so-called two-state solution.

Under the Trump administration, the Abrahamic Accord was announced, supposedly to achieve the elusive peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. However, the US never consulted the Palestinians when drawing up the accord, and the 'Palestinian state' that they offered to them did not possess contiguous lands. Moreover, under the terms of the offer, Israel was supposed to be able to keep all the settlements intact in the West Bank, which are located on water aquifers, thereby denying Palestinian control over the water resources on the land that was supposed to be their state.

In addition, Israel also insisted on total control of the Jordan Valley and that the Palestinian state be demilitarised entirely. Finally, Israel wanted complete control over the new state's air space and borders. Unsurprisingly, the Palestinians rejected the offer.

In short, ever since the two-state solution was proposed in 1991 during the Madrid conference and included in the Oslo Accords of 1993, the likelihood of it happening has become bleaker by the day. So why is the United States still mentioning it? The recent veto by the United States at the UNSC provides the answer – the US is, in reality, also not interested in seeing a sovereign state of Palestine come into being. It wants Israel to continue its present path of increasing its hold on the West Bank and confiscating more lands, thus leaving the Palestinians with nothing much in the form of a viable state in the future.

In conclusion, the world should stop believing that the United States is going to one day help Palestinians achieve their dream of having their state. People of conscience worldwide also need to call on their governments to stop talking about the two-state solution immediately simply because it is a total waste of time and will allow Israel to confiscate more Palestinian lands. All governments must focus instead on meaningful actions to prevent Israel from committing the crimes of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinians. These actions must include a total boycott of Israel immediately to stop it from continuing its systemic abuses of the human rights of Palestinians. Any government that fails to do this is exposing its stance of not being serious about helping the Palestinians achieve self-determination despite its pronouncements and rhetoric in support of the Palestinians.

Prof Nazari Ismail is the Director of the Hashim Sani Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Malaya and the Chairman of BDS Malaysia, an NGO that calls for boycott of Israel and of complicit companies.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sinar Daily.