Last week, the UN Security Council held a special session devoted to discussing Israel’s illegal colonies. At the end of the session, the Security Council, once again, condemned Israel’s colonies stating that they are creating a “one-state reality”.
As we approach the fiftieth year of Israel’s military rule and denial of Palestinian freedom, the only “special” aspects of this session was that the meeting was simply that — not an international indictment of Israel’s colonialism, of its land theft or of its deplorable denial of freedom, all of which it unabashedly justifies.
During this meeting, the UN Security Council heard testimony from two Israeli NGOs, who testified about the now nearly 700,000 Israeli colonists living among 2.3 million Palestinians. We heard about the nearly 60 per cent of West Bank land taken by Israel’s colonies and the absurd colonist consumption of water.
Yet, while Palestinians are the victims of Israel’s colonists, not a single Palestinian was invited to speak about the impact that these colonies have on our lives. We were not present to describe how Israeli colonists have spent 50 years terrorising our lives with their automatic weapons and armed encampments and backed by one of the strongest armies in the Middle East.
Not a single Palestinian was invited to describe the almost daily colonists or army assaults on Palestinians, with a laughable prosecution rate of less than 2 per cent. We were not invited to speak of the impact of land theft; the resulting “checkpoints” (a misnomer for physical blocks to our travel on our land), and Palestinian homes and schools (yes, schools) that must be demolished to make way for these Israeli-only towns.
And here is where the problem lies: the UN and its member states seem to be obsessed with the idea of “two-states” or a “one-state reality” that they ignore that there are Palestinian lives perpetually oppressed by Israel. For the UN, the threat is that Israel’s colonisation is undermining the creation of an independent “Palestinian state.”
In other words, it is undermining a “dream”. But Israel’s colonies began undermining the “dream” fifty years ago — not today — and the “one-state reality” has been in place since 1967. That “one-state reality” has a different name: apartheid.
Under Israeli apartheid, Palestinians are lesser human beings. We are subjected to different laws, including laws that force us to endure military trials marked by secret evidence. We, including our children, are subjected to torture. We are confined to different towns, forced to drive on different roads. We are not entitled to access our own land or freely use our own water, for Israelis are deemed more worthy than us. We are besieged by land and air, cruelly unable to access the sea that is metres from our homes. We live in refugee camps that are routinely bombed. We need Israel’s “permission” to visit our cities and our holy sites. We cannot vote for our rulers (or, in our case, our oppressors).
After fifty years of hearing virtually the same statements by various NGOs, and after forcing another nation (South Africa) to endure nearly 50 years of apartheid one would think that the Security Council would finally come to its senses and drop the charade that meetings will somehow make Israel wake up and stop its colonies.
Hand-wringing by Security Council
It won’t and the Security Council knows this. Rather, the Security Council’s meeting is akin to watching an assault take place and wringing your hands wondering whether the aggressor will one day feel remorse for his actions instead of stopping to protect the victim. The Obama Administration has, to date, been the only US Administration since 1967 not to condemn Israel’s actions. It has failed to halt Israel’s war crimes, including each of Israel’s three bombing campaigns against Gaza, all after Obama’s 2008 election. The US has failed to condemn Israel’s colonies, instead granting Israel $38 billion — the largest military aid package in history.
This is why the Security Council did not pass another resolution against Israel’s colonies as the US would have either abstained or vetoed. But while we can be assured that the US would not have voted in favour of such a resolution, does it mean that the other countries are helpless in the face of the US’s pro-war crimes stance?
Obviously the answer is no. Just as the United States was the last country to stop supporting South Africa’s apartheid regime, so too, it will be the last country to support Israel’s. The Security Council member states need not wait for that eventuality to happen but can and must press for sanctions against Israel. Hosting “meetings” that speak of a “one-state reality” will not end Israel’s apartheid; sanctions will.
Diana Buttu is a Ramallah-based analyst, former adviser to Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators and policy adviser to Al Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.