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Holding Israel accountable is the only way forward

Palestinians will not subscribe to the insanity of negotiations any longer and will not attempt to view Israel’s assault against them as involving two equal parties

Gulf News

It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Judging by the latest foreign ministers’ conference in Paris on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” it is safe to conclude that this continued approach meets the definition of insanity.

The summit, a one-day meeting, concluded with a statement demanding that Israelis and Palestinians demonstrate “with policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution in order to rebuild trust”. This statement, like those that have preceded it, are deceptively even-handed and formulaic, placing blame on “both sides” and calling upon “both sides” to undertake measures to “achieve peace”. It sounds convenient and simple and is based on the belief that conflicts involve at least two parties and if both parties undertake measures then peace can be achieved.

But herein lies the problem. By focusing on “both sides” the world, as represented by these foreign ministers, fails to understand the nature of Israel’s domination over Palestine. This is not a “conflict” in which two sides do not agree or a war with two armies confronting one another but rather a colonist-colonial process in which Israel is trying to eliminate Palestine and Palestinians — as it has sought to do for nearly seven decades. As the world has stood idly by, we Palestinians have had to watch our families, neighbours and friends evicted from our homeland, and turned into refugees, our homes taken over, our land and livelihoods expropriated, our culture appropriated and our cities, towns and villages besieged and turned into ghettos. We have witnessed our homes demolished to make way for relentless Jewish colonies. We have seen generations of our children grow up under a brutal military regime, living behind concrete walls and electrified fences or in Israeli prisons. Even our children’s schools are not immune; Israel’s bulldozers and bombs have destroyed Palestinian schools. All the while, Israel purports to be a “democracy”. In short, this is not the equivalent of a playground dispute in which an outside parent or teacher can chastise “both sides”. Rather, Israel has taken aim at our very existence and, as such, there are not two aggressors, but rather one, namely Israel, and the people it has brutally victimised for decades, the Palestinians.

And despite Israel trying to get rid of us, despite the world community standing by and despite the incredible pain Palestinians have experienced at the hands of our Israeli oppressors, we are told that we are not to resist Israel’s assault. We are to allow the bulldozers to demolish our schools, the takeover of our homes, the theft of our land, property and resources, the imprisonment of our children, the construction of walls and the theft of our culture. We are to accept that our families, friends and neighbours cannot come home. Instead, we are told that we should sit down in the same room as the very party that seeks our demise and to negotiate, all the while with a gun to our heads. Oddly, Palestinians have done this for more than 20 years and during this process, as the world watched, we saw the number of Israeli colonists — armed squatters protected by Israeli forces — take over our land at an unprecedented pace.

No, Israel did not reduce the number of colonists and it did not stop colony construction. Instead, it used the “peace process” to continue to do what it does best; steal Palestinian land in order to make way for Jewish-Israeli colonies. It’s economy flourished while ours floundered. It was welcomed into the world with open arms without any guarantees that its oppression of Palestinians would end. For Palestinians, we were now not only forced to accept Israel’s onslaught against us, but we are to protect our oppressors. As someone who took part in these negotiations, I can attest to the futility of two unequal parties attempting to negotiate, particularly when the more powerful party, Israel, is backed by the world’s most powerful country, the United States.

“Palestinians will not subscribe to the insanity of negotiations any longer.””
-Diana Buttu
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No. Palestinians will not subscribe to the insanity of negotiations any longer. We will not attempt to view Israel’s assault against us as involving two equal parties. We will not maintain the facade that we are equal in power to Israel simply because we have leaders bearing useless titles like “president” and “prime minister”. Rather, we are already forging a new path; one in which Israel must be held accountable for its crimes, and not absolved of them. Boycotts, divestments and sanctions are one such mechanism for making Israel pay for the harm it has caused and stop it from creating more in future. It is only a matter of time before these foreign ministers stop hiding behind calls for “both sides” to take action and instead recognise that they have the ability to stop Israel — should they so choose.

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.

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