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Israel threatens to cancel the cancelled Oslo Accords
By Ray Hanania — Israel’s rightwing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has vowed to cancel the Oslo Accords he has already denounced as unenforceable if the Palestinians seek statehood recognition from the United States. But the truth is that Israel cancelled the Oslo Accords and all of the past peace agreements when it implemented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s policies of expanding settlements and continuing the occupation of the West Bank.
In reality, the Oslo Peace accords died long ago, mainly because of Israeli extremists. In 1995, an Israeli extremist and settler fanatic assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which threw the country into a wild plunge into the hands of extremist hardliners like Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon. Both Netanyahu and Sharon have publicly opposed the creation of a Palestinian State and threatened to dismantle the Oslo Peace accords, softening only in the more than 16 years since because of political expediency.
Netanyahu destroyed the last round of peace talks by refusing to cancel the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements that are located in the occupied West Bank, which Israeli fanatics refer to as “Judea and Samaria,” a rejection of the principle of mutual recognition. Israelis demand that Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist — which they have done six times since 1988 — but Israelis refuse to recognize the right of Palestine to exist by word and deed. Insisting on referring to the occupied West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” is a blatant effort to declare the lands must be controlled by Jews, not Christians or Muslims.
In the face of Israel’s government’s refusal to make peace based on two-states, to refuse to end the expansion of illegal settlements and to refuse to withdraw their occupation forces, Palestinians are left with only one option, to seek recognition from the United Nations.
Israel can threaten to take all kinds of actions, but the reality is that every action Israel threatens is already being enforced by Israel on the ground. The illegal Jewish-only settlements that exclude Christians and Muslim Arabs, is a rejection of peace. The refusal to share Jerusalem is a rejection of peace. The refusal to shut down major illegals ettlements in a rejection of peace. Israel’s foreign policy towards the Arab World and the Palestinians is a rejection of peace and it is surprising how tolerant and patient Palestinians and Arabs have been with Israeli government intransigence.
Palestinians should push forward for United Nation’s recognition if only to obtain the sanction and protections of International Law which so far has eluded the conflict. With UN recognition, the Palestinians can pursue legal actions in both international courts and also war crimes, prosecuting Israel for its targeting of civilians. Israel targets civilians when it confiscates civilian lands, imposes harsh restrictions on their ability to farm and survive under military control, and when it expels political dissidents for challenging Israel’s policies.
Although it is certain the United States, which bankrolls and backs Israel’s expansionist policies, will veto any measure brought to the UN Security Council to recognize Palestine’s right to exist as a state, that veto can be reversed by a super majority vote of the United Nations General Assembly under Resolution 337 which gives the world body the right to challenge the decisions of the handful of superpowers and to challenge biased and unjust rulings. And, American actions at the UN Security Council have been biased and unjust, most recently demonstrated when American vetoed a resolution that reflected American foreign policy to challenge Israel’s expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements.
The Palestinians and the Arab members of the United Nations can turn to a provision called “Uniting for Peace: Resolution 377” which was adopted in 1950 to give it a means of confronting the failure of the UN Security Council to act in the best interests of peace. Ironically, this means was imposed as a result of the efforts of the United States which found itself blocked by a Soviet Union veto in the Security Council of resolutions targeting North Korea. It’s ironic because today, it is the United States which continues to use its veto power to protect Israel’s violations of the rights of the Palestinians.
Although the UN Resolution was driven to approval by the United States, it can be used to give the United Nations General Assembly the power to recognize a Palestine State and to accord to that state all of the benefits of UN membership including granting to the State of Palestine international protections under international law that are today denied because Palestine has been declared a “disputed” territory by the pro-Israel American Congress and past American Governments.
The United States has never cared about appearing to be hypocritical when it comes to international law. It constantly brow beats and bullies nations that seek to challenge its unfair policies which often violate international laws. America has cast vetos to block resolutions, as noted, that reflect American foreign policy, which means that not even what the AMerican government believes is law will be protected from its ability to cast its veto. It is a clear case of the United States blocking any efforts to achieve peace by recognizing two-states as a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and granting international sovereignty to Palestine as a State.
Israel has vowed to punish Palestinians for plans to turn to the United Nations to overcome the American veto protection ti gives carte blanche to Israeli policies. But Palestinians know that Israel is already punishing Palestinians who seek international recognition. Any further actions by Israel will only heighten the perception of Israel as discriminating against the civil rights of an entire population simply on the basis of their religion, denying equal rights to Muslims and Christians who are Arab or pro-Arab or Palestinian.
In the end, if Israel succeeds in blocking the creation of a Palestine State, it will abrogate any international moral basis to pursue the two-state solution. Israel’s response to an effort to declare Palestinian statehood by punishing the Palestinians further will only reinforce demands that Israel be forced to practice civil rights and recognize the civil rights of Christians and Muslims in the Jewish State and in the “occupation.” If Israel annexes more of the West Bank lands, as it has done in the past, it will only strengthen the Palestinian moral argument condemning Israel’s violations of Christian and Muslim civil rights.
The Palestine-Israel conflict will transform from a conflict based on nationhood to one of civil rights. Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are routinely discriminated by Israel’s Jewish-based government policies, will be able to file claims in international court seeking judgments against those Israeli government policies. Palestinians who live in the West Bank will also be able to pursue international justice and judgments against Israel’s government for violations of their civil rights.
These lawsuits will only plague Israel moving forward and create a new scenario that could result in Palestinians forcing Israel to recognize their statehood.
Once recognized, Palestine would fall under the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which Israeli governments have successfully argued do not apply to the civilians living under their military occupation of 1967. But that’s because Palestine was not a recognized country in 1967, but a territory that remained in dispute. But is Palestine in the West Bank is a disputed territory, than a UN initiative to recognize Palestinian Statehood will also raise questions about Israel’s sovereignty and the issue of disputed territory could be extended to the entire area of Palestine dating back to 1948.
If Israel is willing to risk everything in order to continue to annex Palestinian lands and confiscate property from Christians and Muslims living under their military control, then it is by their hand that the conflict will be transformed from a negotiation over two-states to a battle to establish civil rights for Christians and Muslims in Israel and under Israel’s control.
The nature of the conflict will dramatically change and move in to unchartered waters that will create more uncertainty for Israel, but in reality can only help to improve the situation of Palestinians whose situation under Israeli occupation continues to remain dire.
Israeli extremists like Lieberman could push their government to begin the expulsion of Christians and Muslims out of Israel and also out of the West Bank, but the uproar such an action would create would incite a unified action from the increasingly powerful Islamic World which will not stand by as Israel denies rights to its religious members. Christian Arabs would benefit from this push by the Islamic World, also.
Right now, though, Palestinians have been denied any other choice by Israel’s intransigence to recognize Palestinian Statehood or to return to negotiations without imposing pre-conditions — such as Israel’s insistence that non-negotiable issues include the sharing of Jerusalem, ending the expansion of Israeli settlements and the closing of dozens of illegally built Jewish-only settlements and a peace accord that gives Palestine international sovereignty.
The conflict may well worsen, but for both sides, Palestinians and Israelis. But for Palestinians, the continued refusal of Israel to recognize their rights to statehood is a situation that cannot become worse, unless Israel moves into the reality of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
Given that Israel refuses to compromise, I say that the Palestinians should turn towards the United Nations and build their campaign to force Israel to do what it has falesely claimed it wants to do, achieve a peace accord with the Palestinians.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com