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Unilateral borders and a new Palestinian strategy
By Ray Hanania (Creators Syndicate) – A top official in Israel’s government has threatened to unilaterally define the borders of a Palestinian state claiming that the deadlock is not in the Jewish State’s best interests.
What should Palestinians do?
Exactly not what they normally do.
The announcement by Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister in the new Israeli government, is clearly another attempt to reinforce Israel’s real priority, expanding its settlements rather than achieving long term peace.
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Barak’s statement was treated by the Western media like it was some kind of unique thing, but it is not. Almost every action Israel has taken over the years since 1947 has been unilateral.
Palestinian responses to Israel’s unilateral moves have been predictable and ineffective. But Israel’s latest actions creates new opportunities for Palestinians to take the upper hand.
Palestinians are divided into several dysfunctional political groups. The loudest and the least effective are the International Solidarity Movement activists who are driven as much by hatred of Jews and Israel as they are by the undeniable fact that Israel abuses Palestinian rights.
They’ll whip up more PR stunts with their extremist rhetoric to achieve their real goal which is not peace based on compromise but preventing compromise at the expense of peace.
The next most effective Palestinian voice is the increasingly fanatic religious Hamas movement. Their primary goal of Hamas has always been to eliminate secular Palestinian leadership.
The least effective is the secular leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His government will issue more worthless statements which accurately describe Israel’s efforts to prevent peace, but fail to win support.
But in the face of the extremist activists and the growing influence of religious fanaticism, failing is tolerated as long as Arab leaders speak to the anger of the Arab Street.
Abbas has another action, but it takes the kind of courage displayed by the late President Yasir Arafat who offered Israel a chance to end the conflict and be fully accepted in the Arab World in exchange for returning the West Bank, Gaza Strip and sharing Jerusalem.
As everyone knows, it was Barak who undermined peace in 2000 fearing a real might cost him his election. Ironically, Israelis saw through his charade and recognized his weak leadership. Barak never offered Arafat anything on paper, just vague promises through President Bill Clinton and America’s pro-Israel mediator, Dennis Ross.
But don’t get me started.
Despite history, Barak’s threat of unilateral action to define borders creates an opportunity for the Palestinians.
When Israel declares the borders, Palestine should declare statehood and take that statehood to the United Nations. Regardless of the threatened Veto by the hypocritical American Ambassador – who denounced Russia for using its veto for political reasons to block the condemnation of Syria – the General Assembly would near unanimously accept Palestine statehood in the face of another Israeli anti-peace action.
The next move Abbas should take is to exploit the opportunity that Israeli lackey US Senator Mark Kirk has created by introducing legislation to contravene the international Rule of Law and narrowly define “refugees” as only those who were alive when Israel was created through military force in 1948.
Although 700,000 Palestinian became refugees in 1948 as a result of an intentional Israeli plan to rid the new Jewish State o its non-Jewish residents by forcing them to flee and then destroying more than 400 of their villages, only about 30,000 of those original refugees remain alive.
But Israel’s action – and even though Kirk introduced the bill and the pro-Israel Congress is certain to approve it, it is an Israeli driven effort – really gives Palestine a foundation to impose the rule of law and seek sanctions against Israel’s violation of human rights in the International Court in the Hague.
The Kirk bill is essentially an Israeli admission that there are Palestinian refugees. Like Jewish refugees from the Holocaust who lost everything, those refugees are entitled to compensation and even the right to return to the original lands. Only in a true compromise peace based on two-states can that Palestinian right of return be negotiated to only compensation.
Every day, Israel continues to violate international laws. But Israel is very clever always using the absence of peace to justify its continued anti-peace actions, such as its continued expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements in places not only in what Israel defines as the “West Bank,” but also in those parts of the West Bank that Israel illegally annexed in 1967 surrounding Jerusalem.
Defining borders and the Palestinian refugees give Palestinians a strategy to change the dynamics that not only undermines the extremist activists and increasing Hamas popularity, but it also restores the power of Palestinian secular leadership by giving Palestinians legal weapons to stop Israel’s violations dead in their tracks.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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