Friday, March 12, 2010

Palestine's Time

Johann Hari says its time for Palestinians to unilateraly declare independance and let the chips fall where they may.
There is very little the Palestinians can do to change their situation alone. They are virtually disarmed, with a few rockets and some stone-throwing kids, against the fourth most powerful army on earth. But international pressure -- applied intelligently, without hyperbole -- can strengthen their hand, and the Palestinians are considering a move that would catalyze it. They are considering a unilateral declaration of independence, and an appeal for the world to recognize them as a state. It wouldn't cause the occupation to vanish -- but it would make the situation plain for all to see. They are a people; they deserve a state, as much as the British or the Israelis. Netanyahu talks about the dangers of Israel being wiped from the map, yet Palestine is being wiped from the map every day by his tanks and his guns. Why should they have to "earn" their right to their own land by proving obedience to an abusive foreign power?
Western governments support this erasure of Palestine: the EU with diplomacy and arms sales and by providing Israel with its largest markets, and the US with hard cash. A declaration of Palestinian independence would force them to either defend that position to (mostly appalled) electorates, or change it. Already, France's Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, has hinted that he would feel obliged to support a declaration. Would Obama veto the creation of a Palestinian state at the UN Security Council?
Netanyahu is clearly panicked. The negotiators would meet as one head of state to another -- rather than as a broken supplicant appealing to his master. He has angrily declared that the Palestinians will face "consequences" if they choose this path, including the annexation of settlement blocks. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saed Erekat replied: "The purpose of such a move is to keep hope alive... We're fed up with your time-wasting. We don't believe you really want a two-state solution."
The Palestinians want the same freedom that the Jews pined for -- a safe home of their own. They should declare independence. Then it is up to us -- the watching billions -- to pressure our governments to make it real, rather than a howl in the dark.
Should it not be just as incumbent on Israelis to accept Palestine's right to exist as Palestinians must accept Israel's right to exist?

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