Embracing Palestinian statehood

Dec 21, 2023
Palestine national

R. David Harden, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Middle East peace, and Larry Garber, who served as the USAID mission director to the West Bank and Gaza have recently penned an article in the New York Times arguing that, to achieve peace and end the war on Gaza, ‘The U.S. Must Embrace Palestinian Statehood Now’.

This NY Times article calls upon President Biden to do the same thing that rank and file ALP members have called upon an incoming Labor government to do in Australia since 2018, namely recognise the State of Palestine.

Being an article written by Americans for an iconic American newspaper, the NY Times, it suggests that only American recognition “would confer national legitimacy on the Palestinian people”, coming as it would from “the leader of the free world”.

With respect to our American friends, Palestinian legitimacy of course exists per se. It does not require American blessing. That is not to say, however, that such US recognition would not advance matters, as indeed would Australian recognition.

The authors choose to demonise Hamas and leave as a continuing task for Israel the job to “substantially degrade Hamas infrastructure and remove its senior leadership”. This is presented as necessary in order to “address Israel’s legitimate security concerns”. Such views however fail to recognise that Israel’s security concerns arise from a refusal by Israel itself to recognise Palestinians’ right to self-determination and resultant occupation and oppression. An occupied people has a right to oppose such occupation, including by force. That has been the reason for Israel’s so-called right to defend itself. It has been a self-inflicted state of apprehension. It should be said, too, that any future role for Hamas as a political party is a matter for the Palestinian people, exercising their right to self-determination.

The article ends with a fatal flaw – the suggestion that “(b)oth parties would still need to negotiate just and equitable solutions to borders, security, refugees, the status of Jerusalem, water and future economic relations”.

No, Israel would allow such negotiations to fail, just as it has done for seventy five years. That is not to say that there might not be some scope for negotiation, but not re borders, security, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem. The borders can only be the 1967 Green Line. As such East Jerusalem is part of Palestine and that resolves the “status of Jerusalem”. Security must come from a UN peacekeeping force which might have a role for two or three years. That role would have to include the dismantling of the illegal settlements in the West Bank. The right of return of Palestinian refugees is already a matter settled by international law. The extent to which it is sought to be enforced is a matter of conjecture, and there might by a limiting role for the UN peacekeeping force there.

Once Palestine is up and running in that time, and on that basis, there might be some scope for negotiations over the lesser topics of water and future economic relations.

Peace would undoubtedly follow. My final word – the ALP talks about recognition of Palestine but never does it! Come on Australia, do your part.


Read the NY Times article

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