Ending Genocide: a mechanism for change

Jan 9, 2024
Central London 9 December 2023 Thousands of Pro Palestine, gathered in central London by Whitehall and Trafalgar Square to demand an immediate cease of fire in Gaza. Image: Alamy/Paul Quezafa-Neiman/Alamy Live News

These last three months have made it apparent that there has to be a major change to what we know of as Israel/Palestine. But it has been coming for some time – perhaps since the enactment of Israel’s Basic Law of 2018 which conferred a right of self-determination exclusively on the Jewish people thereby asserting supremacy at the expense of the Palestinian people, they making up some 50% of the inhabitants of the land controlled by Israel. The offensiveness of the concept is beyond belief. It has led, directly, to an apartheid state.

The greatest constraint in doing anything about the problem is US involvement. Israel has been able to sell itself to the US people as the only democracy in the Middle East and thus having shared values. Those who are perhaps more perceptive see the connection as not so much democracy but as the dollar, the dollar which has demanded a US footstep into the Middle East, and its fossil fuel reserves. Religious Zionism was engaged to support the settler-colonial enterprise. That settler-colonial enterprise switched from white European colonization pre 1948, to an Israeli independent project thereafter. The enterprise has sold itself cunningly as an enabler of US ‘full spectrum dominance’.

Religious Zionism needs to be expanded upon. Zionism asserts that Israel cannot be occupiers of Palestinian land. How, it asks, can the Jewish people be occupiers in their own homeland, land ‘given to them by God’, as described in the book of Joshua. How does one argue with such an argument?

And a subset of religious Zionists is evangelical Christians in the US who see Jewish control and settlement in the entire land of Israel as a requirement for fulfilling their end-times prophecies. Again, how does one argue? Surely intelligent people must realize that humanity has advanced somewhat over the past 3,000 years since the time of Joshua.

And there are other constraints. A major one is a readily available mechanism. The United Nations, the entity which might be seen as the obvious tool, is handicapped by the veto of each of the five permanent members of the Security Council, one of which, the US, is of course the problem.

The Two State Solution

This seems to be the only realistic option. The Palestinian Authority advances it, and Hamas has also de facto accepted it. Today, 138 of 193 UN member states recognize Palestine as a state. This solution, with the borders being the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital was the proposal advanced by President Erdogan of Turkiye on 11 October 2023.
I accept that some advance a one-state solution, and I also accept that it has certain advantages. The problem however, as I see it, is that it is a step too far, at least at this time. In ten years from now, after the two states have existed side-by-side, peacefully, and having reconciled somewhat, conditions might be right for the peoples of those two states to consider one state, or some form of confederation, but not now. There must be a resolution now, to avoid the possibility of a second Nakba, with present day Gazans, and indeed, West Bankers, forced to evacuate, whether to Egypt, the Sinai, the Congo, wherever.

The Mechanism for Change

The first thing to note is that it cannot be by negotiation. Israel has said that it will not contemplate a Palestinian state. That would involve giving up land presently under its control. One thing is clear – Israel cannot give away land which ‘God gave to it’.

One obvious mechanism appears to be General Assembly Res.377A, the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, given the US veto in the Security Council. By way of explanation, in 1950 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 377. It states that if the Security Council (because of lack of unanimity of its permanent members) fails to discharge its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, the General Assembly can, by proposing collective action by member states.

Much will depend upon the degree of unanimity of member states. Given the number of UN member states that recognize Palestine, it is highly likely that the support would be there. Another indicator was the UN General Assembly vote in early December calling for an immediate ceasefire. The vote: YES 153; NO: 10; ABSTENTIONS: 23, is indicative of the overwhelming vote in support that would sustain a “Uniting for Peace” resolution.

I have raised the “Uniting for Peace” resolution before. In that previous article I considered a resolution in general terms. The time has come to consider something specific.

Before proceeding to do so, however, I do wish to make it clear that I do not dismiss in any way other attempts. I instance the UN General Assembly’s request for an advisory opinion from the ICJ, made on December 30, 2022, on the legality of Isael’s occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. However, such opinions are non-binding, and, would in any event be ignored by Israel, as was the case with the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion on the implications of Israel’s construction of a wall in the occupied territories, wherein the ICJ concluded that the wall served to protect illegal settlements, shore up annexation of Palestinian lands, and deny self-determination to the Palestinian people.

In respect of this recent referral, the ICJ has received submissions from some states, opposing the hearing altogether. Whatever, the ICJ is not expected to conclude its deliberations for some time into this current year.

Also important, perhaps, is the recent South African initiated referral, although that is focussed on the issue of genocide. The Application does, however, seek the indication of provisional measures to protect the Palestinian people from genocide.
So, noting the limitations of an ICJ ruling, I proceed with a 377A Resolution.

Draft Resolution

So let us consider what might be a realistic Resolution. I have proposed nine parts as follows:

1. Ceasefire – that there be an immediate ceasefire in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, observed by all parties to the conflict.
2. Return of hostages by Hamas.
3. Release of political prisoners by Israel.
4. Creation of two States, Israel and Palestine, with each State recognizing the sovereignty of the other.
5. The borders of the two States will be the commonly recognized 1967 Green Line such that Palestine will be comprised of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Such position is legitimized by Sec. Council Res. 242, and it must be accepted by the two States.

Comment: SC Res. 242 was adopted in November 1967 and came into effect in 1973.
East Jerusalem will likely become the capital of Palestine. Palestine will have responsibility for the protection and maintenance of all religious icons of worldwide significance.
6. The initial government of Palestine will be a UN formed body with an anticipated life of no more than three years, and which will be terminated following free elections in the State.
Comment: It would presumably be formed by the Security Council, or General Assembly (R.377A); call it a trusteeship or whatever. The long-term government of Palestine will of course be a matter for the Palestinians. The UN body will have the capacity to refer any contentious decision to an arbiter, such as the Security Council, which will arbitrate the issue but without permanent members having a veto.
7. The UN formed government will oversee the dismantling of the illegal settlements as so recognized by Sec. Council Res. 2334.
Comment: UN SC Res.2334, adopted on 23 December 2016, ordered a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity in the West Bank, and the dismantling of settlements already erected. Israel immediately rejected its terms and has been allowed to get away with it. The Resolution was passed 14-0 with one abstention – the US – one of the last acts of the Obama administration. Full particulars of SC Res.2334 appear in Blood: The bitter harvest of breaching Resolution 2334, Nov.29, 2023.
Israel will say that it is impossible to undo these “facts on the ground”. There are two answers to this. One, Israel cannot benefit from illegal conduct; and two, Israel dismantled settlements in Gaza when it withdrew from there in 2006, and did so without apparent difficulty. I would add that when France left Algeria, in the 1960s, a million French people returned to France.
8. Those citizens of Israel presently residing in what is to become the State of Palestine will have the right to remain in Palestine subject to them giving up their Israeli citizenship and, where appropriate, giving up any claim to land which constituted an illegal settlement.
9. The right of Palestinians to return to the homes from which they were driven in 1948 or thereafter, which right has been acknowledged (approved) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 (UN Res. 194), will be respected, provided however that any Palestinian so doing must accept Israeli citizenship and give up any claim to Palestinian citizenship, and provided further that an entitled Palestinian may accept monetary compensation, in lieu.
10. The UN will take on the responsibility for the rehabilitation, redevelopment, of Gaza.
That then is a draft form of Resolution. Anything like it would be ignored by Israel – and probably the United States.

How can the world respond to Israel’s intransigence? There can only be one way. There will be a need for the enforcement of crippling UN Security Council or General Assembly (Res.377A) mandated sanctions against Israel for as long as it takes. Each UN member state must cease diplomatic and commercial contact with Israel.

What can Australia do in preparation for the implementation of such a Resolution? Well, the first thing that it can do is to act responsibly by recognising Palestine, something which recent ALP National Conferences has called upon it to do. Australian recognition would be consistent with international law and Palestine’s right to self-determination.

Australia clearly has the power under the UN sanctions framework to enforce sanctions. But it can also act under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 to impose sanctions on Israel.

One final thing that Australia can do is to not give Israel legitimacy by sending its Foreign Minister there – something which is apparently contemplated, and due to occur in coming weeks.

Outstanding Issues

Golan Heights.

Shebaa Farms.

Whilst these are related issues, because they involve other direct parties, namely Syria and Lebanon, they would have to wait.

For more on this topic, P&I recommends:

Australia must support Turkey’s mediation offer to prevent Palestinian massacre

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