There is no point in chasing the chimera

Now is the time to explore plan B. Now is the time to change the course of the movement and struggle. Now is the time to open a new debate. Now is the time for the Palestinians to understand that two-state solution was actually a mirage they are chasing in utter futility. And now is the time for them to realise that their future can best be secured in one-state solution. Their struggle should now be to secure equal rights for the Palestinians; bury two-state solution and turn adversities into advantages.

Today, with every passing day autonomous Palestine is increasingly turning into an illusion. Facts on the ground buttress this emerging reality. Israel has left virtually nothing on which a viable and independent state can exist. Over sixty two per cent of West Bank, including the best farmland and fertile Jordan Valley, is now under Israeli control.

Jewish colonisation of Arab land is continuing unabated and regardless of what the world says. The West and the United States have, in fact, been tacitly indulgent of the Zionist settlements. The realities on the ground have changed so much that there is no more any serious international pressure on Israel to implement a two-state solution. Autonomous Palestine is now an impossible dream — a concept which cannot be achieved ever in future.

And in the backdrop of this given reality few can dispute Ghada Karmi, a leading Palestinian activist, academic and writer. She is probably right saying that it was always a folly to pursue the two-state solution in a context that militated against its ever happening. Today’s Israel-Palestine is demonstrably one state, impossible to divide. But it is a discriminatory state operating an apartheid-style system against the Palestinians with impunity. Gross economic inequality is one indicator of this system.

This situation demands a new Palestinian strategy, a plan B that converts the Palestinian struggle for two states into one for equal rights within what is now a unitary state ruled by Israel.

The first step in this plan requires a dismantlement of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as currently constituted, or at least a change of direction for the Palestinian leadership. The PA’s role as a buffer between the occupier and the occupied should end, along with the illusion of a spurious Palestinian autonomy it has fostered. This has not only shielded Israel from facing its legal obligations as an occupying power, but it has created a false equivalence between occupier and occupied.

Unfortunately, there has so far been no reassessment of the Palestinian political strategy and no attempts yet been made to explore plan B. “To date there is no sign that the Palestinian leadership, or indeed any official body, can think beyond the two-state solution.” No lesson has yet been learnt from the continuous failures of the clichéd political moves for autonomy and no efforts have yet been made either by Hamas or PA to look beyond what has already become unviable.

Palestinian leadership with all its bankruptcy of ideas and failure to evolve and change with the changing realities has, in fact, pushed the Palestinians and the economy teetering on a precipice. Poverty has taken an alarming proportion with at least forty per cent of the youths unemployed. They are today pushed to the streets demanding “resignation of the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, and of the PA itself.” Fiscal deficit and debt burden have soared to a billion dollars, which is almost the fifth of the GDP. Over 150,000 employees have not been receiving their salaries as donation funding has dwindled from $1 billion to $750 million. West Bank now rocks with protests and strikes.

The voice is growing louder and louder everyday among average Palestinians today demanding adoption of one-state solution. The fiction called two-state solution has become passé to them and their leaders have been caught napping with their heads buried deep into the desert sands. Appeals of their rhetoric has started waning and their fiction is exposed.

Yet, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatens to “re-launch the UN application if Israeli settlement expansion continues. This time he would seek UN non-member observer state status, but has yet to decide to consult with Arab and other states, and it may come to nothing again.” Evidently, Abbas has not learnt anything from his earlier exercise in futility.

Over two and a half million Arab citizens of Israel are now ready to accept the emerging challenge of time and reality. They are ready to upend the old and nauseating Zionist practices in favour of the Palestinians and expose the realities of Israeli occupation. And these young Palestinians are today looking eagerly forward to their leaders, especially PA, to reorganise and reset their movement for equal rights of the Arabs within the parameters of single-state solution and “the right to
political resistance”.

And they stand in agreement with Ghada Karmi’s avowal that the PA should lead the campaign to prepare Palestinians for the abandonment of the two-state idea and the struggle for equal rights instead. Without a middleman to hide behind, the reality of Israel’s occupation will be exposed, and the logic of a civil rights struggle will be inarguable. Israel has hitherto enjoyed a cost-free occupation. At one stroke, plan B will shred the fig leaves and remove the chimera of a Palestinian state that has lost its feasibility in the maze of the realities on the ground.

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