Every psychologists or substance advisor will tell you that you can’t deal with disease or an addiction or any other problem without first recognizing that there is a problem. The same applies to the decades old Middle East conflict.
The conflict has long passed the stage of being focused entirely about Israel’s existence; the world recognizes Israel on the June 1967 border. The PLO in 1993 recognized Israel and exchanged letters of recognition, even President Bill Clinton was witness to the 1998 vote in the Palestinian National Council meeting in Gaza that amended the PLO charter that removed all clauses to the contrary of the PLO-Israel memorandum of Understanding, also known as the Oslo Accords.
Professor Cornell West is absolutely right as he pleaded with the Democratic Party’s platform committee to be honest and truthful and call things by their names. Professor West and his colleagues lost the vote in the Hillary majority committee 5-8 and had to abstain in the vote for the entire platform due to the failure of fellow members willing to call the situation for which Palestinian are suffering under as occupation.
Sure the term foreign military occupation is abhorrent to Zionist Israelis who built their ideology on the fact that Palestine was a land without a people for a people without a land. Secular Zionists are now saying that the entire mandatory Palestine was given to them by the God of the Jews. Ironically while President Abbas and before him Arafat are devout Muslims they didn’t make the religious claims that Hamas and others make that Palestine is an Islamic Endowment (waqf) that should not be compromised on.
International law doesn’t even deal with the Israeli legalistic term of “disputed” territory nor is there any international legal reference to the rights of people under this invented Israeli termDaoud Kuttab
The fact that it is a military occupation is hardly difficult to see. The rulers of the West Bank and the enforcers of the siege on Gaza is the coordinator of activities in the Israeli army. Even Israel, which unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem and has border patrols throughout the old city and the outlying areas of the city 24/7, doesn’t claim that the West Bank is part of the state of Israel.
Palestinians, who as West said accurately, feel daily the boots of the occupiers are not citizens of Israel and the International Criminal Court has ruled that their lands across the 1967 Green line are indeed “occupied territories.”
International law doesn’t even deal with the Israeli legalistic term of “disputed” territory nor is there any international legal reference to the rights of people under this invented Israeli term. The only international reference that has been validated by international humanitarian law and the UN system is the Geneva Conventions created after World War II to specifically address the cases of long term occupations.
In fact the United Nations Security Council speaking of these territories forcible taken in the June 1967 war declared in the preamble of resolution 242 the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” All international resolutions since have refer to “the Occupied Palestinian territories.”
Palestinians and the world have reluctantly come around to accept the post Holocaust needs of European Jews and have come to terms with the existence of Israel. Now is the time to understand that there is another people, the Palestinians, who are also in need of a homeland on their land.
Admitting the existence of occupation is naturally the first step in curing this decades-long conflict. The next move, as Cornell West and James Zogby correctly pointed in the Democratic platform discussions is the need to put a stop to the discriminatory and illegal colonial settlement enterprise. If the entire world including most Israelis and Palestinians accept that the two states for two peoples is the best possible compromise, then the idea that the prevailing military power confiscating lands and transferring its population to these occupied territories make no sense.
Settlement colonies built in the West Bank (including east Jerusalem) for Jews in the occupied territories are illegal according to international law as they violate the IV Geneva convention which explicitly forbids the transfer of people from the occupying country to the occupied areas.
Not only do we need to speak truth to power and fight off one issue political donors like Haim Saban, but Palestinians and Israelis must also admit that they are unable to solve the conflict on their own and that they need help. Palestinians have accepted the French Initiative and have for 16 years been promoting the Arab Peace Plan which would normalize relations between Israel with the Arab and Islamic world. Israel has rejected these peace offers and has vowed in the name of its prime minister to forever live with the sword and “will control all territory for the foreseeable future.”
The efforts by the most successful American Jewish nominee, Bernie Sanders, and his delegates to put some common sense in the foreign policy planks of the Democratic Party’s platform provides a rare breath of fresh air in a US campaign that has been marred with hate, racism and xenophobia by the presumptive Republican nominee.
If the Democratic leader Hillary Clinton wants to seriously tackle the conflict in the Middle East, she needs to focus on an honest appraisal and recognition of the problem at hand. Re-applying a slogan made famous by her husband, all people genuinely interested in peace in the Middle East must admit a simple truth. “It’s the occupation s----.”
Daoud Kuttab, an award winning Palestinian journalist who resides in Jerusalem and Amman. Mr. Kuttab is the director general of Community Media Network a media NGO that runs a radio station in Amman (al balad radio 92.4fm) a newsweb site ammannet.net and a TV production operation in Palestine Penmedia (penmedia.ps) which is producing the Palestinian version of Sesame street. You can read his blogs on DaoudKuttab.com and find him on Twitter @DaoudKuttab.