May 23, 2011

Danon writes, “€œIn 1995, as part of the Oslo accords, Israel and the Palestinians agreed that “€˜neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”€™”€ In seeking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood, Danon says, the Palestinians would be violating that provision. He does not mention in his op-ed that Israel’s alteration of occupied territories”€™ status since 1993 has been more than symbolic. It has stolen the terrain on which Palestinians lived, demolished their houses, razed their vineyards and olive groves, knocked down their stone farm walls, robbed their aquifers of water, and constructed a network of roads, military bases, settlements, and checkpoints that have forever transformed the West Bank. One can hardly blame the Palestinians. All they are asking is what every occupied people have demanded: decolonization.

Danon has performed the service of stating what Israel can, and perhaps will, do. He says he believes Israel should withhold from the Palestinian Authority $1 billion in the taxes that Israel levies on the Palestinian population. (Yes, there is taxation without representation.) This is in addition to annexing the portions of the West Bank that have settlers or are uninhabited (i.e., farmland and grazing land). This threat is joined to a warning from President Barack Obama. In his May 19 decree, he said, “€œFor the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won”€™t create an independent state.”€ In other words, the US won”€™t permit Palestinian independence on any terms but Israel’s.

Danon and Obama may make the Palestinian leadership think twice. It stands to lose America’s modest financial support. Given the conditions attached to that support and the CIA training of Palestinian security torturers, that may be no bad thing for the people. Danon’s advice of annexing the West Bank’s settler-occupied portions, as Israel did to Arab East Jerusalem in 1967 and the Syrian Golan Heights in 1981, may not make the Palestinians”€™ lives much worse. Annexation of specific areas would put a limit to Israeli expansion by defining Israel’s border with Palestine. Once the areas are annexed, how can Israel steal more land? Will every additional acre taken away from a Palestinian farmer or householder then be automatically annexed?

The 1947 UN partition plan proposed two states in Palestine: one Jewish, one Arab. Palestinian statehood would achieve the other half of the UN plan, and it would imply Palestinian acceptance of the other state within the area the British designated as Palestine. It would not be the end of a solution based on two states for two peoples, but a beginning.



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