FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israeli Ultimatums

Israel’s acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, declared last week that his country plans to “separate” from “most of the Palestinian population that lives in the West Bank.” He indicated that Israel will absorb the main settlement blocs in the West Bank and retain all of Jerusalem as well as control over the Jordan valley. “The direction is clear,” Olmert concluded. “We are moving toward separation from the Palestinians, toward setting Israel’s permanent border.”

Of course, Olmert was trying to make it seem that this is a new policy, determined in part by Hamas’s victory in the recent Palestinian elections and the consequent absence of what Israel calls “a partner for peace.”

And, of course, he was being disingenuous.

First of all, Hamas has not yet formed a Palestinian government. And even when it does, there’s nothing to suggest that it would not be willing to negotiate with Israel—indeed, it has repeatedly signaled its intention to do just that. Anyway, governments enter into agreements with each other as governments, not as political parties—so the agreements already signed by the Palestinian Authority in that sense would be more binding on any future Hamas government than Hamas’s own charter, about which we have heard so much in recent weeks. Moreover, Hamas members ran for elections not on the basis of the party’s charter, but rather on the basis of a platform that included neither a call for the destruction of Israel, nor a call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of historic Palestine.

Second, Olmert’s announcement does not differ substantively from various pronouncements made by Ariel Sharon in recent years, long before Hamas’s electoral victory, including a December 2004 speech in which Sharon claimed that the agreements he’d reached with the US “protect Israel’s most essential interests: first and foremost, not demanding a return to the ‘67 borders; allowing Israel to permanently keep large settlement blocs which have high Israeli populations; and the total refusal of allowing Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.”

In fact, assuming that nothing happens to make Israel change its mind, the future status of the West Bank will be determined according to a formula that pre-existed the Hamas electoral victory by a number of years, even decades.

The outlines of that formula were already being written in concrete and steel in the form of the barrier that Israel has been constructing since 2003. For almost its entire length, the barrier runs not along the 1967 border, but rather deep into the West Bank, depending on Israel’s territorial ambitions.

The parts of the West Bank that have relatively dense Palestinian populations have already been broken into two or three major chunks. Each of these, itself internally further fragmented according to Israeli fiat, will continue to be divided from the others by a network of Israeli army checkpoints, settlements and bypass roads. Jerusalem will continue to be off limits to most Palestinians, including many born there. The ninety percent of east Jerusalem that actually consists of territory illegally annexed by Israel after 1967 will remain off limits to the Palestinians whose land was thus taken from them, who now live not merely on the other side of an imaginary line, but rather on the other side of what is in many areas a 24 foot high concrete wall. Borders, airspace and water will remain firmly under Israeli control.

The real point, however, is not that this formula was devised by Ariel Sharon and repackaged by Ehud Olmert.

For, in substance if not in precise detail (though often in detail too), this is the formula that was on offer at Oslo in 1995 and at Camp David in 2000. Not just that: as the merest glance at a map will show, it is essentially the same unilateral and self-serving formula that Israel first devised when it originally conquered the West Bank, namely, the Allon Plan of 1967.

Over the years, Israel has packaged and repackaged this basic formula. When it had, beginning with Oslo, a Palestinian leadership willing to sign off on its terms, it was happy to negotiate various technicalities—while carrying on expropriating land and building new roads and settlements in the very territories supposedly under negotiation. Whenever Palestinians have balked at granting certain concessions, such as renouncing the rights of refugees driven from their homes in 1948, Israel has called off negotiations and complained vociferously about not having a “partner for peace.”

So what’s happening now is nothing new: Palestinians are being told that they can either accept Israel’s terms and call the shattered fragments of territory they are left with “a state with attributes of sovereignty.” Or they can learn to live with them anyway.

For the vast majority of Palestinians, neither option is acceptable.

SAREE MAKDISI is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and author of the weblog Speaking Truth to Power. Email: makdisi@humnet.ucla.edu

More articles by:

Saree Makdisi’s latest book is Palestine Inside Out.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail