Netanyahu is coming to town! He’ll speak at a joint session of congress and at the AIPAC national convention. We’ll hear about the threat of Islam, terrorism, Iran! How delightful! But what about Gaza?
As 2015 begins, 1.6 million people in Gaza are still living the consequence of Netanyahu’s killing spree of summer 2014: Over two thousand killed, more dying daily due to lack of shelter, heating and medical care. The countless injured are denied care in Israel, though Israeli modern medical facilities are available a few short miles from Gaza.
So one would expect the discussion on a solution to Palestine/Israel would gain momentum.
But first, we have to bring up a few sticky issues: Why not use the $3 billion in foreign aid Israel receives annually to rebuild the destruction Israel created in Gaza? Millions (!) of tons of U.S. made bombs dropped by IDF on Gaza is no small liability.
We should touch on the fact that had it not been for Israeli forces pushing Palestinians out of their homes in 1948-49, there would be no Gaza “Strip,” and no refugee problem. No small liability here either.
My father was the late IDF general Matti Peled. He was, among many things, military governor of Gaza. In the years leading to and during the 1967 War he was a member of the IDF high command. In preparation for my book “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” (2012, Just World Books) I spent many days in the Israeli army archives. What I saw confirms that the myth of an existential threat on Israel by Arab armies is precisely that, a myth!
Records show clearly that as early as the mid 1950’s Israel was ready to take the West Bank and Gaza and complete the conquest of Greater Israel. The Gaza strip was constantly under attack as soon as it was created and overpopulated with thousands of traumatized, homeless refugees. The taking of the West Bank was an Israeli strategic objective from the very beginning, and in 1967 the political climate allowed the IDF to take it. Exactly like in 1948, as soon as the gun barrels fell silent, Israeli bulldozers began destroying Palestinian towns and neighborhoods in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to erect towns for Jews only. Israeli commanders referred to the 1967 conquest of the West Bank as “finishing the job.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the so-called Two State Solution was never a serious option. As one staffer at Capital Hill said to me, “Israel does not even offer equal rights to Palestinians who are citizens of Israel.” So how can we expect that Israel, a State that offers exclusive rights to Jewish people and whose boundaries include all of Greater Israel, aka Palestine, allow for the creation of an independent state for Palestinians?
My point exactly.
The choices in Palestine go beyond Fatah or Hamas, and the choices for a solution are not one state or two states. Now, almost fifty years and billions of dollars after 1967, the integration of the West Bank with the rest of Israel is complete, and the expectation that Israel would seriously negotiate to reverse this is beyond absurd. The choices now are whether to continue the same old Fatah vs. Hamas, Abbas vs. Netanyahu paradigm, or push for freedom, justice and ultimately peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike. The new paradigm is transforming all of Israel/Palestine into a single democracy with complete equal rights. A one person one vote system will allow Israelis and Palestinians, two highly productive, educated societies, to reach their true potential in the beautiful country they share.
Peled is an Israeli writer and a activist living in San Diego California. He is the author of “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” (2012, Just World Books). He writes and speaks extensively on the issue of Palestine/Israel.