Cyprus Mail
Guest Columnist

Palestine and Israel: From occupation to apartheid

israel
The escalation of violence jeopardises stability and the possibility of a two-state solution

By Abdallah H. Attari

The Palestinian cause and the daily brutalities of the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and its blockade of Gaza have been deliberately deselected by the major media outlets. This has changed with the new extreme Israeli government which no longer hides its expansionist policies and unabashedly expresses its fundamentalist religious views which consider the occupied Palestinian territories as part of Israel. It aims to annex them disregarding international law and hundreds of UN resolutions espousing Palestinian self-determination.

Since the beginning of 2023, during its raids in Palestinian towns and refugee camps, the Israeli army has shot dead more than 88 Palestinians, including elderly, children, young people and a number of resistance fighters.

Until there is a just solution to the Palestinian cause, there will be no peace and stability in the Middle East. Until then, we will continue to count the dead.

The international community warns Israel of the escalation of violence which jeopardises stability and the possibility of a two-state solution.

The recent meetings in Aqaba and Sharm el Sheikh were meant to restore calm. A level of understanding was reached, but Netanyahu asserted that the settlements would continue apace. More distressing than this, however, were the discriminatory statements made by Israeli ultranationalist minister Smotrich in Paris denying the existence of the Palestinian people, and an earlier call for the Palestinian town of Huwwara to be ‘wiped out’, and which was subsequently burned by a rampaging mob of 400 Israeli settlers, who live in the occupied West Bank in defiance of international law. This act of extreme vigilantism was severely condemned by the whole international community, and even by Israelis. According to the Times of Israel, February 28, 2023, “The Head of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, in charge of troops in the West Bank said Tuesday that vigilante settlers who rampaged through a Palestinian town in the West Bank Sunday night had carried out a ‘pogrom’.”

The fanatical government in Israel believes it has the opportunity to implement its expansionist policy to take over the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Israel wants to kill off the idea of a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel. During Smotrich’s speech in Paris, a map, which was part of the emblem of the Zionist terror organisation, Irgun, was displayed and which illustrated ‘Greater Israel’.  Projecting this kind of map in 2023, exposes the ultra-right’s expansionist intentions of having its borders encompass the whole of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and parts of neighbouring countries.

This Israeli government’s disregard for the rule of law, whether international or domestic, is apparent in Netanyahu’s current campaign to change the Israeli judicial system (under which he is threatened with imprisonment for corruption). This will take Israel’s domestic infrastructure to an even more extreme position.

Israel failed to bypass the Palestinian issue with its attempt to ‘normalise’ relations with several Arab countries. Most of these agreements are now frozen. In particular, the hope of Netanyahu to build relations with Saudi Arabia failed after the Kingdom’s condition for such a relation was the establishment of a Palestinian state. In a very significant rebuttal of Israeli strategy in the region, the Saudis have just announced a historic agreement with Iran, brokered by China.

I foresee unprecedented changes which will have an impact on the Palestinian issue and the region as a whole. A new order is developing before us with new powers stepping in as the US loses its monopoly in the Middle East.

Israel ignores the fate of six million Palestinians in diaspora, and continues to neglect the human rights of the six million Palestinians living in the same geographical area. How will Israel, then, control so many Palestinians without being a far more brutal apartheid regime than it is now? Such a state cannot survive indefinitely in modern times and will be dismantled. Democracy and occupation cannot go hand in hand.

We made a historic compromise which was to accept a sovereign Palestinian state on a quarter of our original homeland in accordance with UN resolutions 242 and 191, which call for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders and to solve the refugee problem.

We will continue our struggle for liberation with the support of those who believe in human rights and democracy.  We have no alternative but to fight against brutal Israeli oppression, to protect ourselves, our future and our only homeland, Palestine.

As Ambassador of Palestine in Cyprus, I am very proud to represent my people – from the child who throws stones at an Israeli tank in the occupied West Bank to the Palestinian professor at UC Berkeley, from the Palestinians in refugee camps to the Palestinian businesspeople.

 

Abdallah H. Attari is Ambassador of the State of Palestine to the Republic of Cyprus

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