Jeff Halper, author of the “Matrix of Control” (of the West Bank, by Israel), and of the more recent essay, “Warehousing the Palestinians”, has just written:
“Struggling as I have for the past decades to grasp the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and find ways to get out of this interminable and absolutely superfluous conflict, I have been two-thirds successful. After many years of activism and analysis, I think I have put my finger on the first third of the equation: What is the problem? My answer, which has withstood the test of time and today is so evident that it elicits the response…’duh’…is that all Israeli governments are unwaveringly determined to maintain complete control of Palestine/Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, frustrating any just and workable solution based on Palestinian claims to self-determination. There will be no negotiated settlement, period. The second part of the equation – how can the conflict be resolved? – is also easily answerable. I don’t mean entering into the one state/two state conundrum and deciding which option best. Under certain circumstances both could work, and I can think of at least 3-4 other viable options as well … That leaves the third and most intractable part of the equation: how to we get there? Employing the linear analysis we have used over the years, you can’t. In those terms we are at a dead-end of a dead ‘process’. Israel will never end its Occupation voluntarily; the best it may agree to is apartheid, but the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians is more what it has in mind. Given the massive ‘facts on the ground’ Israel has imposed on the Occupied Territories, the international community will not exert enough pressure on Israel to realize even a two-state solution (which leaves Israel on 78% of historic Palestine, with no right of refugee return); given the veto power over any political process enjoyed by the American Congress, locked into an unshakable bi-partisan “pro-Israel” position, the international community cannot exert that required pressure. And the Palestinians, fragmented and with weak leadership, have no clout. Indeed, they’re not even in the game. In terms of any sort of rational, linear, government-led ‘peace process’, we have arrived at the end of the road”.
Still, Halper writes, he sees two possibilities ahead — one (the second one) far more difficult than the other:
“I’m optimistic that 2011 will witness a game-changing ‘break’ that will create a new set of circumstances in which a just peace is possible. That jolt which smashes the present dead-end paradigm must come from outside the present ‘process’. It can take one of two forms. The first possible game-changer is already being discussed: a unilateral declaration by the Palestinian Authority of a state based on the 1949 armistice lines (the 1967 ‘Green Line’), which then applies for membership in the UN. This, I believe, would force the hand of the international community. Most of the countries of the world would recognize a Palestinian state – including not a few in Europe – placing the US, Britain, Germany and other reluctant powers in a difficult if not impossible situation, including isolation and even irrelevancy. Indeed, a Palestinians declaration of independence within those boundaries would be a unilateral act but rather one done in agreement with the member states of the UN, who have accepted the 1949/1967 borders as the basis of a solution. It conforms as well to the Road Map initiative led by the US itself. Such a scenario, while still possible given the deadlock in negotiations, is unlikely, if only because the leadership of the Palestinian Authority lacks the courage to undertake such a bold initiative. A second one seems more likely: in 2011, the Palestinian Authority will either resign or collapse, throwing the Occupation back on the lap of Israel. Given the deadlock in negotiations, I can’t see the PA lasting even until August, when (sort-of) Prime Minister Salem Fayyad expects the international community to give the Palestinians a state. Even if the 90-day settlement freeze eventually comes into effect, Netanyahu will not negotiate borders during that period, the only issue worth discussing. Either fed up to the point of resigning – Abbas may be weak and pliable, but he is not a collaborator – or having lost so much credibility with its own people that it simply collapses, the fall of the PA would end definitively the present ‘process’.”
Incidentally, Halper thinks there are seven elements which must be involved for any peace deal to work. He writes: “it is not difficult to identity the essential elements of any solution … These seven elements, I would submit, must configure any just solution. If they are all included, a settlement of the conflict could take many different forms. If, however, even one is missing, no solution will work, no matter how good it looks on paper”.
The seven elements that Halper lists are, in brief:
· A just, workable and lasting peace must be inclusive of the two peoples living in Palestine/Israel;
· Any solution must provide for a national expression of each people, not merely a democratic formula based on one person-one vote;
· It must provide economic viability to all the parties;
· No solution will work that is not based on human rights, international law and UN resolutions.
· The refugee issue, based on the right of return, must be addressed squarely.
· A workable peace must be regional in scope; it cannot be confined merely to Israel/Palestine; and
· A just peace must address the security concerns of all the parties and countries in the region.