The Palestinians are ready to make peace with Israel. However, Israel is not ready to reciprocate. According to the latest polls, about half of the Palestinian public want to make peace with Israel and many are so desperate that they would be willing to accept a one-state solution, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights under the Israeli flag. The majority recognize that the militarily mighty Israel is here to stay.
Hence, peace to them is the only option. Armed resistance to occupation, which it can be argued is the Palestinians’ right under international law, has long been abandoned by the Palestinian authorities, as well as by the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people. They are, however, rightly opposed to the imposed peace associated with Donald Trump’s plan. This American-sponsored deal would leave them with fragmented ghettos on less than 20 percent of the land of historical Palestine. After 70 years of searching in vain for justice and an independent state, no one should blame them for rejecting this ultimatum.
If the options are limited to this American deal and a one-state solution, many Palestinians think they would be better off with the latter option. Nearly 20 percent of Palestinians express a readiness to live in one state under the Israeli flag.
Not only are the desperate Palestinians fully ready for a credible peace deal with Israel, but the Arab states have also given up hope of defeating Israel and liberating Palestine. Today, there is an Arab partner for peace but there is no Israeli partner. The Arab governments want to give peace a chance. But the extreme right-wing coalition firmly in power in Israel does not.
Arab states proposed a peace plan of their own back in 2002. This 20-year-old Arab peace plan has never been reciprocated by any Israeli government. At the Beirut Arab League summit of 2002, 22 states unanimously adopted the Arab Peace Initiative — a historic document that offered a formula for ending not only the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but also the wider, lingering Arab-Israeli conflict, and achieve a collective peace, security for all, and normal relations. The initiative is still valid and is on the table, awaiting an Israeli response.
More significantly, even Arab public opinion, especially among the younger generation, is gradually inching toward accepting Israel as a fait accompli. Seventy years into the Arab-Israeli conflict, few people today call for the destruction of the state of Israel, even though Israel has become more racist, fascistic and colonialist. Only a few lunatics in Iran continue to use slogans about destroying Israel.
So, ironically, at a time when Palestinians and Arabs want to recognize Israel, normalize relations with it and live in peace, Israel is not interested. It is too arrogant to think of peace these days. The balance of power has dramatically shifted in its favor over the past 20 years. It has now become the Goliath, not the David, of the region. Israeli logic is simple: Arabs are in shambles and the worst shape ever, while Israel is strong and in the best shape since its establishment in May 1948, so it can afford to dictate the terms of total Arab surrender. Certainly, Israel is no longer the underdog. It is not the smaller, weaker opponent that faces a much bigger, stronger adversary.
At a time when Palestinians and Arabs want to recognize Israel, normalize relations with it and live in peace, Israel is not interested
Israel wants to impose its will on Palestine and the rest of the Arab world. It has zero regard for international law, could not care less about world opinion, and is in no mood to compromise. It thinks that the time is ripe to fulfill its 120-year-old Zionist dream.
The current coalition government agreement, signed between Likud and the Blue and White alliance, is adamant that it will go through with its plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. The latest polls indicate that more than half of Israeli settlers support the unilateral annexation of the West Bank, regardless of the reaction of Arabs, who Israel has militarily defeated four times already. The annexation, which is strongly supported by the Trump administration, is opposed by Arabs, the UN, Europe and the rest of the international community. More than 1,000 European parliamentarians from across the political spectrum issued a letter last week outlining their strong opposition to Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
This annexation plan is a war on peace. The few rational voices in Israel — which are against the oppression of Palestinians, against injustice and racism, and reject the annexation plan — live on the margins of the country’s politics.
For more than 70 years, Israel has been on the wrong side of justice: Occupying Palestine, brutalizing Palestinians, building illegal settlements and setting up a fortress apartheid state. It has developed into a political beast that is totally out of control and certainly on the wrong side of peace and history.
• Abdulkhaleq Abdulla