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Israel’s occupation is also its Achilles heel

Osama al sharif
Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. (File photo: Jordan News)
With the region witnessing a flurry of diplomatic activity ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit, there was a firm stand on one particular issue: the Palestine question. That position was reiterated during the Saudi crown prince’s recent regional tour as well as in talks between King Abdullah and the leaders of the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. And while the region is facing multiple challenges, from conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya, to climate change effects and food security, not to mention the controversial role of Iran and non-state actors, the Palestinian issue remains central for most countries, as it should be.اضافة اعلان

Both in Cairo and Amman, Riyadh underlined its commitment to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in line with the two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Saudi position, which has been unrelenting, preempts media speculation about Riyadh’s unwavering support of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

The West may be focusing on Russia’s war in Ukraine and its long-term ramifications on European national security, but for the people of this region, failure to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories represents a major threat to the stability of the Middle East and beyond.

More than two years after two Arab countries signed peace treaties with Israel under the Abraham Accords, the Palestinian issue remains an obstacle to full normalization. What the events of last year proved is that the world may well ignore the Palestinians and their struggle for liberation, but Israel can never achieve full security and a state of normalcy as long as it occupies Palestinian lands.
Israel has not provided an answer to this dilemma. So far, it is in violation of every single convention, international law and UN resolution on the conflict. International and Israeli human rights organizations have labeled it an apartheid state. It is facing serious charges of genocide and war crimes at the International Criminal Court.
A just resolution of the Palestinian problem is not in the interest of Arab countries alone, it is in Israel’s interest as well if it wants to be viewed and treated as a normal country. It is inconceivable that its occupation and aggressive annexation of Palestinian lands can ever be accepted by the rest of the world.

The problem with Israeli occupation and illegal settlement building is that it is rendering the two-state solution impossible to implement. This is driving both Palestinians and Israelis toward a difficult, if not perilous and self-defeating, alternative. Either to include more than three million Palestinians from the West Bank in the state of Israel as full citizens or continue with an open-ended, but eventually unsustainable, military rule.

Israel has not provided an answer to this dilemma. So far, it is in violation of every single convention, international law and UN resolution on the conflict. International and Israeli human rights organizations have labeled it an apartheid state. It is facing serious charges of genocide and war crimes at the International Criminal Court. Not a week passes by without its soldiers and radical settlers murdering Palestinians in cold blood. How long can this go on before the world takes action?

Far-right Israeli politicians, who are getting stronger with every election cycle, are contemplating extreme, not to mention illegal, measures that include forced transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank. Others opt for milder solutions such as annexing major chunks of the occupied territory and leaving disjoined Palestinian urban areas, more like Bantustans, to fend for themselves. One proposal suggests handing the responsibility of running these population clusters to Jordan.

While Israel is yet to come up with an answer to this crucial issue, the impasse is turning its occupation into an embarrassment for international legality. The question that keeps popping up is about double standards and how the West is reacting to Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian territory while turning a blind eye to Israel’s five-decade occupation of Palestinian lands.

Biden’s visit to Israel and Ramallah in mid-July will not change the reality that faces the Palestinians. While the current administration says it supports the two-state solution, it has opted not to get involved in reviving peace talks or put pressure on Israel to stop its illegal settlement building. Making things more difficult, Israel is pushing ahead with plans to defund UNRWA and bury the right of return once and for all.

Arab countries that normalized ties with Israel continue to support the two-state solution and consider the West Bank occupied territory. While such a position is symbolic, it remains important. It is a position that Biden will hear from Arab leaders in July.

While Israel it trying to impose its regional agenda and deflect attention from the Palestinian problem, the reality is that the longer its occupation the more difficult it will be to find a solution. The Palestinians will never give up their right to self-determination, and both Israelis and Palestinians have passed the point of no return on the two-state solution, which leaves them with impossible options. The hard truth is that even if the world continues to ignore the Palestinians’ plight, in time, it is Israel that will be forced to seek a solution. Occupation is a ticking bomb and Israel’s Achilles heel.


The writer is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.


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