Failure to plan is a plan for failure

Let us now try to apply this kind of autonomy to the occupied territories. Palestinians already have autonomy. What is lacking are political rights.

By DAOUD KUTTAB
August 11, 2019 21:18
2 minute read.
Failure to plan is a plan for failure

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the North of Israel with US Ambassador David Friedman and National Security Advisor John Bolton, June 23, 2019. (photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)

US Ambassador David Friedman has no plan for the future of the occupied territories. Even though the pro-Israel ambassador refuses to accept the internationally recognized status, he believes the solution of these areas can be achieved through giving Palestinians autonomy. While the US vision for peace has yet to be known, the senior US official has slipped and let it be known what will happen. He said on CNN’s Amanpour program that the plan being worked on by Jered Kushner and Jason Greenblatt will not refer to the two state solution but will be supportive of “Palestinian autonomy.”

Autonomy is what is given to a people over and beyond their current status as having natural political rights. A good example to illustrate this is what is happening to the Kurds of Iraq. They are citizens of Iraq with full political rights, including the right to elect their representatives to Baghdad. But at the same time they have cultural autonomy where they can have a local parliament and have their national language and cultural symbols all proudly celebrated.

Let us now try to apply this kind of autonomy to the occupied territories. Palestinians already have autonomy. What is lacking are political rights.

The idea of autonomy was first suggested by Likud’s Menachem Begin as part of the transitional period. A self-governing authority would be elected and run affairs until an agreement can be reached based on UNSC resolution 242. This is what the Egypt-Israel agreement called the “Framework for Peace in the Middle East” stipulated.

Look at the passports that nearly five million Palestinians have today. The inside page says the travel document/passport is issued pursuant “to the self-governing authority” established as part of the Oslo Agreement.

So the question, Ambassador Friedman, can’t be about the interim period which has superseded its end date five times. What is needed is to find a final-status solution.

Here the choices are simple if you are talking about political rights, as enshrined in all international agreements and as best exemplified by Woodrow Wilson’s right to self-determination.

Palestinians should be able to exercise their political rights within an independent state of Palestine or they can be offered equal rights within the current State of Israel. Naturally, the second idea, often called the one-state plan, will be democratic but will fail the aims of Israeli Jews who want to have a Jewish and democratic state.

Anything short of these two basic ideas will be the continuation of the status quo in which the Palestinian Arab population is living without political rights. In international legal terms, this is referred to as apartheid, which after the violations by the white South African governments became codified as a war crime.

So please Mr. Ambassador, if you are genuinely interested in peace, try to help both sides choose either to share the land, i.e. two-state solution, or share the power in a one-state solution. There is no other long-term goal that can provide political rights for Palestinians. Short of that Palestinians will reject any attempt to deny them their inalienable right of self-determination.


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