The New State Solution

The collapse of the Palestinian Authority,
the result of Israel's 42-year refusal to implement a two-state
solution, leaves the Palestinians no option but to unilaterally declare
an independent state. Israel acted unilaterally when it announced
independence in 1948. It is the Palestinians' turn. It worked in
Kosovo. It worked in Georgia. And it will work in Palestine. There are
192 member states in the United Nations and as many as 150 would
recognize the state of Palestine, creating a diplomatic nightmare for
Israel and its lonely ally the United States. Israel will face
worldwide censure if it attempts to crush the independent state by
force and very likely be subjected to the kind of divestment campaigns
and boycotts that brought down the apartheid government of South

The two-state solution, long held up as
the way out of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,
flickered and died with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. No
Israeli leader since, including Ehud Barack, has shown any interest in
its implementation. Israeli governments have instead cynically used the
promise of negotiations as a cover to steadily expand settlements,
evict Palestinians from their homes, carry out egregious acts of
violence and repression against Palestinians and steal huge swathes of
the West Bank, including most of the aquifers.

The death of the two-state solution is not
news to those of us who have spent years in the Middle East. What is
news is the public acknowledgement by the Palestinian leadership.
Mahmoud Abbas, the compliant and discredited president of the
Palestinian Authority, who has announced he will not run for another
term, has uncharacteristically blasted Israel for deceiving the
Palestinians. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat,
who says that the effort to negotiate a solution to the conflict with
Israel is dead, has called on Palestinians to declare statehood.

The disarray within the Palestinian
Authority has led to the cancellation of the Palestinian elections in
January, although the elections were already in jeopardy. The militant
group Hamas, which took over Gaza in 2007 after thwarting a coup
attempt led by Abbas' Fatah party, said it would not allow the 1.5
million Palestinians in Gaza to vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
who is counting on the Obama administration to thwart a declaration of
Palestinian independence, will have difficulty finding a Palestinian
stooge as complaint as Abbas. Abbas' time in office has been marked by
repeated and humiliating concessions to Israel, including deferring, at
Israel's request, the vote at the United Nations on the Goldstone report,
which documented human rights abuses during Israel's offensive in Gaza
last December and January. Israel has shown its appreciation by
ignoring Abbas' protests for a halt on settlements and dismissing his
calls for negotiations. It is hard to imagine any Palestinian leader,
at least one with a shred of credibility, agreeing to take Abbas'
place. The only alternative left to most Palestinians, unless an
independent state is declared, will be endless war and an embrace of
Islamic extremism.

A declaration of independence, based on the 1967 demarcation lines
between Israel and Palestinian territory, should cover East Jerusalem
among other areas and the several hundred thousand Jewish settlers
living in settlements in the West Bank. These Israeli settlers would
instantly become citizens in the new country, replicating the
experience of many Palestinians who suddenly found themselves counted
as Israelis in 1948.

"When he declares independence, Abbas
should call upon the Jews living in the state of Palestine to preserve
the peace and to do their part in building up the new country as full
and equal citizens, enjoying fair representation in all of its
institutions," Yossi Sarid,
who supports the independence movement, wrote in the Israeli newspaper
Haaretz. "David Ben-Gurion would not have been upset by such a pretty
act of plagiarism from his Declaration of Independence."

The Israelis have orchestrated acute
misery and poverty in the Palestinian territories over the past two
decades in an effort to subdue and ethnically cleanse the captive
population. They have reduced Palestinians, many of whom now live on
less than $2 a day, to a subsistence level. They have created squalid,
lawless and impoverished ghettos in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli
soldiers, who ring these ghettos, have the ability to instantly shut
off food, medicine and goods to perpetuate the misery. Israel, when the
Palestinians grow restive, drops 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs
and artillery shells-as they did a year ago in Gaza-on the concrete
hovels that pack neighborhoods. The Israeli objective is to turn the
Palestinian territories into a hell on earth. This policy has, however,
swollen the ranks of radical Islamists in the occupied territories and
throughout the Middle East.

The refusal by the Obama administration
and nearly every member of the U.S. Congress to defend the rule of law
and basic human rights for the Palestinians exposes our hypocrisy. It
also perpetuates the absurd pretence that it is Israel, not the
Palestinians, whose security and dignity are being threatened. The F-16
jet fighters, the Apache attack helicopters, the 250-pound "smart"
GBU-39 bombs used on Palestinian civilians are part of the annual $2.4
billion in military aid the United States gives to Israel. Palestinians
are slaughtered with American-made weapons provided to Israel with
taxpayer dollars. Israel, an international pariah, would be unable to
carry out these atrocities without our financial and moral support. Mix
this toxic brew with the illegal wars we wage in Iraq and Afghanistan
and the United States becomes a satanic force in the eyes of many

Abbas, in a speech
delivered a few days ago on the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's
death, announced that the Palestinians would not return to negotiations
with Israel without a full halt to settlement building, "including the
natural growth"-a term Israel uses to justify construction on the basis
of natural population growth in settlements.

"They are putting obstacles in its way,"
he said of promised negotiation. "They are trying to remove this
concept. What do they want?"

The anniversary of Arafat's death is a
bitter reminder to many Palestinians that Israel can never be trusted.
It is widely believed among Palestinians, as well as Israeli peace
activists such as Uri Avnery,
that Arafat was poisoned by the Israelis, something Israeli officials
deny. Arafat became gravely ill in 2004 as Israeli forces besieged his
Ramallah headquarters. He was eventually flown to France for treatment
and died at Percy military hospital outside of Paris on Nov. 11, 2004.
The French, abiding by an agreement with the Israelis, did not release
Arafat's medical records.

"Each expert we consulted explained that
even a simple poison produced by an average scientist would be
difficult to identify by the most experienced scientists," said
Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Kidwa. "I can't tell for sure that he was
murdered by the Israelis. I can't refute that hypothesis because
doctors couldn't refute it."

The suspicions around the death of Arafat replicate the feelings of
most Palestinians around the death of the two-state solution. Each, in
the eyes of Palestinians, was deliberately murdered. The Israelis have
ensured that from now on the Palestinians will fall or rise on their

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