How a West Bank “state” could be treated just like Gaza
The Mavi Marmara events have eclipsed, for now, the so-called Peace Process, the West Bank, the Wall and the Settlers. The Process has survived 20 years of wars, invasions, sieges, assassinations etc so it can also survive a murderous attack in international waters on unarmed ships of another sovereign nation carrying civilians and aid.
The Palestinian Authority went into hiding behind an announcement of three days of mourning, hoping no-one will tell them to withdraw from the talks. Meanwhile they practised statecraft by deploying police against angry demonstrators.
At the UN Security Council, all the countries trying to condemn Israel agreed to pass a castrated resolution dictated by America, rather than stating their position and leaving the US to expose itself by using its veto. So no change there.
The Mavi Marmara outrage will not seriously derail the Two State “process”. But will the “process” ever arrive at a destination?
The Gaza blockade, and Israel’s violent defence of it, was a dramatic pre-vision of what the West Bank heartland of a permanent Palestinian mini-state can expect.
For behind the scenes the biggest issue is not the settlements, or the border positions, but quite a different agenda to do with the rights of any Palestinian state. So even if Israel by some miracle offered to remove every settler and withdraw behind the 1967 boundaries, the Palestine that would result would be just as vulnerable as Gaza has been.
In a recent paper for al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network (see Documents), Camille Mansour highlights the kind of demands that even a moderate Israeli negotiating position would make. These would utterly negate crucial Palestinian sovereignty on issues such as alliances, air space, crossings, borders and the military posts that Israel wants within the West Bank.
As in Gaza, it would be done under cover of security. But once in place such arrangements would put a life-threatening stranglehold around and within the West Bank that would be every bit as tight as the one around Gaza.
Any sort of security incident (real, imagined or manufactured), any election result or foreign alliance that Israel could call hostile, any statement or speech that “de-legitimised” Israel, any call for a boycott, any damage to the wall, any harbouring of a fugitive from Israel’s repressive laws, could bring punitive action, a hold-up of essential supplies, and military incursions, no doubt accompanied by outrageous assertions which will halt international criticism in its tracks.
In this Two State “peace”, Israel will almost certainly demand the right to
* prohibit a Palestinian state joining any alliance, especially mutual defence treaties: Palestine would be left to face attack alone;
* give Israel’s army and police the right to “hot pursuit” into Palestinian territory, a great pretext for smash and grab raids;
* keep Israeli sovereign control of any highway, railway, bridge or tunnel linking Gaza and the West Bank, so it can be closed off in a matter of seconds;
* scrutinise, search and control (and delay) all people and cargo at Palestinian land, sea and air terminals
* keep high-tech “observation” and listening posts along the Jordan valley, supposedly temporary, which would allow it to spy on and launch attacks against third party states to the east of Palestine; such posts would entail a web of military access roads for personnel, maintenance, supplies etc.
* inspect suspicious ships approaching Gaza whether on the high seas or on Palestinian territorial waters (and we’ve just seen how they go about such “inspections”);
* total control of Palestinian airspace: cue military helicopters, drones, bombers etc.
* “emergency” use of Palestinian airspace and roads to conduct military activities against other countries.
If PA negotiators agreed any of this it would be the end of any hopes that the Palestinian people would have a single grain of self-determination. If they refuse, Israel will agree to no separate Palestinian state of any sort.
So how does the Gaza Flotilla outrage affect One Democracy?
It surely makes One Democracy more important than ever. The more vicious, self-righteous and unsustainable Israel’s sick regime becomes, the clearer it becomes that to leave it as constituted is to invite endless trouble and poison for the whole region around it.
Within Israel, the event will polarise opinion, disgust those who don’t buy the official line, and make them more eager to scrap the whole Jewish majority state model and make a fresh start. Sadly the danger is that many Palestinians who were willing to make the effort at reconciliation will be so repelled by the violence and the lies that they will give up in despair. If this doesn’t happen, it will be thanks to the brave people of the Free Gaza flotilla and the spirit of internationalism that is fighting to break the Gaza siege.
One Democracy is the goal that accords with this spirit and can make its values into a permanent way of life.