I have always been an optimist. I have always advocated peace. I was one of the first Palestinians to call for the recognition of Israel. I did so in 1980 on the University of Illinois - Chicago campus (although I attended Loyola University) and was ostracized by Fatah, Jabha and other Palestinian student groups. I held my ground and was one of the few Palestinians in the Chicago area that could go to any group’s events.
I welcomed the Oslo Accords and attended the White House signing ceremony on September 13, 1993. I witnessed the famous handshake between Arafat and Rabin and felt a sense of relief that the long hard nightmare for my people might soon be over.
Since Oslo, however, I and many moderate Palestinians have been sorely disappointed.
- We have seen the settlement expansion in the West Bank more than quadruple.
- We have seen thousands of Palestinian agriculture acres (olive groves) destroyed.
- We have seen a separation wall built around our towns and villages leaving isolated enclaves that basically imprison Palestinians especially men between the ages of 18 and 40.
- We have seen a voluminous number of humiliating military check points that disgrace and dehumanize Palestinians.
- We have seen democratic Palestinian elections whose results were not accepted by Israel and an American President who told us that one of the results of the Iraqi invasion of 2003 was a democratization of the Middle East.
- We have also seen since Oslo, (unfortunately) the introduction of the Palestinian suicide bomber and the assassination of an Israeli Prime Minister (by an Israeli terrorist) which, in essence, killed the peace process.
- We have also seen the right wing religious fanatic groups who have increased their power and because they have been and are part of the past and current coalition governments in Israel, in my opinion, hold the entire Middle East hostage.
- We also see the continued marginalization of the Palestinians
- because of inter-fighting;
- because the world cannot accept that the Palestinian people have elected one party over another party that is repeat with corruption and that has not produced the liberation it has said it will deliver; and
- because the power of the purse is used to blackmail the Palestinian West Bank leadership to accept what the people will not allow them to accept.
- We have also witnessed in 2008-2009 and now again the barbarity of the Israeli devastating and disproportionate onslaught against our brothers and sisters and our children in Gaza as the continued Israeli blockade causes severe economic conditions of food, water and medical shortages for which, we are told, the Palestinians cannot repel and for which the world flotilla aid campaign cannot break.
Because we have seen all these demoralizing aspects of the conflict, I, as well as many moderate (if not all) Palestinians, have abandoned the two state solution.
- It is inconceivable that the 600,000 settlers in the West Bank will get up and leave. This is not the Gaza Strip where 21 settlements illegally inhabited by 21,000 extreme Zionist settlers can be disbanded and the settlers removed.
- It is inconceivable that the right wing ultra-conservative/orthodox parties within Israel will agree to give up Areas C especially since their power is increasing and especially since the recent poll in Israel tells us that the majority of Israelis have no problem living in an Apartheid like state.
- It is inconceivable that Israel will abandon its policy to allow a Palestinian limited state within Area A and parts of Area B, on the one hand and another Palestinian entity in Gaza, as the Liberman Plan has so stated for Gaza.
Inconceivability is only in the political realm. In realty however, the numbers (population growth of the Palestinians visa via the Israelis) will force Israel to rethink its position. My doubts are in succeeding Israel requests to endlessly talk to no end. The Israeli policy is "let us agree to agree in the future" but the future never comes because Israel always finds ways to interpret agreements by defining terms as it defines them. My pessimism is in endless talks that attempt to fill the glass with water but the glass is always half empty.
For Palestinians, the concept of a two state solution is illusionary. Since Oslo, succeeding Israeli governments have allowed the ever expanding settlements on illegally confiscated Palestinian land, thus creating “facts on the ground.” Israel has played its hand too long. Israeli leaders thought they could exhaust us into submission; that as long as they continued to build illegal settlements and continued to appease the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while driving a wedge between West Bank and Gaza leaders, they could frustrate the Palestinians into accepting two Palestinian entities, one in the West Bank with Area A and part of Area B; and the other in Gaza. Thus in essence, Israel has been trying for a three state solution. Palestinians cannot and will not accept this.
By playing its hand too long, Israel has lost the moderate Palestinians.
Moderate Palestinians are seeking other means to assert Palestinian fundamental rights. Moderate Palestinians wholeheartedly support the Palestinian request to join the United Nations General Assembly with pre-1967 borders but understand that this is only a prelude to a one state solution to the conflict. We also support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation. We welcome the emergency of a new generation of Palestinians who will pick up their stone and fight for the dignity and well-being of future Palestinian generations. We also call upon the Palestinian factions to reconcile their differences and believe that the Palestinian house needs to be united immediately.
(© Copyright 2012, Fadi Zanayed. Publication or distribution of this material is allowed provided its content is not altered and the source and its author are cited.)