Israel’s history of occupation must be reckoned with

Published: 00:00, May 18,2021


IN THE Gaza strip, nearly 200 Palestinians including 58 children has been killed as Israeli bombardment enters its second week. While the conscientious citizens across the world have decried the unequal war that Israel has been waging against the Palestinians for decades, the global leaders have failed to unequivocally condemn the violence on civilians and mount effective pressure on Israel to put an immediate end to the bombardment. The president of the United States maintained its foreign policy bias towards Israel, supported the military operation in the name of ‘self-defence’, but made no mention of the Palestinians’ equal right to safety and security. It has also single-handedly obstructed the UN Security Council, which convened an emergency meeting on Sunday to broker a ceasefire, from making any concrete move. Riding on the support of the global super power, the Israeli prime minister, meanwhile, showed no interest in deescalating violence, rather insisted that Israel’s military operation against Palestinian Hamas militants would continue with full force until ‘calm’ is restored.

Most governments that are vocal about the recent violence in Gaza do so by erasing the unequal power between the Israeli and Palestinian forces and the long history of Israeli occupation in Gaza. It is also evident in the way India has responded to the Israeli raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. India has condemned the indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza in Israel and the retaliatory strikes into Gaza, and has called for an immediate de-escalation of tensions in the region. In the reaction of many governments in Europe, a similar tendency to present the violence as a conflict between two sides with equal claim to security and land in Gaza is evident. Such a reaction ignores that the Palestinians are engaged in a struggle for national liberation against decades-long illegal occupation, and the imposition of a regime of racial and ethnic discrimination which, the Human Rights Watch says, fits the definition of the international crime of apartheid. China has advocated for an immediate road map to a two-state solution, a proposal that had overlooked the deep fragmentation of Palestinian territory through Israel’s accelerating settlement construction policy in the West Bank turning the future Palestinian state into a shattered entity with little possibility of true sovereignty.

Instead of the returning to the moribund ideas of ‘peace process’ or a ‘two-state solution’, international community must look for more realistic objectives that would seek to mitigate the grievances that have led to the present violence in the Gaza strip. These would include an end to the Gaza blockade, reaffirmation of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal and supporting the Palestinian elections. In what follows, it is vital for US to withdraw its diplomatic shield to Israel and lend support to the inalienable rights of Palestinians to a viable sovereign state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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