11/12/2012

State of Palestine: an « absurdistan » of the international law

65 years after the vote of the United Nations General Assembly’s Partition Plan, on November 29th 1947, which lauded a Jewish State, an Arabic State and an international zone for Jerusalem’s holy places. The Palestine that saw the light on November 29 has greatly shrunken. Around 140 countries supported  the General Assembly’s resolution proposed by president Mahmoud Abbas for the recognition as a non-member observer State of the organization. A second best offer – regardless of the media uproar – if we keep in mind the Palestinian failure of last year in view of the threat of the American veto. Can one speak of an act of historic importance in spite of the reality on the ground which is more blocked than ever?

The local situations are extremely unstable, in addition to the fact that the positions seem to have become more radicalized in a few weeks’ time in each camp. Some people still call this a status quo of the “peace” negotiations (nevertheless on a hold since September 2008), but it might correspond to a direct burial of the Palestinian State rather than to an effective birth on November 29.

On the one hand side the Israeli elections of January 2013 at stake contribute to a slightly bigger radicalization of the Israeli political class: indeed, Kadima has been discredited due to having oscillated to one side and then another with the volatile Shaul Mofaz. The Labor party is not more than a shadow of her former self. On the other hand side Amir Peretz who at one time wants to play a big national role, embraces the new party of Tsipi Livni (beaten in the primary elections by Kadima in 2012), Hatnuyah is just a mere additional symbol. The fact that Ehud Barak – Defense Minister and for a long time leader of the Labour party, historically reconsolidated to the Netanyahu government, which took part in the last three wars of the State of Israel against Lebanon and Gaza with controversial results, has been a strong proof of it.

Ehud Barak’s announcement to withdrawal from politics, as he was sure to lose the elections, is not at all an act of modesty or a recognition of fault in his often praised and glorified as the most decorated general in the history of the country. Besides, even if he is already more than 70 years old, some people fear that he returns as a non-elected Minister in the Knesset in the next government. Regarding Likoud, the obstinate Netanyahu has a strong coalition with Liebermans’ Israel Beitenou, Shas of Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, and two other extremist right parties as well as with the Ashkenazic orthodox Jews. This coalition didn’t break up while facing the most important social demonstrations of history in 2011, nor facing various war threats alone, nor the operations against Gaza, for the sake of the vital security imperative.

But the current Likoud may be considered as moderate in view of what could happen next year. The wing of Netanyahou is on the verge of being overtaken by the even more radical wing of his country. The settlers’ “party » with Moshe Feiglin, the former unsuccessful candidate for Likoud presidency in 2011, gains more ground within Likoud every term. Martine Gozlan, in an excellent article by Marianne, “the plot of hawks to control the country  » (on Monday, December 3, 2012, http://www.marianne.net/Israel-Le-complot-des-faucons-pour-controler-le-pays_a224919.html) recently questioned the extremists’ rise for the primary elections in view of the future elections on January 22, 2013.

Moreover, the announcement of the Prime Minister, which provoked the anger of large chancelleries, to start the construction of 3000 additional houses at the edge of Jerusalem on what is not an occupied territory anymore, but an occupied state, the day after the recognition of the Palestinian state, is not there in vain. In fact, the construction of houses connecting the already existing settlement block of Male Adoumim in East of Jerusalem will eventually complete the “salami tactics” in the heart of the Palestinian State (construction of Israeli settlements are everywhere on Palestinian territory), leading to cutting the West Bank geographically in two.

On Palestinian side, the truce signed between Israelis and Palestinians, under Egypt-American aegis, Hamas is considered to be the winner in the minds of the Palestinians of Gaza. Since the Abbas presidency began in 2005 and the failure of Fatah’s strategy of peaceful resistance since 8 years, in addition to the total standstill of the negotiations and the burial of the Oslo agreements, the lack of character and charisma of Mahmoud Abbas, the effort of building the state in the shadow of Prime Minister Salam Fayad, have made us almost forget about the existence of the Palestinian Authority since the launch of the operation « Pillar of defense ». Almost at the same time as the body of the leader Yasser Arafat body was exhumed to uncover his mysterious death, Abbas had his victory and could dedicate it to him.

It will come down to a curious diplomatic and political exercise between Israelis and Palestinians while everything moves in the region, in particular on the side of the Americans and the Egyptians. In this situation, which negotiations can they restart? Hardly born, proclaimed, internationally recognized, the Palestinian state is about to see itself buried for the umpteenth time. Despite of the political and legal rebalancing between both protagonists and the possibility of bilateral discussions we are going to be in situation of deadlocked negations, facing the almighty Israel. Two Palestines, one recognized by the international law, exhausted, pacifist, of which sovereignty by an authority is hard to apply and little credible; the other one in Gaza, resisting, emerging victoriously after the latest events, supported partially by a new ally of Islamist weight: the Egypt of Mohamed Morsi. In reality Morsi fears the powder of Gaza and has to remain cautious with the Americans. He prefers to keep the pressure on the Rafah checkpoint in order to avoid expanding the freedom of movement and treat Israel carefully.

In the meantime, the Palestinians will certainly be more tempted to look into their actions in the International Criminal Court to file a complaint against Israel for the occupation, the blockade against Gaza, in addition to the war crimes of the past military operations. They also know that Israel will declare war to them virtually. If the Palestinians play into the hands of international institutions for twenty years, the international law is still not on their side. Around 15 United Nations’ resolutions concerning Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories have not been applied to this day, furthermore the Oslo agreements appear only on paper. Likewise violence didn’t bring anything to the Palestinians, nor the peaceful resistance after the crushing of the Second Intifada. We face an actual new country: « Absurdistan », both by its incapability to actually exist, as well as the international law failures and the limits of the international community to ensure the respect of it since 65 years.

Sébastien Boussois