The Future for Palestinians, Israelis, and Peace in the Middle East
Following the Hamas attack of October 7 and the subsequent Israeli response, the ground has irrevocably shifted. There can be no going back to the previously prevailing status quo in which the Palestinians of Gaza suffer an endless blockade, the Palestinians of the West Bank face on-going rule through military occupation, and the people of East Jerusalem suffer continuing restriction and loss of identity.
It is clear Israel no longer wishes this situation to continue either. What is their solution? It has not been stated. But if intention can be interpreted from action, the solution will be devastating for Palestinians, a genocidal solution that must be totally rejected and resisted by an international community committed to the rule of law.
It is reasonably clear that without strong international diplomacy, it is Israel’s intention to force Palestinians in Gaza who survive the military onslaught, and death through sickness, out to the Egyptian held Sinai Peninsula.
In addition, many hundreds of Palestinians have been killed on the West Bank since October 7 either by armed settlers opportunistically seeking to push Palestinians off Palestinian land, or by Israeli military personnel who defend the actions of the illegal settlers. Thousands have become victims of ‘administrative detention’ facing incarceration without legal representation or hope of release. The situation is so bad that Palestinian mothers consider the death of their sons because of resistance, a matter of pride. Of course, occupation and denial of rights is going to be resisted. It is mealy mouthed of international leaders, including our own, to use Israel’s language, calling all Palestinian youngsters terrorists. You are not a terrorist for refusing to accept injustice. The real terrorists are Israeli settlers who flaunt their lifestyle on hills above impoverished Palestinians who face continued loss of land and property.
It is clear Israel intends to annex at least the whole of area C, having first removed Palestinians for whom this is their home.
Finally, it is clear Israel intends to integrate East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem, and systematically weaken and ultimately destroy the four distinct quarters of the Old City.
It is not sufficient simply to mouth support for a “Two-State solution”, it is necessary, through diplomacy, and if necessary economic sanction, to insist on an outcome that gives peace and hope to Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The international community, inclusive of Australia must make up its mind. It is meaningless to mouth support for a ‘two-state solution’ and do absolutely nothing about it. In fact, it is worse than meaningless. It is to “tut tut” and continue walking by on the other side of the road. It is in fact to be complicit in the misplacement of five million+ people (genocide) and to excuse the blatant flaunting of international law by a regime that makes no secret of its contempt for law and contempt for the human rights of a people whose only crime is to live in towns and villages they seek to occupy.
What was done on the 7th October was unconscionable. However, Hamas has won, they have achieved their objective, the world is now aware of the plight of Palestinians. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.
Prime Minister Albanese and his government must find some backbone. It is not a matter of choosing between Palestinians and Israelis, it is a matter of choosing between light and darkness. At this midway point of his first term in office Albanese must find backbone in a range of fields, the Gaza crisis would be a good place to start.
There must be an immediate and unequivocal call for a permanent ceasefire. Hamas militants have presumably moved to the south of the strip where Palestinians have fled. 14,000 have already lost their lives. The world cannot allow another Rwanda and simply watch more untold loss of life.
An international peace keeping force must immediately move into the Gaza strip and be responsible for its further demilitarisation. A civilian contingent must supervise the distribution of aid, and over time, oversee the rebuilding of Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority, distrusted, even hated by most Palestinians, must be dismantled. For a short period of time a UN led authority must take care of the Palestinian territories. When stability and direction allows, Palestinians must be afforded free and fair elections.
The international community must force Israel to choose. Either it must agree to some form of federation in which all citizens of the region enjoy the same rights and freedoms, or it agrees to the establishment of a viable Palestinian State. One or the other must prevail. The international community possesses enough cards in its pack to force such an outcome. It is only a matter of will. Biden and Albanese cannot continue to sit on the fence, saying they support Israel, and they support a two-state solution, but do absolutely nothing to achieve it.
As I have already said, it is not a matter of choosing between peoples. It is a matter of choosing what is right. It is a matter of choosing a path that can lead to mutual peace and prosperity. It is a matter of choosing a path that does not accept one people to be more worthy than another.
During WW1 the allies sold the same camel three times. In the Balfour declaration they notionally sold Palestine to the Jewish community. In the Sykes/Picot agreement they divided the whole of the Middle East between Britain and France and in the MacMahon/Hussein correspondence which led to the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, they sold the land to the Arabs.
Following WW2, the newly created UN partitioned Palestine. Israel was created. Palestine awaits its recognition. That Australia has so far refused to grant such recognition while more than 140 nations have, is to fly in the face of the partition that Australia so warmly supported. In both the Balfour declaration and the partition, the creation of Israel was conditional on Palestinians being accorded freedom and respect of their culture and way of life.
Hey, it is well past time to choose. Albanese find your backbone. Stand up.