The Obama administration’s hypocritical vow to block full UN membership for Palestine shames America. Only a hypocrite could proclaim support for the Arab Spring while opposing this step toward realizing the Palestinian aspiration to be free from the 44-year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank and subjugation of Gaza.
The Palestinians have been under brutal and degrading occupation since the 1967 Six-Day War, which they did not start. Their daily lives, when not punctuated by shootings, beatings, and bulldozing of homes and olive groves, are scarred by routine humiliation: military checkpoints, road blocks, arbitrary searches, unpredictable delays, and an inhumanely disruptive “security” wall. No one should have to live like that, yet two generations of Palestinians have been subjected to this cruelty. Some Palestinians, mostly in Gaza, have responded with attacks on Israeli civilians. However comprehensible, it is nonetheless vicious, criminal action.
Negotiations have produced no progress. In 1988 Palestinian leaders relinquished claim to 78 percent of historic Palestine, despite the 750,000 Arabs driven from their homes when Israel declared its independence in 1948. A UN gerrymandered plan to divide Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian Arab states was thwarted by the future Israeli leaders’ collusion with the king of Jordon to deprive the Palestinians of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, part of their assigned portion of the territory. Then in 1967 Israel wrested the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt, and its brutal, grinding occupation began.
Why have negotiations gone nowhere? Primarily because Israeli leaders show no intention of giving up the West Bank, which they call Judea and Samaria and claim as part of Greater Israel. At most they would permit a few self-governing towns connected by Israeli-controlled roads. The on-and-off negotiations have been undermined by Israeli insistence on confiscating land on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem for Jewish-only settlements. Someone has likened this so-called peace process to negotiations to divide a pizza in which one person talks while the other eats. Today, half-a-million Israeli Jews live in those settlements.