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20 Jan, 2008

Palestinians Should Declare an Independent State – NOW!

Originally Published: 20 Jan 2008

In the aftermath of US President George W Bush’s carefully scripted swing through the Middle East, it has become imperative for the Palestinian people to decisively, unilaterally and immediately declare the creation of a Palestinian state.

There is no better time, as Israel prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding as an independent state, to simultaneously celebrate the birth of an independent Palestinian state, thus ensuring justice on both sides and the fulfillment of that long-standing vision of two-states living in peace side by side.

Many compelling reasons indicate why such a unilateral declaration will succeed and also break new ground in the annals of global geopolitics and diplomacy:

<> The international community has made many pledges to help the Palestinians win freedom from the Israeli occupation. Mr Bush himself has favoured it. There is no shortage of UN resolutions, speeches and declarations all affirming the right of the Palestinians people to a sovereign state based on the 1967 borders. It will fulfill and honour all of the above.

<> Without any hesitation, a Palestinian state will have to be recognised by all those countries that have affirmed their desire to see one created, including the US, Europe, Russia, China and India. Not to do so will only further expose the hypocrisy and double standards of global geopolitics. Israel will be particularly vulnerable; imagine the sheer hypocrisy of a country celebrating its statehood but denying it to others.

<> It will allow the Palestinians, backed by the Arab/Islamic worlds, as well as the entire developing world, to negotiate from a position of strength. The US, Europe and Israel now want the Palestinians to accept the terms of a state before one is set up but the tables can be turned if the state is declared first. The lines between occupiers and occupied, aggressors and victims are no longer blurred.

<> Statehood will change the rules of the game in more ways than one. It will mean both having to act like a state and be treated like a state.

<> Palestinians will no longer need to carry out rocket attacks or suicide bombings because they will be able to use every legal, diplomatic and economic strategy at their disposal to press their cause. For one thing, they will be able to up the ante in seeking sanctions against Israel as an occupying power violating UN resolutions.

<> Israel will no longer be able to carry out acts of extra-judicial killings which will be called what they really are, acts of state-terrorism. “Incursions” will be redefined as invasions and acts of aggression on Palestinian territory. It will be the Palestinians who legitimately will earn the “right to defend themselves” and acquire the arms to hit back.

<> Palestine will be entitled to all the privileges of a state, including diplomatic and economic recognition, aid and control over its borders. Visitors and tourists seeking to contribute to the economic and social welfare of the Palestinian people will be able to do so without having to go through the intrusive process of applying for a visa at an Israeli embassy.

<> Tourism and trade will boom. Millions of Christian and Muslim religious tourists seeking to visit the holy spots of both religions will be able to do so. Throughout the region, business will flourish as Palestine attracts massive amounts of surplus Arab and Islamic capital channelled through Arab financial institutions, not Israeli.

<> Palestinians will be able to contribute constructively to the world community. They will no longer be classified as refugees or treated as “terrorists” but gain equal rights to travel, invest, study and do business abroad. I know them well, having lived with and amongst them for many years. Coming from the same Semitic stock as the Jews, they are intelligent, well-educated, articulate and extremely hard-working. Given a level playing field and equal opportunity, their business and academic acumen will give their Jewish counterparts a run for the money at any global forum.

<> It will instill some self-respect within Arab ranks and show the people that their leaders are truly serious about implementing the Palestinian dream. The Arab peoples consider their leaders to be monumental jokers, a bunch of spineless NATO’s (no action, talk only) non-entities who cavort with their worst enemies, accept their aid money and buy their products and services, even while cursing and swearing at them behind their backs. Many of these leaders are running out of time to show their mettle and secure their place in history.

<> It will galvanise the Islamic world to rally diplomatically and politically in support of the Palestinians. Terrorist groups will certainly become a huge liability and be shunned by their own people. There will be no further reason for the US and Israel to attack Iran, a vigorous supporter of the Palestinians, probably far more so than the Arabs themselves.

<> It will inspire and shake-up the entire developing world. The significance of a Palestinian David overcoming the Israeli Goliath will not be lost. In many a global forum, the entire developing world needs to take a stand on numerous issues affecting its vital interests. If the Palestinians can successfully challenge the existing world order and assert their rights after years of lies and injustice, so can the rest of the developing countries as well as other suppressed, underprivileged and downtrodden people everywhere.

If there are winners, there also will be losers.

These will be the Jewish, Christian and Islamic fundamentalists and fanatics, the arms dealers and the divide-and-rule politicians, the neocon think-tanks and academic institutions, as well as security companies making millions by playing the “terrorism” card.

These people’s interests are directly served by the continuation of the Palestinian conflict – which offers some indication as to who is consistently seeking to avoid a settlement of the issue, and why.

Celebrations marking the founding of Israel will take place this May.

A double celebration will make GWB’s return visit to the region far more memorable than the first.