25 January: what sort of coalition government Netanyahu will be able to form in Israel will decide whether or not the peace process resumes. However, rather than sit idly by twiddling my thumbs I’ve decided tp get active as an Ambassador for Palestine – details below:
i) I’ve signed up to the Peace Project’s post workcamp project, through Google Groups, which is provisionally titled ‘Breaking the Barrier’. Details about what exactly we will do in due course.
ii) To advance the cause locally I have used the Israeli election as the cue for a Letter to the Editor of the (Wagga) Daily Advertiser about the plight of the Palestinians. Not sure if it will be published, of course, as it is certainly not local, but I’ll give it a go. The letter follows:
It is difficult to know what to make of this week’s Israeli election result in relation to the peace process, an issue which is of great interest to me because of my recent peace volunteer trip to Palestine.
Clearly Mr Netanyahu and his ‘Likud’ Party are weakened, but two new parties have gained impressive results, and in relation to the peace process it depends on which of these he brings in to form his coalition government. If he includes ‘There is a Future’, which favours a negotiated outcome, it could at least mean that the peace process is restarted, but if he includes ‘Jewish Home’ it will be very bad news, as that party favours annexing the West Bank to Israel, meaning an end to the notion of a Palestinian state.
However, if he goes left, that is, forms a coalition with ‘There is a Future’ and the peace process is re-started, the outcome for Palestine is not necessarily a positive one, for as I observed on my trip, what Israel has to date granted the Palestinians after the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s are very slim pickings indeed.
For what passes for Palestine today is a series of isolated ‘bantustans’ or ‘cantons’ separated by still expanding Israeli Settlements and the notorious Separation Wall, which splits Palestinian communities from their farmland and makes travel from one location to another often impossible as residents try to cross via the check points controlled by the Israeli military, which often won‘t allow access, however many permits the residents possess.
Both the Settlements and the Wall are built on illegally seized Palestinian land, as are the super highways, which connect the Israeli Settlements and on which Palestinians are not allowed to drive.
The Israeli military is also free to enter and demolish, if it so chooses, Palestinian homes and villages.
And the degree of autonomy allowed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is limited to education, health, and internal security, which in fact means that the PA does Israel’s policing for it, and pays for it too.
Another major issue is that despite UN resolutions millions of Palestinians still live in refugee camps as a result of Israel’s military victories in 1948 and 1967, and Israel steadfastly ignores the UN and will not allow the ‘right of return’ for Palestinians to their homes.
So in the unlikely event of the new Israeli government moving forward on the peace process in order for the outcome to be a just peace all the above issues will need to be addressed to the Palestinians’ satisfaction, which is not likely to happened unless those who can influence the Israeli government, such as the USA, do the right thing, which unfortunately is also highly unlikely.