Opinion

Israel not willing to be a partner for peace

Israel not willing to be a partner for peace

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The Palestinians are ready to make peace with Israel. However, Israel is not ready to reciprocate. According to the latest polls, about half of the Palestinian public want to make peace with Israel and many are so desperate that they would be willing to accept a one-state solution, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights under the Israeli flag. The majority recognize that the militarily mighty Israel is here to stay.

Hence, peace to them is the only option. Armed resistance to occupation, which it can be argued is the Palestinians’ right under international law, has long been abandoned by the Palestinian authorities, as well as by the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people. They are, however, rightly opposed to the imposed peace associated with Donald Trump’s plan. This American-sponsored deal would leave them with fragmented ghettos on less than 20 percent of the land of historical Palestine. After 70 years of searching in vain for justice and an independent state, no one should blame them for rejecting this ultimatum.

If the options are limited to this American deal and a one-state solution, many Palestinians think they would be better off with the latter option. Nearly 20 percent of Palestinians express a readiness to live in one state under the Israeli flag.

Not only are the desperate Palestinians fully ready for a credible peace deal with Israel, but the Arab states have also given up hope of defeating Israel and liberating Palestine. Today, there is an Arab partner for peace but there is no Israeli partner. The Arab governments want to give peace a chance. But the extreme right-wing coalition firmly in power in Israel does not.


SPOTLIGHT: Why Netanyahu should abandon rhetoric of Palestinian land annexation


Arab states proposed a peace plan of their own back in 2002. This 20-year-old Arab peace plan has never been reciprocated by any Israeli government. At the Beirut Arab League summit of 2002, 22 states unanimously adopted the Arab Peace Initiative — a historic document that offered a formula for ending not only the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but also the wider, lingering Arab-Israeli conflict, and achieve a collective peace, security for all, and normal relations. The initiative is still valid and is on the table, awaiting an Israeli response.

More significantly, even Arab public opinion, especially among the younger generation, is gradually inching toward accepting Israel as a fait accompli. Seventy years into the Arab-Israeli conflict, few people today call for the destruction of the state of Israel, even though Israel has become more racist, fascistic and colonialist. Only a few lunatics in Iran continue to use slogans about destroying Israel.

So, ironically, at a time when Palestinians and Arabs want to recognize Israel, normalize relations with it and live in peace, Israel is not interested. It is too arrogant to think of peace these days. The balance of power has dramatically shifted in its favor over the past 20 years. It has now become the Goliath, not the David, of the region. Israeli logic is simple: Arabs are in shambles and the worst shape ever, while Israel is strong and in the best shape since its establishment in May 1948, so it can afford to dictate the terms of total Arab surrender. Certainly, Israel is no longer the underdog. It is not the smaller, weaker opponent that faces a much bigger, stronger adversary.

At a time when Palestinians and Arabs want to recognize Israel, normalize relations with it and live in peace, Israel is not interested

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla

Israel wants to impose its will on Palestine and the rest of the Arab world. It has zero regard for international law, could not care less about world opinion, and is in no mood to compromise. It thinks that the time is ripe to fulfill its 120-year-old Zionist dream. 

The current coalition government agreement, signed between Likud and the Blue and White alliance, is adamant that it will go through with its plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. The latest polls indicate that more than half of Israeli settlers support the unilateral annexation of the West Bank, regardless of the reaction of Arabs, who Israel has militarily defeated four times already. The annexation, which is strongly supported by the Trump administration, is opposed by Arabs, the UN, Europe and the rest of the international community. More than 1,000 European parliamentarians from across the political spectrum issued a letter last week outlining their strong opposition to Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

This annexation plan is a war on peace. The few rational voices in Israel — which are against the oppression of Palestinians, against injustice and racism, and reject the annexation plan — live on the margins of the country’s politics.

For more than 70 years, Israel has been on the wrong side of justice: Occupying Palestine, brutalizing Palestinians, building illegal settlements and setting up a fortress apartheid state. It has developed into a political beast that is totally out of control and certainly on the wrong side of peace and history.

 

• Abdulkhaleq Abdulla is a professor of political science from the UAE and author of “The Gulf Moment.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Why Netanyahu should abandon the rhetoric of Palestinian land annexation

Israel claims annexation of areas of the West Bank and Jordan Valley will strengthen security, but analysts say it is more about exploiting key agricultural sites. (AFP)
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Updated 01 July 2020

Why Netanyahu should abandon the rhetoric of Palestinian land annexation

  • Even Israeli experts question their prime minister’s logic of grabbing the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank
  • For Palestinians, Jordan Valley is an integral part of their future state due to its strategic location and fertile lands

AMMAN: Will the summer of 2020 see Israel make good on its threats to annex more parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley? If the US-Israeli coordination on President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan since January is any indication, the answer could very well be “yes.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during the election campaign in September 2019, said Israel will annex the Jordan Valley and impose its sovereignty over West Bank settlements for security concerns in the long run.

Around half a million Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to Israeli sources.

UN data show there are 31 Jewish-only settlements built in the Jordan Valley, most of which are agriculture-based, with around 8,000 settlers. Since its occupation in 1967, Israel has set up some 90 military posts in the area and forcibly evicted around 50,000 Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s declaration found support in Washington as the White House announced its much-talked-about “Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People.”

With Netanyahu at his side and no Palestinians in the room, Trump and his son-in-law cum senior advisor, Jared Kushner, outlined last year a detailed plan that envisioned a demilitarized Palestinian entity without East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley (with the exception of the city of Jericho). It showed all Israeli settlements and the north Dead Sea as part of Israel.

According to the Trump Peace Plan — mockingly dubbed the “deal of the century” — three land plots in the Negev desert were to be granted to Palestinians as part of a unilateral land swap.

The idea of annexation of Palestinian territories has been an integral part of Israeli planning since the June 1967 war. Shortly after Israel occupied the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza in the war, it began the process of a takeover.
 

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The Israeli government of 1967, headed by Levi Eshkol of the Labor Party, carried out the first annexation, less than three weeks after the occupation. On June 27, 1967, the Israeli Knesset, its national legislature, decided that the “law, jurisdiction and administration of the State of Israel government shall extend to any area of ‘Eretz Israel’ it so orders.”

Therefore, Israeli law extended to cover all parts of East Jerusalem, giving civilians a legal status different from those in the rest of the Occupied Territories.

According to Khalil Tafakji, director of the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem, the annexation and its justification took root in the first weeks of the occupation after the 1967 war. “Once they annexed East Jerusalem, they eyed other parts to incorporate with Israel,” he said.

Israel drew up many plans under its various leaders, including the Yigal Allon Jordan Valley plan, Ariel Sharon’s separation plan and Avigdor Lieberman’s plan of people exchange, said Tafakji.

“All these plans have been aimed at unpopulated lands, in true commitment to Zionist principles of wanting land without people. Ultimately, these plans, like the current one by Netanyahu, are meant to deny the Palestinians their statehood,” he told Arab News.

Israel’s initial annexation attempts were incorporated into what is known as the Allon Plan. Yigal Allon, who was an army general turned minister shortly after the 1967 war, suggested annexing most of the Jordan Valley, from the river to the eastern slopes of the West Bank hill ridge; East Jerusalem; and the Etzion bloc, a cluster of Jewish settlements located directly south of Jerusalem.

In Allon’s plan, the remaining parts of the West Bank, containing most of the Palestinian population, were to become Palestinian autonomous territory or would return to Jordan, including a corridor to Jordan through Jericho. Jordan’s King Hussein rejected the plan.

Israel’s annexation plans for the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area, according to Tafakji, “encompass over 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank.”

In 1993, under the Declaration of Principles signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the state of Israel at the White House, the West Bank was divided into three areas: Area A under Palestinian control; Area B under Palestinian control and Israeli security control, forming about 22 percent of the West Bank; and Area C under full Israeli control, consisting of over 60 percent of the West Bank’s 5,655-square-kilometer area.

Israel’s expansionism could mean imposing its control over the entire eastern part of the West Bank and cutting off all geographical contiguity with the rest of the territory, says Tafakji.

“The annexation is aimed at exploiting large agricultural areas and allowing Israel to invest in them, building more settlements and legalizing settler outposts, and not for security reasons as it claims, because it already has a peace agreement with Jordan,” he said.

A big stumbling block in Israel’s plans for further annexation is the Palestinian city of Jericho in the West Bank. According to Khaled Ammar, author and film producer and a long-time Jericho resident, during the historic negotiations of the Oslo Accords (1993 and 1995), Palestinian leader and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat insisted that the first leg of the Israeli army withdrawal should include all of Gaza and the Jericho governorate.

In the wake of the Oslo agreements, the Palestinians wrested back administrative control of Jericho from the Israel security over what is listed as Area A in the city as well as in the nearby water-rich Jordan Valley town of Ouja, which has a sweet water spring.

For Palestinians, the Jordan Valley, which is located in the east of the West Bank on the border with Jordan, is a vital and integral part of their future state due to its strategic location and fertile lands.
 

 

“Not only is Jericho the bridge city to Jordan and to the rest of the world, Jericho and its population have become a thorn in Israel’s side as it tries to take the land without its people,” Ammar told Arab News. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics lists the population of Jericho governorate at 52,000 Palestinians.

Though the July 1 deadline for annexation is now said to be neither “sacred” nor urgent, Israel’s intent has drawn global concern. According to a post by the BBC, the Israeli plans “could result in some 4.5% of Palestinians in the West Bank living in enclaves within the annexed territory.”

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said that Israel has declared about 20 percent of the area as natural reserves, taken over large areas in the north of the Jordan Valley to build the separation wall, and used 56 percent of its area for military purposes.

A Palestinian government settlement watchdog said that any annexation would leave 19 communities in the Jordan Valley, home to 3,700 Palestinians, at risk of forced displacement or being disenfranchised.

Netanyahu, however, has said that Israeli sovereignty will not be applied to Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, and reports say the same exclusion will be extended to Palestinians in other annexed parts of the West Bank. Given Israel’s past record, there is little assurance to be found in this statement.

Twitter: @daoudkuttab

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Yemen faces costly bill as evacuation nears end

Updated 03 July 2020

Yemen faces costly bill as evacuation nears end

  • The country’s flagship carrier, Yemenia, has returned all stranded Yemenis in Jordan

AL-MUKALLA: Repatriation of Yemenis stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic is almost complete, the government’s emergency committee said.

Yemen’s government faces a bill running into millions of dollars after evacuating thousands of people from India, Egypt, Jordan and other countries.

At a virtual meeting headed by Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, the committee thanked Yemeni embassies abroad and governments that helped with repatriation planning.

The committee said that the process is “coming to a close” since most of those stranded have been brought home.

In May, the internationally recognized government of Yemen began arranging repatriation flights for thousands of Yemenis stranded abroad because of global travel bans.

A senior government official with knowledge of the process told Arab News on Thursday that the country’s flagship carrier, Yemenia, has returned all stranded Yemenis in Jordan, and is now repatriating those still stranded people in Egypt and India.

“All of the stranded Yemenis in Djibouti and Saudi Arabia were brought back home by sea and land. More than 3,400 Yemenis out of 7,000 have been evacuated from Egypt,” the government official said.

Yemenia has arranged direct flights to Indian cities with large numbers of stranded Yemenis, he added.

People seeking repatriation have been asked to supply a negative PCR test before returning to Yemen. Those who test positive for the virus are banned from boarding and must isolate themselves for 14 days before booking a flight.

“There are 211 people in Egypt who could not fly back home because they tested positive for the virus,” the official said.

Stranded Yemenis in India say they were disappointed when Yemenia rejected their tickets after they tested positive for the virus.

A Yemeni woman who has been in India since February told Arab News that her whole family was forced to stay put after she tested positive.

“I was happy when I saw my name and my family’s among the evacuees. But I was surprised when the result of the test showed that I alone tested positive,” she said.

Yemenia will continue flights to India and other destinations after the repatriation process ends, the government official said.

The Yemeni government grounded all flights into and out of airports under its control in May to prevent the virus from spreading in the war-torn country.

Yemen recorded its first case of coronavirus on April 10 in the southern port city of Sheher. The total number of infections in government-controlled areas is 1,190, including 318 fatalities and 504 recoveries, the Aden-based supreme national emergency committee said on Wednesday.

Yemen’s cash-strapped government has paid millions of dollars for aircraft fuel, empty seats and virus tests for stranded people, the government official said.

“We compensated Yemenia with $1.15 million for flying to five Indian cities to bring back stranded Yemenis,” the official said. On Tuesday, three flights touched down at Aden and Seiyun airports with 530 stranded nationals aboard.