Palestine: From Statelet to Protectorate
By Yacov Ben Efrat
National Liberation in the Global Village
Occupation is oppression, but in general, people dont struggle to exchange one form of oppression for another, even if the new form bears a national label. The right to self-determination has ceased to be a separate national question, to be solved by each particular people. In the present capitalist reality, peoples that are left to their fate are likely to starve.
Suppose Israel was to withdraw from the Territories, erect a long fence, and abandon the Palestinians to their fate (an idea many Israelis favor). No viable state would then arise in the Territories. The Palestinians lack the requisite economic infrastructure. They would continue to depend on America, which will not permit the emergence of a state that might challenge, economically or otherwise, the regions existing regimes. The American puppet, Palestine. would not be able to solve the problems of poverty, unemployment and refugees.
The leaders of the present Intifada have neither an ideology nor a social program. They make do with slogans, as if to say: Well get rid of the Occupation and then everything will be fine. Behind such a notion lurks the narrow class consciousness of the Palestinian bourgeoisie. Like their colleagues in the other Arab regimes, they too dream of finding a niche in the new world order. If they get their niche, the entity that arises beside Israel will be one of poverty and underdevelopment. Most of its people will feel frustrated at having been cheated again. Such an entity will not be able to supply security, health, education or employment. The basic problem, then, is not territorial, but economic, social and political.
The struggle for Palestinian independence cannot be separated from the struggle against the Arab dictators. The latter provide the basis for American hegemony in the region. They fret, with good reason, over every revolutionary movement. They oppose the Israeli Occupation only when it arouses disturbance in their own backyards. Most of them accepted Israel at the first Madrid Conference. They recognized it as part of the system. Nothing essential has changed since then. The supreme interest of American foreign policy is the maintenance of the capitalist system, which requires, in our region, control of the oil fields. This interest keeps both Israel and the Arab dictators in their dominant positions.
The principle of self-determination can take on flesh, therefore, only if it includes revolutionary messages linked to the fight against capitalism. Otherwise, the principle gives way before the megalomaniac vision of Bush, the dubious initiative of Sharon, and the deceptive promises of Arafat.
Thus a viable Palestinian state can only come into existence within the context of revolutionary change in the region. The Arab world regards the socialist vision as unrealistic and unacceptable to the masses.
The left, instead of fighting against political Islam, has copied its behavior. Rather than promise a better world through socialism, its leaders prefer to edify their listeners with glowing descriptions of the paradise awaiting the suicide bomber.
The future depends on international solidarity
The most urgent task facing the Palestinian people is to build an alternative leadership, which will fight the Occupation on a new and different basis. Instead of depending on the United States and the Arab regimes, it will need to be ranged against them. It must not be confined to a religious or national framework. It must develop, rather, on an internationalist basis. Will the Palestinians manage to bring about such a change? The answer is Yesbut not alone, rather as part of a global effort.
This effort must not limit itself to the Arab world. It is not just the Palestinians who suffer from a problem of leadership. Right-wingers and Fascists, democratically elected, are members of many Western governments today. All are corrupt. All are financed by big capital and pursue its interests. They send armies to war and create new poverty in order to preserve their capitalist way of life.
As I write these lines, a wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations sweeps the world. Central figures in the anti-globalization movement even went to Ramallah, bypassing Israeli tanks and entering Arafats compound to show solidarity with him. Such well-intended actions miss the mark.
Progressive westerners do not help Palestinians by protecting their dictator. They could help them, rather, by working in their own countries for the overthrow of the capitalist system, which keeps dictators in power. The Palestinians need new strength. They can get it from other liberation struggles, as well as workers movements in the developed capitalist countries. They can no longer bear the burden alone. The years of isolated struggle have exhausted their resources.
Israels war against the Palestinians is part of the global campaign that America wages against all who oppose the order it wants to foist on the world. Israel represents the capitalist system, the Palestinians the oppressed. Alongside the Palestinians are the Argentines, the Salvadorans, and the South Africans, who yearn for the moment when the working class and the progressive forces in the West will awaken to join them in the struggle against their regimes.
The elimination of the PA ushers in a new phase. Israels attempt to rule by remote control has failed. The resultant political vacuum will force the Palestinian working class to re-organize. The long road to independence must continue from the point where the leaders deserted it, prior to Madrid and Oslo. The Palestinian people can draw on the positive example of the first Intifada. National demands will gain new content as they become part of an internationalist effort to build a socialist leadership on a global scale.
For Israel the future is far from rosy. Its dirty war against the Palestinians shows how incapable it is of relating to them as equals. Its barbaric behavior has deepened the contradictions within Israeli society, creating ever larger numbers of conscientious objectors. As a step toward internationalism, the Palestinians ought to welcome all who want to join them, Israelis too, in the struggle for a new future, free of occupation and racism.
The Revelations of Martin Indyk
Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel (twice), now writes a column for the Hebrew daily, Yediot Aharonot. In its weekend supplement of April 26, he describes a plan that Bushs advisors will seek to impose if the Israelis and Palestinians fail to return to the peace process. The advisors Are thinking in terms of a big response, really big. Sharons idea of an international meeting can then serve to impose on both sides the establishment of a Palestinian state.
How will this imposed solution look?
Concerning the Palestinians, because of Arafats failed leadership and the collapse of PA institutions, this solution will require an international protectorate for a three-year period, which will remove control of the Palestinian state from Arafats hands. With the help of guarantees from the Arab states, this international body, headed by the US, will be responsible for establishing the institutions of the new Palestinian state. These will be democratic, professional, transparent and open to criticism. This body will supervise the formulation of the new Palestinian constitution, in which the rais (president, i.e., ArafatEd.) will have a function like that of the president in Israel. It will also supervise the inflow of aid on an enormous scale for building the states economic infrastructure. The trustees will also need an international military force, to be headed by the U.S., which will maintain order, confront those who oppose the agreement, and build the new Palestinian security apparatus.
With regard to Israel, Indyk writes, the imposed solution can oblige it to dismantle isolated settlements in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. The other settlements will be concentrated into three blocs, asenvisioned at Camp David. The two sides will negotiate on final borders, on the future of Jerusalem, and on the refugees (omitting the right of return to Israel).
Some may ask, How can Bush impose such a thing, when he cant even achieve a cease fire? Indyk answers that if the conflict intensifies, endangering vital American interestsoil and regional stabilitythe worlds only superpower, with massive international backing, will be able to do what it wants.
Challenge # 73 May/June 2002 (Challenge is a bi-monthly journal directed to all those who seek a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is published in Jaffa, Israel. www.hanitzotz.com/challenge/ )