Preventive Peace
Dr. Bernard Sabella
Jerusalem
January 29, 2008

 

There are some who would like to read in the attempts at restarting the Palestinian-Israeli peace process what is not there. Without peace, some would argue, all kinds of fanatic and extremist groups would spring up in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Accordingly Israel, the Palestinians, the USA and in fact the whole world should do everything possible not to derail the train of peace even though it has not yet started its engines. Preventive peace is not for the cause of justice, the end of Israeli occupation and the exercise of the Palestinians of their natural rights but specifically serves the purpose to spite all those who terrorize the civilized and non-civilized world and who use the Palestine-Israel conflict as pretext for their terrorism.   

 

The reality tells another story. Israel is supposedly so secure and economically at an advantageous position today that peace is not an urgent priority. It follows that the USA is limited in the extent of influence that it can have on Israel since the economic leverage is not anymore a factor. Forget also about the influence of strategic military relations between Washington and Tel Aviv because these are part of an untouchable sacred pact. So Washington, in face of Israel’s advantageous situation and out of respect for sacred relations, is left with only kind words to whisper in the ears of Israeli politicians.

 

On the ground there are over 270,000 Israeli settlers in the 150+ illegal settlements and outposts in the West Bank, not counting the 200,000 Israelis who live in suburban settlements in and around Arab East Jerusalem. The military establishment in Israel has become the foremost expert worldwide in control mechanisms of civilian populations. This accomplishment, copied elsewhere, is possible due to billions of US Dollars poured into concrete to make the Separation Wall; hundreds of military checkpoints and roadblocks; a super computer system that monitors Palestinians; their phones, car licenses, comings and goings and other essential information deemed vital to Israel’s security.

 

Palestinians, even law abiding old grandmas, cannot move freely within the West Bank and into Israel without a permit from the Israeli military authorities. Such permits are difficult to get as they need lengthy and stringent security checks. The Gaza Strip is under siege. The international outcry over Israeli measures aimed at the strangulation of the Gaza Strip and its population meets with promises to resume shipments of fuel and other essential commodities. These promises, however, are subject to the political circumstances surrounding the extent of launching of primitive Qassam rockets from Northern Gaza into Southern Israel. The West Bank itself, the future setting of the promised Palestinian State, together with the Gaza Strip, has become a Swiss-Cheese like territory. Settlements, road networks for the exclusive use of Israelis and settlers and checkpoints render physical contiguity between Palestinian townships and villages impossible.

 

Viability of a Palestinian state and its economic pursuits, in spite of declarations by politicians and Paris-like meetings cannot be secured under the present conditions that have been created by Israel. Most Western politicians, even some of the more liberal among them, always come up with apologetic excuses for Israel. In effect, the proof for advancing peace is laid down at the doors of Palestinian and Arab leaders. These should do everything possible to convince the Israelis, especially the Israeli Jewish public, that their desire for peace is genuine, comes from the heart and that they are willing to go to great lengths to prove their sincerity. According to this vantage point such show of Arab willingness to accept Israel would bolster the position of these forces in Israel that want to advance peace with the Palestinians.

 

The Arab Peace Initiative, and the willingness of Arab and Muslim states to exchange occupied territories for peace, is unacceptable because it refers to the principles of international legitimacy. The creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital that is in full control of its territory and exercises sovereignty is also not acceptable. What would happen to the faits accomplis created by Israel and would it need to withdraw from territories now populated by the rightist settlers, if genuine and real peace were to come? How would Israel deal with the rightist pressure groups that believe withdrawal from the West Bank is high treason? Nowadays, no one serious about peace between the Palestinians and Israel ought to mention UN Resolutions and other international accords, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention. But on the other hand, the Road Map that is promised to move us towards a workable peace has been dissected, trisected, quadrisected by the harsh facts and realities that Israel continues to create in the occupied Palestinian Territories. According to the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, there is neither map nor road in the near future ahead.

 

Something needs to give other than the simplistic and naïve arguments of “preventive peace.” According to these arguments you make peace in order to avert the evil Qaeda and other extremist groups from taking over. The argument should be reversed: you make peace because it is in the vital interest of all to make peace: the Palestinians have been denied justice for long. They are daily subjected to horrendous human rights infractions; they remain occupied and the practices of occupation strangle them altogether. Their political rights trampled, their movement restricted, their economy in shambles and their society suffering all kinds of consequences.  The Israeli-occupation induced conditions that make for the poverty of Palestinians and their society and for the denial of their basic political and other rights are a formula for an Israel that will not be able to master, in the long run, morality, ethics or even self defense and security as justifications.