Time To Translate Words Into Actions On Gaza – OpEd


Left to its own devices, Israel would never grant Palestinians their freedom.

In the past, some, whether ignorantly or otherwise, claimed that peace in Palestine could only be achieved through “unconditional negotiations.”

This mantra was championed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he cared enough to pay lip service to the “peace process” and other US-originated fantasies. Back then, he spoke of his readiness to hold such unconditional negotiations, while constantly arguing that Israel did not have a peace partner.

All of this was, of course, doublespeak. What Netanyahu and other Israelis were, in fact, saying was that Israel should be freed from any commitment to international law, let alone international pressure. Worse, by declaring that Israel had no Palestinian peace partner, the Israeli government essentially canceled the hypothetical “unconditional negotiations” before they even took place.

For years — in fact, for decades — Israel was allowed to perpetuate such nonsense, empowered, of course, by the total and unconditional support of Washington and its other Western allies.

In an environment in which Israel received billions of dollars of US-Western aid and where it had grown to become a thriving technological hub, let alone one of the world’s largest weapons exporters, Tel Aviv simply had no reason to end its occupation or to dismantle its racist apartheid regime in Palestine.

But things must change now. The genocidal Israeli war in Gaza should completely alter our understanding, not only of the tragic reality underway in Palestine but also of past misunderstandings. It should be made clear that Israel never had any intentions of achieving a just peace, ending its colonialism in Palestine — that is, the expansion of the illegal settlements — or granting Palestinians one iota of their rights.

On the contrary, Israel had been planning to carry out a genocide against the Palestinians all along.

Israel has already carried out terrible war crimes against Palestinians, during the Nakba in 1947-48 and in successive wars ever since. Each crime, large or small, was accompanied by a campaign of ethnic cleansing. More than 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed when Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine 76 years ago. An additional 300,000 were ethnically cleansed during the “Naksa,” the war and “setback” of 1967.

Throughout the years, the mainstream Western media did its best to completely hide the Israeli crimes, minimize their impact or blame someone else entirely. This process of shielding Israel remains in place today, even when tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7 and when the majority of Gaza, including its hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, civilian homes and shelters, have been erased.

Considering all of this, anyone who still speaks of unconditional negotiations — especially those conducted under the auspices of Washington — is, frankly, only doing so to help Israel escape international legal and political accountability.

Luckily, the world is waking up to this fact and, hopefully, this awakening will mature sooner rather than later, as the Israeli massacres in Gaza continue to claim hundreds of innocent lives every single day.

The collective realization that Israel must be stopped through international measures is accompanied by an equally critical realization that the US is not an honest peace broker. In fact, it never was.

To appreciate the ruinous role of the US in this so-called conflict, just marvel at this fact: While practically every country that participated in the International Court of Justice public hearingsbetween Feb. 19 and 26 formulated its position based on international law, the US did not. “The court should not find that Israel is legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied territory,” the acting legal adviser for the US State Department, Richard Visek, embarrassingly said.

So, 76 years after the Nakba and following 57 years of military occupation, the US’ legal position remains committed to defending the illegality of Israel’s conduct throughout Palestine.

Compare the above stance to the rounded, courageous and legally grounded position of almost every country in the world, especially the 50-plus countries that requested to speak at the world court hearings.

China, whose words and actions seem far more consistent with international law than many Western nations, went even further. “In pursuit of the right to self-determination, Palestinian people’s use of force to resist foreign oppression and complete the establishment of an independent state is (an) inalienable right well founded in international law,” Chinese representative Ma Xinmin told the court.

Unlike the cliched and noncommittal position of the likes of UK Foreign Minister David Cameron on the need to make “irreversible progress” toward an independent Palestinian state, the Chinese position is arguably the most comprehensive and realistic articulation.

Ma linked self-determination to liberation struggle, sovereignty and the inalienable rights of people, which are all consistent with international laws and norms. In fact, it is these very principles that have led to the liberation of numerous countries in the Global South.

Considering that Israel has no intention of freeing the Palestinians from the grip of apartheid and military occupation, the Palestinian people have no other option but to resist.

The question now is: Will the international community continue to defy the US position in words only or will it formulate a new approach to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, thus bringing it to an end by any means necessary?

In his statement to the International Court of Justice last week, British barrister Philippe Sands, who is a member of team Palestine, offered a roadmap as to how the international community can force Israel to end its occupation. “The right of self-determination requires that UN member states bring Israel’s occupation to an immediate end. No aid. No assistance. No complicity. No contribution to forcible actions. No money. No arms. No trade. No nothing,” he said.

Indeed, it is now time to turn words into actions, especially when thousands of children are being killed through no fault of their own, but merely for being born Palestinian.

Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *