On 30 Januray 2006, representatives of the Middle East Peace quartet came out in London to commend the Palestinian elections that were held earlier that week and to set 4 conditions that any new Palestinian government must adhere to in their policy: commitment to non-violence; recognition of Israel; acceptance of previous agreements; and, engaging in negotiations aimed at realising the two state solution. These conditions became a basis for a later international boycott against the Palestinian Authority when Hamas came to power in March that year. This boycott, in turn brought the Palestinian economy to ruins and was a major factor in the ongoing schism between Hamas and Fateh.
Four years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation: we have a government that is not, in any way, committed to non-violence; a government that does not recognise previous agreements, specifically the road map; a government that does not recognise the two state solution; and, one that is not committed to any meaningful negotiations. Had this government been not Israeli, it would have been brought to its knees by economic sanctions. Instead, the Americans, despite the ongoing row over Israel’s stance have just signed a quarter of a billion dollars arms deal with Israel. How could all of this be true, and yet this reward be given to the Israelis? I will try to discuss these allegations that I have just made to support the argument that similar actions necessitate similar reactions- in a fair world, that is.
Speaking about Israel’s commitment to non-violence can only be a sub story in Alice in Wonderland. I won’t put a lot of effort into discussing the four people killed earlier this week by Israeli soldiers while plowing their fields or demonstrating against the wall. neither will i spend more time discussing the continuous Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
Israel is clearly not committing itself to its obligations under peace understandings, specifically the Road Map. While the Palestinians have met all their commitments to stop incitement and violence, Israel is committed to continuing the building of settlements, a clear violation of the Road Map. Even the announced ‘freeze’ by Israel which does not include Jerusalem, ‘natural growth’, building in progress and social infrastructure is short of its obligation to cease all settlement activity. To add fuel to fire, the Israelis keep on announcing new plans everyday, especially in Jerusalem where they recently announced that plans in the pipeline include over 50,000 housing units. That’s at least 250,000 more obstacles to any peace process.
Israel’s only commitment to the two state solution came in the form of a Palestinian state that is non-contiguous, has no sovereignty over airspace, no control over its borders, no armed forces… practically nothing that can make it a state. We are currently in the same situation, under such circumstances the PA cannot free electromagnetic spectrum for a mobile communications company nor can it find a suitable place to establish a dumpster for Ramallah without getting Israeli consent.
As for peace negotiations, it is clear that Netanyahu is interested in gaining political capital by standing up to the US in its efforts to restart the negotiations. Every time things start moving he finds the perfect way to put them back to square one, just as he did during Biden’s visit.
So it is clear that the Israelis are not keeping with the requirements of the quartet. When the Palestinians were in the same position, they had to suffer from 2 years of sanctions. Why shouldn’t the Israelis be directed to the same treatment now? It is easy to come up with all sorts of excuses against this. Some might say we cannot interfere in Israel’s democracy- but isn’t that exactly what the world did to the Palestinians in 2006, dealing a strong blow to Palestine’s nascent democracy?
Israel is acting like a school bully. Such behaviour calls for measures that would put an end to it. The only conceivable measure, taking into consideration that diplomatic effort the world has put into managing it so far, is to impose sanctions on Israel.