Palestine can be a sovereign state if Israel stops the Occupation

14 Nov

In the Straits Times article dated November 10, “It’s not about Palestine’s existence, but whether its people can govern it’, former British Prime Minister, and current Middle East Envoy for the Quartet, Tony Blair, was reported in the paper that “the core issue is not whether a separate state called Palestine can exist, but rather whether Palestinians have the capacity to govern it”. He also said “Israel had first to be assured that its security would be guaranteed fully.”

Mr Blair’s comments are highly controversial as it makes the implicit and racist assumption that Arab Palestinians are incapable of governing themselves.

The Palestinian – Israeli conflict dated back to as early as 1948 when the latter occupied 77 percent of Palestine land. During the 1967 war, Israel further invaded and occupied the remaining territory of Palestine (which is known as the West bank and Gaza Strip) as well as the entire Jerusalem, which was subsequently annexed by Israel. Even though Israeli troops have withdrawn from Gaza and the West Bank, it still has effective control on both areas.

In Gaza, Israel has recently declared it a hostile entity, reduced and cut off its power and fuel supplies in addition to the economic blockade. Israel also controls all the 5 border crossings, the air space and coastal regions of Gaza. At the West Bank, Israel has built a wall that surrounds the area, in addition to building settlements, road checks for Palestinians and private roads only for Israelis. South African Archbishop and Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has compared Israel’s action to the Apartheid.

As such, it is irresponsible to claim that Palestinians must first prove that it is able to govern itself since they have always been under the Occupation.

Mr Blair also remarked that one has to take into account’s Israel’s security. The argument does not hold water, as the ordinary average Palestinians do not endanger Israel’s security. While it is true that there are certain militant sectors within Palestine that have fired Qassam rockets into Israel or that suicide bombers have threatened and destroyed the lives and properties in Israel, these incidents are a direct result of the occupation. To argue that Israel’s security has to be guaranteed when it is in fact the aggressor who continually violates UN resolutions by violating the human rights of Palestinians just does not make sense.

The Palestine- Israel conflict can only be resolved through dialogue and a sustained peace process brokered by the UN that is in line with the approved UN resolutions. The Israeli government, US and EU must stop labeling Hamas as a terrorist organization and instead engage with it proactively. The western powers cannot ignore Hamas, as it is a political force and party, which has come to power through democratic elections.

Palestine can be a sovereign state. It is capable of governing itself. However, that can only happen when America stops supplying Israel with military weapons that make the Occupation possible. It can only happen if Israel stops its Occupation.

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