After 30 years of Oslo, the only alternative to apartheid is a democratic state with equal national and civil rights, including the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people.
The Oslo Accords were signed 30 years ago between Israel and the leaders of the Operation for the Liberation of Palestine. The goal was to achieve a so-called historic compromise between the Jewish Zionist movement and the Palestinian nationalist movement. The supposed goal of the international community was the establishment of a “two-state solution” that would guarantee peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis.
After years of displacement and struggle, Palestinians hoped that the Oslo Accords would end the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, occupied since 1967, and that they would lead to the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.
The Palestinians who led the Oslo negotiations thought they would impress the world with their willingness to compromise by making a massive concession by agreeing to the creation of a Palestinian state on only 22% of historic Palestine. That’s half of what the United Nations gave the Palestinians in the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan.
Thirty years later, it became clear that the “dream” of the creation of a Palestinian state through the Oslo Accords was only a nightmare with the continued Israeli military occupation. It has become clear that the Oslo Accords only consolidated the Israeli occupation, as they did not provide for the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories.
The U.S. administration and the rest of the international community have continued to make statements that settlements are obstacles to peace, but have not pressured Israel to end the development of the Israeli colonialism, which resulted in the loss of the possibility of a “two-state solution” and, therefore, the possibility of real peace.
The number of Israeli settlers, considered illegal under international law, increased from 121,000 to more than 700,000. Additionally, Israeli settlers have become a decisive political force in the Israeli Knesset, with as many as 14 out of 120 members They have also become a decisive force in the current Netanyahu government. Among them, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security. Another is Bezalel Smotrich, finance minister and de facto civilian governor of the West Bank. Their main goal is to fill the West Bank with settlements and settlers, so that the Palestinians, as Smotrich said, lose all hope of having a state of their own.
By obstructing all forms of negotiations with the Palestinians and favoring rapid settlement expansion, Netanyahu’s successive Israeli governments have gradually killed the possibility of a two-state solution. Their response to the demographic presence of Palestinians, who are equal to or slightly greater in number than the Israeli Jewish population in the territory of historic Palestine, was the creation of an apartheid state and reality, in which the Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as Jewish Israelis.
According to former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, “Israel applies a system of apartheid against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.” He added in a recent interview with The Associated Press: “In a territory where two people are tried under two legal systems, this is an apartheid state.
I have been warning about the creation of apartheid in Palestine by Israel since 1998. In 2006, former US President Jimmy Carter wrote his book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid”, for which he was violently attacked by the lobby pro-Israeli. Well-respected human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, B’tselem and Amnesty International have concluded in various reports that Israel has imposed a system of apartheid on the Palestinians.
According to the Amnesty International report, published in 2019, “Israel imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians in all areas under its control for the benefit of Jewish Israelis. This amounts to Apartheid under international law. »The Israeli government may have succeeded in killing the two-state solution, but it created the reality of apartheid for both peoples in the process. The responsibility lies not only with far-right Israeli governments, but also with those who drafted the Oslo Accord and failed to confront and stop illegal Israeli settlements. Responsibility for the current situation of apartheid also lies with the United States and other European governments, which did not have the courage to impose sanctions on Israel to prevent settlement expansion, which is detrimental to the future of Palestinians and Israelis.
Accepting a life of submission to apartheid is not an option for Palestinians. The only alternative to living in an apartheid state (the reality is that Palestinians and Israelis already live in one state – controlled by Israel) is a democratic state with equal national and civil rights, including the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people.
What seems impossible is sometimes easier than what is difficult, as the famous musician Daniel Barenboim said. No one has the right to deny Palestinians the dream of freedom and equality, especially when it is the only alternative to a life of oppression under occupation and apartheid.
Mustafa Barghouthi is a doctor and elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He is also the
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti
ED translation for the Palestine Media Agency