by Diana Buttu
With each new Israeli election, Palestinians are asked who will be better for the “peace process.” We are told that the self-proclaimed “centrists” will improve the chances for peace and therefore we should hope that they gain more seats in the government.
But make no mistake: there are no “centrists” in Israel; Zionist parties support Israel’s continued military occupation, the construction and expansion of Israeli colonies, the attacks on and siege of the Gaza Strip and, most important, the denial of freedom and equality to Palestinians. For example, Tzipi Livni, the justice minister fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly voted against Knesset bills seeking to enshrine equality in Israeli laws. In other countries, these politicians would be considered “right-wing extremists,” not centrists. These extremist views reflect Israeli society: a country based on inequality that either denies or makes excuses for the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland, where the denial of freedom is tolerated and where frequent military attacks against a defenseless, refugee population are accepted.
Whoever wins these elections and whatever the composition of the next government, the same situation will prevail for Palestinians: We will continue to live under inequality or under foreign military rule in our homeland. Israel will continue to steal our land, demolish our homes, strip us of our rights and demand our loyalty and subservience to a system and society that seek to oust us.
Israel’s perpetual rightward shift reflects the hubris of America’s spoiled child. Every elected American official pampers and lavishes support for Israel, even as Israel’s actions defy U.S. interests and presidential statements. The world’s unwillingness to halt Israel’s illegal behavior, cements a mindset that illegality is permissible.
No matter what the composition of the next Israeli government, the world must move to hold Israel accountable. The world must make clear that the era of denying the rights, freedom and dignity of Palestinians is over. The international community must now impose sanctions on Israel for its continued illegal activity and not hide behind a farcical “peace process” in the belief that this will lead to Palestinian freedom.
It is nonsensical that Palestinians, occupied and stateless, must negotiate their freedom with their occupier and oppressor. It is the role of the international community to make known that it will not tolerate colonialism in the 21st century. If the world fails to do so, it should not be surprised when Palestinians lash out against their oppressor, just as other oppressed communities have done around the world.
Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, and Palestinian negotiators, is a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.