Palestine Update 450
The first of these is a survey of experts on the region indicates which points to a shift in views that Arab decision makers cannot ignore. The survey was overseen by Marwan Muasher, vice president for studies at Carnegie.
The second is a statement to commemorate a historic day in the decades-long Palestinian campaign for international justice and accountability for Israel’s apparent atrocity crimes in the Palestinian territory. Four human rights networks – Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Centre for Human Right and Al Dameer Association for Supporting Prisoners and Human Rights (the Coalition) – acknowledge and welcome the 3 March 2021 announcement by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the opening of a full criminal investigation into the Situation in Palestine.
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A look into the Middle East’s Future
Recently, the prominent researchers Shibley Telhami, of the University of Maryland, and Marc Lynch, a George Washington University professor, published a major poll examining the future of the Middle East. They surveyed 521 experts on the region, 71 percent of them based in the United States and the rest living elsewhere. Among the issues covered were the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Arab Spring uprisings.
Perhaps the most striking takeaway was how the experts saw the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A majority, 52 percent, said that a two-state solution was no longer viable, while 42 percent said it could be achieved, but not within the next decade. The more important finding was how these mostly U.S.-based experts viewed the political situation in Israel and the occupied territories. Fully 59 percent described the status quo there as that of a one-state reality akin to apartheid, while 7 percent described it as a one-state reality with inequality, but that could not be compared to apartheid.
Anyone familiar with the political sensitivities of U.S. institutions can understand the courage needed for a U.S.-based expert to describe Israel’s system as it is: a racist, apartheid regime. When asked about the most likely scenario if a two-state solution were no longer possible, 77 percent predicted a one-state reality akin to apartheid.
These expectations have major political implications for the Arab world. They show that the two-state solution is no longer seen as a viable option by a majority of American academics, who tend to provide a bellwether for where U.S. policy might head. Realistically, and with no disrespect to the aspirations of Arabs, a political debate limited to the two-state solution and unaccompanied by any major effort to make that solution a reality, simply gives Israel a green light to absorb more land and make such a solution impossible.
Arab decision makers must think imaginatively if they are to prevent what these experts regard as the most likely scenario. Lip service to the two-state solution will not prevent such an eventuality, but must be accompanied by efforts to bolster Palestinians as they remain on their land and demand their rights. Insisting on the form of the state will not change anything if the state is devoid of meaning. It is no secret that a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital, without control over the Jordan Valley, that does not guarantee a right of return, the removal of Israeli settlements, and full sovereignty over its territory, would be unacceptable for the new generation of Palestinians, a majority of whom were born after the Oslo Accords.
The other topic of the survey was the fate of the Arab Spring uprisings. Here again, the responses merit the attention of Arab decision makers. Of the experts consulted, 46 percent agreed that these uprisings had not ended but were continuing in some form or another. Another 30 percent said that they had temporarily halted, but would likely resume at some point in the coming decade. Only 7 percent of respondents believed they had definitively ended.
Looking toward the coming decade and the impact of these revolts on Arab politics, 29 percent of those surveyed said the uprisings were transformational, while 54 percent said they had an important impact but did not fundamentally change the region. Only 17 percent saw them as temporary disturbances with a limited impact.
The traditional Arab political orders had previously adopted the mantra that the Arab uprisings of 2011 had ended—that is, until a second wave of revolts broke out in 2019 in Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, and Lebanon. While the regimes in those countries were momentarily able to rein in this second wave, it is logical to expect third, fourth, and fifth waves, or more, until the underlying causes of the revolts have been addressed—good governance and higher living standards.
Arab decision makers need to recognize that the region is undergoing multiple transformations, not least the emergence of a new generation of young people with a different view of the world. The Arab political order has for decades been unable to adapt to developments in the region and the rise of the young. Yet the young now represent a majority of the Arab population and are demanding new approaches and policies, as well as participation in the policymaking process.
For now, decision-making in the Arab world is characterized by monotony, even inertia. Yet our world is changing quickly, while Arab political systems are responding slowly. No good can come of Arab regimes that are clinging to yesterday’s solutions in order to resolve today’s problems. What is needed is to think outside the box, not just because this will allow for innovation but because the box itself is no longer appropriate. It won’t contain the aspirations of a new generation of Arabs that will not remain silent, whether on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or on conditions in the Arab world.
Justice for Palestine:
Historic Day for Palestinian victims of Israeli crimes
Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian Centre for Human Right and Al Dameer Association for Supporting Prisoners and Human Rights (the Coalition) acknowledge and welcome the 3 March 2021 announcement by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the opening of a full criminal investigation into the Situation in Palestine. This is a historic day in the decades-long Palestinian campaign for international justice and accountability for Israel’s apparent atrocity crimes in the Palestinian territory.
It is imperative that the ICC carry out a full, thorough and comprehensive investigation and hold to account those responsible for the commission of international crimes, inclusive of war crimes and crimes against humanity, in Palestine. We urge that there be no undue delay, and that the utmost urgency be brought to bear. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory has been characterized by the widespread violation of the human rights of Palestinians, and the commission of repeated and ongoing apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity, facilitated by an environment of impunity.
This investigation represents a critically important step towards ending impunity and upholding the international rule of law, while ensuring the dignity of the Palestinian people who continue to be denied their right to self-determination and who are subjected to a criminal regime of apartheid, forced displacement, population transfer, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, pillage, willful killings, and persecution, amongst other crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.
Investigating war crimes related to the settlement enterprise in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as Israel’s subjection of Palestinian civilians in Gaza to the inhumane closure and brutal military offensives, and apartheid as a crime against humanity, will require the Court to engage both with the conduct of individual soldiers and military commanders, and the entire military and civilian hierarchies embedded in and advancing the Israeli occupation.
Our Coalition reiterate that individuals, whether members of the Israeli occupying forces, or others complicit in and responsible for the clearly apparent perpetration of Rome Statute crimes, have not been subject to any independent legal investigation in Israel. Israel has consistently failed to make any attempt to hold individuals, at any level, responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, Palestine has properly and fully consented to the Court’s jurisdiction over all international crimes committed on the territory of the State of Palestine, encompassing the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
The decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of 5 February 2021 affirmed that there is no obstacle in law for the Court to exercise such jurisdiction, and it is now essential that all States Parties to the Rome Statute, as well as all other states, fully cooperate with the Court as it undertakes this crucial investigation. It is further essential that the Court has all the resources necessary as it seeks to exercise its mandate and duty of investigating and prosecuting with the utmost independence and impartiality.
Our Coalition calls on third states and the international community to fully cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor as per the obligations set forth in Article 86 of the Rome Statue, and in line with Common Article 1 of the four Geneva Conventions and Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure the arrest and transfer to The Hague of persons investigated and accused of international crimes, and to prevent the continued perpetration of international crimes against the Palestinian people.
Our organisations wish to thank the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for standing strong in the face of concerted attacks on the Court to ensure that the voices of those most marginalised and silenced by Israel’s crimes are finally heard and their fundamental right to access justice vindicated. Our organisations wish to thank all those who have supported the pursuit of justice, who never gave up hope that justice, would be delivered and who believed in the integrity of the international legal system and its strong institutions.
Joint Press Release: http://www.mezan.org/en/post/23923