Ceasefire, a Victory of Palestinians, and Momentum towards Two State Solution
On 20th May night (11 PM GMT) ceasefirewas announced between Israel Govt. and Palestinian organizations to end 11 days of barbaric pounding of Gaza by Israel and rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. Effort to broker ceasefire by Egypt and Qatar havebeen successful in view of near total call for the ceasefire by the countries of the world and growing world public opinion for end to this war including in the United States. Israel’s agreeing to ceasefire, Netanyahu having vowed to continue bombing Gaza, has definitely shown the source and limits of Israeli belligerence. On 19th US President Biden told Netanyahu that he expected “significant de-escalation” by Wednesday, fuelling hopes of imminent ceasefire and on Thursday Israel agreed to the ceasefire. Biden was obviously forced to make the Call with near total isolation internationally and growing demands from the ‘progressive’ wing of the Party. He was met by thousands of protesters including Arab Americans when he had visited Michigan on 18.5.2021. There was a growing perception that Biden Admn. with respect to Israel, is continuing with Trumpism without Trump.
Terms of the ceasefire have not been made public. Palestinian organizations- Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have claimed that this includes no forcible eviction in Sheikh Jarrah and stopping all police actions at Al Aqsa. Israel has claimed that ceasefire is unconditional. This would be known only when the terms are made public, if ever, as not making them public can be part of the terms. However, the very fact of Israel having been forced to accept within less than 24 hours of ruling it out, shows that Israel had little choice. Second, and more importantly, Palestinian organizations have forced the issue of illegal settlements and forcible evictions on the agenda which world body can no longer ignore. Ceasefire has definitely been a victory for Palestinians and their resistance, a victory gained by tremendous sacrifices but then when and where do the oppressed gain anything without sacrifices. Celebrations in Gaza and questioning in Israel substantiate this fact, at least of the subjective perception on the ground.
Israeli bombing of Gaza lasted eleven days. More than 255 Palestinians have been killed, 232 of them in Gaza. Over half of them are children (65), women and elderly. Over 1500 of them were injured and 68,000 of them displaced in Gaza. Whole residential building blocks have been flattened. In the rubble lie whole families. Abuilding housing offices of international media organizations including AP, Al Jazeera and CNN, has been deliberately razed to the ground after giving an hour’s warning. US Admn. and a section of corporate media have tried to bury the news, unsuccessfully though. For the whole day of the worst bombing campaign, many major media outlets in America, Canada and many European states tried to ignore it; instead those in US and Canada covered the death of Obama’s pet dog’s death the whole day. Israel often claims that while Hamas rocket fire is indiscriminate, their bombing campaign is precisely targeted. It means that the bombing of media houses (nearly 250, most of them Gazans) was precisely targeted. It could have only one meaning, that Israel deliberately wanted to black out all news of death and destruction rained by them on Gaza.
In his brazen attempt to stay in power, ultra-reactionary Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has speeded up developments on the Palestinian question and in the larger Middle-East. Trump doctrine- of formally abandoning two state solution long sought by UN including past US Admn. at least formally and recognizing the whole of Palestine as Jewish state of Israel, and forcing US dependent Arab monarchies into openly abandoning Palestinians- has been torn down. All the members of Security Council meeting held on May 16 (streamed live) including USA had affirmed, even if some of them only formally, their opposition to illegal settlements and their support to two state solution. Arab states- UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan- who had signed Abraham Accords of surrender to Israel on Trump Admn. dictates, are looking for cover and have been severely criticized for their repudiation of Palestinians’ right. They had claimed that their Accord would help Palestinians but are speechless now, blocking news and suppressing expressions of dissent in their states. Morocco expressed “concern”over Israeli bombing. UAE which had emerged as the main instrument of Trump Admn. in forging these accords, is trying to suppress all news. Kushner Plan (Kushner, son in law of Trump and his senior advisor who had developed extremely close personal relations with Netanyahu) has got unceremonious burial. It completely ignored Palestinians, terming their conflict with Israel as a mere real estate dispute. Palestinians have buried it in the sands of Arabia. Netanyahu’s gamble had not taken into account the differences that have come in the international situation and situation in the region. What a difference a year can make!
The conspiracy of giving one-sided focus on rocket attacks from Gaza and affirming Israel’s right of self-defense has not been successful. All Security Council members including close friends of Zionist Netanyahu Govt. – Biden Admn. of USA, Boris Johnson led Conservative Govt. of UK and RSS-BJP Govt. of India- had to talk about the illegal occupation of the Palestinian land by Israel in Sheikh Jarrah and Sulivan where forcible occupation became the flash point for the present conflict. This has been the singular achievement of the world public opinion opposing racist apartheid practiced by Zionist rulers of Israel. Where does the right of self-defense come into question anyway! Israel is annexing the territories which are under its illegal occupation and which belong to the state of Palestine according to a number of UN resolutions. Any question of Israel enacting laws governing such annexation does not arise. It is forcibly evicting Palestinians unleashing Jewish extremist thugs upon them with security forces helping these thugs. And then, if oppressed respond with whatever means available to them, accusing them of being the culprits. Changing the demography in an occupied territory is a war crime according to international law. And if the oppressed resist with means available to them, where arises any question of self-defense to such an aggressor and violator of international law? Raising such a question itself amounts to favouring the Zionist expansionist racist practitioners of apartheid.
Israel’s ambassador to UN held a picture of a young Israeli girl who had died in rocket fire. A total of 12 Israelis had died in this conflict. He also mentioned that Israelis had to carry their children to bunkers for safety. He failed to mention and obviously so, how many Palestinian children had been killed. While Israeli carried their children to underground for safety, Palestinians had to carry dead bodies of their children from the underground! It is Netanyahu govt. which is responsible for all the deaths, Palestinian or Israeli, by its annexations and war crimes.
New Aspects of the Present Situation
The statement by CPI(ML)-New Democracy on May 14 had mentioned the new elements in the present situation which will influence the outcome of this round of war. One of them was growing strength of ‘progressive wing’ of the Democratic Party. Biden had initially responded to the bombing of Gaza by phoning Netanyahu to express support to the right of defence for Israel. In three consecutive meetings of the Security 735 Council, Biden Admn. exercised veto to a statement by Security Council calling it “unhelpful”. Not to let UN Security Council have any role, US Ambassador to UN asserted “US is acting tirelessly through diplomatic channels to bring this conflict to an end.” Chinese envoy who presided over the Security Council commented, “Regrettably, due to the obstruction of one country, the Security Council hasn’t been able to speak as one voice.” This pro-Israel stand was opposed by the ‘progressive wing’ of the Democratic Party. 29 senators, including both Jewish Americans, Bernie Sanders and Jon Ossof, made a statement for immediate ceasefire. Two others including a Republican senator also favoured ceasefire. A number of members of the Congress also made such statements. Besides there were large demonstrations across US against Israeli bombing of Gaza. It was in this gathering support for ceasefire that Biden made that Call on 19th May. On 20th Israel assented to ceasefire.
Just before the outbreak on May 5, Biden Admn. authorized supply of Joint Direct Attack Missions (JDAMs) worth $ 735 million to Israel. These are precision guided bombs. Despite attack on Gaza, Biden Admn. refused to cancel or even hold back the deal. Bernie Sanders has now moved a resolution against the deal. There is no doubt that growing opposition in US played an important role in bending Israel.
Anther important feature has been large-scale demonstrations by Arab citizens of Israel. City of Lod, near Tel Aviv became a particular centre of such protests but they were widespread throughout Israel. Arabs constitute nearly one fifth of the citizens of Israel. These clashes between Jews and Arabs inside Israel was termed a situation of “near civil war” by police chief. The open siding of Police with Jewish chauvinists including in lynching totally unmasked the claims of democracy at least inside Israel. This created deep anxiety inside Israel and made many Jews also question Netanyahu Govt. Their claim of being the sole democracy in the region lies in tatters. This united movement of Palestinians in Occupied Territories, inside Israel and in the refugee camps is a welcome development in their struggle for national aspirations.
A very important pillar of the imperialist control over Arab oil and gas are the Arab monarchies who owe their rule, its sustenance, to western imperialist powers. Of them Saudi family is the most important, ruling over the largest exporter of oil, homes of the most revered sites of Islam and over the biggest and most populous country of the region. They are most fearful of their own people, hence rely on imperialist military for their rule. Trump had remarked that Saudi family cannot stay in power for even a week without US military support. The current president of USA, Joe Biden had called the rulers 500 royals and their families. They are given a share of the imperialist loot and plunder of the rich resources of the region. It is not just western imperialists’ own need of oil and gas but their wish to exercise control over other countries who import oil and gas from the region. It is in this land ruled over by monarchs installed in power and maintained by western imperialist powers that Palestinians have to fight for their national rights and even existence and these are one of the main stumbling blocks in their path. There is no democracy and the modern-day crusaders for democracy and human rights, western imperialist powers, leave these out of their sight. Internally the problem of fighting for democratic rights is that most of the working classes are immigrants and do not enjoy any rights. The struggle for democratic rights is waged in these countries by middle classes and suffers from all the weaknesses of these classes. The traders of these lands are organized by Muslim Brotherhood (MB) which has social reactionary outlook. On the other hand progressive intelligentsia does not have support of the working classes and is thus weak and flabby. This was quite apparent during Arab Spring of last decade. In Egypt, the most populous and intellectual cultural leader of the Arab world, the military dictatorship was restored after an interregnum of the rule of MB. The democratic restructuring of these societies will give such an overwhelming support to Palestinians, their Arab brethren, that no imperialist power on the earth can snatch away their rights. Hence, the imperialist powers in the world have always opposed any democratic change in these countries.
Western Imperialists’ Support to Israel
The issue of imperialist support to Israel, its creation and sustenance, is of economic plunder and political control and has little to do with religion. The discourse of unity between Jews and Christians on Israel on religious grounds which has made some inroads among some progressive intellectuals also, is devoid of any basis. A majority of Jews in USA have been since long been opposing Israeli atrocities over Palestinians but the successive US Admns. have been supporting Israel. However, big capitalists, many of them Jews, have been supporting Israel’s atrocities and that is because of their class interests as a dominant imperialist power. In fact the current US President, Biden, then a Senator, had expressed succinctly in 1986, “Were there not an Israel, the United State of America would have to invent an Israel to protect our interests in the region.” He meant control over petroleum resources of the region.
Similarly, the support by Evangelical Christians of Israel to Zionism, has little to do with Christianity but all to do with their ties to the big bourgeoise ruling classes. It is a well documented and known fact that Christians in Jerusalem and Israel feel oppressed and feel greater affinity with Muslim Palestinians.
Even the fact of proximity due to religious reasons is not rooted in history. Jews had been prosecuted by Christians who held them responsible for the death of Jesus. Pogroms, burning of their colonies are documented throughout history. No such pogroms were done by Muslim rulers. In fact, in Europe, trading community of Jews, who had a substantial number of craftsmen and workers, was always used as a scape goat by the feudal monarchies who diverted their laboring masses into chauvinist channels to disrupt their struggles and sustain their rule. In fact at a time when Christian elimination of Jews was in full swing, it was the Muslim rulers of Spain who saved them from extinction in the last place in Europe where they had substantial population. So, the present myth about the support of evangelical Christians to Israel on religious grounds is an artificial construct piecing together unrelated events, all in the service of imperialism and propagated by the corporate media.
Hindutva Zealots Back Israel
While Israeli atrocities in occupied Jerusalem and bombing of Gaza has been globally condemned, the supporters of ruling RSS-BJP have run a campaign in support of Israel. Social media campaigns with various hashtags supportive of Israel have trended on Indian social media over the past week, many calling Palestinians “terrorists”. RSS-BJP supporters are behind this campaign. On May 12, BJP Member of Parliament Tejasvi Surya, known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, wrote on twitter : “We are with you. Stay strong, Israel.”BJP spokesman from Chandigarh, Gaurav Goel, has been regularly tweeting in support of Israel. Hardik Bhavsar, a Twitter user followed by 134,000 people including Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Shah, on Saturday shared a video of a high-rise tower that hosted media offices, including Al Jazeera and Associated Press, destroyed in Israeli bombardment. These are some of the examples reported in the media which show that social media engines linked to ruling RSS-BJP are actively involved. These Hindutva zealots feel affinity with Zionists like they did with white supremacists led by Trump. Again it has little to with India or Indians as a majority of Indian Americans had voted against Trump despite RSS organized Friends of BJP actively supporting Trump. It has all to do with their agenda in the service of corporate here, and that is the reason that corporate media does not expose them.
On 16th May, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, T.S. Tirumurti took a more balanced approach which included, “I reiterate India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-state solution.” After an earlier S.C. meeting on May 12, T.S. Tirumurti, in a tweet, had singled out rockets from Gaza for condemnation. Change is probably due to fear of isolation at the global stage. India’s historical stand on Palestine has been diluted over the decades after the dissolution of Soviet Union and ushering in of unipolar world. India established full diplomatic relations with Israel under Congress Govt. in 1992 when they drew closer to the United States. Though Congress Govt. had forged closer relation with USA and its surrogate Israel, it was the BJP which was more open and unashamed in this regard like on other issues. It was first time during NDA I that a cabinet minister visited Israel and Israel’s PM visited India. Again, it is during NDA II that it was taken further when both President Pranab Mukherjee (2015) and later PM Modi visited Israel, the latter without visiting Palestine. RSS-BJP find themselves cornered as they did at the time of Trump’s defeat. Their supporters called India’s stand on May 16 as “shameful diplomacy. Spineless act by our govt.” RSS-BJP have forged close links with Zionists, White supremacists and Buddhist extremists in Myanmar and Srilanka, hatred against Muslims being the common factor among them.
Mobilize the people for realization of national aspirations of Palestinians
With ceasefire taking hold, the democratic forces the world over should demand immediate cessation of all oppressive acts against Palestinians in occupied West Bank, particular their forcible displacement. Siege of Gaza should be lifted and all aid humanitarian aid should be freely allowed through land and sea. Illegal Israeli blockade should not be permitted and it is not difficult if UN or major powers are prepared to force its lifting and not limit their support to mere posturing. UN should help in rebuilding of Gaza, which is quite possible in a short time considering its small size.
There should be determined advance towards lasting solution of Palestine question. UN has a special responsibility towards this to undo the historical damage it has done by snatching Palestinians’ land from them treating Palestine as “a land without people.” Israel had been founded on basis of gross injustice towards Palestinians, the project being developed by British imperialists and brought to fruition by US imperialism and other world powers. At present, UN should at least move to implement its two oft-repeated resolutions – One, creation of State of Palestine in pre-1967 borders (This Israel is much bigger than the one given in November 1947UN resolution). Second is the right of return to refugees, i.e. Palestinians who were living in boundaries of Israel and their descendants, a right repeatedly reiterated by UN in its resolutions and a universally accepted right. Implementation of these steps can pave the way for the two states to live peacefully together and lead to the resolution of conflict. Support to the first i.e. Palestine in pre-1967 boundaries was reiterated by all Security Council members. On the second, western powers specially USA have equivocal position despite several UN resolutions reiterating it. It was in fact on this that Camp David talks convened by Clinton after Oslo floundered. No Palestinian organization can forgo it and there will be no durable peace in the region without it. It will lead to democratization of Israeli society, so essential for the two communities to live together and foster amicable relations among them.
Advance can be made towards resolution of the problem because the world today is multipolar and no single power can dictate to others while every power would like to increase its influence in this resource rich region. Another important factor is growth of the support from democratic forces for Palestinians against Zionist atrocities. There has been what is being called a “tectonic shift” in the ruling Democratic Party onIsrael. Biden despite his opinion will not be able to resist the winds sweeping the base of his own Party. Democratic forces the world over must unitedly and vigorously build a movement for the realization of national aspirations of the Palestinians and in near future.
May 21, 2021
(From May 2021 issue of New Democracy)