Akiva Eldar writes:
Like every year-end, once again they’re promising that the next 12 months will be “a decisive year.” Fact: Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that in August 2011, when Prime Minister Salam Fayyad finishes building institutions in the West Bank, the United Nations will recognize the Palestinian state.
Brazil and Argentina have already recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. And most importantly, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said clearly that the status quo is unacceptable to the United States; she insisted that the Israeli government put forth a map with permanent borders as soon as possible. As for me, I’ll bet that next year the conflict will remain at a standstill. That’s the best-case scenario. Meanwhile, the settlements will grow like mushrooms and Hamas will continue striking roots.
Fostering the illusion that the conflict is ending doesn’t bring a solution closer; in fact, the focus on the final-status talks offers an alibi for deepening the occupation. The high and mighty words about two states for two peoples silence the protest voices of a nation that for more than 43 years has lived under the occupation of another nation. The testimonies of 101 discharged soldiers who served in the West Bank over past decade and collected their comments in a book published by Breaking the Silence show that even the status quo Clinton referred to doesn’t reflect the situation.
Contrary to the impression that government spokesmen are trying to create – that Israel is gradually withdrawing from the territories based on the necessary caution dictated by security needs – the soldiers describe a steadfast effort to tighten Israel’s hold on the West Bank and the Palestinian population.
It says in the book that the continued construction in the settlements is not only about stealing land whose future the two sides are meant to decide through negotiations. The increased presence of a Jewish population brings with it an increase in security measures such as the policy of “separation.” The testimonies show that this policy practically serves to control, plunder and annex the territories. It funnels the Palestinians through the Israeli control mechanism and establishes new borders on the ground through a policy of divide and rule.