The Harmfulness of Self-determination on the Palestinians

The Harmfulness of Self-determination on the Palestinians

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Laila AbusamhadanaLaila Abu Samhadana

The Gaza Post|The News of Palestine-Palestine


‘Be careful what you wish for, lets it come true’ is an ancient witness that is very much relevant to the Palestinians today.

The founders of the oldest city in the world have been yearning for autonomy since the end of the Ottoman empire in the early 20th century (“The world’s 20 oldest cities”, 2017).

However, attempts at attaining autonomy have been deemed impossible as a consequence of Israeli occupation to the Palestinian territories. Which harms the Palestinians even further. It should be argued that Palestinians should change their discourse concerning self-determination; concessions should not be given and rather than demand for autonomy in the same manner as in the last two decades, dissolve the ‘Oslo accords’ and  leave the situation be for Israel  to conceptualize it.

The Oslo accords is a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that was signed in 1995 to create an interim Palestinian authority.

The interim conditionality asserted the necessity for the final negotiations since the interim period is only but five years (Declaration of Principles, 1993). Almost 25 years have passed and Oslo has proven only failed accomplishments and a rather disadvantageous situation for the Palestinians.

There are four main issues with regards to ‘demanding’ self-determination in the context of Palestine. Firstly, the Palestinians’ right to self-determination is inherent, inalienable and based on jus conges; which means that no law or treaty of any kind can compromise it (Drew, 2011). Thus, even in the case of dissolving Oslo, the right itself remains as it is not an endowment.

Secondly, the legal rights of inhabitants of an occupied territory cannot be diminished by any agreements between the indigenous and the occupiers (Geneva Conventions, 1949).

The Oslo accords attempt at retaining the legal rights of the Palestinians and relieving Israel from liabilities of past crimes. For instance, article 20 of the Oslo accords reveals the transfer of rights, liabilities and obligations from the Israeli military government and the civil administration to the Palestinian council. Subparagraph (e) states the following “in the event that an award is made against Israel by any court or tribunal in respect of such a claim, the Council shall immediately reimburse Israel the full amount of the award”. This is an example of the loss of the Palestinians’ legal rights, the right to an effective remedy. (The Oslo Accords, 1995).

Thirdly, the international system has a misconception on the right to self-determination as a process devoid of substantiality.

The world reckons the Palestinians’ right to a process of achieving self-rule, while disregarding contents such as territory, resources, and demography (Drew, 2011). Israeli Settlements deprive Palestinians of the physical attributes that establishes their autonomy.

Finally, examining the situation today, it is impossible to create a Palestinian state within the current geographical framework Israel has set; Annexation of East Jerusalem and continual settlement construction in the West Bank, in addition to the no-man zone Israel has established in 17% of the Gaza Strip.

The significance of the quote that this piece has started with, is that, Palestinians may indeed end up with a state; except it’s not the state that rectifies their tragic reality. A Palestinian state may quite likely end up existing in the Gaza Strip alone, completing Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ scheme (Middle East Eye, 2018). The establishment of a Palestinian state in the current situation ensures that Refugees would not return, water supplies and thus economic growth would not exist, and giving up on the Palestinian citizens of East Jerusalem.

Moreover, it has not been evident in Israeli actions and mentalities that it has the intentions of abstaining from belligerent actions that would lead to the Palestinians’ acquisition of inherent rights.

The spiritual father of the political right in Israel, ze’ev Jabotinsky, has stated before that “Settlement (in Palestine) can thus develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population, behind an iron wall which they will be powerless to break down. “The iron wall policy that has been deliberated over by Jabotinsky, has been accepted and applied by all the sides of the political spectrum in Israel. The fundamental difference between Jabotinsky’s theory and Israel’s application is that Jabotinsky viewed the iron wall as means to the establishment of Israel, while Israel (all its regimes since establishment), seems to be comfortable with the iron wall as an end. How can Palestinians demand a right initially achieved through diplomacy, by bargaining with an occupying power that only utilizes hard power in their endeavors?
Israel does not acknowledge that the continuation of the occupation is and will be a heavy economic and social burden (Swirski, 2008). Even though the occupation is a profitable business, the burdens of the conflict was witnessed specifically after Palestinian uprisings. For instance, after the first Intifada, Israel witnessed two years of economic decline and three years of GDP loss per capita (Swirski, 2008).
It is Israel that should decide whether it is comfortable with a de-facto apartheid state, or does it wish to finally end the struggles of the Palestinians and accord them what is rightfully theirs (ESCWA, 2017).

written by: Laila Abu samhadana


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