Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

The Israeli State does not commit to agreements: The main problem

The meeting between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on February 15, in which the peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians was discussed, has generated surprise and outrage all over the world. 

An Interview with Sociology Professor Bader Araj of Birzeit University, in the West Bank

The meeting between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on February 15, in which the peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians was discussed, has generated surprise and outrage all over the world. 

President Trump's statements about the creation of the Palestinian state then, was a metaphorical mark of his ambiguous and full of contradictions presidential campaign, an incognito the American historian Peter Kuznick has said: "Trump is a wildcard. Trump is full of contradictions that are obvious to everyone, but himself. No one knows what he will do -- probably including him."

Two-State solution

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state" formulations, Mr. Trump said during a White House news conference with Mr. Netanyahu, both leaders' first meeting since the new United States administration took office. "I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." 

For Sociology Professor Professor Bader Araj of Birzeit University, West Bank, the American President "is accepting Netanyahu's attempts to avoid the two-State solution, and to impose the one-State solution," as the State of Israel, he says, is not commited to law and agréments with Palestinians.
In Gaza Strip, Palestinians live surrounded by the 5th largest army on the planet - that of Israel, historically supported by the great powers, and financed by the United States. Gaza has the largest population density on the planet: 1.8 million Palestinians live squeezed in 48 km wide by 4 km long, in some points reaching a maximum of 7 km; so the region comprise no less than 5 thousand inhabitants per km².

This makes for 360 km² of Gaza, which has only three exits (one south on the border with Egypt, and the other north and east on the border with Israel) the world's largest open air concentration camp: Israel has occupied it criminally, ignoring international law and international clamors.

The humanitarian crisis in besieged Gaza is critical, according to human rights organizations and the UN itself, which accounts for about 5 million Palestinians refugees today. Transformed into the largest ghetto in the world, the region is controlled by Israel in relation to everything in and out: food, medicines and hospital instruments, resources in general, doctors and journalists. The Palestinians, locked as pointed out above, only come and go if Israel allows, such a situation often supported by Egypt's control of its borders. Such a control causes permanent hunger in Gaza: Israel even imposes a "diet" on Palestinian society, determining how many daily calories to eat.

An Israeli siege

"Palestinians suffer form a siege imposed by Israel since 2006, which affect all aspects of life that in addition to four wars and attacks on Gaza which led to huge destruction," points out Professor Araj. "Unemployment rate is about 26 percent in the West and Gaza Strip, one-fourth of Palestinian families live under poverty line.

As wrote the Israeli author Benny Morris in his book Righteous Victims: "The Jewish state would not have arisen without the removal of 700,000 Palestinians, so it was necessary to expel them." There was no choice but to expel the population, cleaning the interior, surrounding areas and main roads. The villages from where our convoys and settlements were shot."

On February 10, President Trump had said in an interview with the paper Israel Hayom that ""they [settlements] don't help the process [óf peace]", so minimizing the crimes against humanity committed by the Zionist government. It became clear Mr. Trump's pro-Israel tendency in that same interview with the paper whose owner is Sheldon Adelson, a Jewish-American business man with strong ties to Netanyahu and the United States Republican Party: Mr. Adelson donated millions of dollars to the Republican-elected campaign, and one of the only donors invited to Trump's inauguration oath. A few days ago, on February 7 he had attended a dinner with his wife in the White House with the Trump family. 

"I don't want to condemn Israel. Israel has had a long history of condemnation and difficulty. And I don't want to be condemning Israel. I understand Israel very well," said US President. Daoud Kuttab observes that one sided US policy pro-Zionism refuses to support international law, and refuses to allow Israel to be sanctioned. "The US is part of the problem since they fund Israel to the tune of three-four billion dollars a year, plus give Israel protection in the UN," he says referring to "the illegal settlement and then the restriction on movement, and the collective punishment in form of house demolitions", which are the biggest crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

On February 24, prominent hard-right Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, welcomed Trump's statement, saying: "The era of a Palestinian state is over. There already exists two states for the Palestinians: one in Gaza, a full blown state run by Hamas, and the other is Jordan, where 70 percent of the citizens are, indeed, Palestinians," Bennett told. "So, the discussion is whether we need a third Palestinian state smack in the heart of Israel, and the answer is no." When asked about the Israeli Supreme Court's 2005 ruling describing the West Bank as under "belligerent occupation", Bennett called it a "political decision" and cited the Bible as proof of Israel's right to the West Bank. "If you want to say that our land does not belong to us, I suggest you go change the Bible first."

At the same time, wrote The New York Times on February 15, a well-known paper by Zionsit positions as Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., NYT publisher, is himself a Zionist: "President Trump jettisoned two decades of diplomatic orthodoxy on Wednesday by declaring that the United States would no longer insist on the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians", in the report titled Trump, Meeting With Netanyahu, Backs Away From Palestinian State.

At the end of July 2014, when a new Israeli massacre on the Gazan Strip was going on, the Italian-Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal was dismissed from the MSNBC network for publicly criticizing the ample space to Israeli politicians, compared to the minimum provided to the Palestinians. "Maybe, about 30 seconds [for Palestinian voices on MSNBC show], while you have a 25-minute space on Bibi [Benjamin] Netanyahu, and half an hour for Naftali Bennett and many others."

In an interview with Democracy Now!, a few days after the resignation of MSNBC Jebral pointed out that, "in 2012 you had, on CNN alone, 45 Israeli officials interviewed versus 11 Palestinians. And when it comes to this conflict today in 2014, you have 17 Israeli politicians, official interviewed versus one Palestinian."

Below, the full interview with Professor Bader Araj.

Edu Montesanti: How do you evaluate the meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahy on February,15? "I'm looking at two-state and one-state" formulations, Mr.Trump said during a White House news conference with Mr. Netanyahu. "I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." Many say that President Trump has "killed" the two-State solution. Your view, please, Professor Bader Araj.

Bader Araj: Trump's statement is a first official step to change the American stand towards the two-state solution, which has been declared and emphasized by three American previous presidents who were in office before Trump - Clinton, Bush, and Obama. 

It also shows that Trump is accepting Netanyahu's attempts to avoid the two-State solution, and to impose the one=State solution.

Edu Montesanti: Why cannot Israel and the Palestinians decide alone the question? Why do Palestinians need a third party to get an agreement?

Bader Araj: Our main problem is that our enemy, the Israeli State, does not commit to agreements that they reach and sign with us, due to the that fact that they are the stronger party in the conflict. Therefore, we need a third party or parties to put pressure on the Israelis to implement such agreements. 

However, the question in this regard is that not whether we need a third party to facilitate negotiations and monitor the implantation of reached agréments, but which third party we should resort to: the U.N or the USA? PLO during the Oslo process, resorted to the Americans and as we have seen from Trump's stand referred to in the previous question, the USA is biased and cannot be trusted as a third party.


Edu Montesanti: The passage of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 voted on December 23 last year, condemning the Israeli settlements as a flagrant violation of international law and a major impediment to the achievement of a two-state solution, changes nothing on the ground between Israel and the Palestinians. UN member states "agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council" according to the UN Charter. Human rights and the international community also condemns the Israeli settlements and military attacks against Palestinians. Journalist Daoud Kuttab observed in Al-Jazeera last month, in the article US and Israel join forces to bury Palestinian statehood: "Ever since the 1967 occupation, the United Nations Security Council has repeatedly expressed the illegality of the occupation, as in the preamble of Resolution 242 "emphasising  inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" Why does nothing change year by year, massacre after massacre?

Bader Araj: The main reason behind this is the imbalance of power between the Israelis and the Palestinian and the American unconditional support of Israel in the U.N and Security Council which make such institutions unable to force Israel to comply to international resolutions.


Edu Montesanti: How is life in Gaza and in the West Bank?

Bader Araj: It is difficult politically, economically, and socially. In Gaza, Palestinians suffer form a siege imposed by Israel since 2006, which affect all aspects of life that in addition to four wars and attacks on Gaza which led to huge destruction. 

The same applies to the West Bank but to a lesser degree; the confiscation of Palestinian land, the building of the separation agreement which spate 12 percent of the West Bank from the rest of the region, as well as controlling borders, water, check-points...etc. all of that makes the Israeli occupation literary affects all aspects of Palestinian daily. 

As a result, unemployment rate is about 26 percent in the West and Gaza Strip , one-fourth of Palestinian families live under poverty line, etc.


Edu Montesanti: Professor Avi Shlaim observed days ago, in Al-Jazeera: "The Palestinians are handicapped by weak leadership and by the internal rivalry between Fatah and Hamas." Your view on the internal politics among Palestinians, please, Professor Araj.

Bader Araj: Throughout Palestinians suffer because of thier leadership. This happened during the 1936-1939 revaluation against the British colonialism when its leader Haj Ameen Hoseini believed British promises to stop the revolution and achieve national independence gradually. 

A similar mistake by the Palestinian leadership took place during the Oslo agreement in 1993; stop the First Intifada or Uprising (1987-1993) and leave the final issues to be negotiated in the future. We are now 24 years after that agreement and we all know how things turned out. 

Another major problem face the Palestinians is the weak democratic commitments of their leadership. This has led to the internal division and the Hamas-Fatah conflict due to not respecting the result of elections in 2006. Also this leads to the lacks of democracy either in the Gaza Strip where Hamas is tacking control, or the West Bank where Fatah is taking control. 

Decision making institutions in both regions suffer from the lack of democracy. In short, Palestinians badly need democratic transition and reform which is the best way to have an elected and countable leadership that can lead the national struggle and the national state-building process.


Edu Montesanti: What could we expect from Arab leaders from now on, to get a solution?

Bader Araj: In the light of the consequences of the Arab uprisings which started in December 2010 in Tunissia and led to civil wars in several Arab countries, the expectations of Palestinians from Arabs and Arab leaders are lower than any other stages in recent history. 

However, I still believe that democratic transition will take place in Arabic counties if not now in the future and that going to be the best way to have strong Arabic support to Palestinian national struggle.


Edu Montesanti: What is the solution to the conflict, Professor Bader Araj?

Bader Araj: The two-State solution. I prefer the one democratic state solution for all of its citizens but I know that is hard to achieve due to the Zionist nature of the Israeli state but that can be a long-term solution. 

However, the best and most realistic solution now is the two-State solution, a Palestinia