Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Two-State Solution? Who Are They Kidding?

According to the BBC (who say their data comes from the OCHA), Israel now fully controls 62% of the West Bank; of the remaining 38% more than half is under Israeli security control. There are 149 authorised Israeli settlements in the West bank, and 100 'unauthorised outposts' - all illegal under international law. The population of the West Bank is 2.4 million Palestinians and 500,000 Jewish/Israeli settlers. It looks to me as though this data comes from the OHCA's report The Humanitarian Impact On Palestinians Of Israeli Settlements and Other Infrastructure In The West Bank (large pdf file), published in 2007. If so, and if I read the report correctly, then the BBC have their figures the wrong way around: Israel directly controls over 38% of the West bank and has security control over more than half of the remaining 62%. Although Israeli settlements have grown significantly since 2007, so these figures will be underestimates.

Meanwhile in Washington, Ramallah and Jerusalem negotiators make a lot of fuss about the supposed partial settlement freeze coming to an end.

Just for clarity, here is the introduction to Annex I of the OCHA report:

Under international law, Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including East Jerusalem, are illegal. The illegality of Israeli settlements has been recognised by the international community including through resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

A key part of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is its appropriation of water resources, where Israeli settlers get the lions' share. For example, from the Western Aquifier, which lies under both Israel and the West bank, of the 362 million cubic metres pa pumped, just 22 mcm pa is for Palestinian use, the remaining 340 mcm pa is reserved for Israeli use. Water supplies to Palestinian towns are largely controlled by Mekorot, an Israeli firm which prioritises Israeli customers when water supplies are short.

The facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine are clear: Israel has no interest in a two-state solution, all it wants to do is to pressure more and more Palestinians into leaving their homes, whilst extending its settler presence throughout all the land it wants to appropriate. To anyone familiar with the history of apartheid in South Africa the strategy is all too plain.

A two-state solution which included a viable Palestinian state once looked a workable approach to the Israel/Palestine problem. Now it has been overtaken by events, and it is time to move toward a single state solution which is non-racist and fully democratic. Then all sides can have their capital in Jerusalem.

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