We must get the Israeli public to recognize this basic human truth: Occupation by a foreign government cannot be a substitute for sovereignty, just as slavery isn’t freedom, war isn’t peace and ignorance isn’t strength.
A Palestinian state that faithfully reflects the national yearnings of all parts of the Palestinian people, which deserves national freedom like any other people . . . will only come about with the end of the Israeli occupation and liquidation of the lion’s share of the settlement enterprise.
In one of the most trenchant articles ever written here against the occupation, Prof. Shlomo Avineri wrote that any denials of the fundamental fact that Palestinian residents of the territories — who have been under Israel’s direct or indirect control since 1967 — are under Israeli occupation “recall George Orwell’s book ‘1984,’ in which the government declares that slavery is freedom, war is peace and ignorance is strength” (Haaretz Hebrew Edition, March 17).
A recent op-ed by former Defense Minister Moshe Arens (“Gaza, a failed Palestinian state,” June 26), which claimed that the Gaza Strip is a “sovereign Palestinian state,” is clear confirmation of Avineri’s diagnosis.
Gaza isn’t a sovereign state for a host of obvious reasons, only a few of which can be enumerated here: Israel controls Gaza’s population registry, supplies its most essential and basic infrastructure, and determines the quantity and nature of the merchandise supplied to its two million residents. No step that has even the most trivial characteristics of a sovereign state — like a decision to set up a civilian airport — can be implemented in Gaza without Israeli approval. Israel is the economic sovereign there, if only by virtue of the simple fact that the currency used in the Strip is Israeli currency, the shekel.
Moreover, just as it’s impossible to view Gaza as a “sovereign state,” it’s also impossible to define it as a “Palestinian state.” For even though Arens is correct in saying that all its residents are Palestinians, the Palestinians there are just part of many fragments of the Palestinian people, whose national existence has been dismantled and pulverized by the Israeli master’s divide-and-conquer strategy into enclaves that resemble ghettos, isolated from each other by walls and fences.
A Palestinian state that faithfully reflects the national yearnings of all parts of the Palestinian people, which deserves national freedom like any other people, can arise only after all these enclaves are united. And that will only come about with the end of the Israeli occupation and liquidation of the lion’s share of the settlement enterprise.