What does it mean to pursue regime change as a path for transformation in Israel-Palestine — and is it enough to bring about justice?
By Diana B. Greenwald | +972 Magazine | July 28, 2021
The state-first approach has, so far, failed to prevent, and, if anything, has enabled the continued abuses of the occupation, asymmetric warfare, authoritarianism within Palestinian institutions, and forcible dispossession and displacement.
As Palestinian demonstrators assembled in the streets of Ramallah, Hebron, and other West Bank cities last month, a familiar, but perhaps unexpected, rallying cry rose from the crowds: “The people want the fall of the regime.” The trigger for the protests was the June 24 killing of Nizar Banat, a prominent activist and frequent critic of the Palestinian Authority, while in the custody of Palestinian security forces. While Banat’s funeral attracted thousands in Hebron, protesters in Ramallah chanted “fall, fall, military regime.” It was PA police officers who shoved fellow Palestinians in the streets, struck protestors with batons, attacked journalists, and harassed female demonstrators and observers.
But regimes are systems, not individuals, and many have argued that the system that enabled agents of the PA to carry out these violations is the same one that targets Palestinians confined in the blockaded Gaza Strip with devastating aerial bombardment; threatens thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem with expulsion; repeatedly demolishes the homes, classrooms, and critical facilities of Palestinian Bedouins in the Jordan Valley; and confronts Palestinian citizens of Israel with, alternatively, state neglect or mass arrests. It is one of racial discrimination and gradual ethnic cleansing that has been a dominant feature of Israeli politics since the birth of the state.
Since at least the 1930s, the dominant discourse on Israel-Palestine has been about the number of states the region can, or should, feature: one or two. But as prominent regional and international organizations increasingly use the label of apartheid to describe the reality between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, regime-based claims are beginning to break through.