ANALYSES

The International Community, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories : Better act now than never

Tribune
5 décembre 2008
Unfortunately, one could add that, in this bad scenario, Palestinian people are still the biggest losers of this whole and absurd situation. Media in general seem to have found much more interest in focusing on the expected Middle Eastern strategy of President-elect Barack Obama, the coming Israeli general elections of February 2009, and the prevailing inter-Palestinian political chaos, rather than concentrating on one of the most important issues : the humanitarian one. While everyone is wondering who will do what and how in the future, doesn’t it seem a little bit inappropriate, and scandalous, to notice that few are the people that talk about the famine that most of the Gaza Strip inhabitants are facing today ?

Palestinians as a whole have suffered a lot during their recent history, and the more they struggled for independence, the more they had to wait for better days. It is not the first time that they face harsh conditions in their daily lives, of course. But should we really get astonished if a new cycle of violence had to reveal today, weakening inter-Palestinian perspectives as well as Israeli-Palestinian relations as a whole ?

The siege without mercy that the Israeli government is imposing on the Gaza Strip is far from being the solution for what remains mainly a territorial, politically-based conflict. Obviously, locking an entire population into a prison won’t bring changes of behaviour into Palestinian territories. But it won’t bring peace to Israelis neither. Unfortunately, few media have paid attention to recent declarations of Prime minister Ehud Olmert himself. In an interview he gave to the Yediot Aharonot newspaper a few weeks ago, Olmert considered, in a kind of revolutionary stance that one could hardly expect from him, that he supported personally the idea of an Israel’s geographical contraction to the 1949 armistice lines. Which means that he is convicted now of the necessity for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, and give back the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East-Jerusalem to Palestinians, as well as returning the Golan heights to Syrians. And one could probably suggest that he also had in mind the case of the Shebaa farms, which could be due to Syrians or Lebanese, no consensus having been reached on that point till now.

The fact that Prime Minister Olmert is guided by exclusive national Israeli and demographic considerations is meaningless here. What is much more important is that, while he is making such revolutionary announcements, it seems as if the world was waiting for President-elect Obama to hold his official presidential functions before engaging into a new direction that lots of us would hope to reveal successful. But the question is still : does the Middle East always have to rely on Washington and the announced policy of each of its leaders before wondering what could happen next ? Obviously, Palestinians, as well as populations of the region, have waited long enough, and their political, economic and social contexts have rarely been as explosive as what occurred these last weeks.

Americans, including B. Obama; Europeans, including the European Commission and Mr Javier Solana; Russians, Chinese, and all of the actors that declare themselves attached to peaceful perspectives in the Middle East region ; all should therefore take the opportunity of the current fluttering that the renewing of the American presidency is providing, and adopt clear principles and objectives that would be based on the core of Mr Olmert’s recent statements as soon as possible. One shouldn’t forget, indeed, that unemployment guarantees a lot of time, during which Palestinians always find the opportunity to keep informed of their neighbours’ news. And as no one could guarantee, or ask them, to keep starving quietly these coming months, while assisting to the inaction of the international community, and waiting peacefully for Likud’s leader Benyamin Netanyahu to be elected on February 2009 elections… it seems obvious that today, more than ever, it is (still) time for action.