Vocal human rights activist Malcolm X once said: “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress” and I was reminded of his comment when I heard that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today begged Israel not to push ahead with plans to annex Palestinian territory.
Johnson and his party are no friends of the Palestinian people so his article in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper must be seen for what it is … he is pandering to those sections of the pro-Israeli lobby which view Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a step too far even by Tel Aviv standards. He’s certainly doing no favours to the Palestinian people whose rights have been trashed on a daily basis under the brutal occupation.
The British Government, historically, has done little or nothing for the Palestinians over the years ever since plunging in the knife through the 1917 Balfour Declaration by offering a promised land to the Zionist project which laid the foundation for the formation of the state of Israel.
The latest Palestinian land theft proposed by Netanyahu and his new coalition government has already been roundly condemned by the international community, traditional pro-Israeli groups and even supporters within his own party. So don’t for one minute believe that Johnson has suddenly woken up to the injustices meted out to Palestinians for more than a century.
At the time of writing, I’m still not certain which way Netanyahu will go with his vow to annex Palestinian territory where a number of illegal Israeli settlements squat. Naturally, those living in the illegal settlements are urging him to go ahead with the land grab which is unprecedented even by Tel Aviv standards.
However there are other considerations and this was brought home loud and clear when Zionist and American Republican politician Eliot Engel, the chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee and one of the top congressional allies of the Israeli government, realised he was about to lose his primary.
Losing his seat sent shock waves through the corridors of power in Tel Aviv and throughout Zionist circles because Jamaal Bowman, a middle school principal and political newcomer, joins a small but growing group within the Democratic caucus willing to put conditions on financial support to the Israeli military. Even the European Union is threatening sanctions.
But it is the threat of losing military aid which is focussing those elements of the pro-Israeli lobby who are urging Netanyahu to pull back on his land grab plans.
Meanwhile, there are those eternal optimists who still cling on to the vision of a viable, independent Palestinian state when it is now widely acknowledged that the dream of a two-state solution has evaporated.
If the Palestinians want to move forward from this then-radical action is needed on an unprecedented scale. There is a growing opinion that the Palestinian Authority is no longer fit for purpose and should be disbanded. Since, in recent years, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas it has done little to protect the Palestinians while appearing to serve the interests of Israel instead.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization recently told a Washington Post journalist what annexation would mean. He said: “It means that I, as a Palestinian, will not be able to do anything without their permission. It means they will control my movements, my planning, my borders and my access to everything. … ” Sorry, Mr Erekat, but under the PA isn’t that already happening to Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza?
Just as the Ramallah leadership serves the interests of the Zionist State more than its own people, this naked ambition to wipe Palestine off the map by Netanyahu may yet just be the jolt the ordinary Palestinians need to rethink their current strategy. Again, the condition of the Palestinians reminds me of something Malcolm X said of his own followers: “People involved in a revolution don’t become part of the system; they destroy the system… The Negro revolution is no revolution because it condemns the system and then asks the system it has condemned to accept them…”
Whatever is decided by Tel Aviv today Palestinians must act decisively and start to determine their own future. They should also recognise that only they can pull out the knife from their back and use it to carve their own future.