Wanted: Strategy to ensure Israeli occupation is not around for another fifty years
Fifty years is a long time. The Israeli occupation has lasted way too long.
The problem is that there is no credible plan to end this occupation at present.
What is needed is a national Palestinian, Arab and international strategy that can produce an end to this ugly, illegal and unjust occupation of millions of Palestinians by a foreign military power.
Such a strategy must first and foremost change the balance of forces that at present weighs heavily in favour of the Israelis.
No negotiations will produce any fair solution based on the current uneven situation that benefits the Israeli occupiers.
As long as the occupation is cost free, there is little incentive for the Israelis to end it.
In view of the settlements and their influence on the Israeli political scene, ending the occupation is becoming less and less likely; 650,000 Israeli citizens who vote in elections live in the occupied territories and are unlikely to give any support to a plan to change the current status quo.
The only way to do that is to change the fundamentals of the occupation, making it costly to the occupiers.
The cost of occupation can be personal, political, economic or moral.
Israelis and especially Israeli settlers must pay a price for ruling another people against its will and in defiance of international law.
Israeli settlers could be restricted from entry into the European Union; Israeli settlement products, for example, were forced to stop labeling themselves as made in Israel. The same can be applied to settlers. They would need to go through the same rigorous visa process as Palestinians living in the same land.
Politically, Israel must be confronted at every political stage and made to pay for its refusal to end its illegal occupation.
Israel could end this occupation quickly if it had the will and if the cost of its occupation became politically too high.
While Israel is today enjoying a lucrative economy and its standard of living is equal to or higher than that of most developed countries, this economic boom can be reversed if peoples and countries of the world unite in pressing the Israelis to end their illegal actions.
Perhaps the most powerful weapon that can be used to force Israelis to end the occupation and colonial settlement activities is a moral one.
Israel prides itself to be a home for Jews and its enlightened traditions, yet the occupation runs totally against any lofty values.
This must be constantly reminded by authoritative and respectful figures around the world until the Israelis change their policies.
Israel should no longer be allowed to continue its transgressions and violations of human rights with impunity.
Human Rights Watch issued a strong report on the 50th year of occupation outlining five major areas: unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that put Palestinians at a disadvantage.
The need for a holistic strategy requires some house cleaning. Palestinians cannot expect the world to be united against Israel when they are not united and with a clear purpose and action plan to end the occupation and replace it with a democratic independent state.
Palestinians, also, must agree on the tactics to reach that goal. Giving lip service to popular struggle is not enough. Continuous and persistent non-violent opposition requires commitment, unity and agreement on a single purpose.
Palestinians abroad and the vast international support that Palestinians have needs to be utilized, channeled and put to good use in order to see some real results.
University students, creative talents, faith-based peace organisations, committed unions and others can do a lot to shake up the status quo by making Israel pay a high price for its continued occupation.
These forces are already doing a lot, but their efforts are often individual and lacking a comprehensive strategy.
Fifty years is a long time for a people to suffer under occupation.
In order to ensure that the situation does not continue indefinitely, a national strategy with a role for international grassroots organisations is needed to reverse the current trend and shake up the proponents of occupations and illegal colonial settlements.