The creation of a
Palestinian State remains a pipe-dream
fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI, The League of Nations mandated
that Britain administer Palestine. The London administration was quite
ineffective, in part, due to the contradictory promises which were made to the
Arabs, to the Zionists and to France, the other colonial power which divided
the territory with Britain.
But the conflict is much more ancient. It has now been
thirty centuries since the first confrontations between the Philistines and the
Hebrews, and the peace agreement promoted by US President Donald Trump between
Israel and two ancient small Gulf monarchical dictatorships will certainly not
resolve this millennial rivalry.
The Philistines settled in the region around 1200 BC. Toward
the end of the 11th century BC, the Israelites succeeded in driving them
out of much of their territory, but they remained independent along the coastal
region. And although they never completely dominated the whole area, the
demonym of this people comes precisely from the word peleset (Philistine)
and hence the territory Filas?in, Falas?n or Filis?in (Palestine).
Three thousand years later, the conflict seems to lack
resolution. The Israelis have never accepted the existence of a Palestinian
For their part Palestinian leaders continue to employ
inviable rhetoric, which has led to their losing many opportunities. The
corruption of which they are accused, is based in reality, but Israel has a
relatively dark history.
Arab Sultans and Sheikhs are people with a medieval mindset,
those for whom religious fanaticism and money is uniquely important. Trump
likes them, because in some ways they resemble him. The Israelis have worked
out how to take advantage of all this so as to eliminate the possibility of a
Result: Palestinians will have to live under Israeli
control. They will be second-class citizens, and the internal arrangement of
Israel will change as the ultra-orthodox Haredin have a higher
population growth rate than Arabs or other Jewish factions.
Arabs are 20% of the population, while Haredin jewish
sect already constitutes twelve percent of the population. At the time of the
creation of the State of Israel, the Haredin were only 0.2%. These are medieval
clans living in a special world. For example, they have won the right to not
attend school, as they only study holy scriptures. They do not do military
service and by law they do not work; they’re basically maintained by the State.
Benjamin Netanyahu survives thanks to the ultra-orthodox
parties. The future of Israel is not a peaceful future. It is a country that is
going to turn more and more toward the right, which will have to continue to
use force against the Palestinians, who will become an exclusively internal
problem, as they will be abandoned by other Arabs. They are going to live under
appalling social and economic conditions, and we are going to see how Israel
increasingly takes the apartheid path.
Netanyahu’s recent victories portend a dark future. One has
visited the region too often now to offer a positive prognosis. Through all
this, Trump motivates alliances with the Sunni religious fundamentalists led by
Saudi Arabia, united against the Shiites, led by Iran.
Iran, the ancient Persian civilisation, is much more
tolerant than the Sunnis. The problem is that it has been captured by a group
of fanatics who took advantage of the unpopularity of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,
leading to them seizing power from the Shah in 1979. They are unpopular, but
they are holding their ground.
It should be remembered that the theocratic regime was
installed with decisive help from the West.
Khomeini returned from exile in France to Iran on a plane provided by the
conservative government of French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Iran is
another mistake made by the United States, a country whose foreign policy is
always short-term, again failing to understand the reality on the ground.
Triggering an escalation to remove the Shah, employing the
clergy, created a regime that eventually turned against the US, something Reza
Pahlaví would have never done. It is the same mistake committed in Afghanistan,
when they financed a movement against the Russian occupation, creating
phenomena such as Bin Laden, which ended up turning in another direction.
By the way, this is the same mistake made by Israel when it
supported Al Fatah at first, so as to weaken Yasser Arafat’s Palestine
Liberation Organisation (PLO).
The Mullahs are
not at all popular, but they are maintained by the support of the peasants and
by a powerful repressive apparatus. No doubt at some point they will be taken
out in a bloody internal crisis, and Iran will return to normality.
In this respect I wish to stress three points:
–Iran has top-level universities, great films,
excellent architecture and a high level of scientific prowess: none of which
can be found in the Sunni world.
–In Teheran there are synagogues and Christian
churches, something that is lacking in the Sunni world.
–Of all the terrorist attacks that have taken
place to date in Europe and in the United States, there has not been a single
And we should bear in mind that Iran has been under
sanctions for 40 years.
Moral: the political disaster which is the Middle East is
one of governance, in which the ‘West’ and Trump carry many responsibilities.
So too the Europeans who installed Kings, Princes, Emirs and Sheiks when they
divided up the Ottoman Empire.
And Trump, with his son-in-law, who, despite being Jewish,
is capable of reasoning in Arab terms, by reinforcing this World of
petrodollars and of medieval thought.
Throughout this panorama the Palestinians remain a people
without a homeland who lack nationality, and the Israelis have their answer
prepared: they don’t accept the peace plan, and then do not have leaders who
However, persisting in maintaining millions of people
resentful and poor is not an intelligent play. It is also clear that in both
intellectual and artistic circles there is little Israel support for such a
Falling into this trap is best explained by Netanyahu’s
efforts to maintain power at any cost, and so selling his soul to the
far-right, also accompanied by a left which has become a merely symbolic
force… 28 SEPTEMBER 2020
*Publisher of OtherNews, Italian-Argentine Roberto
Savio is an economist, journalist, communication expert, political commentator,
activist for social and climate justice and advocate of an anti-neoliberal
global governance. Director for international relations of the European Center
for Peace and Development. Adviser to INPS-IDN and to the Global
Cooperation Council. He is co-founder of Inter Press Service (IPS) news
agency and its President Emeritus.