The recent tensions in Palestine and occupied territories have once again shown to the world the importance of resolving this decades-long issue. It seems that the normalization of relations between several Arab countries with the Zionist regime has not been able to reduce tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
George Bisharat (born 1954) is an American professor of law and a frequent commentator on current events in the Middle East, and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in particular. He earned his B.A. in anthropology from UC-Berkeley in California and his M.A. in history from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, before going on to graduate cum laude from Harvard Law School. In 1987, he earned a PhD in Anthropology and Middle East Studies from Harvard University.
IQNA: In recent days, we have witnessed new tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories. What is the difference between this new tension and the previous ones?
Bisharat: Personally, I don't see a big difference between current and past tensions. What we have witnessed over the last couple of weeks is quite similar to what we saw a year ago. In the big picture, this is the ebb and flow of advancing Israeli settler colonialism and continuing Palestinian resistance to that process.
Of course there are particulars to each rise in tensions, and there are certain seasons and calendar dates that tend to elevate tensions (such as the onset of Ramadan, or Palestinians' commemoration of Land Day each March 30, or the Naka each May 15), but overall, current tensions bear broad similarities to those of the past .
IQNA: What do you think is the reason why the international community has failed to resolve the Palestinian issue?
Bisharat: Principally it is the support of Israel by the United States and to lesser extents the United Kingdom, France, and other European powers that has caused this failure .
The dynamics are somewhat distinct in each of these supporters of Israel, but essentially there are political, economic, and military/security interests in each that lead to support of Israel, or at least indifference to Israel's denial of Palestinian rights.
Were Israel not receiving such support (military, diplomatic, economic, and more) from the outside, it would have been compelled long ago to come to terms with Palestinians under its rule, whether within Israel itself or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
IQNA: Some believe that the two-state peace plan will fail due to the occasional tensions in the Palestinian territories. what is your opinion?
Bisharat: The two-state solution may have had a chance to succeed after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. However, Israel elected to continue its long-term plan to colonize most or all of the land envisioned by the international community as constituting the Palestinian state .
At this point, no political force exists that is capable of forcing the withdrawal of some 700,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. And it is impossible to create a truly viable and sovereign Palestinian state in the small increment of land still under Palestinian control .
Therefore, the two state solution has already definitively failed – or better put, has been destroyed by Israel. Continuing to call for two states under conditions in which it is impossible to achieve is merely to support the status quo of continuing Israeli colonization.
IQNA: What is the reason that the plan to normalize relations between several Arab and Islamic countries with Israel failed to reduce tensions in the Palestinian territories?
Bisharat: Very simple, because the plan failed to address any Palestinian concerns, and, in fact, freed Israel of external pressures that might have led it to respect Palestinian rights. The so-called Abraham Accords are in fact a military alliance of repressive and authoritarian states, aimed primarily at Iran. They have nothing to do with peace, and everything to do with maintaining those repressive regimes in their current forms.
IQNA: How do you think the Palestinian issue can be helped, and what is basically the best possible solution for all the people living in the Palestinian territories to achieve peace?
Bisharat: Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are destined to inhabit the same land together into the indefinite future. They must, therefore, learn to live together in ways that permit each people to be safe and to thrive economically and in every other way. The impending challenges of climate change make cooperation in the coming years even more vital and necessary.
Since the two peoples cannot be separated without extreme violence and injustice, the way forward demands a political framework that enshrines equal rights instead of the current situation of apartheid and , as the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem termed it, a regime of Jewish supremacy from the river to the sea .
My personal belief is that a single state based on true democracy and equal rights is the most promising way forward, but we all should be open to other possible ways to realize the ultimate goal of equal rights for all, including confederation, binationalism, and the like.
Interview by Mohammad Hassan Goodarzi