Palestinians’ goal is inching closer
By itself, this week’s conference in Switzerland on Israel’s settlements breaching the Geneva convention is not particularly significant. Israel, after all, already flouts international law and pays little attention to world censure, whether it be UN resolutions or more modest rebukes.
But the conference of the Fourth Geneva Convention becomes significant taken together with a series of other seemingly inconsequential events. The European Parliament’s vote supporting statehood for Palestine, for example, occurred on the same day that the Swiss conference declared that Israel must obey international humanitarian law. In October, Sweden became the first EU member in western Europe to recognise the Palestinian state. This was followed by parliamentary votes in the UK, Ireland and France in support of recognition. Ever so slowly it seems, the Palestinians’ cause is moving forward, inching towards that critical mass of world opinion, which could finally help deliver land, peace and justice.
The tide of international public opinion against Israel’s occupation quickened after the devastation of Gaza last summer, killing at least 2,100, especially now that there is not even the pretence of a peace process. Israel’s heedless contempt for Washington has already led US secretary of state John Kerry to warn against it becoming an apartheid state, though he later rephrased the comment. There is some talk that the US may not exercise its veto on the Palestinian statehood resolution submitted to the Security Council late on Wednesday.
As this newspaper has long said, international public opinion is a powerful weapon. Its power can be seen in the growing strength of the global boycott, divest and sanction movement that seeks to impose an economic toll on the occupation, and by an EU vote last year compelling Israel to mark honestly when goods are from the settlements . Though not directly analogous to the Palestinian issue, apartheid in South Africa was not ended by a single initiative but by a series of small steps. It is too early to say the Palestinian movement is headed for victory but at least it is moving in the right direction.
Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM