Daily Time Editorial 22 November 2019

Cry yet more, poor Palestinians!

 

There seems no end to the cruelty and humiliation fate has in store for Palestinians at the hands of the US and Israel. Clearly the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, something unthinkable since the Palestinians abandoned the maximalist dream for the reality of the two-state solution, was not the final nail in the coffin of the already comatose peace process.
“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law hasn’t worked,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has now said. The UN waived its customary impotence at Washington as all other security council members ‘rebuked’ it for claiming that Israeli settlements were not in violation of international law. But everybody, especially everybody among the Palestinians, knows only too well what good that would do.
It is certain, then, that back-and-forth around the two-state solution had gone on too long. And there was no better time than the present, when practically all of the Gulf was also more or less on board, to move ahead with complete occupation of the Holy Land. This process began long before trump, when one particular US secretary of state, Colin Powell, directed American embassies to replace official mention of the term ‘occupied territories’ – meaning stolen land, of course – with ‘disputed territories’. But does that change the specifics of the law, that occupying powers cannot plant their own citizens on occupied and stolen land, as mandated by the Fourth Geneva Convention?
So the skeptics were right all along. There was never really going to be a two-state solution. How distant Chairman Arafat’s promises of return ring now, how broken the dream of going to their homes in Jerusalem and Haifa once again. Sadly the Muslim world’s story of these 70 years of Palestinian occupation will be one of disunity and betrayal. And the PLO, too, led to no meaningful reorganisation of Palestine’s insular clans. Its leaders grew rich in Lebanon as it became the best funded resistance movement in the world.
Whether or not the dye is finally cast by Washington green-lighting the settlements, there is no denying that the status quo has been shattered. Never did the words of Golda Meir, fourth in the long list of Israel’s hawkish prime ministers, feel as true as they do no.
“When we burnt down Jerusalem, I hadn’t slept all night, expecting that the Arabs would be coming from all over towards Israel. When the sun rose, I knew full well that we are facing a sleeping Ummah,” she said.
Poor, suffering Palestinians, then, are destined to cry yet more for their olive gardens.

 
 

Political paralysis and way ahead

 

For far too long headlines have been dominated by this intense political feud between the government and just about all of the opposition. First the government, as if PTI was itching to grease the Accountability machinery, had practically all of the senior opposition members picked up on varying charges of corruption. They can be politically correct all they want about it, and lay it squarely at ‘independent’ NAB’s feet, but the official line hasn’t largely found much traction. Then this and that happened till the Maulana came out with his dharna. Then the process of Nawaz’s departure rattled the government, especially how some cracks emerged between PTI and its many coalition partners, enabling it so far to maintain a razor thin majority up and down the place. You could see that in the prime minister’s outburst at the motorway inauguration the other day.
And now the ECP must hold daily hearings of PTI’s foreign funding case. Backed into a corner PM Imran Khan is shouting his anti-corruption mantra even louder, promising not to relent even as the pieces move against him on the board, perhaps trying to make this particular point because there’s not much else, especially the economy, to celebrate. And, how can we forget, parliament has been paralysed practically since the change of guard, even though it was only ceremonially functioning before that.
What, then, to expect of the future? Does the opposition really believe it can bring the government down, even though all principal parties are ‘on the same page’? And who’s behind the latest plot coming out of the rumour mill; hints about minus-one?
The only mention of the common man in those headlines, sadly, is how he’s struggling to make ends meet. He can only watch from the side as the aristocracy, so far removed from the reality of the country, play out their game of thrones. And, to add insult to injury, the ruling class always says it’s doing all this for the man on the street.
Perhaps it’s the duty of the ruling party, considering it bears responsibility for the result, to revise its strategy. The IMF program on track, reserves improving, rupee stable, even the current account deficit finally positive, is all very good, but it will mean nothing at the next vote if the real economy is not fixed. If the government is unable to address people’s most basic needs, which even the “looters and plunderers” could in their time, despite their alleged looting and plundering, it not the opposition will have to answer for it.

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