Middle East specialist and deputy director of the monthly newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique Alain Gresh answered questions from euronews about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Sophie Desjardin, euronews: Since the Oslo accords, the whole Israeli Palestinian peace process has been blocked by questions about refugees, Jerusalem claimed by both sides as their capital, and Jewish settlement-building. So many questions linked to land. Are there any solutions?
Alain Gresh: There are principles defined by international law and the United Nations, the principle of partition for Palestine, which was voted in 1947 and later confirmed, which is to say for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Secondly, there is the fact of the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, illegally, which are the territories out of which the Palestinian state can be created. That is the legal basis for the conflict, the basis on which it should be resolved.
euronews: How could the creation of a stable country with set borders and a democratic government elected by the Palestinian people harm Israel more than the political instability and territorial volatility there is now? What is really at stake behind Israel’s staunch opposition to the creation of such a state?
Gresh: I believe the Israeli government today is making choices that are totally against the interests of the people, because it is developing an ethno-nationalist policy along the thinking that the Jewish people of Israel are superior to their neighbours, and that it has all the rights and has had a historic right to Palestine for 4,000 years. Odd. By the same template, France would be at war with Germany over a region that was populated by Gauls. So, this is really a purely ideological speech, and one of force.
euronews: Israel always brings up the security argument. Is that valid?
Gresh: The problem is to know what can ensure Israel’s security. Is it really the continuing occupation, keeping several million Palestinians under occupation? This security concern can not be allayed unless there is peace, and if international guarantees are needed, several times already Europe and the United States have been ready to send troops there to ensure security.
euronews: One hundred and thirty Israeli settlements have risen up in the West Bank since 1967, with 300,000 settlers living there, not to mention east Jerusalem. What to do about those settlements? Is their survival compatible with the two people’s peaceful coexistence?
Gresh: First we have to remember something. In this General Assembly vote in the UN, which can make Palestine an observer state while not being a full member state, since the US would veto that… it would give Palestine a chance to go before the International Criminal Court to pursue a certain number of Israeli people charge of things, notably on this question about the settlements, since according to the court’s statutes the settlements constitute a warcrime. Now the Palestinians have said several times they were ready to make light adjustments to the border, so that some of the settlements remain within Israeli territory. That would still require the dismantling of dozens of settlements and the eviction of tens of thousands of people. It’s obviously possible economically. Politically, it would be much harder for the Israeli government.