Opinion |

Peace Is Justice, and Justice Doesn’t Need a Partner

Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Pro-Palestinian activists rally in New York against the Israeli occupation.
Pro-Palestinian activists rally in New York against the Israeli occupation.Credit: Anadolu Agency
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

One of the main claims of Israeli propaganda is also one of the worst — that there is no partner for peace. In fact there was, is and will be a partner. But we can leave that aside. No partner is necessary.

They so dearly want two states and are so against the occupation, say many self-righteous Israelis — and then comes the heartrending sigh, carrying all the sorrow of the Jewish fate — but there’s no partner. If only there were. If only. He is desperate for peace, but there’s no one to make it with. And so he must, he is forced against his will, miserable victim that he is, to continue the occupation. In recent years this shtick has become a central trick of the propaganda of Zion. With the exception of the extreme right, which says openly that it wants apartheid forever because the Jewish nation is superior, everybody uses it.

The truth is that there is no partner for continuing the occupation. There is no partner for Israel’s interminable delaying and rejection tactics. There is no partner for Israel’s ridiculous talk about demanding recognition as a Jewish state, just as there is no partner for Israel’s other empty demands. There is no partner for the unbelievable chutzpah of Israel’s demand for negotiations “without preconditions,” while the mother of all preconditions, the settlement enterprise, thrives unabated.

There is no partner for Jerusalem united eternally, and there never will be. There is no partner for Israel’s endless security demands, as if it were the weaker, battered party whose security and existence were in danger, rather than the Palestinian people, Israel’s actions against which can only be described as criminal.

It is doubtful that a serious partner will be found for unilateral demilitarization, no less of a chutzpah; there certainly will be no partner to leave most of the settlers in place.

There was no partner when Israel refused for years to talk to the PLO and there will be no partner as long as Israel continues to hold the people of the Gaza Strip in a cage. There was no partner when Israel did all it could to crush then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and there is no partner after Israel did everything to turn his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, into a sad joke in the eyes of his people. Nor will there be a partner, as long as the occupation persists — and there is nothing more violent — for Israel’s demand for an end to the violent resistance.

In short, there is no partner. Like the man who murders his parents and then pleads for mercy on the grounds of being an orphan —the classic definition of chutzpah — Israel has done everything for there not to be a partner, and then moans that there is no partner.

In fact, it’s not necessary. To establish justice, no partner is needed. Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so. In the fog of Israeli propaganda, these fundamental truths have been obscured and forgotten. The simple fact that the real victim is the Palestinian people has been forgotten. They are in existential danger and they live in inhuman conditions, which must be changed before anything else. Conditions cannot be set for returning part of a people’s land, its liberty and its dignity. It must be the other way around. First restore (partial) justice to the Palestinians and then talk about everything. Israel never had a statesman who turned everything upside down and pledged to end the occupation before anything else. It always began with an accounting of the preconditions that Israel made. It always ended with there being no partner.

The partner will appear afterward. Since most, not the entirety, of the Palestinian people wants to live in peace with Israel — 30 years of covering the occupation have persuaded me of this, beyond a shadow of a doubt — it is very likely that a partner will be found for ending the occupation. And if not, too bad for Israel. But even that can’t absolve it of its duty to end the injustice and the evil.

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