Palestine: Ilan Pappe -- At the UN, the funeral of the two-state solution

By Ilan Pappe

September 12, 2011 -- Electronic Intifada -- We are all going to be invited to the funeral of the two-state solution if and when the UN General Assembly announces the acceptance of Palestine as a member state.

The support of the vast majority of the organisation’s members would complete a cycle that began in 1967 and which granted the ill-advised two-state solution the backing of every powerful and less powerful actor on the international and regional stages.

Even inside Israel, the support engulfed eventually the right as well as the left and centre of Zionist politics. And yet despite the previous and future support, everybody inside and outside Palestine seems to concede that the occupation will continue and that even in the best of all scenarios, there will be a greater and racist Israel next to a fragmented and useless bantustan.

The charade will end in September or October — when the Palestinian Authority plans to submit its request for UN membership as a full member — in one of two ways.

It could be either painful and violent, if Israel continues to enjoy international immunity and is allowed to finalise by sheer brutal force its mapping of post-Oslo Palestine. Or it could end in a revolutionary and much more peaceful way with the gradual replacement of the old fabrications with solid new truths about peace and reconciliation for Palestine. Or perhaps the first scenario is an unfortunate precondition for the second. Time will tell.

A substitute dictionary for Zionism

In ancient times, the dead were buried with their beloved artifacts and belongings. This coming funeral will probably follow a similar ritual. The most important item to go six feet under is the dictionary of illusion and deception and its famous entries such as “the peace process”, “the only democracy in the Middle East”, “a peace-loving nation”, “parity and reciprocity” and a “humane solution to the refugee problem”.

The substitute dictionary has been in the making for many years describing Zionism as colonialism, Israel as an apartheid state and the Nakba as ethnic cleansing. It will be much easier to put it into common use after September.

The maps of the dead solution will also be lying next to the body. The cartography that diminished Palestine into one-tenth of its historical self, and which was presented as a map of peace, will hopefully be gone forever.

There is no need to prepare an alternative map. Since 1967, the geography of the conflict has never changed in reality, while it kept constantly transforming in the discourse of liberal Zionist politicians, journalists and academics, who still enjoy today a widespread international backing.

Palestine was always the land between the river and the sea. It still is. Its changing fortunes are characterised not by geography but by demography. The settler movement that came there in the late 19th century now accounts for half of the population and controls the other half through a matrix of racist ideologies and apartheid policies.

Peace is not a demographic change, nor a redrawing of maps: it is the elimination of these ideologies and policies. Who knows — it may be easier now than ever before to do this.

Israel’s protest movement

The funeral will expose the fallacy of the present Israeli mass protest movement, while at the same time highlight its positive potential. For seven weeks, mostly middle-class Israeli Jews have protested in huge numbers against their government’s social and economic policies.

In order to keep the protest as large a movement as possible, its leaders and coordinators do not dare to mention occupation, colonisation or apartheid. The sources of evil for everything, they claim, are the brutal capitalist policies of the government.

On a certain level they have a point. These policies disabled the master race of Israel from fully and equally enjoying the fruits of Palestine’s colonisation and dispossession. But a fairer division of the spoils will not ensure normal life for either Jews or Palestinians; only the end to looting and pillage will.

And yet they also showed scepticism and distrust in what their media and politicians tell them about the socioeconomic reality; it may open the way for a better understanding of the lies they were fed about the “conflict” and their “national security” over so many years.

The funeral should energise us all to follow the same distribution of labour as before. Palestinians urgently need to solve the issue of representation. The progressive Jewish forces in the world have to be more intensively recruited to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and other solidarity campaigns.

Intifada at the proms

The recent disruption of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the prestigious BBC Proms in London shocked the gentle Israelis more than any genocidal event in their own history.

But more than anything else, as reported by senior Israeli journalists who were there, they were flabbergasted by the presence of so many Jews among the protesters. These very journalists kept depicting in the past the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and BDS activists as terrorist groups and extremists of the worst kind. They believed their own reports. To its credit, the mini-intifada at the Royal Albert Hall at least confused them.

Putting one state into political action

In Palestine itself the time has come to move the discourse of one state into political action and maybe adopt the new dictionary. The dispossession is everywhere and therefore the repossession and reconciliation have to occur everywhere.

If the relationship between Jews and Palestinians is to be reformulated on a just and democratic basis, one can accept neither the old buried map of the two-state solution nor its logic of partition. This also means that the sacred distinction made between Jewish settlements near Haifa and those near Nablus should be put in the grave as well.

The distinction should be made between those Jews who are willing to discuss a reformulation of the relationship, change of regime and equal status and those who are not, regardless of where they live now. There are surprising phenomena in this respect if one studies well the human and political fabric of 2011 historic Palestine, ruled as it is by the Israeli regime: the willingness for a dialogue is sometimes more evident beyond the 1967 line rather than inside it.

The dialogue from within for a change of regime, the question of representation and the BDS movement are all part and parcel of the same effort to bring justice and peace to Palestine. What we will bury — hopefully — in September was one of the major obstacles in the way to realising this vision.

[The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.]

The Question of Palestine in Miniature
by The Middle East Report Editors | published September 16, 2011

The countdown to September 23 has begun. On that day, if he does not renege on his September 16 speech, Mahmoud ‘Abbas will present a formal request for full UN membership for a state of Palestine. The UN Security Council, which must approve such requests, will not do so, because the United States will act upon its repeated vows to exercise its veto. And then?

The world, by all indications, will denounce the Obama administration for rank hypocrisy. How can President Barack Obama deliver speech after speech endorsing Palestinian statehood in principle and then block it in practice? Several advisers to ‘Abbas, the nominal president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), think the embarrassment to the White House will be enough to make the point. Others want him to rub Obama’s nose in it, taking a request for upgraded non-member observer status to the General Assembly. When that proposal passes overwhelmingly, they insist, the PA will have declared its independence of the United States, specifically the US monopoly on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” The Palestinians, meanwhile, might be one big step closer to full voting UN membership, since no polity seeking statehood would have achieved this status before. And they might win access to UN bodies like the International Criminal Court, where Palestinian claims against Israel could then be pursued directly. It would be, as these advisers like to say, istihqaq Aylul, loosely translated, “the September claim of our just due.” And then?

If the US, Israel and European states get their way, ‘Abbas will never face even the initial dilemma, because he will have been dissuaded from submitting a request to the world body in the first place. There have been frenetic diplomatic efforts to avert the Security Council scenario. The Obama administration has dispatched high-ranking officials to Ramallah bearing bludgeons hidden in bouquets of unspecified blandishment. In Washington, pro-Israel members of the House of Representatives have summoned a slew of witnesses to urge that US aid to the PA be slashed if ‘Abbas persists. At a September 14 hearing on the subject, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) upped the ante: “I believe it is appropriate to point out that, should the Palestinians pursue their unilateralist course, the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual assistance that we have given them in recent years will likely be terminated.”

Berman and his colleagues echo Israel’s line of attack on the putative Palestinian initiative, which is not to oppose the idea of a Palestinian state, but to object that ‘Abbas proposes to act outside the framework of bilateral negotiations with Israel supervised by the US. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to make this case to the General Assembly on September 23, as the “unilateralist” PA argues its brief before the Security Council. Netanyahu must know the tenor of his plaints will fall on scornful ears. Israel has spent each of the 18 years since the conclusion of the Oslo accords with the Palestinians unilaterally violating their letter and intent, whether with continuous building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, withholding of customs revenue from the PA or any number of other policies deepening the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. And the General Assembly delegates will know that it is he, not ‘Abbas, who has torpedoed the possibility of meaningful negotiations under the Oslo aegis, with his refusal to freeze settlement construction. So, to look reasonable, Netanyahu has indicated Israeli assent to an upgrade of the PA’s observer status. His real audience in New York will not be the General Assembly, but the mainstream American media, which he calculates will reproduce his broader message that if there is no peace in Israel-Palestine, the Palestinians, once again, are at fault.

European states are laboring, on the one hand, to help the US avoid the whole mess and, on the other hand, to craft some formulation for future Palestinian status at the UN that will not upset Washington but that ‘Abbas can present as an accomplishment. In the past, when ‘Abbas has hinted at maneuvers of which the US and Israel disapprove, he has not followed through, content with one promise or another or cowed by heavy pressure. Most notorious of all, at US-Israeli behest, he agreed to defer a UN Human Rights Council vote on the Goldstone report, the investigation of the 2008-2009 Gaza war that could have been used to support war crimes cases against Israeli officials. With this record in mind, there was great skepticism into early September that ‘Abbas would push matters so far on the statehood bid, but now all seem to think he is serious. The rush for damage control is on: In Israel, the government continues to inveigh against the PA even as on September 15 it approved the PA’s application to purchase riot gear for its security forces. The PA, it seems, is not sure it can control the demonstrations it has called in West Bank towns as the UN drama unfolds.

Herein lie the most painful ironies of the PA’s 17-year existence, oft-stated, but still poorly understood in the West: As a non-sovereign entity, it must beseech its overlords for the trappings of autonomy. As the constable of its appointed domains, the PA must crack the heads of the Palestinians it claims to represent if they transgress the boundaries of official discourse. As a creature of the Oslo accords, it cannot transcend the terms of these agreements between an occupying power and an occupied people. No one can doubt who the arbiters of the agreements are: When Palestinians narrowly elected Hamas to head the PA in 2006, Israel and the US imposed a tight physical and diplomatic siege upon the Hamas-affiliated officers and their territorial seat in the Gaza Strip.

Hence ‘Abbas must listen when American legislators thunder and at least wince when they brandish the stick of cut-off aid, monies upon which the PA’s administrative apparatus and its some 140,000 West Bank employees depend. The Obama administration has been cagey about the Congressional threats, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland demurring: “We have not chosen to use our humanitarian aid in such a fashion.” It is significant, as well, that not only the pro-Israel Washington Institute of Near East Policy, but also the hawkish Elliott Abrams, point man for the Middle East on the George W. Bush administration’s National Security Council, testified against cutting aid before Congress. But Congress has been more pro-Israel than the pro-Israel lobby before, and it could act “unilaterally” itself, denying future aid appropriations or introducing new punitive strictures on disbursements. With the 2012 presidential campaign approaching, moreover, and attacks on Obama’s pro-Israel bonafides already appearing on New York billboards, the White House will be loath to battle over aid to a rump PA that the likes of Berman have targeted for “collapse.” The vaguer, but angrier warnings of “dire consequences” coming from the far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and others in the Israeli government are likewise not to be dismissed lightly. If no one expects that the most successful of UN gambits will improve the lot of ordinary Palestinians one iota, either in Gaza or in the West Bank, it is quite possible that their plight will worsen.

At a deeper level, many Palestinian critics of the UN initiatives are right to point out the similarities between “non-member” status and the “provisional state” of which Israeli politicians have frequently spoken. Such a truncated administrative body would neither rule nor govern in Palestine. It would lack control of its borders or firmly defined borders at all, since it would have no power to halt settlement expansion or forward progress of the wall Israel is building in the West Bank. It would have no army, but a gendarmerie that would secure the PA’s meager prerogatives and certainly would not deter Israeli military operations across the Green Line. With the West Bank ever more carved up by concrete barriers, barbed-wire fences and bypass roads, it would have no “territorial contiguity” and hence no “viability” as a polity or economy, to use two more buzzwords of the late Oslo era. Israel might be pleased to see such an entity gain recognition at the UN: It would have no meaningful authority, but it would be vested in the eyes of the international community with responsibility for Palestinians’ welfare that Israel has never wanted. Israel might even receive a boost in its attempts to portray its incursions and aerial bombardments as part of a conflict between two roughly equal sides rather than assaults upon a mostly defenseless occupied population. Maximum power, minimum accountability -- it is a restatement of the adage, “Maximum land, minimum Palestinians,” that underwrote the Allon Plan of 1967, the envisioned “village leagues” of the 1970s and other schemes of Israeli control over the years.

The UN puzzle sitting before ‘Abbas, therefore, is a small-scale version of the existential stumper: In the face of these realities, what is the Palestinian leadership, such as it is, to do?

Many observers ask why ‘Abbas and his entourage broached the UN possibilities at all. The Ramallah politicos abandoned previous threats to dissolve the PA to the derision of all concerned; ‘Abbas has withdrawn more than one pledge to resign. Why choose another course that highlights one’s fecklessness vis-à-vis the powers that be, even if it wins the plaudits of the Arab League, Turkey and supporters of the principle of self-determination worldwide? There is another reality that likely forced the PA’s hand.

Simply put, 2011 is not 1994 or 2006. The Arab revolts, despite the formidable obstacles they have encountered, have cleared the atmosphere in the Middle East of its relentless gloom. Young, middle-aged and even elderly, Arabs in country after country have poured into the streets to elucidate a more hopeful vision, one that does not bow (however grudgingly) to the inevitability of injustice. In Tunisia and Egypt, in particular, these demonstrators achieved victories that would have been unthinkable before. And the protesters want more than greater democracy at home. As Rashid Khalidi writes in Critical Inquiry, “They have put us all on notice: ‘The people want the fall of the regime.’ They mean by this the regimes in each and every Arab country that robbed citizens of their dignity. They also mean a regional regime whose cornerstone was a humiliating submission to the dictates of the United States and Israel, and which robbed all the Arabs of their collective dignity.”

To assert the truth of these words is not to resurrect the pan-Arab nationalism of the 1960s or to foresee an assembly of Arab armies at the gates of Jerusalem. It is simply to take seriously the sea change in mentalité, particularly among the region’s youth, that attends the historical moment. Even leaders as worn and compromised as Mahmoud ‘Abbas and his circle cannot ignore what is happening, if only to coopt the fighting spirit or blunt its force. In February, still stinging from criticism of his Goldstone report capitulation, and worried that Palestinians would organize for the fall of his regime, ‘Abbas defied the US and Israel in pressing for a Security Council resolution on the illegality of settlements. (The US vetoed it.)

Today, at the tactical level, it is probable that dissension within the ranks of Fatah, the de facto ruling party of the West Bank and ‘Abbas’ own faction, pushed the nominal Palestinian president into further action. He sought to parry the thrusts of party figures who had long advocated for the UN route and to channel popular pressure in a direction he could influence, if not control per se. The certainty with which his spokesmen declaim his intention to proceed at the Security Council is surely born of these factors, as well. Having staked a virtual Palestinian flag at UN headquarters, he cannot now uproot it if he hopes to remain party chairman. Having taken a stand for the principle that Palestinians, like any other nation, have a right to seek self-determination, whatever they are told to do by others, he cannot now back down without “dire consequences” to be designed by Palestinians.

Some form of enhanced UN recognition could offer ‘Abbas and the PA external legitimacy and their own sense of hope against daunting odds. But the UN initiative, whatever shape it takes, could also be empty symbolism or, worse, a seal of approval on creeping apartheid if it is only an isolated tactic. Caution is warranted in two respects.

The UN maneuver has potential to break the US stranglehold on Israel-Palestine diplomacy only if ‘Abbas and his confreres take additional steps toward a comprehensive strategy of internationalization. First on such an agenda would be revival of efforts to unify the PA and Palestinian national movement, from which ‘Abbas has retreated over the summer, and insistence that Israel and the US lift the Gaza blockade, which ‘Abbas’ wing of the PA has of course championed as a means of defeating its rival Hamas. Steps two and three would be resuscitation of the Goldstone report and pursuit of the 2004 International Court of Justice opinion against Israel’s separation wall. But given the doldrums of reconciliation talks, and the dearth of other signs of strategic thinking in Ramallah, there is reason to fear that ‘Abbas will pocket the coming US veto and desist, hoping that the ensuing hubbub itself will prod the US and Israel back to the negotiating table. It is almost surely a vain hope, and in any case, renewed bilateral parleys under unilateral US tutelage can lead only to reinforcement of the Oslo paradigm and further dispossession of the Palestinians.

What media outlets are dubbing the “showdown” at the UN also comes at a juncture of eroded US hegemony. Its economy teetering on the brink of double-dip recession, its overseas wars unending and its historical coddling of dictators laid bare, the US is in no position to tell the Palestinians what to do, particularly since Washington will not rein in its Israeli ally. If the September 16 Washington Post is correct, the Obama administration failed even to extract a non-apology apology, one devoid of assumption of guilt, from Israel for its May 2010 raid on the Gaza aid flotilla. The White House had thought such an Israeli statement would diffuse international anger over the impending veto. If US weakness made the UN gambit possible for the Palestinians, it also makes the US a highly questionable patron going forward. It is the paradox of global affairs in miniature: Washington’s clout is hollow, yet there is nothing to replace it, so it lives on as simulacrum.

Whether now or in 25 years’ time, no force but the Palestinian people is likely to tear down the walls and redress the systemic wrongs in the lands between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is the Palestinian people’s struggle, ultimately, and not the ventures of quasi-governments, that the world supports. The PA sectors loyal to ‘Abbas and the West Bank chief administrator, Salam Fayyad, will not mount or harness a genuine popular movement to challenge the status quo; by the logic of Oslo, they cannot. Perhaps the groundswell, whether it is an uprising or a campaign of mass civil disobedience or something not yet imagined, must come from sources that, as in Tunisia and Egypt before January, are largely unknown today. But the Palestinians have striven heroically, for decades before the 2011 Arab awakening, for justice and freedom. Their two intifadas have cost them dearly. If liberation is to transpire, the onus is upon outside backers of Palestinian rights -- in the Arab world, the West and elsewhere -- to develop new means of solidarity and, in particular, new ways of holding Israel accountable to the international law it has flouted for so long.

Submitted by United, non-ra… (not verified) on Sun, 09/18/2011 - 17:28



"WILL THIS be the happiest day of your life?" a local interviewer asked me, referring to the approaching recognition of the State of Palestine by the UN.

I was taken by surprise. "Why would that be?" I asked.

"Well, for 62 years you have advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel, and here it comes!"

"If I were a Palestinian, I would probably be happy," I said, "But as an Israeli, I am rather sad."

LET ME explain.

I came out of the 1948 war with four solid convictions:

(1) There exists a Palestinian people, though the name Palestine had been wiped off the map.

(2) It is with this Palestinian people that we must make peace.

(3) Peace will be impossible unless the Palestinians are allowed to set up their state next to Israel.

(4) Without peace, Israel will not be the model state we had been dreaming about in the trenches, but something very different.

While recovering from my wounds and still in uniform, I met with several young people, Arabs and Jews, to plot our course. We were very optimistic. Now everything seemed possible.

What we were thinking about was a great act of fraternization. Jews and Arabs had fought each other valiantly, each fighting for what they considered their national rights. Now the time had come to reach out for peace.

The idea of peace between two gallant fighters after the battle is as old as Semitic culture. In the epic written more than 3000 years ago, Gilgamesh, king of Uruk (in today's Iraq) fights against the wild Enkidu, his equal in strength and courage, and after the epic fight they become blood brothers.

We had fought hard and had won. The Palestinians had lost everything. The part of Palestine that had been allotted by the UN to their state had been gobbled up by Israel, Jordan and Egypt, leaving nothing for them. Half the Palestinian people had been driven from their homes and become refugees.

That was the time, we thought, for the victor to stun the world with an act of magnanimity and wisdom, offering to help the Palestinians to set up their state in return for peace. Thus we could forge a friendship that would last for generations.

18 years later I brought this vision up again in similar circumstances. We had won a stunning victory against the Arab armies in the Six-Day war, the Middle East was in a state of shock. An Israeli offer to the Palestinians to establish their state would have electrified the region.

I AM telling this story (again) in order to make one point: when the "Two-State Solution" was conceived for the first time after 1948, it was as an idea of reconciliation, fraternization and mutual respect.

We envisaged two states living closely together, with borders open to the free movement of people and goods. Jerusalem, the joint capital, would symbolize the spirit of the historic change. Palestine would become the bridge between the new Israel and the Arab world, united for the common good. We spoke of a "Semitic Union" long before the European Union became a reality.

When the Two-State Solution made its extraordinary march from the vision of a handful of outsiders (or crazies) to a world-wide consensus, it was this context in which it was viewed. Not a plot against Israel, but the only viable basis for real peace.

This vision was firmly rejected by David Ben-Gurion, then the undisputed leader of Israel. He was busy distributing new Jewish immigrants across the vast areas expropriated from the Arabs, and he did not believe in peace with the Arabs anyhow. He set the course that successive Israeli governments, including the present one, have followed ever since.

On the Arab side, there was always support for this vision. Already at the Lausanne Conference in 1949, an unofficial Palestinian delegation appeared and secretly offered to start direct negotiations, but they were roughly rebuffed by the Israeli delegate, Eliyahu Sasson, on direct orders from Ben-Gurion (as I heard from him later).

Yasser Arafat told me several times - from 1982 to his death in 2004 - that he would support a "Benelux" solution (on the model of the union between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg), which would include Israel, Palestine and Jordan ("and perhaps Lebanon too, why not?")

PEOPLE SPEAK about all the opportunities for peace missed by Israel throughout the years. That is nonsense: you can miss opportunities on the way to a goal that you desire, but not on the way to something you abhor.

Ben-Gurion saw an independent Palestinian state as a mortal danger to Israel. So he made a secret deal with King Abdullah I, dividing between them the territory allocated by the UN partition plan to the Arab Palestinian state. All Ben-Gurion's successors inherited the same dogma: that a Palestinian state would be a terrible danger. Therefore they opted for the so-called ""Jordanian option" - keeping what is left of Palestine under the heel of the Jordanian monarch, who is no Palestinian (nor even Jordanian - his family came from Mecca).

This week, the present Jordanian ruler, Abdullah II, flew into a rage when told that yet another Israeli former general, Uzi Dayan, had again proposed turning Jordan into Palestine, with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as "provinces" of the Hashemite kingdom. This Dayan is, unlike his late cousin, Moshe, a pompous fool, but even a speech by such a person infuriates the king, who is mortally afraid of an influx of Palestinians driven from the West Bank into Jordan.

Three days ago, Binyamin Netanyahu told Cathy Ashton, the pathetic "foreign secretary" of the European Union, that he would agree to anything short of Palestinian statehood. That may sound strange, in view of the "historic" speech he made less than two years ago, in which he expressed his support for the Two-State Solution. (Perhaps he was thinking of the State of Israel and the State of the Settlers.)

In the few remaining weeks before the UN vote, our government will fight tooth and nail against a Palestinian state, supported by the full might of the US. This week Hillary Clinton trumped even her own rhetorical record when she announced that the US supports the Two-State Solution and therefore opposes any UN vote recognizing a Palestinian state.

APART FROM the dire threats of what will happen after the UN vote for a Palestinian state, Israeli and American leaders assure us that such a vote will make no difference at all.

If so, why fight it?

Of course it will make a difference. The occupation will go on, but it will be the occupation of one state by another. In history, symbols count. The fact that the vast majority of the world's nations will have recognized the State of Palestine will be another step towards gaining freedom for Palestine.

What will happen the day after? Our army has already announced that it has finished preparations for huge Palestinian demonstrations that will attack the settlements. The settlers will be called upon to mobilize their "quick-reaction teams" to confront the demonstrators, thus fulfilling the prophecies of a "bloodbath". After that the army will move in, pulling many battalions of regular troops from other tasks and calling up reserve units.

A few weeks ago I pointed to ominous signs that sharpshooters would be employed to turn peaceful demonstrations into something very different, as happened during the second intifada. This week this was officially confirmed: sharpshooters will be employed to defend the settlements.

All this amounts to a war plan for the settlements. To put it simply: a war to decide whether the West Bank belongs to the Palestinians or the settlers.

In an almost comical turn of events, the army is also providing means of crowd dispersal to the Palestinian security forces trained by the Americans. The occupation authorities expect these Palestinian forces to protect the settlements against their compatriots. Since these are the armed forces of the future Palestinian state, which is opposed by Israel, it all sounds a bit bewildering.

According to the army, the Palestinians will get rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, but not the "Skunk".

The Skunk is a device that produces an unbearable stench which attaches itself to the peaceful demonstrators and will not leave them for a long time. I am afraid that when this chapter comes to an end, the stench will attach itself to our side, and that we shall not get rid of it for a long time indeed.

LET'S GIVE free rein to our imagination for just one minute.

Imagine that in the coming UN debate something incredible happens: the Israeli delegate declares that after due consideration Israel has decided to vote for recognition of the state of Palestine.

The assembly would gape in disbelief. After a moment of silence, wild applause would break out. The world would be electrified. For days, the world media would speak of nothing else.

The minute of imagination has passed. Back to reality. Back to the Skunk.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.