Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
Writing in "Working Around America: A New Strategy on Israel/Palestine" on Information Clearing House he challenges the influence of the US in the Middle East conflict - especially following the recent US veto at the UN.
"Faced with the spectacle of an almost totally isolated US, why should any of us cling to the American default strategy of the past 44 years, whereby the United States is seen as the sole and ultimate arbitrator of the conflict? And in particular, why should the Palestinians? If the US cannot actually deliver on a just peace for structural reasons, and yet insists on an absolute monopoly over any “peace process,” the time is long overdue to develop a “working around America” strategy. Let’s look at the world beyond the US:
· At least ten countries in Europe seem to be moving towards unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state within the ‘49/’67 borders; Cyprus did so a couple weeks ago. In fact, public opinion favoring the Palestinians is far in advance of the foot-dragging governments. Efforts to mobilize public opinion there should be redoubled, although much work needs to be done in the extremely conservative pro-American/pro-Israel states of Eastern Europe, which, Slovenia aside, hold the rest of the EU back on this issue.
· Most Latin American countries have already recognized a Palestinian state within recognized borders, although they have also accepted Israel as become the first non-Latin American country to sign a trade agreement with Mercosur, the region’s emerging common market. Given strong sympathies of Latin American peoples towards the Palestinians, vigorous campaigns calling for stronger government actions and BDS are called for.
· Turkey has become a lead player against the Occupation in the Middle East and internationally, while the fundamental changes sweeping the Arab world signal a fundamental shift in relations to Israel and the US – and perhaps a more critical and active role for the Arab League and the possibilities of mobilizing the wider Muslim world. Here, ironically, pressure has to be put on the Palestinian Authority to be more pro-active. It deserves credit for bringing the anti-settlement resolution before the Security Council despite strong US pressures, but Abbas’s refusal to bring a Palestinian declaration of independence within recognized borders before the UN in the end neutralizes the recognition accorded the Palestinians by Latin American and other countries.
· South Africa, recently made a member of the BRIC group of countries, is capable of taking a more active role on this issue given its expressed support for the Palestinian cause, and could play a leading role in mobilizing other African states.
· Russia recently reaffirmed its recognition of a Palestinian state, although it does not seem eager to confront the US in an American “sphere of influence.” China and India have yet to play a major role – in part because Israel is the #2 arms supplier to both countries. But certainly in India and other countries of Asia much more could be done to mobilize both the peoples and their governments.
The UN vote demonstrates the great potential in organizing beyond the US, although it remains to be seen whether the PA is capable of pushing its case beyond the confines of American patronage, or having the courage to do so. Until now it has failed to mobilize and harness its greatest ally – us, the peoples of the world, the international civil society. Still, with or without the PA, the grassroots should pursue the next phase of the struggle: refocusing our efforts on a “working around America” strategy. Eventually the US will have to realize that its growing isolation is simply too great a price to pay for supporting an unsustainable occupation, or it will be left in the dust."