Independent Palestine May Prove A Mirage

Palestine girl with flag | Credit: - Photo: 2011

Independent Palestine May Prove A Mirage

By Baher Kamal and Fareed Mahdy*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

MADRID/CAIRO (IDN) – While the Palestinian Authority (PA) is focussing its energies on achieving full membership for the state of Palestine in the United Nations in September, the U.S. and Israel appear to be leaving no stone unturned to thwart the plan. They are proposing new talks on condition that the Palestinians abandon their legitimate demand for independence.

Knowledgeable sources believe that the Middle East game was over even before it started. In fact, a reasonable dose of good memory and a quick look at the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would suffice to conclude that it had ended exactly 114 years ago.

Here the story behind the story: in August 1897, the city of Basel in Switzerland hosted the First Zionist Congress. It was the first congress of the Zionist Organisation, which in 1960 named itself the World Zionist Organisation.

Under the guidance and chairmanship of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, and as a symbolic parliament for those in agreement with the implementation of Zionist goals, the Congress gathered around 200 delegates from 17 countries.

The key issues on the agenda of the1897 Zionist Congress were the presentation of Herzl’s plans, the establishment of the Zionist Organisation and the declaration of Zionism’s goals. More specifically, the version of the programme that was submitted to the Congress stated: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.”


The political programme, known as the Basel Programme, resolved: “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose, the Congress considers the following means serviceable:

1. The promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine,

2. The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, according to the laws of the various countries,

3. The strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness, and

4. Preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants, which are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.”

Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary on September 1, 1897: “Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.”

This is exactly what happened: 50 years later the Jewish State was indeed founded.


Subsequent Congresses established various institutions for promoting the Basel programme, notably a people’s bank known as the Jewish Colonial Trust, which was the financial instrument of political Zionism.

Its establishment was suggested at the First Zionist Congress in 1897 and the first definite steps toward its institution were taken at the Second Zionist Congress in Cologne, Germany, in May 1898, nine months after the First Zionist Congress in Basel.

At the Fifth Zionist Congress, the Jewish National Fund was set up for the purchase of land in the Land of Israel. Later, the Zionist Commission was founded with subsidiary societies for the study and improvement of the social and economic condition of the Jews within the Land of Israel.

The Zionist Congress met every year between 1897 and 1901, then except for war years, every second year.


In 1942, an ‘Extraordinary Zionist Conference’ was convened; it announced a fundamental departure from traditional Zionist policy demanding “that Palestine be established as a Jewish Commonwealth”.

It became the official Zionist stance and ultimate aim of the movement. Since World War II, meetings have been organised approximately every four years and in the aftermath of the creation of the State of Israel, the Congress has been held in Jerusalem – a concrete indication that the Zionist programme has already decided to establish Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State of Israel.

In 1936, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) was founded in Geneva as an international federation of Jewish communities and organisations. Its mission: to serve as “the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people”.

Membership in the WJC was declared open to all representative Jewish groups or communities, irrespective of the social, political or economic ideology of the community’s host country.

The World Jewish Congress is supported by those communities and individual members who as concerned Jewish citizens want their voices to be heard on matters of concern to the Jewish people.

The WJC, its institutions, commissions and sub-bodies enjoy special credentials and recognition at the United Nations. Its headquarters are in New York, and the organisation maintains international offices in Brussels; Jerusalem; Paris; Moscow; Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

The WJC is made up of five regional branches: WJC North America, the Latin American Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, and the WJC Israel.

Besides, Jewish communities in 92 countries are directly affiliated to the World Jewish Congress. The last meeting of the WJC Plenary Assembly, attended by over 400 delegates from 62 countries, was held in Jerusalem in January 2009.


From the above, it is evident that what happened on the Middle East stage, had been planned by the 1897 Zionist Congress. It would be the exclusive mission of the successive Israeli governments to find ways how to ensure its strict implementation.

The fact is that the Jewish State of Israel has been created; all Palestinian territories have been occupied; Jewish settlements have been established on all of the them; Jerusalem has been unilaterally declared as the capital of Israel, and the Jewish lobbies have been active everywhere to help further implement the Zionist Programme.

This programme has no room for a fully independent, sovereign, viable Palestine State as agreed by the international community since 1948.

The current Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, in a truthful fulfilment of its role in the Zionist Programme, has repeatedly heralded the real state of affairs – that is, no return to the 1967 borders; Israel for Jewish people only; Jerusalem is the capital of Israel only; full security for Israel only; no sovereignty to a Palestinian state; no return of Palestinian refugees, and no stop to Israeli settlements.

Why then did President Obama decide to state on September 23, 2009 before the United Nations General Assembly that “the time has come to re-launch negotiations – without preconditions – that address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees, and Jerusalem”? Similar statements have been repeated on other occasions.

Why did Obama emphasise that “the goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realises the potential of the Palestinian people”?

Why did the U.S. President say that he “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements”?

Why is Obama still insisting on giving the impression that another solution is possible?

Is it part of a new game of securing U.S. full control over what his predecessor called the Great Middle East project?

Perhaps it is just that the U.S. establishment has not informed the “most powerful man on earth” – the U.S. president (at least in formal terms) – that the solution to the so-called Middle East conflict had been set 112 years ago and has so far been successfully implemented.

As things stand, with or without new talks, fake mediations and false promises, the world may have to chant –shamefully and sadly– a loud or silent – ‘Requiem for Palestine’.

*This article is based on first of the two in a series titled ‘Requiem For Palestine’ carried by Baher Kamal’s blog Human Wrongs Watch and is being published by arrangement with them. (IDN-InDepthNews/07.08.2011)

2011 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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