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January 27, 2020

In need of a vision

Opinion

January 27, 2020

It has been almost 15 years since the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

The aim of the campaign is to force Israel and its supporters to recognise that the status quo in Palestinian lands and Israel is not tenable in the long term and that there can be no solution without respect for international law, civility and democracy. That means ending the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza, securing equal rights within Israel for its Palestinian citizens, and implementing the right of displaced Palestinians in the diaspora to return to their homes.

Today, the BDS campaign enjoys the support of the vast majority of Palestinian civil society. The tide is changing in the West as well, where Israel’s multitiered system of oppression, namely occupation, colonisation and apartheid are increasingly condemned.

International civil society seems to have reached the conclusion that, like South Africa’s, Israel’s system of oppression cannot be brought to an end without ending international complicity and intensifying global solidarity, particularly in the form of BDS. Thus, the campaign is fast approaching its South Africa moment of maturity and impact.

I personally have been involved in BDS since its inception and wholeheartedly support it. I am also, however, one who is concerned about public attention being limited to the immediate demands of the campaign at the cost of developing a coherent plan for Palestine’s political future. In other words, as the campaign limits itself to ensuring the rights of Palestinians are respected, it is lacking a vision for the political reality within which such rights will be extended.

The BDS campaign has been purposefully ambiguous about the shape Palestinian statehood should take and there are tactical reasons for it — mainly to avoid disagreements within the movement.

However, I am of the view that opting for silence on important political questions about Palestine’s future is the wrong tactic. Focusing on the end of occupation, rights for Palestinians in Israel and the right of return has to be put within a political programme that endorses a one-state solution.

That is why I cofounded, with a group of academics and activists, the One Democratic State Group. The group, which is part of the One Sate Campaign, has put forward a programme which not only reaffirms the right of return, the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the end of occupation, but also proposes a vision for statehood, economic development, social justice and responsible international politics.

The central premise is that the two-state solution is dead and should be pronounced as such, despite the attachment many groups, especially leftist ones, have to it.

Excerpted from: ‘BDS needs a political vision for Palestinian statehood’.

AlJazeera.com