ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Hundred Years of Israeli Hyper-statehood

Israeli statehood, characterised in this article as a form of “hyper-statehood,” was facilitated by a disappearing British empire and the emergence of United States’ domination. This hyper-statehood has existed at the expense and denial of Palestinian statehood. Drawing historical insights from Rashid Khalidi’s acclaimed book The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017, this article suggests that unease at Israeli hyper-statehood can only grow in the US and across the world. There will now develop an inevitable movement towards a postnational solution.

 

As Israel marks its 73 years of existence in the form of a modern nation state, and Palestinian refugees enter the fourth generation of their state of dispossession, the question is how much longer this stalemate can continue. Modern Israel is a product of a changing world order as the early 20th century moved into its middle and later decades. Two world wars elapsed that marked the eclipsing of the sun that never set on the British empire, while the United States (US) rose as a superpower. The creation of the state of Israel was hardwired into the British mandate in Palestine that lasted from 1922 to 1948 and which integrated within itself the November 1917 Balfour Declaration that in its brief, taciturn 67 words expressed a commitment to a Jewish national home in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration did not even mention the Palestinians, referring to them as the “non-Jewish communities,” whose civil and religious rights were protected, without mentioning their political rights.

Israel can be characterised by its hyper-statehood that exists in inverse proportion to the failed statehood of Palestinians. This contrasting combination of Israeli hyper-statehood and Palestinian non-statehood has ensured the intractability of the crisis. The Oslo Accords of the 1990s were widely understood as a peace process emanating from and marking the change of the world order after the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the first country in the world to recognise the newly created Israel in 1948. The Oslo Accords and the peace process they set in motion, with their zoning of Palestine into areas A, B and C, had nothing in terms of Palestinian statehood. The farthest they could go was giving municipal rights to the Palestinian Authority. This was a far cry from actual statehood that the two-state solution has always seemed to imply. Sovereignty in terms of control over airspace and territorial boundaries, the simplest and most objective indicators of even the most elementary statehood, were denied to the Palestinians.

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