(MENAFN - Jordan Times) It may still be possible to imagine a just political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But in the real world, politics is not the work of our imagination. Rather, it is about power, those who have it and how they use it. Politics, at the end of the day, is not about our hopes or beliefs being just, it is about what we can get with the power we have and are willing and able to use.
It is sad that many of those with power have done everything possible to effectively block a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To date, their efforts have succeeded, resulting in a deeply deformed situation in Israel, in Washington, and in the occupied Palestinian lands.
In Israel, hardliners have won the day. Decades of illegal settlement and "Jewish-only" road construction, the erection of an oppressive barrier wall/fence, land confiscation, demolition of Palestinian houses, and the free reign that has been given to a radical fringe, allowing it to seize land to build and expand "outposts" deep in Palestinian areas - all combined to profoundly distort the map of the West Bank.
Just this month, the Israeli government flaunted its legal system, refusing to close down an illegal "outpost" built on Palestinian-owned land. And even when it did evacuate a house in Hebron that had been seized by extremist settlers in an act of provocation, the prime minister sought to inoculate himself against criticism by announcing that he would begin construction of hundreds of new housing units between Bethlehem and Jerusalem - two cities that had once had a synergistic relationship, but have now been effectively severed one from another.
Add to this the recent report that appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz, revealing that Israel's civil administration has been "secretly setting aside" an additional 10 per cent of the West Bank for settlement expansion, and it becomes increasingly difficult to even imagine how and where one would establish a Palestinian state.
It is not just the current hardline Israeli government that is at fault, since all these policies have been at work without interruption for the past 45 years. And there is no hope for change in sight. Polls show that in any future election, Israeli voters would vote in a government that would pursue the same policies, if not worse.
While Arabs have long imagined that this sorry state of affairs could be arrested "if only America or the 'international community' would act to restrain Israel", reality has been sobering. Hope, for example, had been placed in US President Barack Obama's early commitment to find a solution to the conflict, but these hopes have been dashed. Seeing the US president "schooled" by the Israeli prime minister and then watching the US Congress embrace Netanyahu, humiliating its own president, was a shocking eye-opener.
With the White House tamed and, at least for the foreseeable future, out of the game of peace making, the politics of Washington has turned to other issues like the economy, Iran and November elections. And in this mix, Palestinians and their rights do not register even a blip on the nation's radar screen.
Equally disappointing have been Palestinian efforts to turn to the United Nations. Here, the strong arm of the US (prodded by Israel and its US supporters) effectively blocked initiatives to have Palestinian rights recognised or to stop Israeli violations of these rights.
Over the past 45 years, this state of affairs has taken a substantial toll on the Palestinians. With the Oslo process, two and one-half decades of a brutal occupation only gave way to an equally harsh reality. During the pre-Oslo occupation, the major sources of Palestinian wealth were poorly paid, humiliating day-labour jobs in Israel, and producing commodities for sale through Israeli middlemen. Now these are gone, leaving the Palestinian economy largely dependent on foreign aid.
Palestinians live in an apartheid-like system, trapped in isolated cantons surrounded by barriers to commerce and travel, increasingly squeezed by ever-growing settlements and encroaching roads that now cut the West Bank into pieces. The Palestinian metropolis of Jerusalem, once their centre of cultural, social and economic life, has been severed from the West Bank. And Gaza, always destitute (it is one of the most densely populated, poorest places on earth), has become strangled by a blockade, its people despairing.
All this has had an impact on the Palestinians, leaving their economy dependent on various external sources and their leadership divided, lacking imagination. As is frequently the case, one further consequence of long-term humiliating oppression has been inward-turning violence and other forms of aberrant and sometimes self-destructive behaviour.
Efforts to correct this situation have so far been frustrated by some Palestinians who did not want to cede what little power they had or outsiders who used their financial or political hold to squash moves towards Palestinian unity and efforts to mobilise a national non-violent resistance movement.
In the face of power so ruthlessly and irresponsibly exercised to extinguish hope for change, there are still those who not only continue to imagine a just peace but are organising to achieve it. They differ on tactics and even on goals.
Some advocate boycotts, divestment and sanctions, others promote non-violent direct action in the occupied lands or organising politically to change Washington. Some actively support two states; others are advocating a democratic one-state solution. They are united in a refusal to accept the current state of affairs, be it the oppressive system that has been imposed on the occupied lands, the dysfunctional politics of Washington, or the interference and crippling paralysis that has stymied Palestinian action. They imagine a just solution, and know that it will only be achieved if they organise to secure the power that will be required to make change real. They need to make what they imagine real.