A just future demands the decolonization of Palestine – and a democratic state for all

Understanding the 'conflict' as a settler colonial struggle allows us to build a holistic path toward a liberated society for Palestinians and Israelis.

Jerusalem behind the separation wall, Abu Dis, West Bank, February 26, 2017

Awad Abdelfattah and Jeff Halper write in +972:

The very title one gives to a phenomenon often determines how it can be understood and what can be done to address it. Since 1948, we have spoken about the “Arab-Israeli conflict,” which is accurate to the degree that it refers to the major wars, diplomatic rivalries, and smaller “dirty wars” between the Arab states and Israel. But this notion of a regional “conflict” conceals the nature of a different kind of struggle, which is a key catalyst of the broader conflicts as well as a political phenomenon of its own.

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What, then, would the decolonization of Palestine entail? Like in most settler situations, the Zionist settlers of what became Israel are now too numerous and embedded in Palestine to dislodge; they will not be leaving. Nonetheless, decolonization must be based on liberation — in this case, of the indigenous Palestinians and the settler Israelis alike.

This process requires specific steps. First, it requires an end to settler entitlement and its hegemony over the land and its resources, over sources of political and economic power, over the national culture and narrative, and the rise of a new, inclusive, and shared polity. Second, it demands the restoration of the indigenous peoples’ sovereignty — their ability to define their own place as equals in the new society, and to carry on a sustainable indigenous life. And third, it portends the integration of the settler population into a society of equals. Once the colonized and colonizers reach a certain parity, then normalization, even reconciliation, becomes possible. And with the assent of the indigenous, the settlers may finally become indigenized.

In order to arrive at post-coloniality — the ultimate end of settler colonialism — the process of decolonization must unfold in tandem with a detailed program of reconstructing the country in an inclusive manner.

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