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June 2, 2020

On ‘subjects’

Opinion

June 2, 2020

In an interview with corrupt casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s free newspaper, Israel ha-Yom, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the quiet parts out loud.

Although he did not use the word, he described an Apartheid regime in the Israeli-controlled Palestinian West Bank. He openly referred to the stateless Palestinians as “subjects.”

Netanyahu will annex the Jordan Valley formally to Israel, where 60,000 Palestinians live and which is one of the areas Israel had pledged to relinquish to the Palestine Authority in the 1993 Oslo Accords. He will also annex the land on which Israeli squatters established settlements in Palestinian territory.

Israel ha-Yom asked, “Q: Nevertheless, several thousand Palestinians live in the Jordan Valley. Does that mean they will receive Israeli citizenship?”

Netanyahu replied: “No. They will remain a Palestinian enclave. You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them, they will remain Palestinian subjects if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”

How about if we won’t?

I have long argued that the crux of the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians is the denial to Palestinians of citizenship in a state. In calling the Palestinians “subjects,” Netanyahu is acknowledging that they are not citizens. In Hannah Arendt’s phrase, citizenship is the right to have rights. Palestinians have no citizenship in a state. They do not have a right to have rights.

They are subjects, they way medieval people living under an absolute monarchy were subjects. Only democratic states really have citizens.

The Israeli right wing is afraid that Netanyahu, in leaving un-annexed the rest of the Palestinian West Bank, is acceding to the demand for a Palestinian state. These fears are exacerbated by Netanyahu’s championing of the Kushner plan for the Mideast, which does contain language about a Palestinian state, although as described it isn’t actually a state.

It is what was called in Apartheid South Africa a Bantustan.

Netanyahu admitted as much, saying of the Palestinian leadership: “They need to acknowledge that we control security in all areas. If they consent to all this, then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state. There are those who claim and – an American statesman told me: ‘But Bibi, it won’t be a state.’ I told him, call it what you want.”

I said at my Hisham B Sharabi Memorial Lecture: “Statelessness means the complete lack of citizenship in a recognized state. It means you don’t have a passport; you have a laissez-passé. That means a lot of countries won’t accept the laissez-passé. It means you can’t travel freely, you don’t have constitutional protections, you often can’t get a work permit... ”

Excerpted from: 'Saying Quiet Part Very Loud, Netanyahu Calls Palestinians Future "Subjects" as Annexation Looms'.

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