Chomsky: Palestinian State ‘Hinges on US Approval’

Chomsky: Palestinian State ‘Hinges on US Approval’Chomsky: Palestinian State ‘Hinges on US Approval’

Leading American philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky commended the British parliamentary vote to recognize the Palestinian Territories as a state on Wednesday but stressed that the US held the keys to a Palestinian state.

“The vote in the British parliament is an illustration of the kind of action that can add to the growing effort that can pressure the influential states in the world,” he told reporters at the United Nations on Wednesday, as reported by FRANCE 24.

While only symbolic – British Prime Minister David Cameron abstained from the vote and it will have no official effect on policy – Chomsky said that the overwhelming show of support for a Palestinian state among British lawmakers reflected a wider will among Europeans, “and to some extent, Americans,” to distance themselves from “the very explicitly criminal actions Israel is taking” in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Chomsky, a fierce critic of US foreign policy and Israeli actions in the Palestinian Territories, also praised a recent decision by Sweden to recognize Palestine as a state – making it the first country in Western Europe to do so – and acknowledged comments made by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday, in which he indicated the prospect of a vote in Paris on the same subject.

“What we want is not something symbolic, but something that is useful for peace,” Fabius said.

Russia said on Sunday that it planned to back Palestine’s UN Security Council resolution, announced by President Mahmoud Abbas in September, which sets a two-year deadline for the implementation of a two-state system, including the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Some 130 countries worldwide already recognize the Palestinian Territories as a nation state, despite American and Israeli disapproval.

In 2012, 138 of 147 countries at the UN General Assembly voted to accord Palestine “non member observer state” status at the UN. The US was one of eight that voted against the motion.

 Lessons From S. Africa

Chomsky stressed that despite a shift in perspective in Europe, a resolution on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would remain out of reach until the United States was “ready to accept that settlement”.

“There will be great efforts to prevent [a settlement] on the part of the US and its close allies – Canada and Australia,” he said. “There will be one roadblock after another”.

Responding to questions by FRANCE 24, Chomsky said that in order to change the mindset in Washington, he believes the Palestinian leadership should focus on addressing the American public. “I think there will be no significant progress in this conflict until pressure from the American population induces the government to take a different stance,” he said.

He compared the Palestinian deadlock with that of other “third-world nationalist movements,” citing Vietnam, East Timor and South Africa. “They all understood the significance of developing solidarity and support among the American population to the extent that they can influence the modification of policy,” he said.

Chomsky, who was described by the New York Times in 1979 as the “most important intellectual alive,” was arrested and briefly jailed in 1967 during a major anti-Vietnam war demonstration.

 ‘Wicked Cocktail’

Meanwhile, echoing Chomsky’s remarks, a UK MP has said Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are a “wicked cocktail” of occupation and illegality and similar to former apartheid South Africa.

“Occupation, annexation, illegality, negligence, complicity: this is a wicked cocktail which brings shame to the government of Israel,” former Tory minister Sir Alan Duncan said on Tuesday. “It would appear that on the West Bank of the Jordan the rule of international law has been shelved.”

“Settlement endorsement, meaning the denial that they are illegal and the support for their consequences, is a form of extremism which we should not tolerate,” he said in a speech to the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) in London.

He added, “Israeli settlements are the worst, most destructive, aspect of the military occupation, an occupation which has become the longest in modern international relations.”

Duncan was one of 274 MPs who overwhelmingly approved a Commons motion urging the British government to recognize Palestine as a state on Monday night.

He emphasized that every British government since 1967 has declared that the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza were never lawfully part of Israel. However, there are now over half a million settlers living in around 120 settlements and 100 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“This illegal construction and habitation is theft, it is annexation, it is a land grab,” he told RUSI delegates.

Duncan said he had expressed his concerns about Israel’s settlements in a letter to David Cameron and the then foreign secretary William Hague in June last year.

“In addition to being illegal, settlement activity is very often violent, nasty, and brutal. Not all, but many settlers are heavily armed and aggressive.”