By Ray Hanania
Ziad Asali, the President of the American Task Force on Palestine, the nation’s most influential pro-Palestinian lobbying group in the United States, called it imperative that Israel’s Arab civilians participate and not boycott the next Israeli elections which are scheduled for March 17.
Asali said that those who urge a boycott are hoping to see the creation of a “one-state solution” but he said that the one-state solution already exists in the form of the current crisis and occupation and subjugation of more than 4 million Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Many Palestinians are urging that Arab Israeli citizens boycott the Israeli elections, but others argue that the non-Jewish Palestinian population of Israel accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s vote and could help undermine the growing extremist political movement led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the growing fanatic ultra-extremist religious groups that back him and oppose Palestinian Statehood.
“Definitely, 100 percent, they [Palestinian citizens of Israel] have to be enfranchised and they have to generate enough political support to come up with the solution,” Asali said during an interview on “Talk of the Town” Radio broadcast Friday Jan. 2, 2015 on 1450 AM and simulcast on www.YahalaVoice.com.
“We have to be working within the system to be empowering all of the forces in the United States … to support the policy of our nation which is support of the two-state solution.”
Asali said that Palestinians can continue to see hope despite the failure of Palestinians to win United Nations backing for their declaration of state sovereignty.
“We had the collapse and failure of nine months of negotiations last year, and then we had the war in Gaza right after that which was another disappointment, and now the turn to the UN Security Council was problematic in the first place because there were not enough votes to support it,” Asali said.
“The possibilities ranging from war and turning to the international community are diminishing … and it is an uphill fight, and it is discouraging. But at the end of the day, everyone of us has to keep in mind that creating a State of Palestine alongside Israel is the only solution. All other options are not solutions. At sometime, there will be a solution. No conflict goes unresolved forever. And for stability, there has to be a Palestinian State along side of Israel.”
Asali said the Palestinian move to apply for membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC) might simply provoke another political fight.
The resolution to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state failed to receive the minimum nine votes in the UN Security Council last week, but Asali said that even if the Palestinians had received nine votes, the United States most likely would have vetoed the resolution, as it has done dozens of times over the past 67 years.
Asali agreed that American President Barack Obama does support Palestinian aspirations for freedom and statehood, but wants to do it through a negotiating process.
“It is safe to say that the policy of the United States is clearly in favor of supporting the establishment of a Palestinian State,” Asali said. “Clearly war is not an option any more. We understand there is no military solution for this issue. It has to be a political solution.”
You can click hear to listen to a podcast of the radio interview with Ziad Asali using this podcast player or by going online to http://RayHanania.Podbean.com
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter, host of Talk of the Town and Managing Editor of The Arab Daily News online. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)