|Jakob von Uexkull|
World Future Council
Right Livelihood Award
Gaza, October 2014
No prior reports can prepare for a visit to Gaza. No expressions of support
and sympathy seem sufficient after the horrors the people of Gaza have
survived. As a European, I felt very inadequate that we have not been able
to do more to end, or even lessen the destruction and the siege.The large-
scale and targeted destruction of factories, health facilities and
agricultural infrastructure makes me wonder if the purpose is to make life
in Gaza literally impossible!
Many Europeans are angry and frustrated that our governments are afraid to
speak the truth and act to end the impunity for Israel’s barbaric actions,
which break every law and every ethics of our global community.
As Deborah Fink, co-funder of “Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods”
has said, Israeli actions also go against Jewish ethics and violate
Allowing Israel to do what no other nation is allowed to
do has devalued international law and spread cynicism and
If one country claims the right to invade, occupy, destroy, kidnap
and kill, other countries can and will eventually claim the same
right and the global order will collapse back into barbarism and
When I speak in different countries about global values, not
surprisingly someone asks: How can you say that there are such
values when we see what is being done in Gaza?
The peoples of Europe see Israel as the greatest threat to world
peace, according to an EU poll a few years ago. But, instead of
listening, their governments told the EU not to ask that question
Israel’s supporters say that it is threatened and has to act. But
if you sow hatred and terror, you will harvest hatred and terror.
If you lock up an entire people as here in Gaza – an unrepresented
crime – they will try to break the prison walls with whatever means
they have. As the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote
recently (July 25th): “An oppressed people will rise up. That is
the nature of things.”
We are told that questioning Israel’s identity goes too far.
But Israelis who see through the propaganda know that it is
Israel’s actions, which are threatening its legitimacy. Even the
former Chief of Israel’s Secret Service, Yuval Diskin, said in a
recent interview (DER SPIEGEL, 30/14) that Israel is “losing
In the 1990’s, when Serbia terrorized the people of Bosnia
and Kosovo, no-fly zones were enforced and the USA and Europe
forced Serbia to withdraw. Why is there no internationally enforced
no-fly zone over Gaza?
As a young journalist, I met Ghassan Khanafani, the
prominent Palestinian resistance fighter and artist, in Beirut
shortly before he was murdered by Israeli agents. He told me
that he always looked for the most effective strategy of
resisting and added with a smile: “If I thought it would be
effective to stand at the Israeli border and throw flowers, I
As we know, many flowers have been thrown and many
compromises offered over the years, culminating in the Oslo
accords. But what has been the response?
We are told that there is a peace process towards a two-
state solution but we know that there is no such thing. There
is a Palestinian Authority recognized by more and more countries.
There are some remarkable individuals who have built world-class
institutions. For example, the banking supervision regulations
created by the PMA under very difficult circumstances are among
the best in the world. Even the IMF has stated that the
PA is ready to conduct the economic policies expected of a
But the reality on the ground is very different. Earlier this
year the World Future Council, which I founded, sent an
expert delegation to Ramallah to advice on introducing a
Palestinian currency (which would be in accordance with the Paris
Protocol and international law).
This New Palestinian Pound (NPP) would have several
advantages for the Palestinian economy: reducing transaction
costs, ensuring that seigniorage profits from money creation stay in
Palestine, providing a lender of last resort to the banking
sector, and contributing to greater economic flexibility. It
would enable the PMA to become a central bank and spend directly
into the economy.
Such spending would not be inflationary if it enabled unused
productive facilities and unemployed men and women to produce new
goods and services. Contrary to conventional claims, such a
currency does not need to be physically backed, e.g. by gold.
Money is backed by the trust that it can be re-used and
maintain its value. If Palestinian taxes and wages were set in
NPP, its use would be immediate and widespread. Maybe such a
currency can now be useful in Gaza to alleviate internal money
shortages, in addiction to its political symbolism.
But it became clear to us that it cannot support the Palestinian
economy under current conditions because the PA does not have the
minimum powers required to make it work. The many proposals for
strengthening the Palestinian economy under the occupation ignore
the key fact that the PA has no authority over imports,
exports, or resources. Every concession it has been given can be
blocked or taken back tomorrow by Israel. Agreements are
implemented selectively to only favor Israel. Palestinian exports are
delayed and sabotaged.
The Palestinian economy remains a fully dependent subset of the
Israeli economy. If there is a dispute, Israel refuses arbitration.
The importation of many products is banned, forcing Palestinian
entrepreneurs to use more expensive Israeli manufacturers. Other
banned imports are offered for sale by illegal settlers at
much higher prices. To quote a Palestinian entrepreneur, Israel
keeps all the profits and transfers all the costs.
This equally applies in politics. The PA has been given
symbols, duties and responsibilities to make it appear sovereign,
but not the corresponding powers and rights to create a
functioning state. It remains dependent on foreign donors for its
existence who use it to uphold the illusion of progress towards a
two-state solution. They can then continue to ignore Israel’s
non-fulfillment of its obligations and claim that the problem
is here in Gaza. If only Gaza was as co-operative as the
PA in Ramallah, they claim, it would be so much easier
to progress to peace and a two-state solution.
Our findings show that this is not so. Palestinian
concessions have not been reciprocated and the Palestinian people
are still lacking basic human and citizen rights twenty years after
Oslo. Powers transferred to the PA are under constant threat and
While daily life in the West Bank is not as harsh as in
Gaza, farmers are being harassed by settlers who beat them, cut
heir olive trees, poison their crops and set dogs on them. The
IDF makes raids and arrests, operating freely even in Area A,
which is officially under full Palestinian security control.
It is noticeable that the Swedish Government’s recognition
of Palestine, states that Palestine has “a government with
the possibility to show inner and outer control”. Thus, Sweden
recognizes the PA’s capacities, but is aware that this is
not the current actuality on the ground.
The Palestinian Unity Government cannot be expected to
continue with the policies the PA has pursued for the past
20 years, accepting duties and responsibilities without the
corresponding rights, thus saving Israel most of the costs of the
Continuation of this non-peace process by the Unity Government will
risk that all its participants lose popular trust and credibility.
Therefore, the new government needs to send a strong immediate
signal that it will not continue business-as-usual but intends to
increase the pressure on the international community to end the
siege and occupation an ensure equal rights.
Is there an alternative strategy, which could break the current
deadlock, increase international support for the Palestinian
people and expose the illegitimacy of the occupation? I believe
there is. Such a strategy would have three interlinked pillars.
1. An immediate signing of the Rome Statutes, exposing
Israeli crimes to investigation by the ICC. No longer should a
settler or soldier be able to commit a crime in the morning
and fly to Europe on vacation in the afternoon without fear
of being arrested!
2. Setting a date by which the PA will end all co-operation
with the Israeli authorities, unless the international community
presents a timetable for ending the siege of Gaza and Israeli
withdrawals to specific borders (1967 with some mutual
adjustments), i.e. a realistic two-state solution. This plan would
need to contain punitive measures unless Israel complies. A
UN resolution without such measures is likely to be ignored by
the Israeli government.
3. These steps would be combined with a mass mobilization for
Palestinian non-violent non-cooperation and resistance, along
Gandhian and S. African lines. This would not be “passive”
resistance, but a very active strategy. The theorist of non-
violent resistance, Gene Sharp won the Right Livelihood Award
(Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2012 for developing the detailed
steps of such a strategy.
The strategy has been used to de-legitimize and overcome several
authoritarian regimes and can be used to de-legitimize the
occupation. It would require careful planning.
Such a strategy could declare its aim to be a democratic one-
state solution. The Israeli authorities would no doubt resist. But
they would quickly see their allies disappear if they try to
suppress a non-violent mass movement. Indeed, a likely outcome would
be that the Israeli government would agree to a realistic
two-state solution in order to preserve a separate Jewish majority
Either solution would end the occupation. In this sense, it is a
In order to send a clear signal to the world, it is important
that the strategy of non-cooperation with the occupation is seen
to be non-violent. This will make it much harder (and soon
impossible) for Israel to suppress it violently.
To be clear: this proposal does not deny the right of
the Palestinian people to resist. It proposes using the
creation of the Unity Government to present the world with
a time-limited opportunity to help end the occupation. If
the international community cannot achieve an Israeli
withdrawal and enable the creation of a stable Palestinian state
with viable borders within (say) 12 months, the PA can declare that
it will no longer feel bound by this strategy but will use all
means to achieve its ends. Thus, the world will be presented
with a unique opportunity to focus the minds of governments and the
The chances for such an integrated strategy to end the
Israeli occupation and impunity have never been greater. The
world is still horrified by the recent Israeli attack on
Gaza. In Israel itself, there is growing popular revulsion against
the current government. Even the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin,
has attacked anti-Arab racism and described Israeli society as
“sick” - causing him to be told to “Go be president in Gaza”.
The editor of the English edition of the Israeli daily “Haretz”, Roy Isacowitz, last month (31.10) wrote that
calling Prime Minister Netanyahu a “fascist” would be “far too
tame”, and described him as “unhinged”, i.e. mad.
These unprecedented divisions among the elites of the occupying
power offer an unprecedented opportunity for the new Palestinian