Sanctions on Israel? What a good idea. It seems that the country does not yield to diplomacy, nor does it fear force, being the overwhelming military power in this region. Since this balance of power in its favour has not induced the country to act magnanimously, there is only one thing for the world to do in order to once and for all end this problem: sanction Israel!
This would be a very simple and painless way to finally make Israel dance in step with international law and generally accepted standards of behaviour. Two aims need to be realised in the very short term: Israel must end its criminal and inhumane blockade of Gaza and freeze, unequivocally and without exception, all settlement construction of any kind in all occupied territory, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Beyond that, the world should demand a gradual Israeli withdrawal of both its military and civilian infrastructure from all occupied territory that will finally see the goal of a two-state solution come to fruition. Once Israel has withdrawn to the 1967 lines, a comprehensive peace treaty, which will also justly resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees, can be signed with the entire Arab world.
The West Bank is more than ready and capable of governing itself. The Palestinian Authority has proven itself, over the years, not only able to impose control, but also to govern. In Gaza, meanwhile, the ability of Gazans under a draconian siege to survive and innovate is surely all the proof needed that given the chance, this area will flourish.
Of course, Palestinians need to reach a unity agreement. The current division between the two parts of occupied Palestinian territory is a tragedy. However, Palestinian unity is neither excuse nor justification for Israel not to be held accountable for its actions or be compelled to comply with its obligations under international law.
We all need to be held to the same standards. Israel can be no exception. And should the world agree collectively to sanction Israel, it will take very little time, just as it did in South Africa, for another apartheid system to fall. That would ensure that the new year will finally see some hope for a better future in this region.