People hold placards reading "Israel killer , leave Palestine" as they shout slogans against Israel during a protest march in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul. AFP

It was a peaceful march by 17,000 Gazans fenced out (electric fence at that) into an open prison by Israel from their homeland. They call it the March of Return, a homecoming they hope one day to make. It is the world’s longest rehearsal of return, having run the course for 69 years and counting. Come May 14 it would be the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel, when three generations of Palestinians were forcefully driven out of their homeland. The Palestinians call it Nabka —catastophe. And so it was in 1948, and still remains a catastrophe today.

Last Friday, the Israeli security forces shot dead 16 young adults and injured more than 1,000 others. One Youtube video actually shows a youth running away from Israeli fire only to be shot dead from behind by an Israeli sniper. Lt Gen Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli army chief of staff, proudly went on record to say that he had placed 100 snipers along the border with Gaza to take the protesters down. Such impunity is dumbfounding. But what is more baffling is that the international community has stood with arms folded while the blood of the very young and the very old, and every age in between, spill on the soils of their homeland. All because they dared to ask the brutal regime of Israel for their land to be returned. But what the United States did on March 31 was even more befuddling: it blocked a draft UN Security Council statement calling for an investigation into the clashes on the Gaza-Israel border that left 16 Palestinians dead.

This latest move by President Donald Trump’s administration and many others in the recent past do not help promote peace in the Middle East. In fact, it gives a green light to the Zionist regime to act with impunity. This is not the path to follow if Trump wants to make America great again. What will make America great again, though, is for it to be an honest peace broker by acting justly to both sides of the divide. Granted the Israeli lobby in Washington is strong, but this should not stop the US administration from punishing the wrong-doers. By legitimising the violent acts of Benjamin Netanyahu’s brutal regime, the US is vicariously bearing the guilt that rightfully should be borne by Israel. The US is surely aware that the March 30 march by the Palestinians was to commemorate the Land Day, a day in 1976 when six Arabs were killed by the Israelis as the regime appropriated thousands of hectares of Palestinian land. To seek a return of their land that has been forcefully appropriated is surely not a crime in any municipal or international law.

There is only one way out of this Middle East muddle: a two-state solution that has fair space for the Palestinians. The international community has long accepted this two-state reality. The US administration must now knock some sense into Netanyahu’s recalcitrant regime to accept it. The two-state solution is in the best interest of Israel, Palestine, the US and the international community.Otherwise, it will be Nabka for generations to come in the Middle East.

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