By Mandy Turner

Abstract: As we near the fifth month of Israel’s war on Gaza, discussions have increased over what happens the “day after” a permanent ceasefire. While it is difficult to contemplate this at the current moment, it is crucial that Palestinians and their supporters counter this and articulate a vision for what comes next. This article offers some suggestions towards a progressive and practical paradigm for Palestinian liberation and global solidarity rooted in a reclassification of Israel’s occupation as colonialism, a rights-based approach to conflict resolution, and the UN’s “triple nexus” framework. This paradigm insists that Palestinians’ right to self-determination must not be subject to Israel’s veto or control, that Palestinians must direct and govern their future, and that a sustainable Palestinian economy no longer reliant on international aid or Israel can only be built by removing current obstacles.

Citation: Turner, Mandy, 2024. “Countering “day after” narratives: Notes towards a practical program for Palestinian liberation and global solidarity,” Security in Context Policy Paper 24-04. February 2024, Security in Context.

As we near the fifth month of Israel’s devastating war on Palestinians, the immediate and crucial tasks remain clear. All our efforts must be directed towards securing a permanent ceasefire, ensuring enough humanitarian assistance is distributed into Gaza, and providing essential services such as water, sanitation, electricity, healthcare, and habitat to the besieged population. We must lobby our governments to demand a ceasefire and mobilise our workplaces and communities to support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement because Israel will not stop its violence against Palestinians without external pressure. 

Beyond that, the situation is hard to predict while the numbers of Palestinians killed by Israel continues to mount (30,000 by 26 February 2024) and famine takes its first victims. The amount of infrastructure destruction is immense: Gaza may be uninhabitable once the fighting stops. Israel has also increased its counterinsurgency operations in the West Bank, arresting thousands, killing hundreds, and providing cover for an acceleration in Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians. 

As this unspeakable violence creates additional horrors each day, discussions have also been increasing on what should or will happen the day after a ceasefire. While it is difficult to contemplate this at the current moment, it is crucial that Palestinians and their supporters articulate a progressive and practical vision for what comes next as well as offering criticisms of why other proposals are unworkable or oppressive. 

The one-state, two-states stasis

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu unequivocally insists that, after a ceasefire, Israel will continue to control the area “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” For over 30 years, Netanyahu’s views have been “very consistent” and ”very simple” – he will not allow a Palestinian state to emerge. Israel has also repeatedly stated that it will never agree to Jerusalem being redivided. Nor will it remove and relocate within the “Green Line” the 700,000 Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank, or concede it has any obligations towards Palestinian refugees. Israel is therefore proposing the continuation of a de facto one state based on Jewish supremacy and apartheid.

This is in stark opposition to the equal insistence of Palestinian leaders – from the State of Palestine1 prime minister and senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayyeh2 to former prime minister (2006-07) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh – that any plans for the “day after” must include a sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on UN Security Council Resolution 194. Claims that Hamas does not accept the 1967 borders (the aforementioned “Green Line”) are false; it has been their stated policy since 2017. The current peace plan proposed by Arab states, just like the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, is also insistent on these outcomes, and offers Israel a “normalisation” of relations in return. Key Palestinian and Arab leaders are therefore proposing two states with equal rights for the peoples within their sovereign borders. 

There are equally valid—and growing—voices advocating for one democratic state with equal rights for all peoples. I am sidestepping this issue, for reasons of space, but these ideas could also be important for a new paradigm.

The two most influential Western donors and actors, the United States and the European Union, are insisting on the “two-state solution” as the endgame of plans for the “day after.” But you do not have to be a critic or a cynic to point out that over 30 years of plans for this “solution” have failed. Israel has tried to destroy the basis for a Palestinian state by unilaterally erasing the “Green Line.” Western governments have either not done enough to stop Israel undermining the “two-state solution” or have actively supported it. Further, western aid has been weaponised to control Palestinians – being turned off and on to support one set of elites over another or punish particular political actions. The “peace process” under the auspices of the United States has been dead for at least 15 years, and even before that it was often sarcastically referred to as being all process and no peace. 

The United Nations also supports the “two-state solution” but its various forums, particularly the General Assembly and the Security Council—and now the International Court of Justice—have become arenas of bitter dispute. This is because Global South states consistently support Palestinian statehood, while Western states vote against it or abstain.3

Given the lock-jam at the UN, caused by Western states led by the United States, coupled with Israel’s belligerence and insistence on following biblical myths, International Crisis Group’s senior Palestine analyst Tahani Mustafa has warned that “the most plausible outcome is that the next administration of Gaza comes about by default rather than design.” This would be disastrous, inherently unstable, and consign Palestinians to further decades of Israeli repression. 

Now is the time to seize the initiative and shift the narrative because a sustainable and just peace is possible and plausible. A strategy could be developed, rooted in three specific narrative and policy changes which are essential and can be implemented—particularly because important groundwork has already been done. The first change is to reclassify Israel’s occupation as colonialism and implement the legal consequences that flow from this. The second change lies in replacing the current Oslo security-based framework with a rights-based approach to conflict resolution. And the third change is to apply the UN’s “triple nexus” framework which insists on removing blockages and proposing solutions to end aid-dependency and build sustainable development. 

There is no doubt this strategy will face intense opposition from Israel and its supporters. But given the savagery of Israel’s current attack on Palestinians, an alliance is already emerging of grassroots movements, states that support Palestinian rights, and international organisations that could take this strategy forward. Further details and practicalities can be discussed and planned by the social forces able to act at the global, state, and civil society level. 

Legal and practical implications of reclassifying Israel’s occupation as colonialism

The stronger party to the conflict, i.e., Israel, must not be allowed to dictate the terms of the peace or the post-ceasefire governance arrangements. There must be no return to the Oslo Accords framework or the bilateral negotiations approach of the past three decades, because Israeli leaders have openly stated there will be no Palestinian state. Israel’s occupation has therefore become permanent, which is illegal under international law and should be reclassified as colonialism. Francesca Albanese’s first report, in September 2022, to the UN General Assembly as UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, provides a watertight and compelling legal case for this shift. Law For Palestine, the human rights organisation, has hailed it as a “milestone” document. In addition, more than 50 states have submitted evidence to the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory ruling that Israel’s occupation is illegal. So, the groundwork has already been prepared for this essential narrative shift. 

Reclassifying Israel’s actions as colonialism would shift the focus away from examining the illegality of the consequences of Israel’s occupation (particularly actions that change the status quo such as settling its own population, expropriating land, collective punishment, etc.) towards “root causes.” Not only does this reclassification more accurately reflect the reality, but it would also have important consequences. First, colonialism violates Palestinians’ right to self-determination, which is a peremptory norm (jus cogens) in international law from which no derogation is permitted. This means it is not subject to Israel’s approval and is not nullified by the Oslo Accords. Second, the colonial power is required to withdraw without any conditions according to the UN Declaration on Decolonization (General Assembly resolution 1914 (XV), 1960). Thereby, Israel has no “right to self-defence” or “security.” And third, an occupied people under colonialism have the right to resist to achieve self-determination, as articulated in the UN Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations (General Assembly resolution 26/25 (XXV), 1970).

This narrative and legal shift would be an extremely important advance on the well-rehearsed (but still crucial) insistence on the application of international humanitarian law as relates to occupation, which Israel consistently ignores. It would also shift the focus to emphasising the fundamental rights enshrined in the UN Charter and put pressure on other states, as members of the United Nations, to take all measures to pressure Israel to end its colonial rule over Palestinians. Palestinians and the progressive alliance which is emerging should insist that the UN Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24), established in 1961 by the UN General Assembly to implement GA resolution 1654 (XVI) 1961, is the proper actor to manage, oversee, and monitor the decolonization of Palestine. 

Replacing the security-based framework with a rights-based approach to conflict resolution 

The Oslo framework prioritised Israel’s security and made it the central concern of the Palestinian Authority (known as the State of Palestine since 2012). Israel’s security priorities include protecting its illegal settlements in the West Bank, which should be referred to as “colonies” under the new legal framework outlined above, and explicitly proposed by Albanese. Palestinian security forces are currently never deployed to prevent Israeli military incursions or Israeli settler violence in the West Bank and would find it nearly impossible to do so given the system of security coordination between Israel and the State of Palestine, overseen by the United States. This security-based framework has driven Western donor funding and excessive attention towards the Palestinian security sector, which receives more money than other sectors, such as health and education. It has also led to the West Bank and Gaza having the highest ratio of security personnel to civilians in the world with a mandate to repress opposition to Israel’s rule. This must change. 

The current security-based conflict resolution framework should be replaced with a rights-based approach, from which two main principles follow.

First, it would focus attention on whose rights are being infringed and what is required to end this infringement. Building on the reclassification that Israel’s rule is colonial, this would mean protecting the weak from the strong by recognising the asymmetrical relationship that exists between a coloniser and a colonised people. Any people living under colonialism and apartheid must be assisted towards the realisation of their rights based on self-determination, equal rights for all people, and the protection of these rights. These are principles enshrined in the UN Charter, international law, and are central to a rights-based approach.

 Second, political participation is fundamental to a rights-based approach to conflict resolution. Palestinians must therefore be in control with a medium-term goal of elections to secure legitimate leadership. Israel and donor countries cannot be allowed to interfere with Palestinian politics as they have in the past. Diana Buttu, a lawyer and former spokesperson for the PLO, insists that any attempt to impose a leadership acceptable to Israel and the United States is objectionable and will fail. Hamas will not be destroyed and neither can it be ignored. Only a handful of states consider Hamas to be a terrorist organisation; this should be opposed and reversed. Hamas is part of the Palestinian body politic. Any peace efforts which attempt to exclude parties that have significant social representation will lack legitimacy. Ongoing discussions for a united Palestinian leadership across the West Bank and Gaza must be supported because a “technocratic government” will not work and will lack legitimacy. 

A rejuvenated PLO, which includes Hamas, could unify the Palestinian national movement. Any threats to sanction such a movement should be exposed as both counterproductive and a clear signal of bad faith and ill intent. One of the few leaders that could unite the factions and is popular amongst Palestinians is Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail. Arrested at the height of the second Intifada in 2002 and sentenced in 2004, Barghouti has continued to play a central role in Palestinian politics from his prison cell. Hamas has recently stated it is seeking Barghouti’s release in a potential prisoner swap deal. Palestinian politics could be transformed under Barghouti’s leadership. Pressure should therefore be applied to Israel to release him. 

Employing the UN’s “triple nexus” approach 

Israel has been deliberately stunting the Palestinian economy to prevent the possibility of Palestinian sovereignty. Its colonial practices and the security-based Oslo framework have eroded the productive capacities of the Palestinian economy and fragmented it to the extent that now we need to talk about three (or maybe more) “economic zones”: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem – all cut off from each other. Israel’s 16-year blockade against the Gaza Strip had destroyed much of its socio-economic capacities long before October 7, making it entirely dependent on international donors to rebuild destroyed and damaged infrastructure after Israel’s regular bombing campaigns. The economies of the West Bank and East Jerusalem have also long suffered from Israeli restrictions, the recent tightening of which have made the socio-economic situation much worse for Palestinians.

Palestinian economists and development experts have repeatedly pointed out the damaging impacts of the security-based Oslo framework and the Paris Economic Protocol, the economic part of the Oslo peace accords, on the Palestinian economy. As well as controlling access to and movement within the West Bank and Gaza—and therefore the movement of goods and labour—Israel can also easily induce fiscal and political crises by stopping the transfer of revenue taxes it collects on behalf of the State of Palestine. These transfers account for 65 percent of the State of Palestine’s total revenue, making their delay or cessation a very powerful weapon that Israel has deployed frequently, and is doing so now

In this context, development strategies have not been able to counteract the deepening dependency of the Palestinian economy on Israel and foreign assistance. And yet Israel’s deliberate attempts to destroy the Palestinian economy have not been properly taken into consideration by international law or conflict resolution. 

The UN’s “triple nexus” framework should be used to determine what is required to move from the direct provision of humanitarian assistance towards sustainable development and peace. In this case, it requires the application of international law, particularly as relates to decolonisation and rights-based conflict resolution practices. This should be underpinned by understanding the impact of Israel’s policies of de-development on Palestinian socio-economic life and what is required to end and reverse them. If this is not undertaken, Palestinian sovereignty and development is not possible, leaving Palestinians to be aid-dependent forever

There are many strategies that could be considered as part of different phases. For instance, Raja Khalidi, director-general of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, has proposed that a universal basic emergency income could quickly relieve poverty and kickstart socio-economic activity through the direct injection of cash. 

Any donor strategies and activities should be rooted in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which recognizes that reconstruction, recovery, and development efforts must be owned by the people and their institutions. This means that all planning, interventions, and strategies should be guided by priorities, needs, and objectives identified by Palestinians, and coordinated through mechanisms run by Palestinians. It cannot be “business as usual” for the donors and development community without the wider strategies outlined above. 

A progressive alliance is emerging that can develop and direct a new paradigm 

Decolonization, rights-based conflict resolution, and creating the conditions to shift from humanitarian relief to sustainable development will not be easy or instant. The complexity of the process means there will not be “a” day after, but a series of “days after,” i.e., phases which will intersect, overlap, and run concurrently. But the ideas proposed here are feasible and practical because the policy foundations are already there. 

Criticisms that a decolonisation agenda is “dangerous and false” or antisemitic are written in bad faith and are being used to shore up Israel’s cruel and violent colonial apartheid regime over Palestinians. But decolonization is not a new phenomenon – there are many historical examples, some even quite recent such as Timor-Leste, which can offer comparative guidance. Ending apartheid rule in settler colonial societies also has historical antecedents, particularly the example shown by South Africa. Furthermore, there are many examples of rights-based approaches to conflict resolution and strategies to implement the UN’s “triple nexus” to draw on.

Of course, there are still many issues that need to be discussed. For instance, the geography of where Palestinians are to practise their right to self-determination; if and how the PLO can be resurrected as a legitimate vehicle for Palestinian representation; and which organisations and states will form a progressive alliance to develop and direct the new paradigm. 

Most Western states currently regard Palestinians as a problem to be managed rather than a people requiring international support for decolonization. They will therefore almost certainly block this new paradigm – at least initially – but this will further expose their bias towards Israel. The double standards of certain Western states are now plain to see because of their swift and unequivocal support for Ukraine against Russia’s occupation as compared to their lack of support for Palestinians. 

There has always been a divide between “the West” and “the rest” regarding Palestine, but this has been very visible recently. Take, for instance, which states voted for a ceasefire on December 12, 2023 at the UN General Assembly (153 out of 193 states supported it), and which states support South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. Some Western states are more critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian rights – particularly Ireland, Spain and Belgium – and it is likely this number will grow. 

The Global South – i.e., most of the world – supports a sovereign Palestinian state free from Israel’s control and apartheid rule. This means that Western support for Israel will also ultimately undermine multilateralism, international law, and contribute to a further deterioration of relations between the West and the Global South. 

The longer Israel’s savage attack on Palestinians continues and the more the world is exposed to its first televised genocide, support for Palestinian rights will increase. If Palestinian self-determination is denied and Israeli colonial rule is allowed to continue, medium to high-intensity violence across the whole of the Middle East will become the “new status quo.” This is therefore a prime time for a progressive alliance of states, international agencies, and grassroots organisations supporting Palestinian rights, directed by a unified Palestinian leadership, to shift the narrative and create a new paradigm for liberation and global solidarity. 

Mandy Turner is a senior researcher with Security in Context. She can be contacted on


1: The State of Palestine was the name adopted by the Palestinian Authority in 2012 in its quest for full membership of the United Nations. The United States blocked this at the UN Security Council by exercising its veto. But by June 2023, 139 out of the 193 UN member states have recognised the State of Palestine. The mapping of which states recognise Palestine and which do not is mostly split along Western and non-Western lines. The UN recognises the State of Palestine as the official term in UN documents; however, the State of Palestine does not have sovereignty.

2: Mohammed Shtayyeh and his government’s resignation on 26 February 2024 has opened the door to a unity government which could include Hamas.

3: In this article, the terms “the West” and the “Global South” do not refer to geographical locations, but to relative power and wealth, as well as foreign policy alignments. “The West” refers to the countries of Europe, USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Israel, and South Korea – those states which are key allies and junior partners in Pax Americana. The “Global South” refers to former colonised countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Asia – this covers a wide variety of states with varying degrees of power and wealth, as well as different foreign policies.

Article or Event LinkCountering “day after” narratives: Notes towards a practical program for Palestinian liberation and global solidarity PDF DOWNLOAD
Feb 29, 2024



Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest
Posts to Your Inbox

No spam ever. Read our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.