GAZA CITY - Despite yet another tentative ceasefire in the region, sporadic Palestinian rocket fire and mortars are still detonating in Israel following a brutal offensive meant to bring Hamas into submission.
The offensive killed nearly 1300 Palestinians, but resulted in 13 Israeli deaths as well. These unacceptable results have prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to announce plans to provide funding for a newly created Palestinian Aeronautics and Space Administration, or PASA. This, he says, will allow the Palestinian diaspora a chance to reconvene, establishing a new homeland on the surface of Mars. "It doesn't make sense," he says, "to keep launching rockets at these people when we could be launching rockets full of them instead."
The Palestinian population worldwide is estimated at around 11 million people. Even though the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination is generally recognized by world councils and assemblies, more than half of them are stateless and lack citizenship in any country, and they have never exercised full sovereignty over the land they live in. Now, all that will finally change with the establishment of a new Martian Homeland.
The first aim of PASA will be to begin construction of the Exodus I, a large reusable capsule that will be launched by rocket from the Earth. When complete, it will blast off with a crew of 45 who, upon reaching Mars, will begin terraforming the Red Planet's surface, readying it for its first Palestinian inhabitants. Mars' two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos ("fear" and "panic") will be renamed Aqabat Jabr and Ein Sultan after refugee camps "emptied" by Israeli forces in 1967. Meanwhile, more Exodus capsules will be under construction on Earth, readying to launch a steady stream of Palestinians into space.
The Red Planet, say Palestinian leaders, will be a perfect place to finally establish a permanent homeland for their people, and they look forward to the move. They refer to a statement by future Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion in 1937 that "we must expel Arabs and take their places," pointing out that ever since Israel approved its Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, they've been the subject of dislocation, most notably in that same year, and even more so in 1967. At last, they say, a Palestinian nation-state on Mars will end the plight of their millions of refugees.
Even though their circumstances have been compared by some to that of Native Americans, who were subjected to similar displacement including legislation like Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 following the signing of America's own Declaration of Independence, Palestinian leaders claim this solution is a far better alternative to so-called "Indian Reservations." Mars is not as likely to be inundated with settlers as the American West, they say, at least not for many centuries, so they will be able to exercise their independence freely.
The Red Planet's surface is a hostile environment, but those destined for it say it will be a welcome reprieve considering the perpetually war-torn conditions, fear, and the cycle of Palestinian resistance and Israeli reprisals they've grown accustomed to since their struggle for sovereign legitimacy began decades ago. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders hope to have completed this massive undertaking by September 21, 2021, the 100th anniversary of the first demand for Palestinian national independence.