[News] Palestine - Direct talks bound to fail & PFLP opposes negotiations

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 30 17:55:47 EDT 2010

Diana Buttu: direct talks bound to fail

Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 30 August 2010

As US officials arrived in Jerusalem last week to meet with 
Palestinian Authority and Israeli government officials, Nora 
Barrows-Friedman interviewed Ramallah-based lawyer and former PLO 
advisor Diana Buttu about this week's US-brokered direct talks 
between the two parties for The Electronic Intifada.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: What are the realistic expectations for an 
outcome of the direct talks, as Israel continues to confiscate 
Palestinian land and expand illegal settlements, and as Israeli Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces that it is the Palestinian 
preconditions that threaten to sabotage the talks?

Diana Buttu: The funny thing about Netanyahu's statement on 
preconditions is that the preconditions are actually Israeli, rather 
than the other way around. They're making it a precondition that 
Palestinians have to accept that Israel is going to continue its 
settlement activity. And if the Palestinian side says no to 
settlement activity, then somehow that is a precondition, and the 
world is not into that.

The big problem is that while there is this announcement of 
negotiations, here on the ground [in the occupied West Bank], there 
is nobody who is greeting this announcement with any happiness, 
because we have been here before. We know what has happened in the 
past, and we know what is going to happen. And so, if anything, the 
direct talks are going to be a direct failure. Unless there is a very 
strong stance by the international community to stop Israel in its 
settlement activity, in home demolitions and in setting forth a terms 
of reference -- that Israel is going to abide by the 1967 borders -- 
then the talks are doomed to fail. We have been down this path before.

NBF: What is your response to how the PLO approved the talks, even 
though none of the non-Fatah parties approve of them? How did this 
happen, and what has the response been from the opposing parties?

DB: In terms of the PLO's response, this is not new. [Palestinian 
Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas is the same man who hijacked 
Palestinian elections a year and a half ago, when he unilaterally 
declared that his term was extended. This is the same man who has 
failed to hold the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. This is 
the same individual who has canceled the municipal elections, all 
under the guise of, "oh, this is too difficult right now."

So it is not at all surprising that Mahmoud Abbas, speaking on behalf 
of Mahmoud Abbas, comes forward and declares that the PLO has 
accepted such talks when they haven't. And declares that the 
Palestinian people are welcoming such talks when they are not. And 
has the audacity to speak on behalf of Palestine and the Palestinians 
when he is neither elected nor legitimate any longer, and has not 
even bothered to ascertain the opinion of other organizations, other 
factions that are members of the PLO.

NBF: Will this further split and antagonize the political factions 
against each other, or are we seeing more unity taking place?

DB: That is the one thing that is becoming interesting out of all of 
this -- this is no longer the isolation of Hamas. It's becoming the 
isolation of Fatah, in that you see all the political factions lining 
up on one side, and Fatah lining up on another side.

This is not where the situation was a few years ago, or even a decade 
ago when the majority of Palestinian factions were, in some way, 
shape or form, in favor of Oslo or in favor of the negotiations 
process. Today, it is exactly the opposite. So, if anything, Fatah 
has marginalized itself, and is becoming increasingly more marginalized.

The problem is that there is no way to translate that into any real 
change, because of Fatah holding the key, because of its inability to 
hold elections, with its refusal to listen to the factions. What it 
simply means is that we have this rogue party that is acting on 
behalf of its own interests and not the interests of the Palestinian 
people. That is going to continue to dictate the future of Palestine.

Unless this dissent transforms itself into a real push for internal 
change, then I fear [Fatah is] going to continue going down this path 
of isolating itself and marginalizing itself, and holding 
Palestinians hostage to its lack of vision and lack of strategy for Palestine.

NBF: You attended a press conference on 23 August given by PA 
spokesperson Saeb Erekat. What was revealed in the press conference, 
and what are most Palestinians concerned or skeptical about in 
relation to the talks and what is happening on the ground?

DB: There are two things that were revealed during the press 
conference. The first was that Erekat was unable to explain to 
journalists or to the Palestinian people what had changed, why 
they're entering into negotiations now. He kept referring to pithy 
Quartet statements -- no one really cares what the Quartet says or 
does, because they don't really do anything -- and he kept referring 
to the international community and its support for the peace process. 
But there was nothing that he could point to to explain why now is 
the time for direct talks.

In other words, there was nothing that he could say -- neither in the 
form of guarantees, nor in assurances, nor in the form of a 
settlement freeze, or anything that he could take to the Palestinian 
people and sell. It simply was the result of their utter 
incompetence. There was no way to explain why they were going to negotiations.

The second thing that came out during the press conference, and this 
was clear to the journalists who were present, is that this is a 
leadership of lies. If this leadership had come forward and said, "we 
are under tremendous amounts of international pressure, both 
financially and politically" (which we know is the case), then at 
least we would have been able to give them credit for that. Erekat 
didn't say that. Moreover, if this was the same individual who came 
forward and said they would halt negotiations, unequivocally, in the 
event that Israel does not impose a complete settlement freeze -- not 
a partial freeze, not a moratorium -- and a complete halt to home 
demolitions, then at least we would have been able to feel that this 
is a leadership that is responsive, a leadership that is honest.

Instead, Erekat came forward and said that there are going to be no 
negotiations. In fact, he used the phrase that Netanyahu will have 
chosen -- no negotiations -- in the event that settlements and home 
demolitions continue. What we know is the opposite. If they have not 
pressed for a complete settlement freeze now, if they have not 
pressed for a halt in home demolitions and land confiscation now, 
then the PA has to explain to us that somehow, magically, on 26 
September -- when the so-called settlement moratorium has expired -- 
that suddenly the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are going to get 
a backbone?

So rather than him making these slogans and statements, we wanted to 
hear the truth. And instead we are faced with a leadership that lies. 
It lied about the pressure that has been put upon the PLO in order to 
enter into negotiations, and it will be proven on 26 September that 
the same leadership is going to -- once again -- lie to us about 
halting negotiations if there is no settlement freeze.

NBF: What are your major concerns about the Palestinian political 
atmosphere right now?

DB: The major concern is that we all know that this is going to fail. 
It doesn't require anyone with any particular knowledge or foresight 
to realize that these talks are going to fail. The real question is 
what is going to come afterwards, and here is where I'm most 
concerned. For the past 17 years, the PLO, and in particular, Fatah, 
has had one strategy and only one strategy: negotiations, 
negotiations, negotiations.

And they have had only one strategy as regards to themselves, and 
that is survival. We are now at a stage where we are seeing that this 
is going to be -- and I really hope that it is -- the final blow to 
the logic and the ideology of negotiations, that people somehow have 
to negotiate their freedom.

The real question is, what is this leadership going to do? Is this 
leadership going to continue to hold us hostage to this tired, 
visionless lack of strategy? Or is something different going to come?

I'm not concerned with the talks, we know they are going to fail. My 
bigger concern is about what is going to happen once the talks fail, 
and is there going to be anybody who is going to come forward with a 
different plan, a different strategy, a different vision? And that is 
my fear. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

PFLP marks the ninth anniversary of the assassination of Comrade 
Leader Abu Ali Mustafa with pledge to resist negotiations


The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine marked on August 
27, 2010 the ninth anniversary of the assassination of its leader 
General Secretary Abu Ali Mustafa by an Israeli occupation rocket in 
2001. As the Palestinian people confront a new round of threats to 
their national cause and national existence, the legacy of Comrade 
Abu Ali Mustafa remains always, in his words, a legacy of 
"resistance, not compromise." PFLP organizations throughout occupied 
Palestine marked this anniversary with a deep commitment to resist 
the new round of "direct negotiations" and to uphold Palestinian 
national rights, particularly the right to return, and Palestinian 
national unity, and carry forward the commitment of Comrade Abu Ali 
Mustafa in a new era of struggle.

Comrade Abdel-Rahim Mallouh, Deputy General Secretary of the PFLP, 
said at a ceremony at Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa's tomb in El-Bireh that 
the Front will pledge to continue its march along his path of 
resistance and total commitment to Palestinian national liberation, 
stressing that today's fight to end the dangerous direct negotiations 
is necessary to continue the struggle against the entire edifice of 
the Oslo process. In Gaza City, Comrade Kayed el-Ghoul, member of the 
Central Committee of the PFLP, emphasized that the Front is firmly 
committed to achieving Abu Ali Mustafa's goals of national liberation 
and national unity, and actively plans to initiate collective efforts 
in the West Bank, Gaza and outside Palestine to confront any form of 
compromise of Palestinian fundamental rights, particularly the right 
to return and the right to self-determination. He condemned the 
Ramallah Palestinian Authority's suppression of actions against the 
negotiations and warned that these were a mechanism to support U.S. 
hegemony in the region while providing a cover for Israeli occupation 
and settlements.

In Jabalya, Comrade Ramiz Abu Ruksha spoke about Abu Ali Mustafa's 
firm commitment to Palestinian resistance, and saying that his blood 
was not shed in vain, saluting the heroic PFLP fighters who 
assassinated Rehavam Ze'evi, the notoriously racist Zionism tourism 
minister, on October 17, 2001, in response to the killing of Abu Ali 
Mustafa. He said that their action ensured that the Zionist regime 
learned that the blood of Palestinian martyrs is precious, and that 
assassinating Palestinian leaders should bear a consequence for the assassins.

The PFLP in Jenin held a mass rally in Arraba, Abu Ali Mustafa's 
hometown, attended by over 2500 people. Comrade Abdul Nasser Abu 
Aziz, member of the Central Committee of the PFLP, delivered the 
speech on behalf of the Front, saluting the prisoners of the 
Palestinian people, in particular Comrade Ahmad Sa'adat, the General 
Secretary of the PFLP, and demanding their freedom. He emphasized the 
Front's unequivocal rejection of all negotiations with the occupation state.

Comrade Dr. Hani Mustafa Zibri, Abu Ali Mustafa's son, presented a 
recorded speech on behalf of the family of Abu Ali Mustafa, saying 
that the commemoration of his father's martyrdom only emphasized that 
the Palestinian love of life and freedom would never be murdered by 
the Zionist enemy. He traced his life and history, from his 
involvement with the Arab Nationalist Movement, through the founding 
of the PFLP, and his experience in the Palestinian Arab struggle in 
West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Ramallah, where he became a 
martyr in the land of Palestine. He emphasized that the development 
of a unified national Palestinian resistance was always at the top of 
Abu Ali's priorities, in confrontation with the Zionist enemy.

He denounced the negotiations to take place in Washington, saying 
that Abu Ali Mustafa represented all of our people not represented in 
Washington - those driven out by occupation and settlements, the 
millions of Palestinians in diaspora and exile struggling to return 
home, the prisoners in Israeli jails who are the heroes of the 
revolution. He saluted Abu Ali Mustafa among the constellation of 
heroes and martyrs, Ghassan Kanafani, Wadie Haddad, Abu Jihad, Sheikh 
Ahmed Yassin, Abdel-Aziz Rantissi, Fathi Shikaki and thousands of 
martyrs, and pledged that their sacrifice will not die on the altar 
of futile and dangerous negotiations in Washington DC, pledging that 
the Palestinian people would fulfill the goals of their martyrs and 
struggle until the prisoners are free, the refugees return, and all 
of Palestine, from the river to the sea, is free.

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