[News] Time for New Palestinian Political Strategy

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 12 11:52:03 EDT 2010

Dr. Elias Akleh: Time for New Palestinian Political Strategy

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 07:46 PM PDT

By Dr. Elias Akleh

Palestinians had long lost confidence in their 
Palestinian Authority as their representative, 
who was supposed to defend their rights and work 
to achieve their statehood. Mahmoud Abbas, the 
Palestinian President, was imposed on the 
Palestinians in the 2005 election when the 
Israeli forces had arrested and restricted the 
movements of other Palestinian candidates and his 
campaign was given 94% of TV coverage. Although 
his presidency had expired in January of 2009 he 
is still, illegally and unconstitutionally, 
occupying his position. Polls had shown that his popularity is very low.

Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, and his 
government were also imposed on Palestinians when 
Abbas appointed him to the position after the 
democratically elected Hamas government foiled an 
coup d’état that eventually caused a division between the Palestinians.

The Palestinians were deceived by the signing of 
the 1993 Oslo Accords. They were misled that the 
Accords would be merely the first step in a plan 
that would eventually lead to Israeli withdrawal 
back to the 1967 Armistice Lines and to the 
establishment of a Palestinian State in the West 
Bank and Gaza Strip by 1995. Thus Yasser Arafat 
had dramatically altered the charter of the 
Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to 
reflect a new strategy of denouncing the 
legitimate armed resistance (labeled violence at 
the time), abandoning the liberation of all 
Palestine, accepting and recognizing the 
existence of the Israeli state on 78% of 
Palestine, and announcing peaceful negotiations 
as the only strategic choice for solving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Arafat and his PLO were allowed to enter the West 
Bank, and to establish a Palestinian Authority 
(PA), whose job was to administer the Palestinian 
affairs during the interim period until 
statehood. Without an independent economy, and 
being under the mercy of the American-controlled 
Quartet funding the PA had no power and no 
autonomy and eventually, under western pressure 
to fulfill the conditions of the Oslo Accord and 
the Road Map, functioned as an Israeli tool and a 
front line to guarantee Israeli security by 
quelling any Palestinian resistance to expanding 
Israeli colonization (settlements) in the West 
Bank. It further served to legitimize political 
concessions given to Israel in the hope for achieving the illusive statehood.

Although the PA had fulfilled the conditions of 
the Oslo Accord and all the other agreements that 
followed, the successive Israeli governments did 
not withdraw an inch from the Occupied 
Territories; rather, they adopted more aggressive expansionist policies.

Finally, recognizing that negotiations are not 
getting him even the smallest gain that he could 
show to his people, Arafat stopped cooperating 
and refused to give any more concessions. Western 
pressure was applied forcing him to accept the 
assignment of Mahmoud Abbas as the Prime Minister 
of the Palestinian Authority in 2003. Abbas was 
set to continue the negotiations. When Arafat did 
not grant Abbas any real power causing him to 
resign he was assassinated by poisoning. Abbas, 
then, took his place and continued the charade of futile negotiations.

The PA was established basically to enter into 
peace negotiations with Israel. Unfortunately its 
negotiating team is very weak since the PA had 
burnt all its bargaining chips by denouncing 
armed struggle, pursuing Palestinian freedom 
fighters and imprisoning them, being divided into 
Gaza Strip and Western Bank, and not having 
serious support from the rest of the Arab 
countries. On the other hand Israel holds all the 
cards; the Israeli army has total military 
control of all Palestine, controls the movement 
of Palestinians through hundreds of check points, 
controls all borders and determines who could 
leave or come into territories including all the 
Palestinian officials, controls all the 
Palestinian resources especially water, imprisons 
1.5 million Gazans into an open prison besides 
the 11 thousand prisoners in Israeli jails, and 
encourages and finances extremist armed settlers, 
who routinely terrorize Palestinian civilians and 
build their own colonies on stolen Palestinian 
land. On top of all that Israel has the 
financial, military and political support of the US.

Lately the international civil communities in 
Europe and in the US  started to sympathize with 
the Palestinian cause and to join a campaign of 
boycotting and divesting out of Israeli companies 
and Israeli educational systems especially after 
witnessing the latest crimes against humanity of 
Israeli governments committed against 
Palestinians in general, their war crimes in Gaza 
Strip, their crimes of  international political 
assassinations, and their open sea piracy and 
flagrant violations of international laws and many UN resolutions.

Re-engaging into the futile theatrical charade of 
peace negotiations with the Palestinians has 
become a necessity for the Israeli government to 
give the impression that Israel is seeking peace. 
Of course Israel will impose its impossible to 
accept conditions in order to accuse Palestinians 
of being an obstacle to peace.

Lacking any bargaining power and without any 
serious support from their brethren Arab leaders 
or from the US controlled international political 
community the Palestinian negotiating team could 
do nothing except appeal to the Israeli sense of 
fairness to achieve any political gain. But 
Israeli governments have no sense of fairness or 
justice and aspire only for more expansion and 
for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

The demands of the Palestinian negotiating team 
had shrunk dramatically. From the original 
struggle for liberating whole Palestine the PLO 
had downgraded its aspiration and strategy to 
acceptance of the Israeli occupation in the hope 
of establishing a Palestinian State on the meager 
22% of original Palestine and then lately to a 
mere freeze of colonization (settlements) for 
just few months. It seems that the whole 
Palestinian cause has been summarized in 
settlements only.  They have forgotten all other 
forms of Israeli occupation, oppression and 
terror such as the siege of Gaza, the arrest of 
civilians including women and children in mass, 
the theft of land, the terror of extremist 
religious settlers against Palestinian 
communities, the demolition of Palestinian homes 
especially in Jerusalem, the eviction of 
Palestinian Jerusalemites from their homes and 
the burning of Islamic mosques among the numerous other crimes.

The Israelis had stalled all peace negotiations. 
They never stopped their aggression against 
Palestinians; rather they intensified their 
oppression and their colonization specifically 
during peace talks. According to Ansar Al-Asra, a 
Palestinian human rights organization, Israel had 
focused its aggression towards Palestinian 
children targeting them for arrest, imprisonment, 
and torture in an attempt to break the spirit of 
resistance since childhood. Israelis never 
stopped expansion but increased it particularly 
during negotiations.  They never dismantled any 
check point despite their claim of doing so. They 
continued imposing unacceptable pr-conditions to 
sabotage negotiations. Their so-called late 
freeze of settlement, which excluded settlements 
in East Jerusalem and the already ongoing 
settlements, came only to pull the legs of 
Palestinians into negotiations in an attempt to 
improve their internationally tarnished 
reputations after their piracy against the 
international humanitarian flotilla. Once 
negotiations started the settlements frenzy continued.

released by Land Research Centre show that during 
the 10 months of alleged freeze 120 illegal 
Israeli colonies were expanded , 1520 housing 
units were built, more Palestinian land was 
usurped, agricultural land was destroyed, 280 
homes and other structures were demolished, and 
13 Palestinian homes were seized by extremist 
settlers. On September 28th the Israeli high 
court gave a judgment for settlers to evacuate 
tens more of Palestinian families from their 
homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a Jerusalem neighborhood, 
to be occupied by Israeli settlers. On October 
10th the Israeli Knesset succumbed to the demands 
of the extremist Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael 
Beitenu Party and approved the racist 
oath” bill demanding every new immigrant to swear 
loyalty to “the Jewish democratic Israel”. Such 
bill comes as a first step of transferring more Palestinians out of Israel.

For almost the last 20 years of peace talks 
between Palestinian negotiating team and the 
successive Israeli governments the Palestinians 
kept yielding one concession after the other 
while Israel kept expanding one settlement after 
the other. Israelis had never missed any 
opportunity to reject every Arab peace offer 
including the best offer Arabs could give, the 
2002 Arab Peace Initiative that would guarantee 
Israeli security and normalize relationship with 
all its Arab nations providing Israel withdraws 
to pre-1967 borders. Peace contradicts with the 
Zionist expansionist dream in the Arab World.

There is a consensus that the path of peace 
negotiations has miserably failed and would never 
yield peace, yet members of the Palestinian 
negotiating team insist on negotiating because it 
secures their positions. Arab leaders support 
negotiations in the hope of containing the 
Arab/Israeli conflict in Palestine only. Israel 
wants negotiations to extract more political 
concessions. The US calls for negotiations in 
order to appear as an honest peace broker while 
at the same time guarantees Israeli military 
superiority in the region. The losers are 
Palestinians themselves; negotiations had harmed 
their cause; they have lost more land and more rights.

There is a dire need for an immediate new more 
assertive Palestinian political strategy. There 
is an urgent need for a new more effective 
Palestinian election, involving not only 
Palestinians under Israeli occupation, but also 
Palestinians in all Palestinian refugee camps and 
in exile, to choose a more representing political 
body, who would sincerely and assertively fight 
for the Palestinian rights on the international 
arena. The 17 years old Palestinian negotiating 
team with its futile negotiate-only mindset needs 
to be dismantled and be replaced with another 
team who is ready to negotiate only after Israel 
withdraws back to 1967 borders.  The 
effectiveness of this new Palestinian body 
depends on the Arab League re-instating the 
Palestinian issue as the major Arab cause in 
totality and to support Palestinians in every form of resistance.

Further, and most important, the legitimate armed 
resistance to Israeli occupation must be 
re-introduced alongside the political struggle as 
an indispensable method for liberation. 
Aggressive armed resistance to the Israeli 
occupation is the only deterrent Palestinians 
have to stop Israeli expansion. The Egyptian 
October 1973 War liberating Suez Canal and 
Hezbollah’s liberation of south Lebanon in 2000 
serve as good examples for the saying “what was 
stolen by force could not be regained except by force”.

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a 
Palestinian descent born in the town of Beit 
Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa 
after the “Nakba” of 1948, then from Beit Jala 
after the “Nakseh” of 1967. He lives now in the 
US, and publishes his articles on the web in both English and Arabic.

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