[News] This seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace process is now finally over

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 24 11:54:31 EST 2011

This seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace process is now finally over

The peace process is a sham. Palestinians must 
reject their officials and rebuild their movement.

Sunday 23 January 2011 20.02 GMT

It's over. Given the shocking nature, extent and 
detail of these ghastly revelations from behind 
the closed doors of the Middle East peace 
process, the seemingly endless and ugly game is 
now, finally, over. Not one of the villains on 
the Palestinian side can survive it. With any 
luck the sheer horror of this account of how the 
US and Britain covertly facilitated and even 
implemented Israeli military expansion – while 
creating an oligarchy to manage it – might 
overcome the entrenched interests and venality 
that have kept the 
process going. A small group of men who have 
polluted the Palestinian public sphere with their 
private activities are now exposed.

For us Palestinians, these detailed accounts of 
the secretly negotiated surrender of every one of 
our core rights under international law (of 
return for millions of Palestinian refugees, on 
annexing Arab Jerusalem, on settlements) are not 
a surprise. It is something that we all knew – in 
spite of official protests to the contrary – 
because we feel their destructive effects every 
day. The same is true of the outrageous role of 
the US and Britain in creating a security 
bantustan, and the ruin of our civic and 
political space. We already knew, because we feel its fatal effects.

For the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, 
official Palestinian policy over these past 
decades has been the antithesis of a legitimate, 
or representative, or even coherent strategy to 
obtain our long-denied freedom. But this sober 
appreciation of our current state of affairs, 
accompanied by the mass protests and civil 
society campaigns by Palestinian citizens, has 
been insufficient, until now, to rid us of it.

The release into the public domain of these 
documents is such a landmark because it destroys 
the final traces of credibility of the peace 
process. Everything to do with it relied upon a 
single axiom: that each new initiative or set of 
negotiations with the Israelis, every policy or 
programme (even the creation of undemocratic 
institutions under military occupation), could be 
presented as carried out in good faith under 
harsh conditions: necessary for peace, and in the 
service of our national cause. Officials from all 
sides played a double game vis-à-vis the 
Palestinians. It is now on record that they have 
betrayed, lied and cheated us of basic rights, 
while simultaneously claiming they deserved the 
trust of the Palestinian people.

This claim of representative capacity – and 
worse, the assertion they were representing the 
interests of Palestinians in their struggle for 
freedom – had become increasingly thin over the 
last decade and a half. The claim they were 
acting in good faith is absolutely shattered by 
the publication of these documents today, and the 
information to be revealed over this coming week. 
Whatever one's political leanings, no one, not 
the Americans, the British, the UN, and 
especially not these Palestinian officials, can 
claim that the whole racket is anything other 
than a brutal process of subjugating an entire people.

Why has this gone on for so long and at such high 
cost? And why haven't the Palestinians been able 
to create the democratic representation so 
urgently needed to advance their cause? Israel, 
along with those who share its worldview, would 
assert that the problem lies with the 
Palestinians themselves, being part of an Arab 
political culture that can only breed either 
authoritarian governments or terrorists. Yet what 
these documents reveal is the extent of 
undemocratic, authoritarian, colonial and, 
frankly, terrifying coercion the US, Britain and 
other western governments have been imposing upon 
Palestinians through this unaccountable leadership.

The unconstrained power of America, the global 
superpower that has (now on record and in 
sickening detail) taken one party's side in this 
conflict, can be seen on every page. Everyone is 
implicated, from the president to the secretary 
of state, from the military generals who have 
created the security forces to implement these 
policies to the embassy staff involved in the 
daily execution of them. It also shows this 
policy is an absolute failure, bringing ruination 
upon the Palestinians and increasing belligerency 
from the completely unfettered, aggressive and 
erratic Israel, currently practising a form of 
apartheid towards the Palestinians it rules through force.

This uneven balance of power can only be 
successfully addressed in the same way every 
national liberation movement has addressed it in 
the past: through the unassailable strength of a 
popular mandate. Ho Chi Minh sitting down with 
the French, or Nelson Mandela negotiating with 
the apartheid regime embodied this popular 
legitimacy, and indeed drew their principles and 
negotiating positions from it. The Palestinian 
leadership's weak and incompetent posturing is 
the opposite of dignified and honourable national 
representation, and proves useless to boot.

On the positive side, had such deals eventually 
come to light, Palestinians would have rejected 
them comprehensively. But the worst betrayal has 
been what this hypocrisy has bequeathed to the 
young generation of Palestinians. These officials 
have led a new generation to believe that 
participating in public governance is base and 
self-seeking, that joining any political party is 
the least useful method to advance principals and create change.

Through their harmful example, they have 
alienated young Palestinians from their own 
history of resistance to colonial and military 
rule, so they now believe that tens of thousands 
of brilliant, imaginative and extraordinarily 
brave Palestinians never existed or, worse, 
fought and died for nothing. It cuts them off 
from any useful mobilising methods and techniques 
that they might draw upon today – the democratic 
and collective mechanisms that are needed more 
than ever. They have given young people the idea 
that there is no virtue in collective 
organisation, the mechanism by which popular 
democratic change is made and preserved.

The increasingly popular view that the 
Palestinian revolution was a failure from its 
inception, always corrupt, driven from above and 
never from below, is false – but it has gained 
credibility through the actions of the current 
regime. Its behaviour has nearly erased the 
record of the contribution made by tens of 
thousands of ordinary Palestinian citizens who, 
through the sheer force of their devotion to 
public life, fought for principles and created 
real and democratic self-representation under the 
worst of conditions. It is our most valuable 
freedom, and one well worth fighting for: the 
release of these devastating documents paves the way for its restoration.

Seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace 
process is now finally over | Karma Nabulsi

This article was published on 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/>guardian.co.uk at 
20.02 GMT on Sunday 23 January 2011. A version 
appeared on p24 of the 
section section of 
Guardian on 
24 January 2011. It was last modified at 11.35 
GMT on Monday 24 January 2011. It was first 
published at 20.00 GMT on Sunday 23 January 2011.

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