Saturday, 28 May 2011

PALESTINE: What's next for Palestine Inspite of the nature of the decades-long relationship btween the USA and Israel?

relationship between Israel and the USA

Aadel M Al-Mahdy 

While the US wants to placate Israel, which itself is unbending and belligerent, the Palestinian people are in no mood to take orders or accept more false promises, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah.


Having been deeply disappointed by what many here call Obama's "capitulation" to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is now studying possible options that would advance Palestinian interests.

Palestinian officials have been quite parsimonious in their reactions to Obama's two recent speeches, with some spokesmen speaking off the record and saying the new US posture "contains nothing new".

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been vowing to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly in September, was due to convene a crucial meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee Wednesday to discuss the crisis befalling the so-called peace process.

Abbas refused to say if he considered Obama's embrace of extremist Israeli policies a betrayal of the Palestinians. However, he told reporters in Amman this week, where he met with King Abdullah, that he felt that both the Americans and Israelis were misunderstanding the Palestinian stance.

Abbas said the next Palestinian government of national unity would be composed neither of Hamas nor of Fatah, and that the principle of land swaps had been mutually agreed upon between Israel and the PA in the context of any prospective peace agreement.

He hinted that the Israelis were probably using some these issues as public relations pawns and "red herrings" to perpetuate their hold on the occupied Palestinian territories.

The PLO Executive Committee meeting in Ramallah won't have many options to discuss. One disgruntled Fatah official said the Palestinian leadership is likely to put the issue to the Arab League, in order to place blame on the Arabs for any possible blunders or miscalculations.

A follow-up Arab League committee is also due to meet Saturday to discuss the latest developments, including the latest US embrace of the Israeli position. However, it is clear that whatever decisions or steps the Arab League meeting could take would depend largely on what the Palestinians themselves want.

The Obama administration is discouraging the PA from seeking UN recognition of Palestinian statehood. President Obama said in his White House speech last week that such recognition would give the Palestinians only a symbolic diplomatic victory but nothing else.

But cancellation or even postponement of the "September entitlement" would be very unpopular in the occupied Palestinian territories and could trigger the outbreak of a new uprising, especially if more Palestinians realised that such a step wouldn't serve the Palestinian national interest and that it was taken solely to please and appease the Americans.

Fatah has already warned against ceding Palestinian rights under American-Israeli pressure. The movement is worried that any sign suggesting that Fatah would be willing to compromise on fundamental Palestinian constants -- the inviolability of the 1967 lines, Jerusalem and the refugees -- would have disastrous ramifications for Fatah in any prospective elections.

One possible scenario under these circumstances could see Mahmoud Abbas quit his leadership role, especially if he found himself between the American-Israeli hammer and the anvil of the Palestinian people. The emergence and consolidation of Abbas following the death of Yasser Arafat introduced a strong element of moderation into the Palestinian national movement. His possible demise could lead to a radicalisation of Palestinian society and the revival of calls for direct resistance.

The impossible conditions imposed on "peace" by the Israeli prime minister preclude Palestinian acceptance, and of course peace. Netanyahu says Israel won't return to the 1967 lines, which he described as "indefensible". He also rejects the repatriation of refugees, along with returning East Jerusalem to its rightful owners. Further, he rejects dismantling Jewish colonies in the West Bank and refuses negotiations with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, ignoring the fact that Hamas was democratically elected.

Acceptance by any Palestinian leadership of Netanyahu's impossible conditions would be viewed as treason by virtually all Palestinians. And with the Obama administration visibly shaking in fear at the thought to opposing the Jewish lobby and Israel, it would be safe to assume that the coming summer months in occupied Palestine-Israel will be hotter than usual.

Yes, the US will do its utmost to maintain a semblance of a peace process by cajoling the weak and beleaguered PA to accept certain arrangements and proposals, ones without substance and certainly without any real promise for real peace. But this will only increase frustration and trigger a counter-reaction of another kind.

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