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Justifying negotiations with Israel

The frequency of talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators over the past 20 years has ingrained them in the minds of the people. They invoke negative thoughts associated with calamities, delusions and pessimism.

Some time ago a negotiator from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority said during a radio interview that he and his colleagues know that the talks will not succeed in achieving Palestinian rights nor compel Israel to freeze settlement activity; nor do they do expect the Palestinians to benefit from the negotiations in any way. They are, he admitted, forced to negotiate by external pressures, which they do not have the power to challenge.

This rare moment of unexpected honesty explained the reality of the situation and the negotiator's true beliefs but he didn't explain why he believed them. Nor did he refer to the dangerous implications of what the PA is doing in these talks and its crimes against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian Authority simply uses a process of "Isthbal", pretending to be ignorant of the requirements of the people. It has made many concessions to the Israeli occupation, not least in conspiring to collaborate with Israel against the resistance groups in order to prevent them from influencing the course of the "futile' negotiation process.

Even in the best conditions of the negotiating process, those in favour seek to justify them by betting on international intervention in favour of the Palestinians, which will, they claim, put an end to Israeli policies, especially those pushing illegal settlement growth. Simple criticism of the US administration for its tacit backing of Israel's settlement policies in the occupied West Bank is regarded by the Palestinian negotiators as an achievement, even though we must question the value of such international criticism because of the proliferation of settlements ever since the Oslo Accords. Many are now major cities on stolen land; criticism has been completely ineffective in curbing their growth.

The people of Palestine have been deluded into thinking that the negotiations are more than a means to keep the Palestinian Authority in power as an administrative body which aids and abets the occupation's security agencies. This not only suits the PA and its leadership but also the Israelis and their supporters in the international community, many of whom are donors whose money keeps the authority afloat.

Palestinian negotiators clearly see the scale of their political defeat, even as they lower the ceiling of the demands and expectations. Some radical changes in approach are needed, and soon, if the growing conceit of the Israeli government is to be countered in an effective and beneficial way.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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