The Palestinian Authority has gone to the negotiating table alone in an attempt to regain the occupied territories. After more than twenty years of painful negotiations, it has not achieved this goal. Such an outcome is what the Israelis want while convincing the world, falsely, that they want peace and a solution to this conflict; in the meantime they continue to make political gains. The Palestinians have been forced to return to the negotiation table due to Arab and American pressure so that the world will not say that they do not want peace; failure to comply will lead to an end of US aid for the PA.
Israel goes to the negotiations backed up by American political, economic and military support. It is well known that the Israeli negotiators seek to maintain the occupation. They negotiate from a position of strength and impose many restrictions on, and squeeze many concessions from, the Palestinians while ignoring and rejecting any criticism of settlement expansion from the west. Despite the fact that talks are again underway, Israel is still expanding its settlement projects, proceeding with the Judaisation of Jerusalem and the demolition of Palestinian houses, and killing Palestinians in cold blood. Palestinian concerns about all of this are ignored.
The PA claims that negotiations are the only option, especially since its leaders ruled out resistance; that could have strengthened their position, which is weakened even further by the continued absence of national unity. Furthermore, the current situation in the Arab world does not allow for many countries to provide tangible support to the Palestinians. Arab countries are incapable of putting pressure on America and Israel; in fact, the exact opposite happens.
Although both parties need to find the best possible solution, it is obvious that this is an asymmetric conflict. The balance of power militarily, politically and financially is entirely in favour of the occupier, Israel. It is a mistake to think that the Israelis approach talks with good intentions. Palestinians may be morally and legally in the right but America and Israel take advantage of their weakness to negate such advantages, to the extent of trying to keep them away from the legal benefits of their status at the UN. The unspoken objective is to isolate the Palestinians and force them to dance to Israel’s tune. The negotiations will, undoubtedly, end up imposing a fait accompli.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has imposed a nine month timescale for the latest talks but already officials have described them as “fruitless”. No major breakthroughs have been reached. In any case, whatever happens, many Palestinians will reject the “agreed” solution as the refugees and their right to return are likely to be ignored.
Is there a popular alternative to negotiations? Should the Palestinians have to wait for yet another American president to vow to find a solution or will they find themselves under pressure from the west to return to more fruitless talks? If negotiations drag on for twenty more years the Israelis will take more and more Palestinian land until they have stolen all of Palestine and Jerusalem. Will the Palestinian Authority leadership then declare that it has failed and resign? If the PA is dissolved, as many believe it should, will we see a third intifada or will the idea of a one-state solution take hold?
Lacking an honest broker in America, the Israelis know that they are under no pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already said that they must recognise Israel as a “Jewish state” and waive the right of return.
The main concern for the occupation is security. Netanyahu said recently that Israel would insist on having extremely strict and rigid security arrangements in any agreement reached with the Palestinians. He also stated that the core of the conflict in the Middle East is due to the Arab Spring and has nothing to do with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israel is waiting to see what outcomes arise in Egypt, Syria and Iran’s new-found rapport with America.
The most that Israel is likely to provide to the Palestinians, in coordination with America and other western countries, are financial bribes and tempting promises of economic stability and peace. The occupation will promise to finance certain projects and provide more Palestinians with permits to work inside the Zionist state in addition to releasing a number of Palestinian prisoners. All of this indicates that there is a lack of willingness to achieve a genuine peace with the Palestinians, which will ultimately lead to the failure of negotiations.
As such, Palestinians must strive to end the national division and be united. We must work together to formulate a strategy to resist the occupation by all means. We must refuse to make any concessions, coordination or agreements with the Israelis because doing so will encourage their forces to continue their brutal policies of murder, abuse, demolitions and arrests. The recognition and implementation of all Palestinian rights must be the precursor for any future engagement with the occupation authorities and their sponsors.
The author is a Palestinian writer. This is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared on Arabs48. on 8th October 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.