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Palestinians and another deadline... that is not sacred?

The Palestinian leadership has begun to speak about this coming September as the month of the three appointments or deadlines; for the end of the year of negotiations approved by Washington, the Quartet and the international community; the end of the "two year" period designated by the caretaker government to build state institutions under the occupation; and the moment for the enforcement of "Obama's promise" to see Palestine become a state member of the UN General Assembly.

Since Oslo, Palestinians have had a harsh and bitter experience with time-tables and deadlines. Anyone who casts their memory back in time will find it difficult to count the number of deadlines that were made; from the most important one in May 1999, the expiry date of the transitional phase and the declaration of the State, to the "Mitchell", "Tenet" and "Road Map" dates. Apart from all these, there have been dozens of other appointments; to lift the siege, re-proliferation and to stop settlement activity among others.

In conclusion, there is no reason to believe that the appointments and deadlines set for next September will be honoured and that the outcome will be any different than in previous decades.

From among the three appointments mentioned, there is only one date that Palestinians will be able to decide upon and that is announcing the completion of building state institutions. This they can do at any moment; they have their ministries and departments, their employees and retirees, their men and women – all the possible requirements of a "state".

As for the other two deadlines, they are out of the hands of the Authority or PLO. "Obama's promise" lies in Obama's hands or rather now it lies in the hands of Congress, 'conservatives and 'the lobby'. And just as President Obama retreated from many promises he made in the first two years of his administration, there is nothing preventing him from doing the same again and reneging on both his promise and the deadline set.

As for the establishment of a Palestinian state – the last member in the General Assembly- this is primarily governed by it passing through the channels of the Security Council where it would encounter a U.S. "veto" on the lookout.  According to international law experts, and as proved by other similar cases, there are no "bypass roads" around the Security Council, as might be thought, including through "Uniting for Peace".

The year of negotiations that extends from September gone until this coming September will either end with negotiations or without them, however, at the end of it all no one will be climbing the podium to announce the end of the "era of negotiations". It just won't happen – not by the Palestinians or Arabs nor the representatives of regional and international parties. There will be dozens of alternatives and exits to ensure the extension of long negotiations and the granting of new grace periods. Perhaps they will say suggest to wait until after the 2012 elections when President Obama will be engaged full-time in dealing with more difficult files, inadvertent to that same lobby pressure, and worried about the polls. Perhaps this argument would fool many; the supposed loss of the President to the elections, or his bid to stay in power but not do what was expected of him. And as such, we along with the region would begin a new round of waiting and be faced by a new package of time-tables and deadlines that are "neither sacred nor respected."

Last year, we also had a September deadline, specifically the twenty-sixth; the ten month deadline "Netanyahu was generous enough to give us". The date came and settlement construction was resumed, yet there Netanyahu was telling us with all the impudence and contempt in the world that he was determined to freeze settlement activity before the "U.S. incentives offer". However, Washington was the one to eventually retreat informing him that it no longer required a settlement freeze to resume negotiations.

It seems that continuous lapse of time, abrogation of rights and theft of territory that the Palestinian people are experiencing requires that deadlines and appointments be constantly set in order to keep people and public opinion suspended in a state of anticipation; waiting on illusions and false hope.

Source: Al Dustour Newspaper, Jordan

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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