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President Abbas and the new phase

January 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm

By Sadiq Al-Mahdi

The Jewish issue is a European product, anti-Semitism is a European phenomenon and Zionism is a European Jewish reaction against the persecution of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. The promise of a Hebrew homeland in Palestine is the outcome of European conflicts and wars; and the holocaust is a hellfire lit by European ideological stupidity.

The decision in 1948 to recognize the state of ‘Israel’ was an international step strongly endorsed by the USA and Europe. These are the aspects of the atrocities and genocide inflicted upon the Palestinian people who were not involved in any way whatsoever in the Nazi massacres of the Jews; yet they have been forced to pay a high price for something they did not do, and to ironically undergo the very same suffering endured by the Jews in Europe under the despicable Nazi legacy.

This most explosive conflict in the Arab East is a product from outside. And the international [American and European] community is to blame fully, politically and morally, for the catastrophe stemming from it.

In the circumstances of the Cold War (1948-1989), Israel became a strategic ally of the Western camp and in the aftermath of 9/11 Israel’s role as a major American ally in the so-called ‘war on terror’ was again made crucial, this war strangely grouping together haphazard violence and liberation movements.

The peace project endorsed by the Madrid Conference in 1991 was not based on the recognition by the world of its responsibility for the manufacture of the crisis, but rather came as a result of the allies’ victory in the second Gulf war and as a necessity to please the West’s Arab allies, something more like a public relations gesture. That is why the conference was not seriously and strictly followed up but rather remained just a surreal slogan.

Yes, there were Palestinian/Israeli negotiations in Oslo, with a commitment to the achievement of the Madrid targets of a comprehensive peace, which resulted in an agreement that led to the establishment of a transitional Palestinian ‘skimmed’ Authority in Gaza and Jericho in May 1994. However, a large number of Palestinians were against the Oslo Accords and a considerable number of Israelis announced their intention to eradicate them.

Yasser Arafat succeeded in preserving the PLO’s status but he was however considered by the Israeli interlocutor as an equivocator, humiliated in his West Bank compound and then assassinated by the very same interlocutor. The PLO elected Mahmud Abbas as his successor and under his leadership, the movement fully engaged in the peace process, and [indeed] in the process of making concessions only to convince the Israeli side of the Palestinians’ genuine commitment to peace.  

Meanwhile, the following facts became glaringly evident:

First: there has been a continuous shift in Israeli policy making towards to the extreme right. So much so that the man who never really believed in the two- state solution or in the withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan, who never accepted the 1992 Madrid Agreement or the 1994 Oslo accords, this man, Ariel Sharon, was elected Prime Minister in February 2001. And today the two individuals who hold the most extremist attitude vis-a-vis Palestinians and Arabs, denying them their historic rights, these individuals, Netanyahu and Lieberman, have been elected to top positions of policy making in Israel.

Second: the Road Map project endorsed by the broader international community as a public relations exercise in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and then discussed during two summits in Sharm Al-Sheikh and Aqaba, was not taken seriously enough to be implemented on the ground. While the Road Map was sponsored by four partners: the USA, the European Union, Russia and the UN, the two summits took place under the auspices of the USA alone.

While the Road Map provided a view on a comprehensive peace, the summits excluded both Syria and Lebanon.

While the key factor in laying the ground for negotiations was the announcement of and commitment to a ceasefire, Israel and the USA continue to label Palestinian resistance factions as terrorist groups. Can an agreement on a ceasefire to be achieved without these factions [that are part and parcel of any possible ceasefire deal] taking part?

The Israeli side attached 14 reservations to the Road Map, which made it void of any meaning or essence.

Third: while the peace talks were underway there was a coalition between Israel and the USA, which the George W Bush administration (2000-2008) reinforced more than any previous US administration. Israel’s relentless settlement expansion throughout Bush’s terms continued in flagrant contradiction of Israel’s explicit commitment to end all settlement activity. It then launched attacks on innocent civilians in the Qana massacre, invaded Lebanon and destroyed Gaza, thereby confirming its lack of interest in the peace process and affirming its determination to unilaterally impose its will.

It has now become clear that the security excuse which Israel keeps reiterating with any new offensive it launches in the region does not and cannot justify the savage killing of innocents and the scale of destruction. Israel demands the total crackdown on resistance as a condition for any ‘resumption’ of the peace process; the truth is, however, that:

In all similar peace accords throughout history, resistance could only stop within the framework of a political agreement.

Also historically, Israel has never released prisoners nor has it withdrawn its forces, and altered a decision unless in the context of a prisoner swap deal or within the framework of a confrontation with the resistance, as did occur in Lebanon and Gaza.

The newly elected US president Barack Obama promised change and a departure from his predecessor’s policies. That raised people’s hopes on his administration. However, he appointed among his team a large number of those who belong to the old school of thought while seeking to confront the Congress where the Zionist lobby has the upper hand. This setback will continue unless the USA is convinced that it cannot continue to support and tolerate Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians and still enjoy the friendship of the Arabs.   

The lurch toward the extreme right in Israel and its heavy reliance on the US alliance has for the 17 years of the peace process allowed Israel to consolidate its position and systematically violate the Palestinians’ rights. It has annexed 45 per cent of the West Bank lands and expanded its colonial settlements therein; the judaisation of Al-Quds has been relentless and Al-Aqsa mosque has been under continuous threat; the construction of the racist separation wall has been under underway and all these constitute aggressive illegal procedures that make the establishment of a Palestinian state an impossible dream.    

The failure of President Abbas who pinned all his hopes on the peace process and walked out of it empty-handed is the very incarnation of the failure of a leader naively indulging in pursuit of a chimera. The correct position is now for him to step down and confirm that he will not run for re-election, announce to the world the death of the peace process that has achieved nothing other than the consolidation of Israel’s belligerence and expansionist intentions and, at the same time, torn apart the Palestinians. He has an obligation to tell all those who seek to deceive us about the peace chimera that he is not at all bothered to totally and decisively break with the Israeli ‘negotiator’.

All Palestinian resistance factions are also required to cooperate so as to rebuild the Palestinian national project, to unite under the umbrella of the PLO and fully support the struggle and resistance which includes enhancing the roles Palestinians can play both inside and outside their occupied homeland, a stance that should be fully adopted and supported by the Arab and Islamic world as well as all those who believe in the sanctity of human rights and the freedom of peoples.   

The true Arab solidarity stance should adopt a soft-force strategy by:

  • Ending all kinds of relations with Israel as long as it occupies Arab land.
  • Providing support for the Palestine cause by mobilizing public opinion worldwide, a considerably motivated force that proved to be effective and managed to speak up for the oppressed people during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, of Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008, a force that was the product of various interacting factors:

1. Since the end of the Cold War many human rights organisations have sprung up and the revolution in communications has made it possible for hundreds of satellite channels and radio stations to provide live broadcast of events around the world.  

2. A long list of mechanisms has made aggressive parties around the world accountable for their behaviour and their violations of human rights such as the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Convention on Genocide of December 1948 and the International Criminal Court; national and local courts have been enabled in most countries to pursue criminals in any place and any time, regardless of who they are or where they come from, and bring them to justice.

3. The UN’s Human Rights Council passed a resolution endorsing the Goldstone fact finding mission report, which constitutes a window of opportunity for Palestinians and Arabs to apply the mechanisms of international humanitarian laws to prosecute war criminals and make it clear that Israelis war criminals, who committed genocide or crimes against humanity are not above the law.

4. There are signs/constituents of an extremely powerful and genuine lobby inside the USA and Europe; they should be mobilized for this decisive battle.

5. Any ideological or sectarian polarization in the region should be contained for the supreme interests of the people.

6. The defence capability of all Arab states should be strengthened so that Israel realizes its crimes against the Palestinians and Arabs can no longer pass unnoticed or unaccounted for and that it is now time for it to pay a heavy price for all the atrocities it has inflicted on innocent men, women and children.

*Sadiq Al-Mahdi is a former prime minister of Sudan

Translated by Monjia Abdallah Abidi

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