By Hani al-Masri
We are witnessing numerous attempts to pressurise the Palestinians to move straight to direct negotiations with Israel, despite the absence of any significant progress due to the intransigence of the Israeli government and the failure of all previous efforts to reach a peaceful agreement. Much of this pressure is coming from the US administration which claims that the Israeli government refuses to tackle the “final status” issues before direct negotiations.
America is trying to cover up its failure to convince the government of Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to stop settlement building, especially in Jerusalem, as a clear foundation for the peace process. The US even failed to make the Israeli prime minister agree to resume negotiations from the point where they stopped before.
Nevertheless, instead of resorting to tough measures against Israel now that the Jewish state is clearly the main obstacle to peace and is responsible for the tension in the region, the so-called Quartet and the rest of the international community are putting pressure on the victims of Israel’s illegal occupation. The perverted logic is that Israel may come around one day so it deserves to have countless chances.
The Palestinian leadership’s decision to resume negotiations without obtaining guarantees for meeting the minimum requirements for their resumption is political suicide and an immediate net gain for Israel. The Israelis have developed the habit of using negotiations as a fig-leaf for the creation of more facts on the ground so that they can impose their own solution as the only feasible option available.
By resuming negotiations without an end to settlement activities and an end to the occupation itself, based on international law and UN resolutions, the PA is basically excluding the international community and enabling Israel to block all alternatives introduced by the Palestinians, Arab governments and others. The result is that the Palestinians will, sooner or later, simply have to accept and live with the de facto occupation of their land.
The continuation of indirect negotiations that have achieved nothing to-date is only possible if there is political will within the Palestinian Authority, supported by international determination to find a just solution. As the peace process and all forms of negotiations have stalled yet again, it is clear that the solution cannot be more of the same. It is time for the Palestinian issue to be passed back to international institutions, not simply to improve the chance of success in the negotiations, but also as part of a new strategy putting the needs and rights of the Palestinian people at the forefront. Theirs is a legitimate cause recognised and acknowledged by international law and UN resolutions, whereas Israel is regarded increasingly by world opinion as a threat to peace and security. Even its main ally, the United States, is now questioning Israel’s status and asking if it really is in America’s interests to maintain support for the Jewish state.
Critics say that any attempt to internationalise the Palestinian issue will be vetoed by the US in the UN Security Council. Better, they say, to keep on the negotiations track, despite its failure to-date, as they might improve the conditions of the Palestinians under occupation and may eventually lead to a solution. That much is better than nothing at all, they assume.
In response it must be said that if the Palestinian leadership continues with negotiations as the only possible option, then the fate of the Palestinian issue is obvious: total surrender and liquidation of the cause leading to a final agreement that matches the Israeli-imposed realities on the ground.
The internationalisation of the issue will unite all Palestinians efforts and attract maximum Arab and international support. And if the US administration uses its Security Council veto to stop resolutions committing Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and commit to the minimum of Palestinian rights, as would be expected, the matter could be taken to the General Assembly under the “Uniting for Peace” clause. This allows for the General Assembly to issue a binding decision if the Security Council is unable or unwilling to provide a solution to an issue for which there are sufficient legal reasons and which pose a threat to international peace and security.
Real political partnership and rehabilitation of the Palestinian national programme would be a direct benefit of the internationalisation of the Palestinian issue. To achieve this, however, the Palestinian Authority must be a servant of the national programme and a tool of the PLO, whose reformation is required to provide representation to all Palestinians, whether they live in the occupied territories or elsewhere.
Hani al-Masri is a Palestinian political analyst and an independent columnist for several Palestinian and Arab papers.
The internationalisation of the Palestinian cause is the solution
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.