Every other day, it seems, figures from the group who believe that “life is negotiations” mourn the current negotiation process; they sometimes get upset and resign; at other times they analyse or complain, but the result is always the same. They continue to negotiate and, more importantly, when they make threats, they are made more in irony than anything else.
The most recent mourner of the negotiations (as many times before) is the chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat. He spoke out after the Israeli Ministerial Council decided to pass laws annexing the Jordan Valley so that it will be non-negotiable. However, this does not mean that the talks have reached an impasse, as it could be a tactical manoeuvre. In any case, we all know that the valley is already outside the context of the current negotiations because what is currently being proposed is a transitional agreement for a statelet consisting of what is left of the West Bank; the Apartheid Wall has taken over a large part of it and the fate of the Jordan Valley is being left for the “final status” negotiations.
The PA abstained from negotiations for a long time and I appreciate that such abstinence was difficult as negotiations are needed for the continuation of life. However, the authority went back to talks with the Israelis even though the latter did not stop settlement expansion. The PA also celebrated the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners as a form of incentive, even though this was in exchange for more settlement projects to satisfy the Zionist right-wing; in the meantime, the Judaisation of Jerusalem and the holy sites continues unabated.
I am concerned by the threats made by the chief negotiator in the event that the negotiations continue to fail; the threat to resort to international organisations with the help of Arab parties looks fine on paper but I do not know what good it will do. After all, there are many international resolutions that consider Israel’s presence in the territories occupied in 1967 to be illegal. There is also a clear and explicit decision issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which can be considered more important than international resolutions, but this has not changed anything.
Does Saeb Erekat want a Palestinian member state in the United Nations after having achieved non-member observer state status? This is what we gather from the context of his threat, which raises an important question: is this the most that Netanyahu can be threatened with? Were the leaders of the PLO oblivious to this great approach that can destroy the occupation before Mahmoud Abbas took office?
They want to preserve what they have been doing, whether or not it reaches a solution, as they believe that what they are doing is a great achievement that cannot be compromised no matter what. They are also making agreements with the Israelis, such as the most recent water agreement, and are making investments and acting as if they are a fully-functioning state, not lacking in anything.
The Israelis are aware of this, and they are neither afraid of the PA and its leaders nor their threats. Anyone not threatening to end security coordination with the Israeli occupation will not threaten anything more important than that. However, the occupation authorities are afraid of the ordinary people and, therefore, the PA and the Israeli government ally themselves to confront concerns about a new Intifada, which would turn the tables on both.
The word resistance does not exist in Saeb Erekat’s lexicon, nor does it exist in his president’s. Even the story of popular resistance is no longer mentioned in any meaningful context. Everyone around the table has realised that they are not in favour of any resistance, neither popular nor armed.
Oddly enough, and what upsets me even more, is that despite all of this, you find people who love Palestine but continue to praise the current leadership, defend it and pledge loyalty to it even though they realise where this government is leading them. There will either be a miserable final status agreement, creating a new dilemma along the lines of the Oslo Accords as a result of the secret negotiations currently taking place in London, or a transitional solution, such as the one proposed by Kerry. Claims that we will not have to make concessions are nonsense, especially if we recall what the same negotiators, including Erekat, gave up, which was documented in the negotiation papers; the only thing we got in return was Tzipi Livni’s disdain.
All we can do is count on the great people who have always achieved miracles. They alone can turn this bad situation around, but when? No one knows the answer, but I have high hopes.
This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Ad Dustour on 6 January, 2014
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.