Israel's Palestinian citizens have rejected the proposal made by Arab League foreign ministers to agree to land swaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The rejection was made on the basis that such swaps would threaten their right to their own land and that Israel is exploiting the principle of land swaps to compromise their civil rights as citizens.
The National Democratic Assembly released a statement condemning the Arab League delegation which met in Washington this week which noted that the right of refugees to return to their land is also compromised by the proposed deal. The League's position, says the NDA, has been made to please the United States and Israel by seeking to resume the "absurd" peace negotiations which have been proven to harm the Palestinian cause and bring benefit only to Israel.
Calling on the Arab League to return to international resolutions which require the dismantling of all of Israel's illegal settlements, the Assembly insisted that the priority should be the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on all of the territories occupied in 1967. A final agreement on this should include the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historic Palestine, as enshrined in international law.
"What is required of the Arab League is not to make concessions to Israel and America on behalf of the Palestinian people," said the NDA. "Rather, it has to support the struggle of the people against the Israeli occupation." The statement added that instead of retreating from such positions, the Arab League should work towards getting America and Europe to support international legitimacy. "This would include putting pressure on Israel and initiating comprehensive sanctions on it, not making concessions in order to please it."
The path chosen by the Arab League carries many risks, claims the NDA. "Israel will exploit the principle of land swaps to legitimise settlements on Palestinian land on the pretext that there is an apparent Arab and Palestinian acceptance that the land on which they are built can be swapped." This, the Assembly, noted, contradicts the UN's recognition of Palestine on the borders which were in place in June 1967, immediately prior to the Six-Day War. Concessions by the Arab League, it continued, will be used by Israel to "offset further extremism and intransigence over Palestinian rights".
The granting of concessions to Israel, asserted the NDA, merely leads to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding even more concessions and Arab recognition of Israel as an exclusively "Jewish state". This, insist the "1948 Palestinians" (those who were able to stay in their homes in 1948 in what became Israel after the Nakba), will harm the Palestinian cause in future discussions.
The Assembly reiterated its opposition to the Palestinian Authority's reliance on a non-existent "Israeli peace partner", which has contributed to weakening the struggle against Israel's occupation; facilitated the theft of ever more Palestinian land; enabled the Judaisation of Jerusalem; and witnessed violent attacks against Palestinians and Palestinian property, agricultural land, sacred sites and land by Jewish settlers and the Israeli army.
Stressing that the reality of the asymmetric conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is that there is no Israeli partner for peace, the National Democratic Assembly called for an escalation of the struggle against the occupation. It emphasised the need for Palestinian reconciliation as a matter of urgency; the re-structuring of the Palestine Liberation Organisation; and the mobilisation of international support to put pressure on Israel to curb its illegal colonialist settlements and aggression against the people of Palestine.
One London-based commentator added that it is amazing that the Palestinians are even being asked to make concessions. "They are a people living under a brutal and relentless military occupation," said MEMO's Senior Editor, Ibrahim Hewitt, "but are being pressured into making concessions which benefit the occupying power. This is both outrageous and unprecedented."