Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have not stopped and US efforts to get them started again are "deceptive". This claim has been made by the Professor of Political Science at the University of Nablus. Dr Abdel Sattar Qassem says that the visit to Jerusalem of Ambassador David Hale, the Assistant of the US Peace Envoy, and a member of US National Security Council, Daniel Shapiro, is part of an elaborate new programme "to spread the illusion that the talks have stopped and America is trying to restart them. Officially, the envoys are in Jerusalem for further talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials under the framework of US efforts to reactivate the peace process.
According to Dr Qassem, however, "The Americans are trying to attract the Palestinians, Arabs and their media to their side." Negotiations between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority have not stopped, he said: "Just look at the ongoing security cooperation between the two sides." He emphasized that the PA is basically acting as an employee of the occupation forces in such cooperation: "How can an employee stop negotiating with his boss?" he asked. Israel's illegal settlers across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem are protected by Israeli and Palestinian security forces. "The whole negotiations charade is a deceptive pretence. Neither Israel nor America want to give the people of Palestine their rights," added Dr Qassem. "The 'efforts to reactivate' the talks are being made to buy the Israelis more time; no more, no less."
Dr Qassem refused to talk about the existence of alternatives to President Mahmoud Abbas within Fatah, noting: "No one in the PA is a preferred substitute for any other because they are all walking under the umbrella provided by America-Israel. Any competition between them is personal, not based on different political approaches or proposals; there is no alternative to Abbas within the Authority."
The political science professor expects progress to be made in the reconciliation discussions between the Palestinian factions. He did, however, err on the side of caution: "The Egyptian and Arab efforts to gather together Hamas and Fatah may succeed, and the broad leadership of both might accept each other, but they won't be at the heart of one man", a pointed reference to Mahmoud Abbas's signing and then breaking of the Saudi-brokered reconciliation agreed in Makkah in 2007, instigated, it is believed, by the Americans.