Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently confirmed that the only way in which the Palestinians will have their own state is by way of negotiations. Netanyahu threatened the Palestinian leadership with sanctions and unilateral measures if they did respond to his demands and cancel their plans to go directly the UN’s main member organisations.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is putting on a great show as he signs requests to gain membership into these UN organisations in front of television cameras. He sends his biggest negotiator Saeb Erekat to attend meetings, sponsored by the US envoy for peace Martin Indyk, with his counterpart, the Israeli Minister of Justice, Tzipi Livni.
We do not need for Netanyahu to remind us of the fact that the only way that Palestinians can achieve a Palestinian state is through the negotiations because we have not forgotten that through the advice and council of Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians have been striving to achieve this goal for more than 20 years, panting as they struggle to reach this mirage. What has become even more dangerous is that there are no longer any foundations or any land necessary to establish a viable state thanks to the savage Israeli settlement project.
There is a Palestinian proverb that says: “He who wants to strike should not open his arms in welcome,” when you’ve identified your enemy, treat him as such. This saying, as well as many others, is applicable to Abbas when it comes to the issue of signing requests to join international organisations in front of flashing camera. These memberships were delayed for more than a year to begin with and were later used as a bargaining chip. Thirdly, signing these petitions came as a result of outside pressure and it is possible to go back on this decision.
In light of the major losses that are currently being experienced in the Palestinian cause, we have lost some of our fundamental proverbs and it has become essential that we remind ourselves of them:
First: Not an inch of the Palestinian territories will be liberated without real and true resistance. After much bloodshed and after losing countless lives and prisoners, Ariel Sharon did not agree to withdraw from 17 settlements in Gaza until after the Israelis suffered from the death of many of their people. Similarly, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak did not agree to withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000 but for the same reason.
Second: Israel would not have agreed to release a large number of Palestinian prisoners were it not for its desire to protect kidnapped Israeli soldiers and exchange them with Palestinian prisoners. The first and largest exchange deal was known as the Seagull (Nawrus) Exchange in 1983. The exchange occurred between Israel and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command. Six Israeli soldiers who were captured in Lebanon were freed in exchange for 4,700 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners. Then came the second exchange in 2008 between Hezbollah and Israel in which the remains of Israeli soldiers were exchanged for 100 Lebanese and Palestinian bodies as well as the release of Samir Kuntar. This was followed, in 2011, by the Shalit deal, which led to the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.
Third: Netanyahu’s American sponsored strategy is to negotiate for negotiation’s sake. These negotiations know no definite end and it is clear that the Palestinian side is being blackmailed in order to remain stuck in this cycle forever.
Since he came to power after the death of the late martyr and President Yasser Arafat, many people have asked Abbas to withdraw from the negotiations, to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and to declare the failure of the peace process. He has yet to do so and never will. Thus, the only threat that Abbas will use is to go to international organisations such as the United Nations, which will give Israel the green light to impose more retaliatory sanctions on the Palestinians.
Change must be deep-rooted and radical and any confrontations must be comprehensive. These “patchwork” operations are worthless and will do nothing but prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people. As our ancestors used to say: “The last thing one can do is iron out imperfections.”
Translated from Al-Arab Al-Yawm, April 6, 2014