الرئيسية » هاني المصري »   20 آذار 2013

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هاني المصري


"I told my interlocutor at a gathering that included some people interested in political affairs: It is very good that Obama is not bringing any initiative with him during his visit that is expected to begin tomorrow," writes Hani al-Masri in Tuesday's left-leaning Lebanese daily as-Safir.
My interlocutor asked why, in surprise. I said: Because any initiative from a U.S. president – especially Obama whom we tried during his first term in office and from which experience we reaped only disappointment – in the shadow of very bad Palestinian conditions and even worse Arab conditions will lead to the comprehensive or partial liquidation of the Palestinian cause by means of a final-status or graduated solution.
Even if we were to suppose that an American initiative will be proposed now or a little later, it would--in the best of cases--include a few sentences favorable to the Palestinians, such as a verbal commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state. But it would give everything to Israel. The Palestinian state it would endorse would be 'a state that is not like a state.' It would be established at the expense of the other Palestinian rights, especially the right of return. And it would be implemented by the current Israeli government, which is more extreme and in favor of settlement activities than any of its predecessors, based on Israeli preconditions and aims. These are based on the well-known Israeli 'No's' to which – after the [2007] Annapolis conference – a new 'No' was added requiring [Palestinian] recognition of Israel as the Jewish people's state.
In other words, the failure to propose an initiative is not something good in itself. It is merely a less bad alternative.
It is now certain that Obama is not bearing any initiative. And this means that he has submitted even more to Israel’s position. His claim that he will be coming to listen is simply unconvincing. After four years in the White House, he must be familiar with all the details of the conflict by now. The time has come for decisions he does not want to take even though they are in Israel's interest; but he does not want to anger Netanyahu's government.
Despite this, and during his visit, Obama will search for points that may help his Secretary of State Kerry – who will begin a shuttle tour in early April –to build on them in his efforts to resume the negotiations. This is because this would help Israel to overcome its international isolation and block the path to a new Palestinian intifada as the signs of it spread against the background of the daily hell that the Palestinian people are living in.
U.S. efforts may in fact take up all the time required to resume the negotiations – and there are suggestions that this may take six months. At the end of that, the U.S. president will consider whether it is appropriate or not to propose an initiative for a solution. And if he does make such a proposal, the object will be to reach an agreement by the end of 2014. This is what the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth has reported quoting American sources. It is also what Palestinian and Arab sources have heard from American sources who have reported that Kerry will seek the establishment of the Palestinian state next year, since he dreams of succeeding in doing what all his predecessors have failed to achieve.
Obama will not propose an initiative. Even if this notion may have passed his mind when he first thought of visiting the region, he must have backed down very quickly after the new Israeli government was formed and its program that marginalizes the Palestinian cause, has sent warning signs that we are on the brink of an escalation in [Israeli] aggression and settlement activities, and not on the verge of a revived 'peace process.'
Instead of offering an initiative, the Obama administration will seek to intensify its efforts to create an Israeli public opinion that favors a settlement in the coming phase by currying favor with the Israelis with talk of an iron-hard commitment to Israel's security and Israel's continued survival as the Jewish people's state, displaying Obama’s knowledge of its history and praising its values, while hinting that peace, especially after the recent Arab changes, is an Israeli and not just an American interest.
In its attempt to resume negotiations, the U.S. administration bases itself on what it generally refers to as 'confidence-building steps.' These include the release of [Palestinian] prisoners and a partial freeze on settlement activities excluding [East] Jerusalem and the main settlement blocs, in return for a Palestinian commitment to uphold the remnants of the [1993] Oslo Accords and to not to resort to prosecuting Israel before international courts, including the International Criminal Court.
The dangers of entering new bilateral talks under U.S. sponsorship are growing, especially after the formation of the new Israeli government with its program, and after what Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has said regarding the Palestinian issue at the latest Herzliya Conference. Gantz said that this issue is no longer a focal point of concern, and that it has become a marginal issue because of the critical developments in the region that are more worthy of concern, such as the Iranian [nuclear] issue and the collapse of states such as Syria, where what is happening there is a collapse and not simply a change, as he claimed.
Gantz added that the regional and international situation for the first time permits restructuring the region’s geography and demography in a manner that allows for the resettlement of all the Palestinians who will be displaced in the Arab states, including the Arabs in Israel and the West Bank. He added that the international situation has changed and will not condemn Israel as racist if it declares its Jewish identity. He also said that the number of Palestinians 'voluntarily' displaced will be acceptable because it will be less than half the number of displaced Iraqis, Syrians, and others.
Based on the above, the danger not only stems from the resumption of negotiations, but from the current situation remaining as is without developing a new Palestinian and Arab strategy. In light of the continued wager on reviving 'the peace process' which has long been dead, waiting for a dead person to come back to life instead of burying him will only be a waste of time during which any wait-and-see policy will only lead to the further marginalization of the Palestinian cause and the erosion of the various PLO, PA institutions, as well as the various factions—both those inside or outside the PLO [i.e. Hamas] alike.
This is because there is no real legitimacy for a strategy that does not enjoy popular acceptance and is incapable of achieving victory. Nor is there any legitimacy for those who have suspended the strategy of resistance until further notice, or those who have adopted one strategy – that of negotiations – that reached a dead end over twenty years ago without them daring to admit this and bear the consequences, namely the need to change course or leave the steering wheel to those who are able to change course.
There is no legitimacy without resistance, given that no elections have been held, despite the fact that the president and the Palestinian Legislative Council legal terms have long expired, and the Palestinian National Council's term has neither been extended nor has a new Council been elected. There is no legitimacy without an accord on a program of national common denominators.
No path can be found without the will to dare admit that the previous strategies have failed, and that the Palestinian people can come up with new strategies to achieve victory by pursuing a new path that secures the requirements of survival and steadfastness for them on their land and for their cause that remains very much alive.
These strategies should prepare the Palestinians for confrontation by providing them with the prerequisites to engage in one. This can be achieved via unity and partnership within the framework of a national front represented by the PLO after it is restructured. The PLO should then try to gather its cards that can alter the balance of power in a manner that gradually places Israel in a position where it finds itself either forced to withdraw and reach agreement on a settlement that achieves the minimum of Palestinian rights, or to face an open struggle that will ultimately end in defeat after which it will not be able to rise again.
The fact that Israel is wagering on what is happening in the region as Gantz has confirmed, thereby enabling it to play a dominant role, or major role, together with the other regional states and international powers that are seeking to dominate the region. If the Palestinian and Arab condition does not change quickly and before it is too late, Israel will be able to implement its project of establishing a Jewish state and do so in a manner that is best for it.
"This is especially likely if the Arabs were to split up into sects and states that are even more fragmented than before, and into secular and religious Arabs, Muslims and Christians, moderate and extremist Islam, Sunnis and Shiites, Druze, Berber, Alawites, Kurds, Circassians, Armenians, and Turcoman," concludes Masri.