SAYING THE UNSAID
"In his speech before the Arab League, President Abu Mazin gave the impression that he will 'say what has remained unsaid'," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
He said that it was impossible for the status quo to continue, and that the policy of 'waiting patiently' that he has adopted throughout is no longer of any use. And he confirmed that if the negotiations were not resumed based on the Palestinian preconditions or requirements, he would head to the UN Security Council with the goal of securing a resolution that calls for an end to the occupation within a specific timeframe.
He added that, if he fails in this – either because the nine required votes for putting the draft resolution to the vote are not secured, or because the U.S. administration vetoes the resolution despite securing these votes– he would join international bodies, including the International Criminal Court. He would also end security coordination with Israel and demand that the occupation assume its responsibilities. But he did not make it clear whether this measure would mean that the PA would be dissolved and its keys handed over to the Israeli government (as he had said on more than one occasion in the past) or whether it means he would only reconsider the PA's structure, tasks, nature, and commitments in accordance with the Israeli governments' violations of the Oslo Accords, or whether, indeed, he means something else.
After securing Arab backing, the draft UN resolution is supposed to see the light of day in a few days or weeks' time, or by the start of next year at most, because of the supposed need for consultations with the states whose support must be secured. So far, the resolution is assured of seven to eight votes at the Security Council.
It is clear from the president's speech that he is still clinging to illusions. This is why he once again presented his preconditions – or, rather, requirements – for resuming the negotiations, whereas he had expressed his total desperation at the prospect of resuming them in his speech to the UN General Assembly in September.
Any resumption of negotiations without an Israeli agreement to end the occupation and halt all settlement activities and all the occupation's unilateral measures, and that are not held within the framework of an ongoing international conference with full powers and on the basis of international law and UN resolutions, would provide the fanatical extremist Zionists with an opportunity to destroy any remaining hopes for peace. After all, Israel has plans to bring the number of settlers in the West Bank over the coming few years to a total of one million.
There are fears that the policy of waiting that the president mocked in his recent speech will continue to be pursued. What fuels such fears is the waiting and praise for the French initiative that seeks to secure a UN Security Council resolution that gives the resumption of negotiations another chance and postpones French – and perhaps European – recognition of the Palestinian state for two years, until after the new negotiations succeed or fail.
There are also fears that the U.S. would refrain from casting its vote, especially if the draft Arab UN resolution is amended and denuded of any content. This possibility cannot be totally dismissed, especially in light of the tension in Israeli/U.S. relations and the fact that any Security Council resolution not issued under Chapter VII of the UN Charter has no binding power and would not be such an important development. It would not change anything fundamental about America’s support for Israel, especially if the Palestinian price that would be paid for such a resolution would be very high, namely the return to the whirlpool of futile negotiations.
Even if this unlikely possibility, namely, that the U.S. would abstain from casting a vote rather than using its veto right, is realized, it cannot be relied upon. This is because the new resolution would be added to the tens of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that denounced the occupation and its crimes, and especially Israel’s settlement activities, massacres, and its racist measures, policies and laws. These include the advisory opinion of The Hague's Court and the Goldstone Report. None of these resolutions have changed any of the facts on the ground.
The most dangerous threat we now face is the threat of achieving symbolic gains – or even political and legal gains – in the form of international recognition and international resolutions and recognition from various states on an individual basis, while what is happening on the ground heads in the totally opposite direction. That would destroy any hope of ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian state.
What has prevented the implementation of all of these international resolutions and foiled the success of all initiatives aimed at finding a solution is the stark imbalance of power in Israel's favor. This is the result of its military superiority, its political and ideological intransigence, international hypocrisy, Arab impotence, and the Palestinians’ lack of direction resulting from the split and from conflicting strategies, especially those that blindly pursue the mirage of a bilaterally negotiated solution under American sponsorship. And this is to say nothing of America’s absolute bias in Israel's favor, treating it as a spoiled state above international law.
Breaking that equation calls for concentrating on altering the balance of power no matter how much time, effort, and sacrifice this may take, and until the occupation becomes too costly for Israel and whoever backs it.
Based on the above, the key towards adopting new strategies that are capable of changing the balance of power consists of giving priority to ending the [Fateh/Hamas] split and regaining unity on the basis of genuine political partnership and patriotic and democratic foundations.
If we were to judge the president's speech on this basis, the first step that would be in harmony with heading towards the coming confrontation would be to put Fateh's own household in order, and to convene the PLO's provisional leadership framework. This framework should start the process of rebuilding the PLO's institutions in a new form, turning them into a Palestinian household that is big and broad enough to include all the constituents of the Palestinian political spectrum.
But rather than opt for this course, the president called for holding elections instead as the path towards achieving reconciliation, when it is clear that whoever intends to head towards confrontation needs to prepare for it. Elections under occupation and before the achievement of unity would only fan the flames of domestic difference and competition and would require Israeli and American acquiescence to be held at all. And any such acquiescence would not be secured without paying a heavy price in return. Nor would elections lead to unity; they would only consolidate and aggravate the split and block the path towards any real confrontation with the occupation.
The above renders all talk of ending security coordination and joining the International Criminal Court or forcing the occupation to assume its responsibilities no more mere verbal threats that will not find their way towards realization. This is because following up on such threats requires that we arm ourselves with means of leverage.
But there is a difference between acquiring such means and using them. We may join the International Criminal Court but without making use of this, just as we obtained a legal ruling from The Hague's Court [on the West Bank Separation Wall] but did not put it to good use. And we may end security coordination and hold the occupation responsible, but without providing an alternative such as a PLO that can lead the Palestinian people in confronting the challenges that threaten their cause.
"And that would mean that we would have paved the road that leads to our own collapse, and to anarchy and a security breakdown," concludes Masri.