BLOCKING THE ARAB DRAFT
"Washington has announced that it has not yet decided whether it will bring a draft resolution to the vote at the UN Security Council, but it is encouraging Europe to present a draft that blocks the way before the proposed Arab draft resolution," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
But the U.S. has not undertaken to accept the European proposal even if it takes the shape of a compromise and replaces the phrase 'setting a timeframe for ending the occupation' [as in the Palestinian draft] with a 'timeframe for concluding the negotiations' [as suggested by France]
This means that the Obama administration wants to bring down the international position's ceiling to below that of international legality and UN resolutions without even committing to voting in favor of the resolution. Its aim is to ensure that this resolution does not come out even worse and anger Israel.
Of course, all this is going on with no hint that the resolution will be binding, which means that its adoption would not be the pure evil that Netanyahu is trying to portray it. In essence, what is going on is an attempt to save Israel from itself and its extremism, and block the Palestinians' from leaving the  Oslo Accords.
The U.S. wants to ensure that negotiations will be resumed and to avoid having to use its veto against the Arab draft resolution at a time when it is fighting ISIS terrorism, since that would embarrass its Arab allies and weaken President Abu Mazin who is facing a very difficult moment.
For if Abu Mazin does not secure the nine votes necessary for putting the draft resolution to the vote, or if he obtains these votes and Washington uses its veto, he may have to go ahead and implement what he has promised in the past. And if that were to happen, it would mean a major change in the rules of the game that have determined the Palestinian/Israel conflict since the Oslo Accords up till today. It would lead to a Palestinian/Israeli confrontation, and perhaps American sanctions at an inopportune Arab and Palestinian moment.
What adds to Abu Mazin's dilemma is the fact that an entire reality has emerged after twenty years of Oslo – agreements, commitments, and major interests that are difficult to get rid of. The president, moreover, has placed all his eggs in the American/Israeli basket, without preparing for any other options. To this should be added the effects of the inter-Palestinian [Fateh/Hamas] split against the background of infighting Arab and regional axes. Furthermore, Israeli elections will be held soon (in March 2015) with a possibility, even if slight, that a new Israeli government may be formed led by Herzog/Livni ([leaders of] Labor/Kadima). Were that to happen, it would give new negotiations a chance, albeit small, of success.
Abu Mazin still mistakenly believes in the possibility of a negotiated settlement if the right kind of Israeli government is in place, or if the U.S. administration and Europe were to exert the requisite pressure on Israel. Based on these assumptions, he obstinately believes in this option, and that the only alternative to failed negotiations is more negotiations. When he speaks of or threatens other options, he only does so as part of the necessary competition with Hamas and the other factions, and those sectors of society that are opposed to the entire path of negotiations, and because the people are still alive and vibrant and refuse to offer the required concessions. In other words, his talk of other options is tactical, a mere verbal threat. This is why this threat has not managed to secure anything more than some pacifying prizes and aid.
What Kerry aims to do in his two meetings – with Netanyahu in Rome, and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers in the presence of European foreign ministers in London – is to find a way out that would allow Abu Mazin to halt his plan to head to the Security Council, and subsequently the International Criminal Court and the other steps he has threatened to take, and to resume the negotiations. This is because he cannot do any of these things without receiving some conciliatory reward in return. The current intensive discussions have to do with the content and ceiling of this reward, in a manner that does not harm the Israeli right wing's chances of winning the coming elections with Netanyahu or with someone else at its head.
What is impelling Abu Mazin to persist with this policy is his conviction that it is not possible to change the balance of power. He believes that we can only reap what we have sown, and that what we have sown cannot yield all that we are asking for, indeed, it can only yield what is less. He believes that any confrontation unless totally peaceful and diplomatic in its very foundations, may lead to a violent clash from which Israel will benefit because it has the military upper hand, and also because it will lead to anarchy and an American and Israeli boycott of the PA and sanctions imposed on it, perhaps leading to its collapse with all the dire consequences this will have for the Palestinians and the region as a whole.
At first glance, Abu Mazin's logic may seem cogent. But if we take a deeper look and link it to what has been happening in the region, we would find that the most this logic can ever secure is either the establishment of a state on just a part of the territories occupied in 1967 without any of the requirements of genuine statehood; or the preservation of the current negative status quo. The price that the Palestinians will pay in both cases will be much higher than what they may pay if they resort to other options.
For Israel is not ready for any settlement that satisfies the basic minimum of Palestinian rights. The current Israeli government is not the only obstacle here; the central and very dominant tendency in Israel will force any future government to abide by the current Israeli ‘No’s’. And this means that the Palestinian state will not be born. Worse still, Israel's attempts to complete the imposition of a de facto reality by means of its settlements and by bringing the number of West Bank settlers to one-million within the next three years, render successive international recognitions of the Palestinian state that are not accompanied by binding international resolutions and serious pressure on Israel as mere attempts to mislead the Palestinians by offering them conciliatory prizes 'that neither fatten them nor satisfy their hunger.'
The confrontation with the occupation is not a matter of choice, but something that is imposed on us. It is neither possible to avoid it nor to delay it. And if the Palestinian leadership is reticent in this regard, the people will wage that confrontation without a leadership, without organization, without a national front, without a political aim, and without various means of leverage. That would be the worst kind of battle and the Palestinian [PA] leadership will be primarily responsible for the people's having to conduct it in this manner, while other forces [e.g. Hamas] will bear part of this responsibility as well.
The timing and form of any confrontation cannot be decided by any single party; it should be determined by both sides [Fatah and Hamas] and by the nature, characteristics, and circumstances of the conflict, all of which ought to be well considered. Nor can the confrontation be confined to a single diplomatic strategy; it should include various strategies based on true national unity, providing the requirements of steadfastness, and a continued demographic presence on the land of Palestine. And it relies on resistance in all its forms, focusing on popular resistance and boycotts, as well as on deploying all the Palestinian, Arab, regional, and international power cards. In that case, internationalization would become one of its strategies and the aim would be to alter the balance of power so as to secure the basic minimum of Palestinian rights.
"And if the confrontation is to succeed in achieving its aims, the illusion that the [Palestinian] state is around the corner and that a solution is but a stone's throw away, should be dispelled," concludes Masri.