The speech that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last week, was intended — so we had been alerted days before — to be a “bombshell”. Instead it was a dud that slapped the smile off our long-suffering, grizzled Palestinian faces.
Abbas told the UNGA that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) felt no longer obligated to adhere to the Oslo Accords. “We cannot continue to be bound by these agreements with [the Israeli entity] and thus [this entity] must assume fully all its responsibilities as an occupying power”, he said. At first blush, that did indeed seem like a bombshell: Here’s the PNA about to weigh anchor and sail away, letting the people of Palestine show their tormentors a bit of Palestinian steel. But Abbas, it now turns out, did not mean that.
The PNA is neither leaving the territories — where it is the employer of 160,00 men and women — nor will it cut off all security, economic and civil ties with the entity. As to what exactly is intended here, well, your guess is as good as mine. But, ironically, Abbas summed up the situation in the West Bank succinctly in an op-ed piece he contributed to Huffington Post just before his UN speech. “While the government of [Israel] continues to pay lip service to the two-state solution internationally”, he wrote, “domestically, it employs policies aimed at destroying what’s left of Palestine”.
Fine, if after all these years — two decades — negotiating with Zionist thugs like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinians are left high and dry, with nothing to show for all their concessions, then what is the point of prolonging the agony? Why doesn’t the PNA dissolve itself, leave the West Bank and let Zionist leaders deal with Palestinians directly — not around the negotiating table, that has long proved to be a futile endeavour, but in the streets. There, as we put it proverbially in Arabic, the occupiers will be shown the stars in the afternoon. How do you top that for meaningful dialogue?
Last year, before his attempt to have the UN Security Council pass a resolution, demanding an end to the occupation of Palestinian land within a “specified period of time”, failed, Abbas had said: “If in two or three months I see that there is no hope, I won’t keep my job.” Well, he kept it and kept the peace as well. After the PNA was taken to the cleaners, the Zionist government insisted, during that round of talks between August 2013 and April 2014, that the Palestinians must recognise what they had grafted on Palestine in 1948 as “the Jewish homeland” — even before the talks started. It was the “real key to peace”, they said, a “minimal requirement” and an “essential condition”!
This cannot go on, people. Something must give.
A majority of Palestinians, including this one, respects the engagingly unruffled, 80-year-old Abbas, a patriot and a gentleman, but under his watch for all these years, the Zionists have ended up eating our lunch and leaving us without any of our rights in our homeland — not to mention exposing our president as a man privy to no authority to speak of, an emperor with no clothes. And the brouhaha over the Palestinian flag being raised outside the UN headquarters in New York, presented as a “historic event”, Oh, please!
It’s time to turn the job over to the people. What’s the point of living, as George Orwell put it, with a “boot in your face — forever”? None whatsoever. All the more reason why we should resurrect the memory here of Patrick Henry, one of America’s Founding Fathers who, along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, was the most influential champion of his people’s struggle for independence. In March, 1775, standing before his fellow revolutionaries at the Virginia Convention, he hollered: “Is life so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God. I know not what others may say, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death”.
That makes sense to me. Does it to you?
Fawaz Turki is a journalist, lecturer and author based in Washington. He is the author of The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile.