The negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel have consumed, up till now, too much time without producing any positive results. The reasons for this apparently utter failure are due to Israel’s absolute insistence to discuss first the “security issues”, a demand that in effect appears to be torpedoing all possibilities to reach a final settlement. Israel, which owns nuclear bombs and has the fifth strongest army in the world, is demanding complete control of the Palestinian Aghwar, the low areas between Palestine and Jordan; control over all border gates and keeping its army at strategic points in the West Bank without specification. Moreover, Israel demands outright recognition of all its major colonies that it considers as part of its national security. And last, but not the least, Israel absolutely demands the recognition of “the Jewishness of the Zionist State”, which in effect makes non-Jews (Muslim and Christian Palestinians) as temporary residents, without any civil rights, in addition to negating the historical rights of Palestinians as the original natives of Palestine.
Along these lines, Israel’s negotiation tactics are based on assumptions that seek to gain more and more concessions from the Palestinians without offering anything worthy in return, while gaining more time to complete its colony expansions. The audacity of Israeli measures on the ground to create accomplished facts include building more than 4,500 new colonial structures in the West Bank, of which 1,000 would be in occupied East Jerusalem, besides demanding part of the area of the Noble Sanctuary to build a Jewish synagogue in the very heart of the Muslim prayer area. Haaretz commented that “Israel, as usual, never changes its habits and behaviour, which depend on its military power and the full support of the United States of America and keeps ignoring its isolation and the limit of its power. Israel believes it can endure forever by the power of its weapons and blames its isolation on others, not herself, and sees as the only way for survival is by more and more weapons. Thus Israel sees no need to exert any effort to attain peace”.
Moreover, a recent report by Al Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations stated that there is a small chance to none for both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, to reach at a real peaceful settlement. The report noted that “the balance is tipping towards the Israeli side, the most powerful with all the cards, which is determined to create more and more accomplished facts on the ground, while the Palestinians are negotiating in the midst of disunity and impotent international environment, which make Israel feel invincible”. The Zionist occupiers are steadily increasing and expanding the colonial settlements without any hindrance, the report said, with “Israeli statistics reporting that Israeli settlers [colonists] in the West Bank have increased 2.19 per cent within half of 2013, with plans to build new 2,500 colonial structures in occupied Jerusalem”. Indeed, Israel is taking complete advantage of the chaos pervading the Arab countries to impose upon the Palestinians its own defined political settlement which will never exceed “the Lahed mini-state” that Israel created in southern Lebanon. General Shlomo Ghazit, the head of the Israeli Military Intelligence, during the Yitzhak Rabin government once put it: “Arafat has two choices, either to be like Lahed or a super Lahed”.
The Palestinian National Authority agreed to join the negotiations despite Israel’s refusal to acknowledge the PNA’s insistence on a complete halt of the expansions of colonies first. The PNA was put under huge pressure from the US, despite opposition to negotiations by majority of Palestinians, where Palestine Liberation Organisation representatives entered almost without any card in hand to resist the egotistical and humiliating demands coming from the Israeli side during the ongoing sessions that head nowhere. Because Israel is the strongest and the PNA the weakest and defenceless, Tel Aviv now negotiates, even as it expands its colonies, to make the ‘two-state solution’ totally unfeasible. Israel’s daily aggression is not limited to stealing more Palestinian land, but its real intention is to strip Palestinians of their dignity as well and to force them to migrate from their ancestral homeland.
The Palestinian negotiating side desperately needs support in two ways. A popular peaceful civil resistance economically backed by rich Arab States to maintain the steadfastness of the Palestinian people under occupation is most vital. Secondly, the Palestinians should keep the option of “armed struggle” on the table in case negotiations fail. The diplomatic support has to be from Arab and international sources, within the ambit of the United Nations that itself created the state of Israel, but with conditions spelled out in various resolutions that Israel has yet to fulfil — even after more than 65 years. These UN resolutions recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people within the framework of “international legality”. This clarifies the true meaning of “the Palestinian question”, which is a case of liberating the occupied people of Palestine, the original inhabitants, from the Zionist Jewish European migrants, who descended on Palestine after the Second World War and became a majority by forcing the Palestinians to flee their homes with nothing but their clothes on their backs.
Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.