Home

The west is trying to renovate a fading peace charade

That is why they conceded non-member state status to Mahmoud Abbas, whose movement was promised a fully independent state fifteen years ago.

Ismail Rabah
13 March 2013

When the late leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, signed the Oslo Accord, we, the Palestinians, were told that the core concept of the agreement was 'peace in return for land'. In simple words, 'the Palestinians should hold their fire, and the Israelis would return the lands they occupied in 1967'. 

A few people had some common sense kicking in and could see the nonsense of the rubric 'peace in return for land'. In fact, the PLO's fire had already come to a complete halt after 1982 when Yasser Arafat had to disperse the Palestinian fighters across the Arab countries, especially those which did not have borders with Israel, and therefore stopped posing any kind of threat to Israel.

Besides, two years before signing the Oslo Accord, the PLO was plagued with financial and political problems as a result of falling out with many formerly helpful, influential Arab governments after Yasser Arafat's support for the Iraqi invasion to Kuwait in 1990. These facts had already rendered the PLO virtually defunct.

More to the point, if Israel did not have to sign a peace treaty with the PLO in the heat of the struggle, why did it sign the Oslo Agreement years after the fray had cooled down?

The answer is that a new kind of resistance had appeared in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank: it was the Islamic resistance, which reappeared in the Arab world after long decades of absence. Yes, it was completely absent. The Arab resistance movements were either communist or nationalist, but not Islamic. 

In 1987, the Islamic movement Hamas started operating against the Israeli occupation with (a combined package of) determination, strength, discipline and secrecy that aroused the Occupation authorities' gravest concern. At the same time, Israel had its hands and feet tied up in the Palestinian Territory because, as an occupation, it was supposed to be responsible for the well-being of the people in the areas it occupied.

So, the PLO came in handy. Israel moved the burden off its shoulders and onto the Oslo-born Palestinian Authority's. The PA had to use the Arabs' money (I haven't forgotten EU and US money, but didn't mention it because it originates from the same source) to run the Occupied Territories and, above all, to take care of the Israeli occupation's security.

Shimon Peres once demanded, long before Oslo, that the Arabs participate in paying the expenses of the Palestinian community. Not only have the Palestinians' expenses been paid, but also the expenses of  security in the Israeli Occupation. 

Of course, Israel did not give land in return for these favours. It has only given privileges to the upper echelon of PA, such as allowing them freedom of mobility between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel; allowing them to keep up their junkets across the world, and entitling them to a portion of the taxes it collects from the Palestinians' imports and exports.

In 2000, Israel intentionally triggered the Palestinian second intifada when the Prime Minister Ehud Barak allowed Ariel Sharon to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a move that provoked the Palestinians who had already lost faith in the peace process. Just as planned, this situation helped Israel dodge its Oslo commitments.

Yasser Arafat, who at the time had visited Barak in his residence in Jerusalem and begged him not to allow Sharon to carry out the visit, realised that he had been entrapped by Oslo Agreement, and responded by releasing Hamas and the Islamic Jihad's fighters from prisons. In addition he gave the green light to Fatah-armed groups to start operating against Israel. At this point the peace process came to an end.

But soon the US and Israel tried to revive it and reshape it in a way that preserved their immoral political calculations. They besieged Yasser Arafat in the Presidential premises in Ramallah and imposed political ‘reforms’ on him through naming Mahmoud Abbas as a Prime Minister, and Mohammad Dahalan as a Minister of the Interior. Abbas at the time, who accepted being a replacement to Arafat during his ordeal, demanded that he take charge of the Ministry of Finance and the security forces, which Arafat completely rejected. 

However, after Hamas's rise to power, things took a different turn. The world saw the electoral victory of an Islamic movement as a serious indicator of a new trend in the Palestinian society – a trend in favour of armed resistance.

Israel, the US, and their allies thought they could change this trend by making the Palestinians pay a heavy price for their choice through imposing a hermetic blockade on the Gaza Strip.  They also wanted to relay an intimidating message to other Arab societies that choosing Islamic governments would not go unpunished. But, to the deep disappointment of these powers, the Arab revolutions wiped off more of their Arab allies and brought in more Islamic governments.

Now as things in the Gaza Strip and the Arab world have spiralled out of control, the powers, including the Quartet of Russia, the US, UN and EU, have reached out again to the PA. In short, they have decided to impart authenticity to their peace charade through allowing Palestine to gain non-member observer state status at the UN.

You may be wondering why Israel and the United States staunchly opposed the decision if it was true that they, being constituent parts of the world powers, wanted to play the peace trick which required boosting the Palestinian Authority. 

 The answer is very simple. Israel rejected the step because it, as an Occupying power, is paranoid that granting the Palestinians anything near a status of state would lead eventually to real Palestinian statehood. The US Administration, which is influenced by the Zionist lobby, had to follow suit.

However, President Obama as well as those in his government, whose common sense is not blinkered by extremism, supported the step, though couldn't pass it in a Zionist-dominated Congress. Obama knows that the impasse in peace talks was completely in favour of the Islamic resistance groups; he also knows that President Abbas has played the game of freezing negotiations and heading for reconciliation with Hamas in order to seduce Israel and the US into allowing him to have a political achievement that he direly needs for the PLO's survival. The man has been in office for eight years and achieved nothing at all, not until recently.

In truth, this recent symbolic achievement resulted from the world's powers realizing that their enterprise has been endangered by the absence of a capable Palestinian contractor and the loss, or the unrest, of some Arab regimes which used to work in tandem with this Palestinian contractor.   And that's simply why they conceded a non-member state to Abbas, whose movement was promised a fully independent state fifteen years ago.

Join the COVID-19 DemocracyWatch email list


Sign up for our global round-up of attacks on democracy during the coronavirus pandemic.

openDemocracy and our partners Source Material are tracking how this pandemic is damaging democracy across the world.

Each week we’ll send an email reporting on how governments are suspending civil rights, ramping up surveillance and rolling back hard-won freedoms.

From Kosovo to Kenya, Uganda to the UK, governments are using this crisis as an opportunity to take power away from citizens. We need to make sure that these measures are temporary and proportionate. And that starts with knowing what they are.

Sign up to our weekly email to find out what's happening around the world.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData