By Midhat Ayyad
Even during the long years of armed struggle, Palestinians aspired to a different and more effective method of dealing with Israel. At their 1988 Algiers conference, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) decided—perhaps belatedly—that the time for diplomatic negotiations had arrived. Relying on armed resistance alone was akin deploying an aircraft carrier without jet assisted take-off. In prolonged exile, and a financial pariah following the PLO’s support of Suddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the PLO—created by the Arab League—began negotiations with Israel.
While this was truly a hazard for the dreams and interests of millions of Palestinian refugees, the PLO consensus was that negotiations were crucial to obtaining Palestinian statehood along the pre-1967 borders, or the “Green Line.”
Achieving political parity with Israel and the “peace process” affiliates, notably the United States, was no cause for celebration, however. Palestinians had feared that direct negotiations (oftentimes proximity talks) would not pan out. Their fears were not ungrounded. Talks and meetings under the rubric of the Oslo Process bore little fruit. Fast-forward to the present, and the “peace process” is now based completely on security pretexts: Israel’s security is “non-negotiable,” Hamas is responsible for he peace talks’ deterioration, and Israel has no “real partner” for negotiations.
The Palestinians are determined to end this conflict peacefully, but the Israeli government’s misrepresentation of the peace process, its ramped-up insistence on being recognized as a Jewish state, and the ongoing illegal military occupation of the West Bank and siege of the Gaza Strip are all evidence—if any were needed—that Israel’s definition of peace is the Palestinians’ total submission to their will, conflicting with a widespread international conviction that Israel/Palestine is a home to three major religions—not just Judaism.
Although many Palestinian political players initially welcomed the Oslo Accord in 1993, it became obvious a few years later that Oslo simply facilitated the ongoing illegal colonization of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by the Jewish settlers. By now, over 300,000 Jewish settlers occupy the West Bank and another 200,000 Jewish settlers are in East Jerusalem. Astonishingly, ninety-four percent of historic Palestine belongs to the Palestinians (according to an archive on www.palestineremebered.com) most of who are refugees living unbearable lives in crowded refugee camps across the Middle East, while the Israeli police continually evict more and more families on a daily basis in East Jerusalem.
Clearly, the major obstacle to the peace process is the continued Israeli colonial enterprise by the Jewish settlers, who are unable to consider integrating with their neighbors.
In 1993, the Palestine Authority (PA)—created by the Oslo agreement—set out on a road map to that they hoped would lead to a final settlement based on the 1967 borders, an area constituting only twenty-two percent of historic Palestine. However, the proliferation and expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, not to mention to Israeli apartheid wall or security barrier crisscrossing over the 1967 Green Line, as well as the Israeli Occupation Force’s (IOF) control of the Jordan Valley means that the road to peace and statehood is a road to nowhere. A future Palestinian state under Israeli-dictated negotiation criteria is simply non-viable.
It is thus imperative for the PA to appeal to the United Nation before embarking on more negotiations with Israel, and meandering down a continuing path to nowhere, twisting through settlement blocs and the wall in a terrain doomed to years of conflict unless settlement expansion is stopped and reversed.
– Midhat Ayyad contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.