By Joharah Baker
If it were not so tragic, our situation would actually be funny. Someone like Jon Stewart could have a ball with the Israelis (and he does at times). Just imagine a show dedicated to Israel’s statements about peace. If it were not so unfortunate, it would be a laughing riot.
Take Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We have all known that the internal Palestinian split suited Israel just fine. It gave them an excuse to further vilify Hamas and more importantly, to say that they could not negotiate with President Mahmoud Abbas because he did not represent all of his people. “If Hamas joins the Palestinian government we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu said yesterday.
So, the Palestinians battled their own demons and those thrown at them by Israel and the international community, which chided them for not working hard enough for peace, for not getting their own house in order and for not being resilient enough to sit back at the negotiating table.
Well, here’s some news. The Palestinians are getting themselves together again, finally. Turns out, Israel is not liking this at all. We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t apparently. If we’re split, no negotiations, and if we’re united, no negotiations again.
And if anyone thinks Netanyahu doesn’t mince his words, they haven’t met his foreign minister, Mr. Avigdor Lieberman. He says peace is “unachievable” anyway, so why bother. The most this Russian immigrant will give us is a possible formula to “manage the conflict” rather than solve it.
At the risk of being misunderstood, most of us Palestinians agree with him at least on principle. Peace certainly is not achievable with the likes of these two. Lieberman says settlements are neither illegal nor are they an obstacle to peace. He does live in one, so his stance is understandable.
So, what is the world waiting for? The Palestinians have accepted negotiations, which ultimately led to nowhere. The leadership has made concessions, which at times have landed them in hot water with their own people, all for the sake of peace. They have accepted western standards for peace in a Middle Eastern world and have accepted them without complaint. They have convinced their people that for the sake of preserving any of Palestine we would have to accept only a portion of it.
No doubt, they have made mistakes along the way, armfuls of them. But all said and done, they have played by the game fair and square.
Alas, for Israel, nothing is ever enough. President Abbas has been subject to a slander campaign in the Israeli media. Israeli officials slammed him for meeting with freed Palestinian prisoners exiled to Turkey and say he is showing his “true colors” by reconciling with Hamas. Oh, and by the way, turns out Abbas has been the “greatest obstacle to peace” all along.
So, the question remains, how much more does Israel have to say and do to prove it is not interested in a peaceful solution to the conflict? We Palestinians will continue with our struggle regardless of Israel’s intransigence and the international community’s lack of political will to change the status quo because a free Palestine is our ultimate goal. But nonetheless, it would be nice to see these powers-that-be [the US and Europe mostly] call Israel out on their obvious lack of good intentions and then follow their words with actions. If we’re lucky, Israel will force their hand with their ridiculous positions. Hence, it is our final hope that 2012 will be the year that Israel pushes its “friends” just a little too far.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at [email protected]