Comment By Khalid Amayreh
It is really difficult to give the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, the benefit of the doubt.
We do see a lot of movement here and there, but there is very little action if any. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has been making unwarrantedly optimistic statements about the imminence of a historical breakthrough between the Palestinians and Israel. On Sunday, 7 October, she was quoted as saying that she believed the Palestinian problem was finally coming to an end.
I don’t know if Rice knew what she was saying. However, from observing things on the ground, it seems there is very little if any to warrant this euphoria.
In any case, one should remember that statements coming out of the mouths of senior officials of the Bush administration have very little credibility.
The Iraq debacle, and also Bush’s shameless bias toward Israel, should leave no doubt as to the moral bankruptcy of the current American administration.
What is more important though remains the situation in the Middle East and the conspicuous absence of any sign indicating an Israeli willingness to come to terms with intrinsic Palestinian rights, like the right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and towns from which they were uprooted at gunpoint in 1948.
Indeed, given the fact that the right of return is the main centerpiece of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would be naïve to even imagine a genuine state of peace in the region without allowing at least significant numbers of these thoroughly tormented refugees to return to their ancestral homeland. They simply have suffered too much.
The refugee problem shouldn’t be viewed as just another issue that can be overcome or diluted via political maneuvering or behind-the-scene deal.
And Israel would be utterly mistaken in thinking that Abbas and his unconstitutional junta-like government are capable of enforcing a deal unacceptable to the majority of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian people do want peace, but they are not willing to capitulate to Zionist colonialist ambitions and then call that “peace” or “breakthrough.” The lessons of the Oslo experiment have opened our eyes to Israeli tricks and ill will.
In addition to the paramount refugee problem, it is obvious that Israel is insisting on arrogating large parts of occupied East Jerusalem on the ground that Jewish neighborhoods go to Israel and Arab neighborhoods go to a putative Palestinian state.
That would be disastrous for the Palestinian cause since it would entail the whitewashing of decades of theft of Palestinian property in Palestine’s holy capital. After all, these are not “mere neighborhoods.” These are illegal settlements built on confiscated Arab land for the sole purpose of obliterating East Jerusalem’s Arab (Muslim-Christian) identity.
The same thing applies to these hateful colonies all over the West Bank, populated by extremist and mostly fascist-minded Ashkenazi Jews who believe that non-Jews are genetically inferior to Jews and therefore don’t deserve equal human rights.
Today, there is a consensus in Israel that the vast bulk of these colonies, which embody the Israeli policy of apartheid, land theft and ethnic cleansing, must be incorporated to Israel.
In practical terms, this means that the remaining Palestinian territory would be an archipelago of scattered towns and villages, lacking territorial continuity and utterly devoid of any viability.
So, one would wonder what kind of a “state” would such a deformed entity make?
There is also a very significant, I would say paramount, issue Israel is trying these days to impose on an ostensibly naïve Palestinian leadership. I am talking about the incessant demands by Israeli leaders that Abbas must recognize Israel as a State of the Jews.
Some casual observers might be prompted to think that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is an innocuous matter since it is no more than stating the obvious.
However, it is extremely important to understand the implications of such recognition are far reaching. Recognizing Israel as a state of the Jews would mean in real terms that Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, who are approaching the 25%- threshold, will be doomed to a precarious, unstable future unless they “choose” to convert to Judaism, because Israel is a state of the Jews.
I know that Mahmoud Abbas is not smart enough to understand the historical and strategic implications of lending such a recognition to Israel, which implies, at least from the Israeli perspective, a recognition of the legality and morality of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, not only in the past, but in the future as well.
This is why Palestinians, wherever they happen to be, must send an unmistakable message to Abbas to clarify this matter to the Palestinian people immediately since there can be no stupidity and no treason more outrageous than recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, let alone a state for the Jews.
Similarly, the leaders of the 1.5 million-strong Arab community in Israel, people like Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, Ahmed Teibi, Muhammed Barakeh and others should warn Abbas against undermining the vital and strategic interests of Israel’s Arab citizens, especially their long-term survival as equal citizens of the Israeli state.
After all, Abbas has no right to recognize Israel as a state of the Jews. In fact, not even the US, Israel’s guardian-ally, has given Israel such a unique recognition.
There is one more reason that would make one think that the conference, slated to take place in the last week of November, will fail.
The current Israeli government is weak, divided against itself and made up mostly of Nazi-like extremists, people like Avigdor Lieberman, who has called peace-minded Israeli activists “Kapos,” a reference to Jewish traitors and collaborators who worked with the Nazis against their own people during the Second World War.
Hence, it is very difficult to expect the present Olmert government to be able to live with, let alone enforce, any prospective deal with an even weaker Palestinian Authority that lacks political legitimacy.
In all likelihood, should a “deal” be clenched by hook or by crook, Olmert would be forced to call for early general elections in Israel which most likely would see the ascendancy to power of the fascist camp in Israel, led by Benyamin Netanyahu, and including a plethora of fascist-minded parties that advocate the enslavement, expulsion or even annihilation of more than five million Palestinians living in Palestine-Israel.
I know my prognosis of the situation in Palestine makes many people uneasy. However, it is important to be honest and not be duped by false hopes based on wishful thinking and illogical reasoning.
There is an important fact in Israel which all those concerned for true peace in this region should understand very well. There is a solid majority of Israeli Jews who are opposed to giving up the spoils of the 1967 war even in return for full peace with the Arab world.
Needless to say, without ending the occupation of 100% of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and without justly and honestly resolving the refugee plight, the talk about peace in this region will remain a futile (and dangerous) exercise in wishful thinking.