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PLO official reveals full details of Kerry’s plan

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MEMO | January 26, 2014

The secretary of the PLO Executive Committee has revealed the details of John Kerry’s plan for the Israel-Palestine negotiations. Yasser Abed Rabbo spoke to London’s Al-Hayat newspaper.

According to Abed Rabbo, the US Secretary of State’s proposal includes Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; establishing part of East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine; resolving the refugee problem in accordance with the vision of former US President Bill Clinton; maintaining Israeli control of major settlement blocs and leasing the others back to Israel; Israel’s control over border crossings and air space; and the presence of US-Israel-Jordan-Palestinian security forces on the border. “The Israelis would also have the right of ‘hot pursuit’ of fugitives or suspected criminals in the Palestinian state,” he revealed. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected these ideas because he wants to carve out the land he wants and refuses to discuss the Jerusalem issue. He also refuses the intervention of any other party in security matters, even America.”

The PLO official pointed out that this way of thinking was essentially unacceptable. “We Palestinians have been more than clear when it comes to this matter. We have stated many times that we reject the concept of a so-called national homeland for Jews in historic Palestine or the concept of a ‘Greater Israel’. Netanyahu has expressed that he not only wants to legitimise the Zionist national narrative and the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 but also Israel’s ongoing settlement projects, which aim to achieve the Zionist dream of a Greater Israel.”

Security arrangements

As for security arrangements, Abed Rabbo said that there is talk of potential security arrangements and the standards by which these arrangements will be run. “They will last for many years and are supposedly subject to improved Palestinian security performance. However, this will ultimately still be controlled by Israel, which will maintain control even though America has pledged that it will remain involved as these arrangements are made and see to it that Israel withdraws from certain areas including the Jordan Valley.”

Such security arrangements, he claimed, will maintain Israel’s security strongholds on mountain tops and in Palestinian airspace. Israel will maintain the right to fly over Palestinian land should it feel an impending security threat. “At this point, any semblance of Palestinian sovereignty or geographic unity has been completely torn apart”, warned Abed Rabbo.

Settlements, Jerusalem and refugees

He pointed out that there have been numerous discussions about Israel’s vast settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank. Rumours suggest that Israel wants to rent out settlement units to settlers in the event that a Palestinian state is established. What this means, he claims, is that the settlements will remain as they are and settlers will continue to live there as Israeli citizens with special status in the Palestinian state.

“According to Israel, Jerusalem is not up for negotiation and will remain under full Israeli control as its undivided capital,” he explained. “There is rather mysterious general talk about Palestinians establishing their future capital in Jerusalem but, from Israel’s point of view, Jerusalem extends from Ramallah to Bethlehem to the Jordan Valley border. Thus, it could easily be argued that Abu Dis or Kufr Aqab could be named as the future Palestinian capital.”

As far as Palestinian refugees are concerned, said the PLO official, there are four possible outcomes, as envisioned by President Clinton; one of them suggests the return of a limited number of refugees, as stated in Israel law.

The Palestinian Authority’s position

According to Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian Authority cannot accept any of these potential solutions, especially given that Netanyahu is believed to insist on there being no Arab presence in Jerusalem and rejects outright the refugees’ right of return.

“Netanyahu does not want the involvement of any third party, American or non-American, in any of his security arrangements in the Jordan Valley even if it remains under Israeli control. He wants all decisions to be Israeli decisions and judging by our previous attempts in the past, any of our attempts to abide by a plan or time table will be disrupted completely by Israel”, he noted. Israel and America claim that the Palestinian people will be able to get territory equivalent to the West Bank’s 1967 borders through land swaps. “I do not understand how this is possible with settlement blocs, Israeli security zones and the apartheid wall, which divides the eastern and western regions of the West Bank completely. We are supposed to believe that we can gain territory through land swaps? This is impossible.”

Population exchanges

The PLO veteran described those Israelis who suggest “people swaps” to accompany land swaps as “racist”, pointing out that the organisation would not accept any population exchanges.

“Palestinian Arabs living inside Israel are not settlers,” he stressed. “They did [not] come to Israel through an invasion or by migration. They are the owners of that land and no one can uproot them from their homes. Swapping settlers for Israeli-Arabs would mean swapping Israeli citizens for Israeli citizens; how is this possible?” For Abed Rabbo, this shows that the Israeli government does not consider Arabs to be true citizens of the state. “They regard them as second or third class citizens with no rights, which is absolutely racist. They seek to ethnically cleanse that territory more than they want to swap land.”

That is the framework under which most ideas were discussed, said Abed Rabbo. “We do not have any official documentation to prove it but the information gets leaked from Israel in one way or another.”

Reasons for Israeli refusal

He is not surprised that Israel rejects most proposals for the simple reason that it wants to carve out as much land as possible from the occupied West Bank and maintain absolute control, especially in security zones. This would give Israel the “right” to intervene to protect settlements, which would also mean that it has control of the road networks leading to them.

“We are being confronted with an ultimatum,” he added. “We are not standing in front of two different options with various formulas that we can accept or reject. However, any attempt to sweeten the language of these agreements instead of criticising their prejudices will lead us to disaster.”

He ruled out any blame being attached to the Palestinians should Kerry’s plan fail. “The blame game does not concern us and we do not take it in our political consideration. Who will blame us for wanting to have our country based on 1967 borders, and to have East Jerusalem as our capital, and to have a fair and agreeable resolution for the refugee issue?”

Although John Kerry has “done his best” to make proposals acceptable to both sides, argues Abed Rabbo, it seems that he has read the Israeli position at the beginning and accepted the verbal, generic, vague and ambiguous assurances that Netanyahu usually offers to whoever he meets. “He must have interpreted them in some form and when he looked at the fine print realised that there are two different Israeli positions.”

As such, he believes, Netanyahu lured Kerry to discuss the issue of security first and Kerry fell for it, thinking that it will lead to a big breakthrough for the negotiations and will open the way for discussion of other issues. “To his surprise, he discovered that the Israelis want to use security as an excuse to justify their ambitions for expansion,” concluded Abed Rabbo. “This explains how and why we have reached the current impasse.”

Source: Safa

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The racism behind a two-state solution

By Haidar Eid | Ma’an | September 24, 2012

Much has been said and written about the Oslo Accords and the Geneva initiative. The signatories claim that these much debated documents in principle opened up new possibilities for ‘cooperation’ between what has for so long seemed to be irreconcilable positions.

Yasser Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin, the signatories of the Geneva Initiative, for example, believe that “the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the establishment of two-states.” And, in what sounds like a warning, the latter adds that the window for a two-state solution will not be available indefinitely and Israel will be forced to deal with the “demographic threat” imposed on it by the Palestinians in historic Palestine.

This article, on the contrary, maintains that the two-state solution under present conditions denies the possibility of real coexistence based on equality. This is because both the Geneva document and the Oslo accords accept the Zionist consensus and, for the first time in the history of the conflict, seek to legitimize Israel as a Jewish state in historic Palestine.

In both of these documents, therefore, Israel would appear to have been confirmed as the “state of all the Jews” and never “the state of all of its citizens”. The logic of separation implicit in these documents implies some fundamental contradictions and begs certain serious questions.

The Accord and the Initiative have legitimated apartheid. Both documents include a language that is, euphemistically, reminiscent of the series of laws known collectively as the Group Areas Act which forced the relocation of millions of non-white South Africans into racially-specific ghettos. It was created to split racial groups up into different residential areas.

Like in Apartheid South Africa, where the most developed areas were reserved for the white people, and 84 percent of the available land was granted to the same racial group, who made up only 15 percent of the total population, in Palestine even the 22 percent of the historic land on which an ‘independent state’ is supposed to be declared is, according to the Oslo accords, “disputed”.

In the South African case, the 16 percent of remaining land was then occupied by 80 percent of the population. But contrary to the Palestinian case, that was never given legitimacy by the leadership of the indigenous population.

How can you call for the implementation of Security Council resolutions asserting the right of return of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees to their lands in Israel, and at the same time maintain the exclusively Jewish nature of the state? To be fair, this contradiction also appears in the literature of the Palestinian Resistance Movement. Both Hamas and the PLO also fail to answer this question. Moreover, how does this solution solve the problem of racism and cultural oppression of the marginalized Palestinian citizens of Israel?

Furthermore, is the establishment of an independent state as the solution to the Palestinian problem even possible?

No Israeli position supports full statehood

The argument of Beilin and Abed Rabbo, and even that of the leadership of the PA, is that only negotiations can solve the problem. For ten years negotiations have not moved the Israeli position at all; the Camp David negotiations reached the impasse predicted by both the Palestinian left and the ant-Zionist Israeli left. Ehud Barak’s red lines in 1999, are now very well-known, and Netanyahu’s platform leads to nothing more than a canton for native Palestinians.

Of course Avigdor Lieberman’s advocacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine has won him more seats in the Knesset. Add to this the fact that the establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region. This balance tilts in favor of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the PLO.

No Israeli party, neither Labor nor Likud, is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as defined by international law.

The Labor Party is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to give them an advanced form of self-rule that will be called a state, and through which the Palestinians will be enabled to possess certain selected features of ‘independence,’ such as a Palestinian flag, a national anthem, and a police force. Nothing more. This was Barak’s ‘generous’ offer in Camp David.

The Likud Party, on the other hand, is not prepared to give the Palestinians even these semblances of self-rule. Their vision of the future is rather that the Palestinians should be allowed to run their own affairs under strict and binding Israeli control.

Turning the blame

And lately, in a bizarre, ironic twist, Palestinians have been blamed for killing the two-state solution. Right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris has given up on finding a solution to “the conflict… mainly due to the Palestinians’ consistent rejection of a solution of two states for two peoples.”

This is not unlike saying that blacks of South Africa are to blame for killing the Bantusan system. And they should be punished. “In the end, both sides of the Palestinian movement, the fundamentalists led by Hamas and the secular bloc led by Fatah, are interested in Muslim rule over all of Palestine, with no Jewish state and no partition.” And Palestinian leadership, according to Morris, “has no desire or intention of reaching a solution of two states for two peoples.”

The two- state solution is dead because “the Palestinian leadership and people will not be satisfied with 20 percent of the territory of Palestine. A state composed of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not satisfy them,” Morris says.

And when asked about the right of return, Morris claims that it “essentially requires the destruction of the Jewish state… the Palestinian discourse and the Palestinian objectives have not changed, and their actions, i.e. terror…”. It is Palestinians that are to blame because “[the] demonization is not equal on the two sides. In the Israeli education system, in general, there is no demonization of the Arab, [whereas,] there, the Jews are completely demonized. The Palestinian authorities are busy deeply implanting the demonization. The Palestinian people think we can be made extinct. We don’t think that about the Palestinians.”

The problem for Morris is that “[aside] from revenge, the Palestinians have absolute faith in the justice of their side, which derives in part from religious faith. What God commands, and what his interpreters on Earth say that God commands, is the definite truth. While the Jews are much more skeptical about this sort of interpretation, the Palestinians feel that justice is on their side and that God doesn’t want the Holy Land to be shared with another people….”. Edward Said and Frantz Fanon must be turning in their graves.

But facts on the ground tell another story. Settlement activity in the West Bank continues, as does the confiscation of land and the opening of zigzag roads to service the settlements. Notably, the number of Jewish settlers has risen from 193,000, when the Oslo Accords were signed, to 600,000. No Israeli government has ever been willing to commit itself to the complete evacuation of settlers from the West Bank.

Yet this is a basic pre-condition for the creation of an ‘independent Palestinian state’ impossible in light of Israel’s commitment to the settlers. In order to guarantee the security of the settlements and ensure their future development, Israel is bound to control the greater part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, in any future contingency it is certain that Israel will invoke its security needs to justify tightening its control over the Jordan Valley, thus, again, rendering the project of an independent Palestinian state impossible.

Jerusalem has suffered and is still suffering from the continuation of settlement activity, the building and expansion of Jewish neighborhoods, the confiscation of Jerusalem IDs, ethnic cleansing, and the policy of ‘facts on the ground’ which leave no room for future Palestinian control over the city.

In addition, Palestinian refugees living outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are experiencing increasing difficulties especially in places like Lebanon and Syria, and are waiting for the day to return to Palestine and to be compensated for their confiscated property. This is a right guaranteed by UN resolution 194.

Meanwhile the Palestinian community in Israel is prevented from coexisting on an equal footing with Israeli Jews. Israel’s state policy against its Palestinian citizens amounts to Apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and ratified by United Nations General Assembly resolution 3068 (XXVIII) of 30 November 1973. Needless to say, the PA does not represent either of those two large segments of the Palestinian people.

One state

Defending a two-state solution is, therefore, an insult to the memory of those who fought for equality and justice not only in Palestine, but also in the American South and South Africa.

Thus we come to the inevitable conclusion that a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is, for the reasons mentioned above, unattainable. The question, therefore, is whether there is an alternative solution?

One alternative increasingly to be found in the writings and pronouncements of certain Palestinian intellectuals and activists is the idea of a secular-democratic state in Mandate Palestine in which all citizens are treated equally regardless of their religion, race or sex.

A secular, democratic state is one inhabited by its citizens and governed on the basis of equality and parity both between the individuals as citizens and between groups which have cultural identities. Inherent in such an arrangement is the condition that the groups living there are enabled to coexist and to develop on an equal basis.

This is summed up in Nelson Mandela’s last words at the end of his four hour statement to the court at the Rivonia Trial: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

This system is proposed here as a long-term solution that will need much nurturing, following the political demise of the project of an ‘independent Palestinian state’ as a result of the Oslo Accords, the siege of the Gaza Strip, and the occupation of the West Bank. The establishment of four Bantusans in South Africa was considered by the International Community to constitute a racist solution that could not and should not be entertained.

In order to bring that inhumane solution to an end, the Apartheid regime was boycotted academically, culturally, diplomatically and economically until it succumbed and crumbled into pieces. Nothing remains of the old ethnically cleansed South Africa or the impoverished Bantusans it had created; not the red carpets, nor the national anthems, or the security apparatuses.

This is what racist solutions come to; a corner in the dustbin of history — a museum for the gaze of new generations.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator and professor in the department of English literature at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.

September 24, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment