, by MOHAMMAD PERVEZ BILGRAMI
In this Section
Israel and the Palestinian Authority resumed peace talks in Washington on 29 July 2013. The negotiations had remained stalled since 2010. US Secretary of State John Kerry visited the region six times during the past five months in an effort to restart the talks. It is reported that Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livini, chief negotiators for Palestine and Israel respectively, will formally carry on peace talks from 15 August 2013.
Reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal within nine months is a target, not a deadline, said a U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem, on 7 August. During the talks, Kerry is expected to visit the region “on a regular basis” to check on progress, said Michael Ratney, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem. John Allen, a retired U.S. general, will work closely with the negotiators on security arrangements, Ratney said.
It is important to note here that the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who gave the nod for resumption of talks, was elected in a highly controversial 9 January 2005 Presidential elections under the patronage of Israel, when Israeli forces arrested and restricted the movement of other candidates. Hamas boycotted the election. His term ended on 9 January 2009 but he is still serving as President without further mandate.
It is ironical that the unelected President of the so-called Palestinian Authority, virtually having negligible authority in the land he is supposed to rule, has decided to resume the negotiations with Israel under the patronage of his Master – the United States.
Mahmud Abbas, literally the chosen Man of White House in Ramallah, though rejected by most of the Palestinian population in 2006 elections, will oversee the renewed talks this time unlike 20 years ago when he had signed the worst negotiated documents in the history of Palestine.
On the other hand, Hamas, the legitimate representative of Palestinians by virtue of victory in 2006 Parliamentary elections, was not allowed to play any role in the ‘so-called’ peace talks, since Hamas resists the preconditions of humiliating and vacillating talks under US and Israeli pressure.
Ironically, occupation of Palestine, once the foremost concern of Muslim world later curved as an Arab cause then the Palestinian issue and now became a Hamas-Israel conflict. During the process of dissections the imperative issue of Palestine, once the common cause of whole Muslim community, has lost its entirety.
The Oslo Accord that created Palestinian National Authority was officially signed in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993 in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then U.S. President Bill Clinton. The documents were signed by Mahmud Abbas, (the current President of Palestinian Authority) for the PLO, foreign Minister Shimon Peres for Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher for the United States and foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev for Russia. Oslo 1 was followed by Oslo 2 in 1996. Neither of the two accords promised Palestinian statehood.
In an interview with Voice of Russia (29 July 2013), Alan Hart, a researcher, author and expert on Middle East, said: “The breakthrough means the real progress on securing the acceptable measures of justice for the Palestinians, which essentially means an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank grabbed in the 1967 war, which incidentally was a war of aggression, not self-defence. I have no expectation whatsoever. They are talks about talks. They are not resumption of peace talks, and let me add this. My personal opinion is that when these talks demonstrate that Israel is not prepared to be serious about peace on terms that Palestinians could accept, Abbas should dissolve the Palestine authority and hand back full responsibility for the occupation of the West Bank to Israel. That just might make it easier or less difficult for Israel to be caught and held in the account of international law.”
The whole world witnessed the humiliating, miserable demise of Yasser Arafat, in the aftermath of the compromise he had made with Israel. The accord that served Israeli purpose to leave the policing of Gaza and West Bank to Palestinians, surrounded from all sides by Israeli defence force (IDF). Israel has contentedly passed 20 years in between and killed, abducted and persecuted the Palestinian population at will, as she used to do before the formation of dysfunctional Palestinian Authority.
Speaking to Frontline (26 July 2013), Tariq Ali, an eminent expert on Middle Eastern issues, observed: “One has to face facts. I think the Palestinian national movement has suffered a huge defeat. This defeat has been brought on it not just by the Israelis, but by its own leaders. When Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, he was signing the death warrant of Palestinian nationalism and Palestinian sovereignty, and Hamas has not been able to break from this position at all.”
The ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President in Egypt through a well-orchestrated coup has eased out US-Israeli concerns of growing bonhomie between Islamist Egypt and Hamas. The new Egyptian junta-installed government immediately welcomed the peace talks. The US sponsored old guards are back in Egypt with worst ever tightened blockade on Gaza to cripple the Hamas’ opposing view on the “talks for talks’ sake” that ultimately will not yield any positive outcome for Palestinians and in-turn serves the Israeli purpose.
Many experts and watchers of the Palestinian issues have been arguing that the Palestinian Authority has been a sham and there is no hope of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state with the renewed talks. The talks will only provide Israel with a cushion for at-least two more decades like the much talked about Oslo Accord, to carry out its relentless atrocities against the Palestinians.