Posts Tagged ‘PLO’

Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 19, 2010

Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, June 17, 2010

A Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli  tank in the occupied West Bank.

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

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How surrendering Palestinian rights became the language of “peace”

February 5, 2010

Joseph Massad, The Electronic Intifada, 27 January 2010

One of the ways the prejudiced Oslo “process” has survived is through the creation of a Palestinian Authority upon which tens of thousands depend for their livelihood. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

The 1993 Oslo agreement did not only usher in a new era of Palestinian-Israeli relations but has had a much more lasting effect in transforming the very language through which these relations have been governed internationally and the way the Palestinian leadership viewed them. Not only was the Palestinian vocabulary of liberation, end of colonialism, resistance, fighting racism, ending Israeli violence and theft of the land, independence, the right of return, justice and international law supplanted by new terms like negotiations, agreements, compromise, pragmatism, security assurances, moderation and recognition, all of which had been part of Israel’s vocabulary before Oslo and remain so, but also Oslo instituted itself as the language of peace that ipso facto delegitimizes any attempt to resist it as one that supports war, and dismisses all opponents of its surrender of Palestinian rights as opponents of peace. Making the language of surrender of rights the language of peace has also been part of Israel’s strategy before and after Oslo, and is also the language of US imperial power, in which Arabs and Muslims were instructed by US President Barack Obama in his speech in Cairo last June.

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Senior PLO official stands by Abbas claim

July 19, 2009

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Al Jazeera,  July 17, 2009

Farouk Kaddoumi

Farouk Kaddoumi, a Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official, has told Al Jazeera he stands by documents that he says show that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Yasser Arafat, his predecessor.

Abbas’s Fatah party has dismissed Kaddoumi’s claim that Abbas had in a meeting with Ariel Sharon, the ex-Israeli prime minister, discussed Arafat’s killing.

Kaddoumi, the head of the political department of the PLO and the second-most senior leader of Fatah, first levelled the allegations on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he defended his charge and said: “I have not made accusations against anyone, but I have meeting transcripts which accuse people … Transcripts of meetings between Sharon, Abu Mazen [Abbas], and [former Palestinian security adviser Yasser Arafat Mohammad] Dalan.

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ISRAEL-PALESTINE: One-State Supporters Make a Comeback

April 11, 2009

Analysis by Helena Cobban | Inter Press Service News

WASHINGTON, Apr 10 (IPS) – President Barack Obama has spoken out forcefully – including this week, in Ankara, Turkey – in favour of building an independent Palestinian state alongside a still robust Israel. However, many Palestinians have noted that President George W. Bush also, in recent years, expressed a commitment to Palestinian statehood. But, they note, Bush never took the actions necessary to achieve such a state – and neither, until now, has Obama.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to give very generous support to Israel – where successive governments have built Jewish-only colonies in the occupied West Bank and taken other actions that make a viable Palestinian state increasingly hard to achieve.Israel, Jewish colonies in the

Many Palestinians and some important voices in what remains of Israel’s now-battered peace camp have concluded that it is now impossible to win the ‘two-state solution’ envisaged by Bush and Obama. This has led to the re-emergence in both communities of an old idea: that of a single bi- national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, in which both Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israelis and Arabic-speaking Palestinians would have equal rights as citizens, and find themselves equally at home.

That goal was advocated most eloquently in the 1930s and early 1940s by Judah Magnes, Martin Buber, and other intellectuals at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However, most Israelis moved away from it after Israel was established as a specifically Jewish state in 1948.

Later, in 1968, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) articulated a somewhat similar goal: that of building a ‘secular democratic state’, which comprises both pre-1967 Israel and the West Bank and Gaza – which Israel brought under military occupation in 1967.

However, the PLO leaders could never agree on which of the numerous Jewish immigrants brought into Israel before and after 1948 to include in their project. A few years later, in 1974, most PLO supporters – but not all – moved decisively away from the ‘one-state’ model. They started working instead for the two-state model: an independent Palestinian state in just the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, alongside the Israel state.

For 26 years after 1974, Israel’s governments remained deeply opposed to an independent Palestinian state. All those governments made lavish investments in the project – illegal under international law – of implanting their own citizens as settlers in the occupied West Bank. They annexed East Jerusalem. When pressed on the Palestinians’ future, they said they hoped Palestinians could exercise their rights in Egypt or Jordan – just not inside historic Palestine. This idea has been making a comeback recently – including among advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 1993, Israel finally recognized the PLO, and concluded the Oslo Accord with it. Under Oslo, the two sides created a new body called the Palestinian Authority (PA), designed to administer some aspects of daily life in parts of the occupied territories – though not, crucially, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Even after Oslo, Israeli officials made clear that they had not promised the PLO a full Palestinian state. They also said, correctly, that their rights and responsibilities as a military occupying power would remain in place. The final disposition of the occupied areas would await conclusion of a final peace agreement.

Oslo specified that that agreement should be completed by 1999. Ten years later, that deadline has still not been met – a final peace treaty still seems fairly distant. Meanwhile, Israel has used the 16 years since Oslo to increase both the number of settlers it has in the West Bank and the degree of control it exercises over the economies of both Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinian-American political scientist Leila Farsakh describes Israel’s policies toward the economies of both areas as “the engineering of pauperisation.” She notes that despite the large amounts of international aid poured into the West Bank, poverty rates there have risen. Most West Bank areas outside the territory’s glitzy ‘capital’, Ramallah, are poor and increasingly aid-dependent. Lavish new settlements housing 480,000 settlers crowd much of the West Bank’s best land, and guzzle its water, Farsakh explains.

In an Israeli population of just 7.2 million, those settlers now form a formidable voting bloc. Attempts to move them out look almost impossible. In the latest round of peace negotiations that Israel and the PA/PLO pursued from 2000 until recently, participants discussed ways to reduce the number of settlers required to move by annexing the big settlement areas to Israel in return for a land exchange. But those boundary modifications look complex, and quite possibly unworkable.

Meanwhile, the negotiation over a small Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza has sidelined the concerns and rights of three important Palestinian constituencies. The 1.2 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel would remain as an embattled minority within an Israeli state still ideologically committed to the immigration of additional Jews. The 270,000 Palestinians of Jerusalem might also still be surrounded and vulnerable. And the five million Palestinians who still – 61 years after they and their forbearers fled homes in what became Israel in 1948 – would have their long-pursued right to return laid down forever.

From 1982 – the year the PLO’s leaders and guerrilla forces were expelled from Lebanon – until recently, the main dynamo of Palestinian nationalism has been located in the Palestinian communities of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. But in recent years, those communities have been severely weakened. They are administratively atomised, politically divided, and live under a palpable sense of physical threat.

Many ‘occupied’ Palestinians are returning to the key defensive ideas of steadfastness and “just hanging on” to their land. But new energy for leadership is now emerging between two other key groups of Palestinians: those in the diaspora, and those who are citizens of Israel. The contribution those groups can make to nationwide organising has been considerably strengthened by new technologies – and crucially, neither of them has much interest in a two-state outcome.

Not surprisingly, therefore, discussions about the nature of a one-state outcome – and how to achieve it – have become more frequent, and much richer in intellectual content, in recent years.

Palestinian-Israeli professor Nadim Rouhanna, now teaching at Tufts University in Massachusetts, is a leader in the new thinking. “The challenge is how to achieve the liberation of both societies from being oppressed and being oppressors,” he told a recent conference in Washington, DC. “Palestinians have to… reassure the Israeli Jews that their culture and vitality will remain. We need to go further than seeing them only as ‘Jews-by- religion’ in a future Palestinian society.”

Like many advocates of the one-state outcome, Rouhanna referred enthusiastically to the exuberant multiculturalism and full political equality that have been embraced by post-apartheid South Africa.

Progressive Jewish Israelis like Ben Gurion University geographer Oren Yiftachel are also part of the new movement. Yiftachel’s most recent work has examined at the Israeli authorities’ decades-long campaign to expropriate the lands of the ethnically Palestinian Bedouin who live in southern Israel – and are citizens of Israel. “The expropriation continues – there and inside the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem,” Yiftachel said, explaining that he did not see the existence of “the Green Line” that supposedly separates Israel from the occupied territory as an analytically or politically relevant concept.

The Gaza Ghetto and Western Cant

December 31, 2008

Tariq Ali | Counterpunch, Dec 30, 2008

The assault on the Gaza Ghetto, planned over six months and executed with perfect timing was designed largely to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder in a cynical contest between the Right and the Far Right in Israel. Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon a few years, sit back and watch. Washington, as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet.

The EU politicians, having observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, the targeting of civilians, etc [See Harvard scholar Sara Roy’s chilling essay in the latest LRB] were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had ‘provoked’ Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect. The moth-eaten Mubarik dictatorship in Egypt and NATO’s favourite Islamists in Ankara, failed to even register a symbolic protest by recalling their Ambassadors from Israel. China and Russia did not convene a meeting of the UNSC to discuss the crisis.

As result of official apathy, one outcome of this latest attack will be to inflame Muslim communities throughout the world and swell the ranks of those very organisations that the West claims it is combating in the ‘war against terror’.

The bloodshed in Gaza raises broader strategic questions for both sides, issues related to recent history. One fact that needs to be recognised is that there is no Palestinian Authority. There never was one. The Oslo Accords were an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians, creating a set of disconnected and shrivelled Palestinian ghettoes under the permanent watch of a brutal enforcer.

The PLO, once the repository of Palestinian hope, became little more than a supplicant for EU money. Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The West and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the ‘international community’ in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, us and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US Congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run. Even the timing of the election was set by the determination to rig the outcome. Scheduled for the summer of 2005, it was delayed till January 2006 to give Abbas time to distribute assets in Gaza—in the words of an Egyptian intelligence officer: ‘the public will then support the Authority against Hamas’. Popular desire for a clean broom after ten years of corruption, bullying and bluster under Fatah proved stronger than all of this.

Hamas’s electoral triumph was treated as an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism, and a fearsome blow to the prospects of peace with Israel, by rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world. Immediate financial and diplomatic pressures were applied to force Hamas to adopt the same policies as those whom it defeated at the polls.
Uncompromised by the Palestinian Authority’s combination of greed and dependency, the self-enrichment of its servile spokesmen and policemen, and their acquiescence in a ‘peace process’ that has brought only further expropriation and misery to the population under them, Hamas offered the alternative of a simple example. Without any of the resources of its rival, it set up clinics, schools, hospitals, vocational training and welfare programmes for the poor. Its leaders and cadres lived frugally, within reach of ordinary people. It is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad basis of its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran.

How far its conduct in the second Intifada has given it an additional degree of credibility is less clear. Its armed attacks on Israel, like those of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade or Islamic Jihad, have been retaliations against an occupation far more deadly than any actions it has ever undertaken. Measured on the scale of IDF killings, Palestinian strikes have been few and far between. The asymmetry was starkly exposed during Hamas’s unilateral ceasefire, begun in June 2003, and maintained throughout the summer despite the Israeli campaign of raids and mass arrests, which followed, in which some three hundred Hamas cadres were seized from the West Bank. On 19 August 2003 a self-proclaimed ‘Hamas’ cell from Hebron, disowned and denounced by the official leadership, blew up a bus in West Jerusalem, upon which Israel promptly assassinated the Hamas ceasefire’s negotiator, Ismail Abu Shanab. Hamas in turn responded. In return, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states cut funding to its charities and, in September 2003, the EU declared the whole Hamas movement to be a terrorist organization—a long-standing demand of Tel Aviv.

What has actually distinguished Hamas in a hopelessly unequal combat is not dispatch of suicide bombers, to which a range of competing groups resorted, but its superior discipline—demonstrated by its ability to enforce a self-declared ceasefire against Israel over the past year. All civilian deaths are to be condemned, but since Israel is their principal practitioner, Euro-American cant serves only to expose those who utter it. Overwhelmingly, the boot of murder is on the other foot, ruthlessly stamped into Palestine by a modern army equipped with jets, tanks and missiles in the longest armed oppression of modern history. ‘Nobody can reject or condemn the revolt of a people that has been suffering under military occupation for forty-five years against occupation force’: the words of General Shlomo Gazit, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, in 1993.

The real grievance of the EU and US against Hamas is that it refused to accept the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the Palestinians. The West’s priority ever since was to break this resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting the presidential powers of Abbas—as publicly picked for his post by Washington, as was Karzai in Kabul—at the expense of the Legislative Council is another.

No serious efforts were made to negotiate with the elected Palestinian leadership. I doubt if Hamas could have been rapidly suborned to Western and Israel but it would not have been unprecedented. Hamas’s programmatic heritage remains mortgaged to the most fatal weakness of Palestinian nationalism: the belief that the political choices before it are either rejection of the existence of Israel altogether, or acceptance of the dismembered remnants of a fifth of the country. From the fantasy maximalism of the first to the pathetic minimalism of the second, the path is all too short, as the history of Fatah has shown. The test for Hamas is not whether it can be house-trained to the satisfaction of Western opinion, but whether it can break with this crippling tradition. Soon after the Hamas victory I was asked in public by a Palestinian what I would do in their place. ‘Dissolve the Palestinian Authority’, was my response and end the make-belief. To do so would situate the Palestinian national cause on its proper basis, with the demand that the country and its resources be divided equitably, in proportion to two populations that are equal in size—not 80 per cent to one and 20 per cent to the other, a dispossession of such iniquity that no self-respecting people will ever submit to it in the long run. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians alike, in which the exactions of Zionism are repaired.

There is no other way. And Israeli citizens might ponder the following words from Shakespeare [The Merchant of Venice] that I have slightly altered:

‘I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…the villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.’

Tariq Ali’s latest book, ‘The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power’ is published by Scribner.

Farewell Mahmoud Darwish

August 16, 2008

Farewell Mahmoud Darwish


Sinan Antoon recalls the voice of a nation, August 14, 2008

Very few poets become the voice of their nation and even fewer succeed in transcending that to become much more. Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was that rare bird who crossed many skies and horizons. His death last week, following complications from open-heart surgery in Houston, Texas, ended an epic life and interrupted a stunningly creative and prolific output, especially in his later years. It is difficult to underestimate Darwish’s symbolic capital and his cultural and political significance. With his departure Palestine loses one of its most precious cultural icons, a poetic voice of universal echoes. The larger Arab world and its diaspora bid farewell to one of its best modern poets and the most popular and successful one in the last three decades. His poems were set to music, discussed in the Israeli Knesset, and his recitals could fill sport stadiums. Darwish’s absence will further enhance his near-mythical status in the collective memory of Palestinians and Arabs.

Darwish was born on 13 March 1941 in Al-Birweh in Palestine’s Galilee. At the age of seven he and his family were forced by Israeli forces to flee their village to Lebanon. Al-Birweh was destroyed by the Israelis and a settlement has taken its place. When Darwish’s family returned a year later they settled in Deir Al-Assad, near the traces of their destroyed village. The harrowing experience of losing his home and being an internal exile in his land at such a young age would haunt Darwish’s poetry and become a central theme with rich and complex variations running throughout his oeuvre. “I will never forget that wound,” he said. In one of his last books Darwish wrote of still hearing “the wailing of a village under a settlement”.

He was extremely precocious and discovered the power of words and poetry at a young age. At 12 he recited a poem at school on the anniversary of the Nakba about a child who returns to find his home taken by others. He was summoned by the Israeli military officer and threatened. His early fierce poetry registered his resistance to existential and cultural erasure practised by an apartheid colonial state. This is exemplified in Identity Card, which became an iconic poem of that phase and of what came to be known as “resistance poetry” with its famous refrain “Record, I am an Arab!” Darwish joined the Israeli Communist Party in 1961 and worked as a journalist in Al-Ittihad. He was imprisoned five times between 1961 and 1967 and was put under house arrest for three years.

He took the monumental decision not to return to Israel while on a scholarship to Moscow in 1971 and went to Cairo where his fame had already preceded him. Two years later he moved to Beirut and joined the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and remained there until 1982. In Beirut he was the editor of Shu’un Filastiniyya (Palestinian Affairs) and established Al-Karmil in 1981, one of the best cultural reviews to appear in the Arab world.

In Beirut, Darwish honed his poetic project and distinguished himself by continuous experimentation and engagement with developments in modern Arabic poetry, and by resisting the temptations and pressures of being pigeonholed as a “resistance poet”. Palestine and its concerns were always a central axis, but it was to be enriched through explorations of mythology and embedded in a more complex poetic narrative. Darwish witnessed and monumentalised key moments in the Palestinian saga in poems such as Ahmed Al-Zaatar (1977) on the 1976 siege and massacre of Tal Al-Zaatar and Madih Al-Zill Al-Aali (Praise for the Lofty Shadow), and Qasidat Beirut (The Beirut Poem) both written in 1983. Darwish was also a prose writer of exceptional beauty. Memory of Forgetfulness, a beautiful and haunting memoir about war, represented the daily horrors of the Israeli invasion and siege of Beirut in 1982.

The Palestinian exodus from Beirut took Darwish to Tunis where the PLO found refuge until its return after Oslo in 1993. Darwish settled in Paris where he would have a most productive phase and transform his poetry to new heights in works such as I See What I Want (1990) and Eleven Planets (1992). His work enacted a poetic conversation with world epics and the Palestinian saga was rearticulated within a larger historical and cultural prism of the colonial moment of 1492 and its ramifications. Darwish reread Andalus and the genocide of the native Americans in mesmerising and epic poems simultaneously addressing the Palestinian question and universal postcolonial concerns. His poems were prophetic as to the fate of Palestinians. Darwish was elected to the executive committee of the PLO but resigned in 1993 over his objections to the Oslo Accords and his disagreement with Arafat. He correctly foresaw that they amounted to political suicide.

Why Have you Left the Horse Alone (1995) was a response of sorts to the challenges and threats of Oslo. It was an individual and collective poetic biography and an excavation of the memory of place. It also marked a shift in Darwish’s work towards the more personal and subjective. He continued to surprise and challenge his readers with A Bed for the Stranger (1999), a collection devoted to love. In 1998 Darwish had heart surgery for the second time and his heart stopped for two minutes. This encounter with death produced another epic poem, Mural (2000), about the triumph of art over death. Darwish decided to return and live in Ramallah as a citizen in 1996 and divided his time between the West Bank and Amman. A State of Siege (2002) was concerned with the horrors of Israeli occupation during the second Intifada, but also spoke of hope and resilience. Darwish was prolific and vibrant in his last years, stunning readers and critics with his ability to reinvent himself. In addition to three collections, ( Do not Apologise for What You Have Done (2004), Like Almond Blossoms or Beyond (2005), and The Butterfly Effect (2008), he left us one of the most powerful books of prose to be written in Arabic in modern times. In the Presence of Absence (2006) was a self-eulogy written in masterful poetic prose.

In the latter phase of his work Darwish was free to roam all themes no matter how mundane or metaphysical. The anchored and fixed I of his early years was now scattered in pronouns as the self became a site severed by time and space and open to all its others, in the widest sense. Darwish and his work contained multitudes and vast horizons, at the heart of which was Palestine in and of itself, but also Palestine as a metaphor for love, exile, and the injustice and pain of our contemporary moment.

Knowing surgery might not succeed, Darwish was keen on bidding farewell to his homeland and loved ones. He returned to Haifa for the first time since 1971 in July of last year for a historic poetry reading and a short visit. Permission had to be obtained from Israeli authorities. His family and friends had hoped he would be buried in the Galilee he loved but the Israelis refused and so he was buried in Ramallah.

“What can a poet do when confronted by the bulldozers of history?” asked Darwish once. To stand before them and preserve the memory and celebrate life as he did. “Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance,” he wrote in his last collection. And he left a treasure trove scattered in his 23 collections of poetry and four prose books. He lived in permanent exile and died in a strange land, but his poems are at home in the indestructible archive of our collective memory.

One state with equal rights

August 8, 2008

The Oslo Accords of August 1993 were supposed to lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel. Fifteen years later, after a vast increase in Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the ongoing erection of an apartheid wall and the barbaric siege of Gaza, increasing numbers of Palestinians and their supporters regard a two-state solution as unworkable. Snehal Shingavi looks at the debate.

Demonstration for Palestinian rights in ChicagoDemonstration for Palestinian rights in Chicago

IN THE 1970s, the dominant Fatah group within the Palestine Liberation Organization dropped its demand for a unified state governing all of Palestine with equal rights for all citizens and began the process of promoting a “two-state solution.”

In the aftermath, a consensus grew among the Palestinian left that a Palestinian mini-state was the only viable solution for Palestinians. According to this argument, the best Palestinians could achieve was a state established on the territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War–land that amounted to less than 30 percent of historic Palestine.

The conclusion that a two-state solution was the only viable alternative reflected several political realities. The first was the belief that Israel had become a dominant power in the region, with the backing of the United States and Europe. Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War–and the unwillingness and inability of any other states to deliver a decisive military blow against it–confirmed this conclusion.

The second factor was a shift in the thinking of the mainstream Palestinian liberation movement, toward trilateral negotiations (between the PLO, Israel and the U.S.) and away from armed struggle and a broader engagement of regional issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

While armed struggle, in itself, held no hope of winning Palestinian statehood, the trilateral negotiations among unequal powers meant that the PLO had little with which to bargain and much to lose. Once the PLO accepted peace talks and the nebulous “two-state” framework that came with them, a series of political debacles took place under the auspices of the Oslo Accords. Yet the “peace process” reinforced the idea that Palestinian statehood would happen only at Israel’s behest.

The other factor in the debate was a decline in the Palestinian secular left, the long-time proponent of the idea of a single, democratic, secular state in Palestine.

The political weaknesses of the Palestinian left–its traditions of Stalinism and its unwillingness to oppose the Arab ruling classes of other countries in the region–left it unable to meet the challenges it faced. Thus, when the armed struggle posed the possibility of regional revolutions in the 1970s and Arab governments, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon, cracked down savagely on the Palestinian resistance, the left was paralyzed.

With the demise of the secular left, the possibility of a one-state solution seemed to die as well. As a further consequence, Palestinians lost a single banner for a unified movement that represented their concerns as an oppressed nation. Since the 1948 creation of Israel on much of the land of historic Palestine, Palestinians have always been divided between those who live within Israel’s borders, those in the Occupied Territories and those in the diaspora. Abandoning a one-state solution meant accepting those divisions as permanent.

The result was that the Palestinian nationalist struggle gave rise to rival movements and rival local leaders. Israel has been able to play on those divisions and the relative weakness of the Palestinian resistance to tighten the screws on the Palestinian population to unbearable levels.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BUT ISRAELI policies over the past 15 years, under the auspices of the Oslo Accords, have convinced increasing numbers of Palestinians that the idea of a mini-state, or a two-state solution, isn’t viable.

Rather, it leaves unresolved all the decisive issues that resulted from the creation of the state of Israel in the first place–not the least of which are the rights of the large refugee population.

Continued . . .

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