Now that Palestinian Authority intransigence and the Jordanian monarch’s cold feet have frozen President Bush’s Middle East peace plan, we are again facing that time honoured lament of Western liberalism:
“why doesn’t the US put more pressure on Israel, why cannot Israel be forced into more concessions?”But in any event do Mr Abbas and his internationally cosseted entourage really want a peace settlement? A new term is creeping into the Middle East lexicon: Palestinian Authority Incorporated.
This label stems from a growing realisation that the Palestinian leadership has never had it so good, flitting from one capital to another by private jet, with conference-to-conference limousines, police escorts, top hotels and guest palaces, and everything else that goes with the jet-setting potentate. Running a neighbourhood “entity” after this would seem very dull indeed - assuming Mr. Abbas would make the grade in an open election.
But would he? The Wall Street Journal’s Karen Elliott House reported after a Middle East tour last month:
"Almost no one … believes the self appointed President for the Palestinian cause will ever be the directly re-elected leader of the Palestinian people”She quotes a Jordanian official in Amman:
” The Palestinian Authority isn’t a revolution. It’s a corporation. After all these years, the pay cheques keep coming and the life is good . The Palestinian Authority cares more about preserving its privileges than helping ordinary Palestinians.”To which Joseph Kraft of the Los Angeles Times syndicate adds the charge that the Abbas Palestinian Authority is:
“ a bureaucracy dedicated to its own survival. Far from being willing to take risks for political goals, Mr Abbas and Co, in this view, prefer to wander from country to country and from summit meeting to summit meeting, selling the cause of Palestine to Arab leaders who need legitimization. The rulers pay out subsidies. In return Mr Abbas gives them the Palestinian Authority seal of fidelity to Arab nationalism.”What practical good does this do for the average Palestinian Arabs? As the New York Times remarked last November during a peak of Palestinian Authority negativism:
“Let reality now sink in. If those who claim Palestinian leadership cannot contemplate co-existence and persist in preventing King Abdullah and the residents of the West Bank from negotiating a true peace with Israel, then even this territory will soon be out of reach”And how.
Israeli Government statisticians and demographers predict that within 30 years the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria will reach parity with the projected Arab population of 1.3 million. Long range settlement plans are in hand. The implications of delayed negotiations require no explanation.
..... AND NOW FOR MY CONFESSION...
The above article was written by Michael Barnard under the title “Realities of the Middle East” and published in the Age Newspaper in Melbourne Australia on Tuesday 26 April 1983 …. 26 years ago !!!!
My contribution to updating the article lies solely in substituting a few words to reflect the different parties.
I could have even left in the acronym for the Palestine Liberation Organization - “PLO” - used by Barnard in his article instead of replacing it with “Palestinian Authority” since the latter is just the reincarnation of the former disguised under a different name.
But essentially nothing has changed for the ordinary West Bank Arab in the last quarter of a century as their leaders have missed countless opportunities to resolve the conflicting Arab and Jewish claims to sovereignty in the West Bank.
Abbas clings to power as unelected President although his term expired last January. Calls for his removal have been mounting because he dared to postpone debate on the Goldstone Report at the behest of President Obama. This was only the latest of his woes as he has to answer questions about his relative silence during Israel’s invasion of Gaza last December and January and his alleged tacit - if not collaborative - approval of Israel’s action to destroy his Hamas challengers for supreme political control of the Palestinian Arabs.
Urged on by well intended but policy deficient “do-gooders” such as Presidents Reagan, Carter, Clinton and Bush, the Quartet and a Moslem dominated UN General Assembly, the Palestinian Authority power brokers have chalked up hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer points, have enjoyed the best food and wines in some of the most expensive hotels and restaurants in the world and collected photo albums full of snapshots with the most famous political and celebrity personages.
Surely a quarter of a century later it is time to heed Barnard’s article (as updated by me):
“Let reality now sink in. If those who claim Palestinian leadership cannot contemplate co-existence and persist in preventing King Abdullah and the residents of the West Bank from negotiating a true peace with Israel, then even this territory will soon be out of reach”The sooner Jordan is brought into negotiations with Israel to determine Arab and Jewish claims to sovereignty in the West Bank the sooner these junkets and excesses by the Palestinian Authority will be ended.
More importantly the West Bank Arabs will be able to go about their work and raise their children free of war and conflict as fully fledged citizens of Jordan - as they were between 1948-1967 until Jordan’s fatal involvement in the Six Day War saw the loss of this territory to Israel.
Israel will not be returning to the armistice lines that existed between Israel and Jordan on the 6th June 1967 - UN Security Council resolution 242 makes that abundantly clear. It will not agree - in the national interest of preserving Israel as the only Jewish state in the world - to millions of Arabs flooding into its country as migrants.
That is best left to welcoming countries like England, France, Holland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The world is a big place and opportunities to settle outside one’s country of birth have never been so easy as millions of Arabs leave their existing 21 Arab States for greener pastures.
Will an article like this still be written in 2035? I certainly hope not.