[Published 12 August 2010]
US Middle East Special Envoy - George Mitchell - has again been rebuffed by Palestinian Authority President - Mahmoud Abbas - in refusing to resume direct negotiations with Israel.
Following a three hour meeting between Abbas and Mitchell on 10 August the Palestinian Authority Chief negotiator - Saeb Erekat - said:
“The meeting was fruitful and profound, but there was no agreement on going to direct talks,”
No doubt pressure will continue to be mounted by President Obama to have Abbas return to direct talks with Israel.
The real question to be asked however is - what agreement can any such talks hope to deliver?
The basic fundamental to reaching any agreement from Israel’s point of view is the recognition of Israel as the Jewish State by the Palestinian Authority.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made this very clear on 14 June 2009 when he said:
“The key condition is that the Palestinians recognize in a clear and public manner that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, The heart of the conflict has always been the Arabs’ refusal to accept the existence of the Jewish state”
Perhaps some encouragement could be taken by Israel from the recent remark made by President Abbas on 9 June 2010 when he reportedly stated:
“I would never deny [the] Jewish right to the land of Israel,”
This is a welcome and long overdue statement from Abbas - one which has not since been retracted by him.
It could be taken to be a repudiation of the following statement made by Abbas in November 2007:
“Historically, there are two states - Israel and Palestinian. Israel has Jews and other people, and this we are ready to recognize, but nothing else,”
His latest statement however comes at a time of extreme political weakness on his part and appears to have very little backing from anyone else on the Palestinian side.
Hamas rules in Gaza and continues to show no signs of entering into any agreement to reconcile its political differences with the Palestinian Authority. The Hamas Charter unabashedly calls for the eradication of the Jewish State.
Abbas’s belated support for a Jewish State has already been swiftly undermined by the appearance of an open letter on 29 July signed and endorsed by a large number of prominent Palestinian luminaries described as:
“scholars, intellectuals, artists, activists, trade unionists, human rights advocates and civil society leaders, inside historic Palestine and in exile “
in which they criticise Abbas’ statement declaring:
“We regard this announcement, which adopts a central tenet of Zionism, as a grave betrayal of the collective rights of the Palestinian people.”
“No Palestinian institution or leader has ever accepted an exclusive Jewish claim to Palestine,which is irreconcilable with the internationally recognized rights of the Palestinian people. Our rights inhere in us as a people; they are not yours to do with as you please.”
Of course these signatories purposely choose to ignore the facts that:
(i) Israel comprises only 17% of Palestine
(ii) Jordan comprises 77% of Palestine and
(iii) Gaza and the West Bank make up the remaining 6% of Palestine.
Their message is clear however - there is no room for a Jewish State in any part of former Palestine.
This open letter perpetuates the refusal of the Palestine Liberation Organization - headed by Abbas - to accept or acknowledge that Jews have been given the legal right in international law to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine by the League of Nations and the United Nations.
In further support of these rejectionist views Al-Jazzerah has now published on 8 August a declaration by the Movement For One Democratic State in Palestine stating:
“The conflict in Israel-Palestine cannot be resolved until its fundamental source is addressed. That source is the premise of partition. We reject the Zionist claim that Jewish people have rights to a separate state in Palestine.”
President Obama has yet to comprehend that these anti-Jewish sentiments remain an irreconcilable bar to achieving any resolution of the conflict. They run counter to the view of President Obama expressed by his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on 15 June 2009:
“The president is committed to two states, a Jewish State of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples,”
Any talks - direct or indirect - in the absence of a complete change of heart by both the Palestinian leadership and the majority of its constituents effectively prevents Israel from making any compromises - territorial or otherwise - in the West Bank.
Israel is not going to trade away its internationally acquired status as the national homeland of the Jewish people for anything less than unconditional recognition as the Jewish State - not only by the Palestinian Authority but also by the 21 Islamic member states of the Arab League.
Until the Arabs come to their senses and reject their 63 years of continued and unrelenting opposition to the notion of a Jewish State existing in their Islamic midst - all attempts at reconciliation remain a complete and utter waste of time.
It is abundantly clear that no Palestinian Arab consensus on a Jewish State has yet emerged that would indicate any optimism that Israel and the Palestinian Authority could achieve an agreed resolution to their conflict by now entering into direct negotiations.
Abbas remains a lame duck President - illegally clinging to power despite the expiry of his term of office and unable to carry his constituency with him on recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.
The only remaining way forward to address the current impasse is for direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan to divide the sovereignty of the West Bank between their respective states. Such negotiations will not end demands for a a second Arab State in historic Palestine or the destruction of Israel. They will however complete the division of sovereignty of Palestine between the Arab and Jewish successor states to the Mandate for Palestine.
The political dividends that remain to be reaped from pursuing such a policy and the transformation this will bring to the lives of the West Bank Arab population are becoming rapidly more evident with the passing of each day.
The racist rant will continue and Israel will have to deal with - and defuse - any military threat to its existence as it has been forced to do on so many occasions since its founding in 1948.
That is the reality and nothing Obama does will change that reality.ublished