Husam Itani
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
November 17, 2009 - 1:00am

In his reaction to the recent Palestinian stance, Benjamin Netanyahu included the following elements: it is forbidden for you to go to the Security Council to issue a resolution that recognizes your future state. If you do this, you will not find international support. If you do obtain this support, we will put an end to this attempt by force. In return, you must continue to negotiate “with no conditions,” in other words without a halt to building settlements, or lifting the siege on Gaza, or coming to an agreement about the reference-point that would be the foundation of negotiations, and their minimum acceptable level.

There is no room for contradictory interpretations of the statements by the Israeli prime minister. Either the Palestinian Authority takes the path of making media appearances, which only result in commemorative pictures as officials tell the world about progress in the “peace process,” or there will be no authority, or land, or future for the Palestinian people, except the resumption of living under direct occupation.

The irony is that the notion raised by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad about the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, which was met by a combination of dismissal and derision, has become the only card held by the Palestinian negotiating side, which seems like someone looking around in a dark corner for any tool, or plan that supports its own swaying position.

However, the Israelis quickly discovered that “the unilateral step” involved a real danger: in short, the declaration of independence of a Palestinian entity unilaterally does not require it to end the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. The Palestinian demands and international resolutions on refugees, settlements and the racist separation wall will remain forever. It goes without saying that these demands and resolutions will not equal the raising of the sword of Damocles over the head of the Israeli state, as it will not be threatened with quick oblivion. However, allowing the struggle to continue in this way will cause untold difficulties for generations of Israelis in their relations with the world, their normalization with the Arabs, and the “image” of Israel. More importantly, the occupation will remain, as it has since 1948, exposed to the world with all of the bitterness that it contains for the Palestinians and the Arabs.

There is no alternative to recognizing the scale of the difficulties that face any Palestinian attempt to exit the bilateral negotiations that the Palestinian authorities have been submerged in for nearly two decades, and move toward a realm of diplomatic effort, which international powers describe as a return to putting the PA before one of two choices: either show bias toward the Israeli side and its occupation, or support the Palestinians and gamble on sparking the ire of the US and other countries that are regular backers of Israel.

It is completely understandable that the Palestinian position did not spring from Israeli procrastination and stalling; it is also built on the terrible failure in achieving national reconciliation and the deadlock over renewing the PA’s legitimacy (through elections) following the declaration by the Elections Committee that it could not organize voting in the West Bank and Gaza, due to the struggle between the two sides, each holding sway in its region.

It is not strange that angry Palestinian statements are placed, alongside the hint by President Mahmoud Abbas that he did not intend to run in the coming presidential elections, in the category of Palestinian political maneuvering, whose practitioners are using to compensate for the vacuum in their political arena and on the ground, by increasing the level of ostentatious “political suspense.” However, a clearer view justifies the idea that this vacuum, in turn, constitutes a type of dangerous ammunition for whoever wants to invent new forms of struggling against the occupation.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017