Zuheir Kseibati
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
September 16, 2010 - 12:00am

In light of the carrot and the stick policy used by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her attendance of the sessions to launch the negotiations on the Palestinian-Israeli track, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas picked up the signal again, seeing how his team is still the sole one concerned about the stick and threatened with “unpredictable consequences” if the negotiations were hindered. At the level of the carrot, Washington believes it allows both sides to come up with “creative” exits for the discontinuation of the settlement freeze predicament at the end of the month.

The American enticement toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could clearly be sensed through Washington’s adoption of his insistence on getting the Palestinians to recognize the “Jewish character” of the “democratic” Hebrew state without giving priority to this goal on the agenda of the talks. Moreover, Clinton’s enticements to Abbas did not exceed the reiteration of the support of his demand to discontinue the settlement activities, so that his team can remain in the “secret cage” of the negotiations. What is certain however is that the US secretary only meant by “creative” exits the acceptance of the Palestinian side to stay in the “cage” until Netanyahu re-launches the building activities in the settlements at a “limited” pace, so that he does not break the promises he made to his government, which is unified by extremism. Nonetheless, the aforementioned pace is nothing short of a disaster if what was mentioned by the Israeli media is true in regard to the fact that the prime minister wants any agreement, even if signed in a year, to be implemented throughout dozens of years!... Therefore, a prompt alternative agreement over the demarcation of the border will not be easy to achieve.

In the meantime, the American sponsor has a course which it insists on keeping secret, in order to limit the chances of seeing the opposing Palestinian factions obstructing it and wasting “the last opportunity.” Indeed, what is required is for Netanyahu’s “waiver” of the priority of the Palestinians’ recognition of the “Jewish character” of Israel, to be accompanied by Abbas’ waiver of the extension of the full settlement freeze, so that the “silent” negotiations can proceed until they reach completion. However, while the extent of the American misleading or tampering with the references of the negotiations and the requirements needed for the establishment of the Palestinian state are clear, Washington’s bias in favor of the “Jewish character” of the Hebrew state before the two sides engage in negotiations means that it has accepted the elimination of the refugees’ right of return and will exert additional pressures on Abbas to force him to recognize Israel’s ambitions later on as a minimal prerequisite for any agreement.

It may not be inconsistent with the facts to say that the Palestinian president is no less pessimistic about the prospects of the negotiations than the Israeli public opinion which is shifting toward an extremism that is becoming more holistic, as it considers that the other side is divested of any pressure tools and the captive of “domestic” conflicts which at best will place it before one of two choices: Either to succumb to the American-Israeli goals or proclaim the death of the Palestinian authority and vacate the arena for the opposition factions and mayhem.

The paradox is that the Israeli public is sensing in its own pessimism Netanyahu’s real intentions. However, it is reaching the highest levels of extremism after its recognition of some of the rights of the Palestinian people has dissipated and after it grew completely biased in favor of the security and political grip and the policy of power and violence.

Nine meetings were held in Sharm al-Sheikh before the Jerusalem meetings, while no rapid “breakthrough” can be expected at the level of the talks on Mitchell’s secret track. Still, Washington’s priority is to keep both sides in the cage, regardless of whether its direct presence and interference aim at serving American domestic calculations or at changing the rules of the conflict in the region in the period following the American pullout from Iraq. This is an Israeli vision, which is based on justifications related to “the filling of the vacuum”, and to considerations related to “regional balance,” which enabled Israel to convince Obama’s administration to raise the ceiling of military-security coordination with it to levels perceived as being unprecedented and in the context of the modernization of the concept of “Jewish” superiority.

For all those reasons, while the Palestinian authority is not losing hope in the “last chance” negotiations, it will remain blockaded between the Israeli blackmail through the use of the security card as a cover, and the accusations of treason fueled by Hamas and the factions which are undermining the authority’s legitimacy. Mitchell might ask Damascus not to encourage the detracting factions to hinder the negotiations in exchange for a direct American interference to revive the Syrian track and not to relinquish the window of American-Syrian dialogue. However, this does not eliminate the question revolving around the factions’ ability to use the sword they are brandishing to sever the neck of the “masquerade.”

Therefore, between Mitchell’s tours, we might witness the launching of more Palestinian rockets, as well as more Israeli killing of the hostages of the blockade in Gaza… In the meantime, neither Hamas nor any other faction can claim that Abbas sacrificed inter-Palestinian dialogue, as it was buried by the language of the sword between Gaza and Ramallah long before the launching of the “silent” negotiations.


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