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Palestinian Leaders: Live with us in ONE State (and be very afraid)

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A government, or an elected authority, must act in the best interest of its people. It wouldn’t be easy to argue that Fatah always had the Palestinians’ best interests in mind in the past – or that the leaders will take their peoples’ interests into account in the future. But the Palestinian Authority might be in the process of finding a very effective position in the stalled peace process with Israel.

When Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office on March 31 this year, the Obama administration called on his government to halt all settlement building. But when confronted with Netanyahu’s blank refusal, Washington changed its stance and suggested that the most important thing was to get the negotiations going again. The BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent’s interpretation was that “on the issue of settlements, the Obama administration blinked first”.

Up to now, it seemed that lodging protests was the only option the Palestinian Authority had, apart from calling yet another Intifada, which would do nothing to make life in the West Bank any easier. Instead, PA president Mahmoud Abbas may simply not run for re-election in January.

To some extent, this may just be a face-saving operation, because it is hard to see how there could be valid elections in the West Bank and in Gaza anyway, if Hamas simply refuses to take part in them. And Abbas’ decision may not yet be final.

But there is a bigger picture behind Abbas’ reluctance to run again. In response to statements made by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday, in which she rejected the Palestinians’ demand for a full cessation of settlement construction as a precondition for the resumption of peace talks with Israel, both Abbas and PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat suggested that Fatah could abandon the idea of a two-state solution, and a one-state solution could become an alternative. After all, with as many Israeli settlements as there were in the West Bank now, a Palestinian state wouldn’t be viable.

This could turn out to be the smartest approach Palestinian leaders have taken in six decades. Let’s live together in one state, Mr Netanyahu, and we’ll outnumber and outvote your people before you can spell roadmap.

Then again, Fatah isn’t exactly the African National Congress. The ANC, in principle anyway, respected the human rights of all South Africans, whites included, and people, no matter to which ethnic group in South Africa they belonged, were never as broadly and deliberately targeted and killed, as Jewish people were in sucicide attacks before the building of the “security fence”.

If Fatah manages to make a one-state-solution plausible to a global public, and to paint Israel’s government as some kind of Apartheid regime, things could become very uncomfortable for Mr Netanyahu and his government. But that would require that the Palestinians respect the human rights of Jewish people, just as they demand respect for their own human rights. Every suicide attack would mute the effects of Palestinian propaganda.

And so far, too many Palestinians still argue that injustices are done to them  Muslims, i.e. as members of the global Ummah, rather than stating the violation of Palestinian individuals’ rights: children, women, and men – no matter if they are Muslims, Christians, “Infidels”, or whatever.

The Muslim-solidarity appeals may earn them sympathies – and some support – from Morocco to Indonesia, but not in North or South America, in Europe, or in East Asia.

Anyhow, the Palestinian leadership would have reasons to drop the two-state solution. If  Washington can’t even persuade the Israeli government to freeze the settlements for the duration of peace talks, there is little chance that America can play the role of an honest broker in the actual negotiations. And in the absence of negotiations, the demographic factor might be working for the Palestinians.

That would be a lousy perspective for the individual Palestinians. But so would be “peace negotiations” without effective mediation.


Written by taide

November 6, 2009 at 5:49 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Latest Middle East Peace Initiative… By justrecently … comes from Ramallah, and somehow looks like a one-state […]

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