Today, I am reminded once again of a Turkish friend’s little analogy; if an Arab and a Turk were to fight, it is very likely that the Arab would win, if two Arabs and two Turks were to fight, the outcome would be uncertain, but if three Arabs and three Turks were to fight, the Turks would always win, because the Arabs would fight among themselves !
Apparently “Palestinian President” Mahmoud Abbas has asked the Israelis to hold up the release of 230 Palestinian prisoners until he returns from the Haj as he wants to welcome them personally.(1) The evidence would appear to suggest that Israel has no problem with that and they will allow their “negotiating” partner his little success. After all, this is the man who they can talk to, who will give them their little “final solution”. Indeed, down in Mecca, Abbas still finds time to blame his “real” enemy, ‘Hamas’, for the fact that there will be no pilgrims from Gaza this year.(2) ‘Hamas’, in a huff because the pilgrims had to register not through them but through the Palestinian Authority, is, of course, not blameless.(3) Here, we have a self-declared Islamic government denying Muslims the possibility to fulfill one of their five obligations as stated in the ‘Koran’. The Israelis must be laughing their heads off and it is no surprise then that 20 prisoners who were on an original list of 250 will have to stay in prison instead of being released into Gaza.(4) Still waiting for Abbas to tell his “negotiating” partner that this is unacceptable.
These people just don’t get it, do they? With ‘Hamas’ harking on about an Islamic state how can they reach out not only to Palestinian Christians and other minorities but also to those Muslims who do not want to be governed by ‘Sharia’ law; here they might learn from the Hezbollah who originally intended to transform the Lebanon into an Islamic republic but later abandoned this goal with Nasrallah quoted as saying, “We believe the requirement for an Islamic state is to have an overwhelming popular desire, and we’re not talking about fifty percent plus one, but a large majority. And this is not available in the Lebanon and probably never will be”(5) It is extremely doubtful whether you would find this majority among Palestinians, meaning the Palestinians in the occupied territories and in the diaspora. Added to the ‘Hamas’ failure to see Palestine as it is, we also have the PA “at war” with a ‘Hamas’ government that won 76 of the 132 seats in its, the PA’s, own 2006 parliamentary elections in the occupied territories. Therefore, with the Palestinians in the diaspora and in Israel itself having no real representation, the question has to be asked, what can be negotiated with the Israelis? A two-state solution, in my opinion, would require Israel’s withdrawal from all of the territories occupied since 1967, in accordance with UN Resolution 242, and that includes all of the settlements built on the West Bank and around East Jerusalem. These settlements could then be given as compensation to those Palestinians who want to claim that right of return that is embodied in UN Resolution 194, compensation would have to be paid to those in the diaspora who didn’t want to return, in exchange the Palestinians and Arabs would have to accept the state of Israel and its Jewish character providing that that state made a very real provision for the protection of the Palestinian minority who chose to remain there, while renouncing its Zionist project and its own absurd “right of return” for people who are born all over the planet and hold citizenship of the country of their birth.
The above should be the minimum aims of any Palestinian negotiating team. Furthemore, Palestine does not belong to the PA or to ‘Hamas’, it is not some sort of homogeneous entity that can be moulded into an Islamic republic and it is not a collection of “Bantustans” in the West Bank. That means that it is that wealth of diverse Palestinian talent, in the occupied territories, in the diaspora and, yes, in Israel itself, that has to be pooled together to pursue the goals I have just mentioned. This, is a diverse array of talent, with varying interests. However, the one interest they all share is first and foremost a desire to solve the dilemma that all of the Palestinian people have found themselves in for the last sixty years. That is to realise the aspirations of the Palestinian people to their own state. If the little analogy at the beginning of the story, is to lose, at least, some of its substance, the Palestinians must look to real unity and Palestinian unity is what the Israelis fear most.
The picture shows Palestinian children in Hebron in January 2007 protesting against the fighting between Hamas and Palestinian Authority forces. Don’t these kids have enough to deal with with the zealous, xenophobic, zany settlers attacking them?
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