Notwithstanding the legal opinion submitted by the Foreign Ministry to then prime minister Levi Eshkol of the “Illegality” of sending Jews to settle the West Bank, each of the subsequent Israeli governments whether Labor, Likud or Kadima continued with an aggressive settlement policy through funding, authorization, land confiscation, and army protection, knowing well that Jewish settlements not only will kill the peace, but will kill the chance of any negotiated agreement of a two state solutions based on 67 borders and a shared Jerusalem. Settlement activities continued since 67 and will not stop now or in the future; peace was never a priority neither in Tel-Aviv nor in Washington or for that matter for Diaspora Jews.
Subsequent American administrations Democrats and Republicans moved away and shifted position on settlements watering down opinions and positions from “illegal” to “obstacle to peace” to why not get the Palestinian Ramallah leadership to accept the Jewish settlements as part of a peace deal? The position of the PLO leadership is not so far different from that of the American position or for that matter from the Israeli position. Ramallah continued to negotiate while the other side continued with expanding the settlements, business as usual.
The late Arafat, the fraud, the lie and the not so brilliant he was, always gambled on the “demographic bombs” forgetting that few Israeli bombs can kill thousands of mothers and children and they did on a number of occasions, that an Israeli army order can evict an entire town and exile its people, that an Israeli court order can strip Palestinians of thousands of acres of land. To the Israelis and their allies the Americans, facts on the ground has nothing to do with the Palestinian people or their rights to the land, it has every thing to do with buildings, structures, roads, Walls, barbs wires, settlements and only rights and security for the Jews. That is the fundamental difference between the thinking of Ramallah and that of Tel-Aviv and Washington, and that is why neither Arafat nor the PLO leadership took the issue of settlements seriously and never appreciated the consequences of “facts on the ground”. Any talks in Ramallah of serious efforts or priorities to ending the Occupation are only hearsay.
With this worldview, in Oslo the Palestinian Trio of “Arafat, Abbas and Qurai” did not make ending the Occupation or ending the settlements the core issue, rather they made security for Israel, its army and its armed settlers the core issues and made relieving Israel of the financial burdens of the Jewish Occupation as a pillar of Oslo. The Palestinian leadership was more interested in reviving the financial fortune of the PLO by securing a management contract with Israel and were desperate to revive the fortunes of a failed, corrupt, incompetent leadership through the Palestinian Authority as a platform for revival and resurrection. They went to Oslo lacking comprehensive strategic position on settlements, on ending the Jewish Occupation, let alone any clue of what the occupation means to Israel and to Diaspora Jews.
This reckless management of Oslo shows very well in all the agreement reached with Israel. Under Oslo Israel kept total control (land, people, water, and security) of 58% of the Occupied Territories defined as Area C. I doubt if the Oslo negotiating team understood the consequences of agreeing to such a deal. Area C is where the settlements are and where the Apartheid Wall is and were the water aquifers are in the West Bank. The Oslo team relied only on maps and plans provided by Israel, since the PLO and for over 35 years did not have any time to prepare for any thing, not liberation, certainly not negotiations relying only on a bunch of “zora’an” rather than intellectual and professional heavyweights.
This lack of full understanding and appreciation of the ‘settlement issue” continued till resent day. Arafat refused to negotiate with Begin when there were only 4,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, and all major settlement blocks did not even exists. He waited years and went to Oslo when he knew the West Bank was nearly gone. The PLO leadership continued to negotiate for 18 years while Israel continued to build and expand the Jewish settlements.
The present leadership and present negotiating team never understood the consequences the settlements have on any future state. In Oslo the Palestinian leadership gave full recognition to the State of Israel, a state with open elastic and undefined borders while only accepting Israel recognition of the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people. Israel never recognized the rights of Palestinians to a state let alone recognized their rights to what remained of historic Palestine.
Though they always deny it, a deal on an interim provisional cantonal state with pockets of Arab population here and there was agreed to sometimes ago. All of what we see and hear on the part of the Palestinian leadership is a façade, a masquerade of fraud and lies. The facts on the ground do not lie, the lies are within the leadership that monopolized decision-making entrusting such decision to a hardcore of failed incompetent intellectuals if not parasitic professionals.
Mr. Mahmud Abbas continued to negotiate with Olmert while Olmert accelerated the pace of expanding settlements specially inside and surrounding Jerusalem and we never heard of any complaint from the Palestinian negotiating team that settlements are a make or break issue for the Palestinians why now? The settlements expansion continued and so did the negotiations. In fact, the Palestinian leadership even accepted the idea or principal of ‘land swap” on a 1:1 basis, with the Palestinians giving up prime real-estate in and around Jerusalem for some toxic waste dumps in the Negev south of the Dead Sea with no territorial connections to the West Bank.
We should not be surprised if this same leadership also agreed to a “population swap” swapping the Israeli settlers for Israeli Palestinians. However I am sure the Israeli Arabs are not that stupid to accept such a deal let alone have the reckless incompetent Ramallah leadership represents them in any negotiated deal with Israel.
Of course we all know that settlement activities never stopped during the much-daunted freeze, with permits to construct issued while the so-called “freeze” was on. With bulldozers rolling all over the West Bank and with Yisha Council celebrating the end of “freeze”, calling the settlement freeze “needless and wasted gesture”, with Silvan Shalom, the Israel Vice Minister calling the settlement freeze a “mistake”. Question has to be raised if Mr. Abbas and Mr. Obama were serious about Israel freezing the settlements during the direct negotiations.
These Direct negotiations gave Bibi Netanyahu the chance and photo opportunity much needed to polish his image and take much of the world pressure on Israel as an Apartheid State with successful boycotts and disinvestment. Israel gained so much during this period while simply doing nothing. Settlements continued, targeted assassinations continued, bombings continued, expansion of security checkpoints continued, house demolition continued ethnic cleansing of Arabs from East Jerusalem continued. Facts on the grounds for both Israelis and Palestinians remained the same.
On the other side one hears nothing but stupid, reckless and irresponsible statements and remarks that make no sense coming left and right from the PLO and Fatah leadership accusing Israel of a “demographic war in Jerusalem” accusing Israel of killing the peace, accusing Israel of wasting a golden opportunity. Some newspapers such Alquds even claiming, “Peace Process is at cross road”. Well, the peace process has been nothing but a process, where one side negotiates while the other side simply takes, one side dictates and the other side accept. The Palestinian leadership never really appreciated and fully understood what the Jewish Occupation and what settling the West Bank means to Israel and to Zionism.
It really makes no sense, in fact in never made any sense why the PLO and the Palestinian leadership continue to manage the Jewish Occupation and accepts to pay for it too. It never made sense of why the Arab countries and Europe accepted to fund the Jewish Occupation. Of course by going out and raising the money for the Palestinian Authority, the leadership is in fact paying for the Israeli Occupation and getting Israel off the hook. The Israelis have no reason to complain. The Palestinians are going out begging for the money to fund their Occupation, the Palestinians are going out of their way to train, equip a Palestinian security forces that does provide protection and security for the IDF and armed settlers as they go about killings, robbing, destroying, confiscating, humiliating and otherwise running wild. In fact even the best friends of the Ramallah leadership never even mentioned the name West Bank, always referring to it with its biblical term as Judea and Samaria and never even admitted there is an “occupied’ territories always using the term “disputed”.
I suggest that Mr. Mahmoud Abbas without further delays, announce the disbanding of the Palestinian Authority as a manager and instrument of the Jewish Occupation, announce the disbanding of the PLO as a failed, useless organization both in peace and in war, immediate firing of his negotiating team for their incompetency, unprofessionalism, stupidity and reckless mismanagement of the negotiations, the issues, and the priorities such as ending the Occupation. Mr. Abbas should hand over the “disputed territories” to his negotiating partners Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Obama. I think Mr. Abbas together with his key aids and advisers Saeb Eurikat, Yasser Abed-Rabou, Mohamed Dhalan, Salam Fayyad, Nabil Aburudina; all should form a delegation walk over to Beit El and hand over the keys to the Israeli High Commissioner (Almandoub Alsami Al-Israeli). I do not think the Palestinian people can afford the PLO and its leadership any more. 45 years of utter and absolute failure is more than any people can take. The Arab League should declare the Arab Peace Plan null and void and in the famous word of the late Arafat ” Kaduk” and stop being a useless prop for a fraud and a lie called “peace process”.
By now all of the PLO and Fatah leadership made enough money to enjoy full retirements anywhere it chooses, and it should simply leave the miserable people of the West Bank and Gaza on their own. I am sure they will do much better without having a highly paid incompetent and corrupt leadership.