Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do Palestinians want peace?


by  Ami Isseroff

 It's not the first time Palestinian officials or Fateh officials have said frankly that they have no intention of keeping a peace agreement, and probably it won't be the last.  According to Palestinian Media Watch,  Fateh  activist Kifah Radaydeh said,

"Fatah is facing a challenge, because [Fatah] says that we perceive peace as one of the strategies, but we say that all forms of the struggle exist, and we do not rule out the possibility of the armed struggle or any other struggle. The struggle exists in all its forms, on the basis of what we are capable of at a given time, and according to what seems right...

What exactly do we want? It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; and the goal is Palestine. I do not negotiate in order to achieve peace. I negotiate for Palestine, in order to achieve a state." 


The young lady is convincing, engaging and well worth watching. Click to see video if it is not displayed below.


Others have said it much more explicitly in the past. In April of 2006, one "Abu Ahmed,"  Fatah member and leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in northern Gaza was quoted as saying:


The base of our Fatah movement keeps dreaming of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Akko..."  "There is no change in our position. Abbas recognizes Israel because of pressure that the Zionists and the Americans are exercising on him. We understand this is part of his obligations and political calculations."



More recently, in 2009,  Fatah Central Comittee member and PLO representative Abbas Zaki said,


Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.


A recent FAFO poll asked Palestinians what their vision of peace with Israel was. The question and the major responses as FAFO reports:


The survey asked about people's hopes for a future political solution to the conflict with Israel...:

Two states (35 %; Fatah supporters 47 % versus Hamas supporters 21 %)

One Islamic state (33 %; Fatah supporters 17 % versus Hamas supporters 58 %)

One state with equal rights for all (20 %; Fatah followers 22 % versus Hamas followers 12 %)

Only 35% of Palestinians supported a two state solution, while 53% supported one state solutions. 9% "didn't know."

Is it really surprising that Israeli leaders are skeptical about the prospects for peace? Is it possible for even the most sincere advocates of peace, even for pro-Palestinian analysts, to believe that perhaps Palestinians do not want a state, or want a state that Israel  could never accept? Evidently it is, as Sever Plocker points out.

Can we understand that it is legitimate, in these circumstances, and in view of the experience of the Second Intifada, to be at least somewhat skeptical about the possibility of achieving peace with the Palestinians?  Can we admit that not every Israeli politician who is not eager for peace negotiations and optimistic about the outcome, and who is not willing to put their political career on the line in order to back another round of disastrous negotiations, is necessarily a "right wing ultranationalist extremist?"  

From his point of view, US President Barack Obama needs to take into account the possibility that if the Palestinians don't want a two state solution, they will never agree to any peace proposals. He will have forced numerous concessions from Israel  but still will not get peace in the Middle East. The Arabs will blame the United States and Israel, and the usual people in the United States will blame Israel.

That does not mean that we should not try. Let the failure be blamed on the Palestinians if there is to be a failure. But let's keep our eyes open.

Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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