Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Palestinian Lecturer: The Palestinians Should Moderate Their Negotiating Positions And Stop Being Rejectionist


In a January 28, 2014 article published by the Palestinian news agency Maan, Professor Muhammad Al-Dajani Al-Daoudi, a lecturer at Al-Quds University, called upon the Palestinians to take more flexible positions rather than reject every Israeli demand or condition, because their nay-saying does not serve their objectives and they might ultimately regret it. He urged them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, agree that East Jerusalem be awarded special international status, consent to the presence of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley, and assent to a demilitarized Palestinian state.
It should be noted that a few weeks ago Al-Daoudi published an article urging the study of the Holocaust in PA schools.[1] Below are translated excerpts from the article:[2]

 Prof. Muhammad Al-Dajani Al-Daoudi 

The Palestinian No's Are Replacing The Three No's of Khartoum

"The Palestinian no's [in the current negotiations with Israel], which have replaced the no's of Khartoum  – no to reconciliation [with Israel], no to recognizing it, and no to negotiations with it [3] – can expect to meet a similar fate [as those of Khartoum]. The first Palestinian no pertains to the Israeli demand or condition regarding recognition of a Jewish state. Why is the Palestinian position so rigid? After all, this Israeli condition has no bearing on the Palestinian Arab, and Islamic memory, conscience, tradition, and narrative regarding the history of the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nor does it have any bearing on the refugees' right of return and their right to receive compensation, or on the 'citizenship' of the Palestinians within the Green Line. [Moreover,] the Palestinians have recognized the State of Israel, [and have therefore also recognized] the Jewishness of the State of Israel, which is implicit in its name. Now that they have recognized Israel, it can be as it wishes – Jewish, secular, democratic, or Christian – why is this any of the Palestinians' concern? What if Israel tomorrow approaches the United Nations and asks to change its name from the State of Israel to the Jewish State of Israel, as a number of countries have done, such as Iran and Libya for example, who requested to add the word 'Islamic' [to their names]? Will the PA oppose this at the United Nations? Will the world take us seriously if we do? 

"The voices in Israel who are behind this demand or this condition want to cause the Palestinians to display greater inflexibility in order to [then] blame them for the failure of the negotiations, as occurred when the U.N.  decision on partition was adopted in 1947. This Israeli condition and demand for [recognizing] a Jewish state is a mirage, and if we lock our gaze on them they will disappear. 

"The second no is connected with East Jerusalem. The reference is to the Old City, within the walls, the religious city that contains the holy places. Why shouldn't it be granted a special international status, where all parties share sponsorship and supervision over it? As for Jerusalem outside the walls, in practice it is [just an ordinary,] non-sacred city. Consecutive Arab and Israeli municipalities annexed [the nonreligious area] to the [holy] city, and it was divided into Israeli Jerusalem and Arab Jerusalem, which are separated by psychological and political barriers but not by any [physical] wall or barrier. The [Israeli] slogan that the city is united does not reflect reality. The Israeli stubbornness is intended to cause the Palestinians to stiffen their [own] positions – so that the talks collapse, Kerry's mission fails, and the peace process is liquidated. 

"The third no is connected to an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, on the border with the Palestinian state. The Palestinians have agreed to [the presence] of any third party whatsoever: NATO, the U.S., the United Nations or an Arab party under the sponsorship of U.N. forces stationed in this area. If the principle of a third party's presence is agreed-upon, then, with the signing of a peace agreement, Israel becomes like any other state. As a matter of fact, its great capacity and expertise will render it better able [than anyone else] it to defend  Palestinian villages and regions, so they do not become fertile ground for terror and so bombs do not [go off] in the markets and mosques on a daily basis, as occurs in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. What is important is that the Israeli forces do not concentrate at the gates of the Palestinian state and [have no authority] to prevent or permit [freedom of movement], as if we were located in one large prison. [In any case,] the presence of a third force on the border in these regions will not protect the Palestinian state against the terror of those hostile parties that are likely to transfer to Palestine the troubles that some peoples in the region are currently suffering. In this context, one must coordinate [positions] with the sister-state Jordan and make Palestinian-Jordanian-Israeli security arrangements, in addition to deploying advanced technological devices to monitor the borders. The military presence of Palestinians, Jordan and Israel, along with the deployment of advanced technological devices to monitor the borders and the establishment of a sophisticated security fence, is the ideal solution for securing the 250-km [Jordan] Valley. No force by itself could seal the border and guarantee sufficient defense against the infiltration of the settled areas by terrorist organizations.

"The fourth no is connected with the Israeli demand that the Palestinian state be demilitarized. Although it momentarily appears as though this demand infringes on Palestinian sovereignty, the future will clarify that it [actually] benefits the Palestinians, because funds will be allocated to building the state and will be channeled to the economy and for ameliorating social conditions, instead of serving security needs. When the Allies, following the Second World War, decided that Japan and Germany had to be demilitarized, Germany and Japan exploited their budgets for the purpose of rehabilitating themselves, and became [two] of the world's giant industrialized countries. Additionally,  it is worth remembering that one of the reasons that led to the fall of the Iranian Shah was the fruitless use of oil profits for acquiring advanced weaponry, instead of [using the monies] to improve the condition of the Iranian people.

It Is A Mistake To Say That All Israelis Hate Peace And All Palestinians Want It

"Compromise is also possible on the other no's. The Palestinian position in the negotiations must conform to the minimal source of authority for the peace process [meaning the 1967 borders, but] without being stubborn or obstinate just in order to show that we reject all flexibility and concessions. If we operate according to this logic we can crown Kerry's mission with success and reach a peace that will guarantee our children's future. 

"It is well known that the two sides are very unequal in force, [and] the Israelis constantly reiterate among themselves: Why should we want peace and give up land after we won the war? Had we lost the war we would have lost everything. Additionally, the Jews suffer from a Holocaust complex, and this induced them to believe in the slogan 'never again.' This is why Kerry built his strategy on the assumption that first of all it is necessary to reach an agreement with the Israelis and afterwards conduct negotiations with the Palestinians to find points of agreement between them, while pressuring both sides to take more flexible positions. He applied the pressure of the Europeans and American Jewry to Israel, and Arab pressure to the Palestinians. If the parties should be so fortunate, Kerry will manage to reach results that will also satisfy the chief negotiators. He has postponed the 11th round [of negotiations] until Israel finishes conducting internal negotiations and then negotiations with Washington, and until the Palestinians formulate their position, and then he will negotiate with them on the results that were obtained in the American-Israeli negotiations.

"The extreme right in Israel wants to torpedo negotiations and blame the Palestinian leadership for the failure, so the U.S. and the Europeans will cease aiding them. If Kerry leaves as a result of his failure, he will have no justification or reason to return to the region, and he will thus leave the Palestinians prey to aggression, settlements and occupation. This is the strategy of the Israeli extremists who are enemies of the peace.

"[However,] I reject the claim that all Israelis are hostile to peace and all Palestinians support it. I agree with the argument that there is a camp that wants peace, which includes both Palestinians and Israelis, versus a camp containing both Palestinians and Israelis that is hostile to peace and seeks to torpedo efforts to attain it. 

"When [former] Egyptian president Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser accepted the plan of [then-]American secretary of state [William] Rogers in 1968, we totally opposed him on the basis of extremist slogans. He left and never returned. When Egypt's former president Anwar Al-Sadat urged us to accompany him to Camp David in 1978 for the negotiations, we followed the extremists and called him a traitor. He went without us and today we regret it. Why shouldn't we draw a lesson from the past [to benefit] our children's future and listen to the voice of the middle way?


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch no. 5589, "Professor At Al-Quds University: The Holocaust Must Be Taught In PA Schools," January 7, 2014.
[2], January 28, 2014.
[3] These three principles were set out by Arab leaders in an August 1967 summit in Khartoum, following the 1967 War.



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