Monday, February 19, 2007

Saudi's: international support for Palestinian govt.

did we expect anything else; the US-Israel governments rejected the "Unity government formula" arrived at in Mecca under the Saudi King Abdullah.

Saudis call for international support of Palestinian government
02.19.07 / (AFP)

Saudi Arabia calls on the international community and Middle East states in particular to support the new Palestinian unity government.

In an official statement issued by the kingdom countries call on countries with influence over the region to support the joint Fatah-Hamas government, the formation of which was agreed upon with the aid of Saudi Arabia.

ME peace process: Stagnated by design
M Abdul Hafiz / The Daily Star / Feb 20

In 2000, the Palestinians' anger at Ariel Sharon's swagger in Al-aqsa mosque erupted into second Intifada. With that ended the tumultuous road that started from the Madrid peace conference of 1991.

It wound through several phases of the now infamous Oslo accord and finally upto the disastrous camp David-II talks under the auspices of the then US president, Bill Clinton, who himself attempted to coerce late Yassir Arafat into submission for accepting an unjust peace.

Eban came and eclipsed the international quartet's road map for peace. But the second Intifada is still in progress, even without garnering anything worthwhile.

The calculation of the neo-con patrons of Israel that a US military victory in Iraq would itself compel the Palestinians to accept whatever terms for peace Israel would offer to them has, however, gone haywire because that victory in Iraq has proved to be illusory.

Yet Israel's contingency plan was built upon this calculation as she embarked upon the destruction of Hizbullah who, however, in a sharp riposte repulsed the aggressors.

So, after having failed to achieve a decisive victory in Iraq, or to intimidate Iran and destroy Hizbollah, Israel regressed into the policy of heightening its brutal siege of Palestine.

The second Intifada will be etched in history as a time when brutality against the Palestinians at the hand of the Israeli army had been at an all time high.

It was exemplified by Israel's recent offensive against Beil Hanoun in the Gaza strip where, during six days of wanton assault, 79 Palestinians were killed. It was also a time when the Palestinians themselves were caught up in queer contradiction, leaving their friends and foes alike non-plussed.

They keep wondering how a popular rebellion of an historically oppressed group of people could foster so much corruption, disunity and infighting as Fatah and Hamas are now steeped in? How could the same uprising, that fought for peace, justice and life, inspire death and suicide?

The momentous events surrounding the second Intifada have been dissected by scores of political observers and analysts, only to find that the Palestinians' actions including this one, were, at best, manipulative, directed from behind the scenes by Palestinian politicians vying for mere concessions from a vulnerable, beleagured state of Israel.

Sadly, there is nothing spectacular, nothing grand in its objective.

Recognition as a people is a demand for which the Palestinians have struggled for a few generations. At times, Israel completely denied the existence of the Palestinians as a separate nation with exclusive rights and demands.

Golda Maier, in her June 15, 1969, interview with the Sunday Times ominously stated: "There was no such thing as Palestinians. They never existed." It was a direct threat to the Palestinians' identity, with the terrible prospect of their being erased from history.

However, the Palestinians struggled bravely, with a redoubtable Arafat at the helm, to ressurect their threatened identity. Now they are being denied their homeland, a sovereign, independent state-hood on one pretext or other.

In the post cold-war world where the role of the US, the world's sole superpower, as final arbiter of things is, indeed, crucial, particularly when her comprador ally Israel is a party to the conflict.

Yet, not only is she suspect in the eyes of the Palestinians for her clear bias toward Israel, a US administration in thrall of a neocon cabal and the extraordinary lobbying effort of the American Israeli Political Action committee, cannot play an honest broker with integrity.

However, in the past, she perfunctorily nudged the concerned quarters for initiating actions for Palestinian statehood, at least to allay the concerns of her Arab allies. Now, that effort is also in limbo.

The last known American intiative for Palestinian statehood had been the proposition for an international quartet's road map for peace to establish a Palestinian state.

It was accepted by the Palestinians but largely rejected by the Israelis, who now refuse to have any contact with the Palestinian Authority because the last election brought Hamas -- considered terrorists by Israel -- into power. So a deadlock persists.

Nevertheless, there are several other options which are consistent with the key UN resolutions supported by both, the US and Israel.

Then there is official American policy since 1967, strengthened by agreements consummated by Israeli leaders and governments in 1978 and 1993. The Arab league's documents, with an offer to recognise Israel in 2002, had also been a landmark step.

The international quartet's roadmap is still alive. Any one of them, picked up and processed in due earnestness by the concerned quarters, can still lead to Palestinian statehood.

Not only is an initiative lacking -- even summits and negotiations initiated by any quarter would again by dominated by the Israelis from their position of strength.

They would invariably dictate the terms of peace and circumvent international and meaningful interpretation of those terms -- using blackmail and arm-twisting -- with the tacit support, or even active participation of the US, its patronising ally.

In the same way they had succeeded on earlier occasions in extracting Palestinian concessions without halting settlement build-up or easing military restrictions.

The UN has also been an irrelevant world body as far as the Palestinians are concerned. Former US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, often advised Arab delegations not to bother presenting drafts of UN resolutions regarding Israeli actions to the security council, for they would always be vetoed if they failed to condemn Palestinian terrorism.

Now the US vetoes in defence of Israel stand at 85, allowing the latter to pursue whatever destructive policy it wishes to with total impunity.

It is to be understood that the ideological composition of the Palestinian leadership is truly irrelevant as far as Israel's colonial policies are concerned, for Israel's policy was altered little before Hamas' advent to power in January 2006 if compared to its decidedly colonial approach under Arafat or his successor, Mahmud Abbas.

There is always reason to brand Palestinians, always a reason for why Israel's favoured status quo must not be disturbed. And it's this same status quo that continues to suffocate any attempt to negotiate a just settlement of the conflict.

Amid this deliberate stagnation, the Palestinian people are left with no option but to revolt. In fact, Israeli aggression has crossed the traditional boundaries of daily murders and small-scale land confiscation.

Under the deceptive disengagement from Gaza, West Bank lands are being expropriated while Israel's imprisonment or apartheid wall, illegal according ICJ decision of July 2004, is swallowing up whole towns and villages.

This reality, as history teaches, is only a prelude to another popular response which is already echoing in the angry chants of destitute farmers whose lands are being effectively annexed by the encroaching Israeli wall.

Even as the second Intifada is yet to peter out, the exiled political leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashal talked of a third Intfada to be unleashed if establishment of a Palestine state is not effected within six months. Regardless of how historians choose to chronicle these uprisings, they will always be remembered by most Palestinians, as well as by the people of conscience everywhere, as a fight for freedom, human rights and justice.

It will remain a loud reminder that popular resistance is still an option -- and one to be reckoned with at that.