by Enver Masud
Mahmoud Abbas was elected Palestinian Authority president by a wide margin
last Sunday, January 9. Now Palesinians expect him to improve their
increasingly desperate living condtions, and Israel expects him to put an
end to attacks on Israelis.
We don't envy Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen, his job.
Unlike the upcoming election in Iraq, Palesinians outside the West Bank and
Gaza were not permitted to vote.
Of the estimated 9 million Palestinians worldwide, about 3 million live in the
West Bank and Gaza, about 1.4 million were eligible to vote, and about
700,000 actually voted.
And in an apparent effort to forestall gains by Hamas in Palestinian
elections, the Israeli army arrested several potential candidates just days
before the election.
So Abu Mazen doesn't exactly have a mandate from the Palestinians.
He also does not appear to have the support of either the United States
and/or Israel without which he is powerless to improve living conditions for
Nobel peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Nelson
Mandela have likened Israel to apartheid South Africa.
And in as much as the Israeli occupation of Palestine is the catalyst for
attacks on Israelis, Abbas can do little to change that - Israel can.
Besides an early improvement in their living conditions, Palestinians expect
a Palestinian state along the lines of the 1967 borders, and a just solution
for the Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
Israel, it seems, is less interested in peace, than in driving the remaining
Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza.
However, a growing movement within Israel and the U.S. might move Israel
toward a just solution for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Abu Mazen needs to spell out an unambigous vision for this just solution.
Were he to, under pressure from the U.S. and Israel, sign away Palesinian
rights, it won't bring peace to either the Israelis or Palestinians.
So Abu Mazen, absent U.S. pressure for a just solution to the Palestine
problem, can choose to be Israel's new "security subcontractor," or be
sidelined like former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.
"Israel and Palestine timeline," The Guardian (UK)
Enver Masud, "Justice, Not
Compromise, on Jerusalem," The Wisdom Fund, September 4, 2000
wins overwhelming victory in Gaza vote," Haaretz, January 28, 2005
[Settlements - Jewish colonies for Jews, and Jews only, on Arab land - were
not, of course, discussed yesterday. Nor was East Jerusalem. Nor was the
"right of return" of 1948 refugees. These are the "unrealistic dreams" that
were referred to by the Israelis yesterday.
All this will be discussed "later" - as they were supposed to be in Abbas's
hopeless Oslo agreement. As long as you can postpone the real causes of war,
that's OK. "An end to violence," that has cost 4,000 deaths - it was all
said yesterday, minus the all-important equation that two-thirds of these
were Palestinian lives. Peace, peace, peace. It was like terrorism,
terrorism, terrorism. It was the sort of stuff you could buy off a
supermarket shelf. If only.
At the end of the day the issues were these. Will the Israelis close down
their massive settlements in the West Bank, including those which surround
Jerusalem? No mention of this yesterday. Will they end the expansion of
Jewish settlements - for Jews, and Jews only, across the Palestinian West
Bank? No mention of this yesterday. Will they allow the Palestinians to have
a capital in Arab East Jerusalem? No mention of this yesterday. Will the
Palestinians truly end their "intifada" - including their murderous suicide
bombings - as a result of these non-existent promises?--Robert Fisk, "There
Will Be No Middle East Peace Without Justice; At No Point,"
Independent, February 9, 2005]
[But the bitter reality is that nothing has changed. The new "peace plans"
are no more real than the previous ones, and on the ground, the Palestinians
are losing more of their land and are being pushed into smaller and smaller
prison enclaves, surrounded by the new wall that Sharon's government keeps
constructing.--Tanya Reinhart, "From Aqaba to
Sharm: Fake Peace Festivals," The Electronic Intifada, February 11, 2005]
Chris McGreal, "Hidden
costs of Israel's occupation policies," Guardian, February 25, 2005
'plans W Bank homes boom'," BBC, February 25, 2005
Conal Urquhart, "Tel
Aviv bomb rocks peace process," Guardian, February 26, 2005
Greg Myre, "Israel to Expand Largest West Bank Settlement," New York Times, March 22, 2005
[I have no illusions about Sharon's intentions as far as the West Bank is
concerned. He intends to annex 58% of it and leave the Palestinians in
several enclaves, each of which will be surrounded by settlements and
military installations. At most, in order to satisfy Bush's demand for
"contiguity", the enclaves will be connected by bridges and tunnels.
This will be a struggle between the majority, which is mostly secular,
mostly liberal and mostly democratic, against a fanatic minority that is
mostly very nationalistic, very religious, messianic and, basically,
anti-democratic, preferring the decrees of their rabbis to the laws of the
Knesset. The results will not only decide whether we shall move towards
peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world, but also what will be the
character of the State of Israel itself.--Uri Avnery, "Paved with bad
intentions," Gush Shalom, March 26, 2005]
VIDEO: Produced and Directed by Dan Setton, "Israel's
Next War?," Frontline, April 5, 2005
Card for 109th Congress (2005-2006)," endtheoccupation.org, April 21, 2005
Avi Shlaim, "Withdrawal
is a prelude to annexation: US hypocrisy is not new but Condi Rice has taken
it beyond chutzpah," Guardian, June 22, 2005
[The report provides the most detailed and remorselessly critical account
yet produced by a Western international body of Israel's policy in East
Jerusalem, which has been occupied since its seizure in the 1967 Six Day
War.--Donald Macintyre, "Secret
EU report launches scathing attack on Israel," Independent, November 25, 2005]
Henry Siegman, "He never
intended an equitable solution in Israel," Observer, January 8, 2006
[The United States, entangled in Iraq, has signaled that the canton plan may
be seen as the implementation of the Palestinian state--Meron Benvenisti,
second 'big plan'," Haaretz, January 13, 2006]
Nadav Shragai, "Marzel urges IDF
to assassinate Uri Avnery," Haaretz, March 21, 2006
Ibrahim Barzak, "Hamas
-Fatah Violence Continues in Gaza," Guardian, May 9, 2006
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, "Egypt transfers arms
to Fatah, with Israel's approval," Haaretz, December 28, 2006
Told Lieberman: 'Choke Hamas'," IsraelNN.com, December 29, 2006
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