Negotiations... Negotiations… Negotiations

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/01/2014 - 16:04

With the return of the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiations table under the auspices of the US, everyone wonders how serious and feasible the talks will be and what their outcome will be--at a time when they themselves expect their failure before their onset. We feel that they went to the talks under US pressure to avoid any blame. We also wonder what the proper Christian attitude towards the peace process is.

Of course we do not interfere in politics, even though it is our daily bread, and even though we suffer from its results day and night. I will give my opinion in this thorny issue though I do not express any official position but I only express my personal opinion in this regard.

Generally speaking, there is no military solution to this conflict at all. Despite its military might, Israel cannot win the battle because no military force in the world no matter how great it is can control the will of a people seeking freedom. The Palestinians, on the other hand, cannot win the battle due to the huge gap in the balance of power, though they have the power of truth. This is indeed what you call a conflict between two arrogant factors, namely the arrogance of military power and the arrogance of the power of truth. Israel relies on the power of arms while the Palestinians rely on the power of truth.

Since there is no person in the world or in history who accepts to remain under occupation for ever, the conflict will consequently continue until a just solution is reached. This is what I call the historical imminence. In other words whatever is based on a big lie or huge injustice or a great injustice is bound to fall apart and end sooner or later. So, there must be an end to this conflict!

Therefore, the parties must sit at the negotiating table to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict once there is the desire and will. But it is merely a waste of time for negotiations to continue for more than 20 years. For instead of facilitating people's lives and solving their problems, the Oslo Agreements only led to negative results, whereby roadblocks increased, Jerusalem was sealed off, the separation wall was built, settlement continued and new facts were created on the ground to impose a fait accompli situation. So, will there be negotiations only for the sake of negotiations as in the preceding ones?

Therefore, an emphasis should be made to avoid falling into the same trap by clarifying the following points:

1) The terms of reference for the negotiations must be specified, namely the resolutions of the international legitimacy and the June 4, 1967 border leading to the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

2) A timetable for the talks and a timetable for the application of the agreements should be set so as not to fall into the trap of Oslo--which was based on the interim solutions thus leading to procrastination and wasting of time. Therefore, the solution should be as fast as possible and once for all.

3) All pending issues should be solved without delay else no solution will then be reached, since postponement leads to further confrontation.

4) Finally, the solution should be imposed on both sides by the international powers without siding with one party against the other so that the international community will be the guarantor to the sound application of whatever is agreed upon. Hereby, we must have the courage and candor and say that the Americans should not alone handle the fate of this region. Europe, Russia, China and the United Nations should be involved to bring about balance in this unbalanced world because of the US monopoly.

After fulfilling all these conditions the negotiations may lead to results. But we know in advance, because we are not simple-minded, that these negotiations will lead to absolutely nothing for the following reasons:

1) Assuming that the cornerstone of the negotiations is the land-for-peace, will Israel pull out of land occupied in 1967?

2) If Israel withdraws what will we do with the 400 settlements built within this territory in which more than half-a-million religious and ideologist fanatics settlers live? Is it possible to persuade them to leave and return to Tel Aviv? Assuming that they will leave, what will we do with the separation wall built within the West Bank, and not along the Green Line which defines the 1967 border? Will it be torn down?

3) Even if solutions are hammered out during the negotiations, will Netanyahu be able to convince his government, parties and people to accept them? Will the "weak" Abu Mazen be able to convince the Palestinians, with the outcome of the talks, particularly Hamas, in light of the Palestinian division between Fateh and Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza?

4) Even if solutions are reached, will Israel accept the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees to live within the border of the State of Israel? Furthermore, if Israel does do not accept their return to their destroyed villages, will they accept to return to the West Bank and forget their original homeland? And where will they be resettled?

5) Even if they reach a solution, will these agreements be implemented in a defined period of time to deport thousands of settlers and consequently resettle millions of returning refugees?

I can continue discussing all the impediments and obstacles standing in the way of reaching a just and comprehensive solution through these negotiations. But I can say briefly and clearly that negotiations are merely illusions and a waste of time. They will lead nowhere for the simple reason that Israel is neither ready for peace nor for withdrawal; this is due to the fact that the Palestinians will not accept further concessions and losses because they there is nothing left to give up. The bottom line: The two-state solution for two peoples has become impossible and not applicable on the ground.

Therefore, these negotiations are merely intended for negotiations. There should be other alternative solutions that can make a breakthrough, else we will remain in a vicious circle of conflict characterised by absurdity that will continue to snowball and further complicate the solution with the passage of time.

I am neither pessimistic nor passive, but I'm realistic and optimistic. They will not give us more than small swathes of land. They are only wasting time. After they conclude erecting the wall, they will say to us: We are here and you are there, stay where you are and leave us in peace. This is what I call a policy of fait accompli. This is what Sharon called "unilateral secession". And this is what Elmer called "compilation plan" i.e. annexation of all large settlement blocs to Israel. Thus, what will they give us? They will give about half the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley area. What remains? isolated swathes of lands lacking contiguity. Who will accept this solution? No one, of course!

So, we are facing a deadlock… walking through a dark tunnel and negotiations without a way out.

Therefore, the conflict will continue and may take one, two or three generations, Thus, more time to waste, more pain, blood, hatred and death!

However, we say sooner or later the rights will definitely be attained. Lord Jesus said: "When you know the truth, the truth shall make you free". When will this come true? Regrettably, this will not be soon... But that will come someday, God willing!

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By Fr. Ra'id Abu Sahliyeh