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Facing inevitable dead end

Mar 06,2018 - Last updated at Mar 06,2018

If what was published last Monday on the electronic Arabic daily, “Rai Al Youm," about Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is accurate, then he must have finally reached the same conclusion his predecessor Yasser Arafat did towards the end of both his political as well as his real life.

Both Palestinian leaders had relentlessly, though aimlessly, meandered for decades in similar political tunnels panting behind the mirage of peace, offering concessions, declaring very moderate peace plans and massive compromises, assuring the Israelis of their pacifist credentials, negating their legitimate rights to struggle for liberation and statehood, begging for international fairness and banking on the good well of their very oppressors and occupiers, in the hope that some light would eventually appear at the end.

There was no light, rather and quite ironically, there were dozens of glaring signs all along the negotiated tunnels, warning of a “dead end” and, yet, both leaders had chosen to overlook. Both tunnels were tightly blocked. Both leaders decided to go all the way to the dead end and end there. In the meantime, many precious years, indeed decades, were wasted, many lives were lost, many devastating wars were waged and many tragedies were caused, not just for the Palestinian victims of this gross historic injustice but for the entire region as well.

Addressing Fateh Revolutionary Council in Ramallah at the beginning of this week, Abbas, according to Al Rai Al Youm report, seems to have realised that his negotiating strategy has ended in total failure and while referring to the US ultimate deal, he told the council that he will not end his life with treason and he will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas informed council members that his appearance with them could be the last, adding that the Americans could announce their deal however and whenever they may wish, but “nothing will happen other than what we want”.

There is no reason whatsoever not to believe that Abbas’ rejection of the ultimate deal is firm and serious. No one in his right mind would even consider what is on offer. It is true that all we know about the ultimate deal so far is based on leaks and floated unofficial ideas. But it is also true that the final version, once announced, if ever, will not be much different.

Neither did I ever expect anything different, as I repeatedly argued on this page, not only by judging the capacity and the allegiance of the American team working on the ultimate deal, but also by recognising the limits of the US policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, known to be totally committed to Israel’s demands, however excessive and illegal.

The conclusion that PA President Abbas has just reached has been well known for years. During his arduous march in pursuit of a settlement based on the two-state slogan and the rest of the peace process mantra, Israel was matching its open disregard for all the empty peace processing talk with a massive colonisation scheme on the ground openly and practically, eliminating any prospect for the rise of a Palestinian state on any amount of land.

Why did the Palestinian leadership, all along, fail to heed the many Israeli defiant warnings, opted for ignoring the fast changing realities on the ground and resisted all hints indicating hypocrisy and timorousness of the so-called international community, is hard to tell. The only explanation is that any recognition of such realities would have required radical change of Palestinian liberation strategy, which the Palestinian leadership was not ready for, and may not be ready yet.

It is hard to predict the direction any current or future Palestinian leadership may decide to take to exit the prevailing political chaos. The options are very limited. The legacy of decades of accumulated failures, blunders, loss of direction, incompetence and often sheer political opportunism require massive effort to clear the mess first. That may consume any energy and any political potential that may still be available. 

Uncertainty is the only certainty under the present and the severely complex circumstances and the mounting challenges.

However, the Abbas rejection of the ultimate deal, as known, is a very significant step. It will not only block the Palestinian door before it, but any other back doors as well.

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