Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Palestine Papers...

....are being leaked over the next few days. Here are a few hasty reactions....

1) Holy crap, the Palestinian Authority was willing to give up that much?! They said Israel could annex several illegal settlements, which would certainly compromise the territorial continuity of a "Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital." Now the PA says screw it. Israel can have what they've laid out in Jerusalem, if it means both parties can set that issue aside and proceed with the talks. This was a major concession.

Also, the PA offered that only 10,000 of the refugees would be allowed to return. This is a symbolic figure, and a pretty useless one at that, because it would surely be rejected by both sides. Israel says no refugees can return, and the refugees would never be satisfied with 10,000. What are they going to do, draw straws? And international law isn't worth diddly. So why did the PA sell out the refugees? I guess it hoped (in vain) that if it gave up more, and more, and more, that at some point Israel would accept an offer.

What compromise is the PA asking for? That Israel not annex Har Houma, Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel. These settlements lie deeper inside the West Bank, and annexing them to Israel would render a the goal of achieving a territorially-continuous Palestinian state impossible. Israel won't dismantle the settlements or let them fall inside a Palestinian state. Condaleeza told Palestinian negotiators they were SOL if they expected either of those options.

2) The Israeli government rejected all of these concessions, and can we finally start talking about why?! Jerusalem is off the table. Refugees are off the table. But it seems more than happy to watch the immediate effect of the release of these Papers, which is that the Palestinians are pretty pissed off at the PA. Pardon the alliteration. So now Al Jazeera is being vandalized, there's more internal strife in the West Bank, Hamas is livid that Fateh (the PA) would bend over so far backwards for Israel, and the Israeli government shines the spotlight on the crazy Pallies while it goes about stealing their land.

Let's take the spotlight off the Palestinian Authority for a moment. The fact that these concessions were rejected further proves that the current Israeli government has no intention of ending the Occupation, but intends to annex all of its settlements and build more deeply inside the West Bank. In fact, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman just drew up a map of his idea of a future Palestinian State, which annexes all of Area C (60% of the West Bank) to Israel, leaving a handful of scattered Palestinian enclaves with no access to privately-owned land in Area C. And he'll throw in some roads for "continuity." This is the same man who said peace is impossible and whose deputy declared that the state of Facebook is more real than the state of Palestine.

This is the argument I find most tragic: The fact that the Palestinian Authority had to hide its offers from the general public means that they don't speak for the Palestinian people. If the people wouldn't approve, then the offers are illegitimate, and unacceptable. But the PA's loss of public esteem is convenient, and absolving for the Israeli government, which could say "well, we might have accepted these terms, but it looks like the Palestinian people themselves have rejected them."

The Palestinian Authority has been humiliated. The fact that it offered so much to Israel is humiliating. But the mainstream media will focus on the Palestinian backlash (oh just give the mic to Hamas...) instead of Israel's rejection. It will focus on the division of Palestinian power instead of settlements, demolitions, and the threat of almost complete annexation. It will focus on the PA's humiliation, without considering the humiliating parameters it's forced to operate within, or that to be an undesirable Palestinian in a Jewish state or one of 5 million stateless refugees, is, in essence, to live in a state of humiliation.

A few other nuggets:
-The then Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, repeatedly pressed in 2007-08 for the "transfer" of some of Israel's own Arab citizens into a future Palestinian state as part of a land-swap deal that would exchange Palestinian villages now in Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank

-Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under George Bush, suggested in 2008 Palestinian refugees could be resettled in South America. "Maybe we will be able to find countries that can contribute in kind," she said. "Chile, Argentina, etc

-Livni told Palestinian negotiators in 2007 that she was against international law and insisted that it could not be included in terms of reference for the talks: "I was the minister of justice", she said. "But I am against law – international law in particular."
The Guardian