Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Abbas's glory moment may be just that

If you want to avoid any engagement of the possible, keep insisting that your adversary recognise the impossible.

Benjamin Netanyahu is the Israeli exponent, par excellence, of that duplicitous tactic.  And Barack Obama is always reliably on-hand to ensure that the deceit is efficiently stage-managed.

No negotiations can take place, Netanyahu insists, without Palestinian endorsement of Israel as a Jewish state. 

Palestinian acceptance of such a state would, of course, mean not only the abandonment of UN Resolution 194, the right of return, it would also be a ratification of Israeli apartheid, signing-away any claim to equal, democratic rights of the 20 per cent Arab Palestinians currently inside Israel.

As the Palestine Papers show, Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have already revealed their willingness to 'do the impossible' in giving away such Palestinian rights.

Yet, even he sees the dire fallout for the PA on the Arab Street from recognising Israel as a Jewish state.

Just think for a moment about this staggering demand. Imagine, say, an emerging independent Scotland asking other countries to recognise it as a Protestant, Catholic or otherwise Christian state.

Yet, as the Middle East and its Arab Spring press for real democratic constitutions, Israel wants to push further down the theocratic road, denying non-Jews the same democratic and civil rights as Jews.

Even if the Palestinians did recognise such a state, Israel would still find some other precondition to stall and dissemble.  The greatest 'fact on the ground' is that Israel has no intention of ceding an inch of the West Bank or Jerusalem.  And no amount of diplomatic window dressing can disguise that truth.

Although Mahmoud Abbas surely sees the ways in which Israel and the US are using the standard call for a 'negotiated settlement' - with that 'Jewish state' demand  - to bluster and delay, he still shows a subservient willingness to engage in a fixed and dominated game.

As Frank Barat comments:
"While it is easy to understand the PA’s motivations in making a move at the UN — taking matters for the first time in a long time into their own hands, not succumbing to pressure, making a statement — it has unfortunately very little chance to make any real difference on the ground. By going to the UN, the PA continues to accept the rules of its master/oppressor."
While Abbas may have returned triumphantly from the UN, his statehood bid has, conveniently, been kicked into the diplomatic long grass, with the US now threatening disinvestment against the West Bank unless he gets back to the same posturing negotiations.

This is where the politics of dependency, old party survival and international stagecraft all combine to 'create' more of the same stasis, nothing of substance, serving the hegemonic fiction of Washington and the rest of the Quartet as determined 'solution seekers' and 'honest brokers'.

For Jonathan Cook, this latest key shaming of Washington as the ever-ready protector of Israel may have provided a moment of glory for Abbas, but, as reality bites, it also signals the gathering demise of the "old guard" Palestinian Authority which, as a product of the Oslo process, will now become its inevitable "casualty".

And from this dialectic an emerging new-blood is now rising above the old, tired politics, refusing to engage those controlling entities.  As Cook puts it:
"Instead we are entering a new phase of the conflict in which the US, Europe, and the UN will have only a marginal part to play. The Palestinian old guard are about to be challenged by a new generation that is tired of the formal structures of diplomacy that pander to Israel’s interests only.
The young new Palestinian leaders are familiar with social media, are better equipped to organise a popular mass movement, and refuse to be bound by the borders that encaged their parents and grandparents. Their assessment is that the PA – and even the Palestinians’ unrepresentative supra-body, the PLO – are part of the problem, not the solution. 
Till now they have remained largely deferential to their elders, but that trust is fast waning. Educated and alienated, they are looking for new answers to an old problem. 
They will not be seeking them from the countries and institutions that have repeatedly confirmed their complicity in sustaining the Palestinian people’s misery. The new leaders will appeal over the heads of the gatekeepers, turning to the court of global public opinion. Polls show that in Europe and the US, ordinary people are far more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than their governments.
The first shoots of this revolution in Palestinian politics were evident in the youth movement that earlier this year frightened Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas into creating a semblance of unity. These youngsters, now shorn of the distracting illusion of Palestinian statehood, will redirect their energies into an anti-apartheid struggle, using the tools of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. Their rallying cry will be one person-one vote in the single state Israel rules over."
Obama, in his default-line defence of Israel, told the UN that there can be "no shortcut" to statehood for the Palestinians. When all the raised expectations of Abbas's statehood bid subside, a more useful reality will surface: that there can be no shortcut to ending the occupation and delivering a true state of peace, democracy and equal human rights.


No comments: