Walid Salem

Walid Salem

Walid Salem is a Member in the Palestinian National Council of PLO, teaching democracy and human rights at AlQuds University. He is a writer of thirty books and training manuals, and tens of research papers on Democracy, civil society, citizenship, refugees, and Jerusalem.

It was an uprising with all its meaning. This is what happened in the events of the 14th to the 28th of last July, where the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" took place.

All the five features of the first Intifada existed:

First:Participation between all generations and ages, between the sexes, between all classes, social groups, professions and local communities, between Muslims and Christians among our people, between Palestinians of Jerusalem and Palestinians inside the Green Line, between religious and secular. Between the field leadership and the street,

All participated together to protect our national existence, and its meaning embodied in the image and structure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Secondly, and third:National unity, solidarity and cohesion: unite all behind national United  slogans: the slogans of factions were not raised, and the compitition between everyone to provide food and drinks and other needs of the protesters without waiting for any support or funding. Every one was following the decisions of the four Shiekhs, the sound was one and the act was the same.

Fourth, the characteristic of continuity and communication as a reflection of national resilience , self-esteem, and a high sense of dignity, was expressed by the absence of refraction in the face of the repression of the occupation and its daily attacks on the protesters. And what amazed the Israeli police that the number of protesters was increasing day after day despite all the use of the methods of repression and abuse. After each "meal" of oppression , the number of protestors increased. After the next "meal" of oppression, it increased more and more. Perhaps this was the main factor that made the occupation forces retreat in the face of the high psychological resilience  and the unrelenting willingness to give to our people.

Fifthly, the characteristic of the peaceful and non violent  nature of the Intifada, and the measures of the occupation have not changed its course. The preservation of this character has enabled the continued participation of all groups, despite their varying capabilities, and has enabled the world to stand by and support the creative approach adopted by the Intifada participants.

Therefore, we have experienced an Intifada, not measured by the number of days, but measured by its qualities, and what it achieved:

In the context of what has been achieved, many are trying to limit what has been achieved, which is only to prevent the occupation government from imposing electronic gates and surveillance cameras. This flawed view has not been able to take into account the following Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and international results:

Let us start with a Palestinian: a living model has emerged here, and an additional glimmer of examples of what popular resistance can achieve, a model whose lessons and mechanisms will be absorbed and replicated elsewhere. Unfortunately, this model has not yet affected both sides of the divide, leading them to unity.

On the other hand, the Arabs were forced to hold an extraordinary meeting of the ministers of Forwign Affairs on the subject, and Jordan stood on its feet to follow up the event as well as other Arab countries. It is important also to say that those who were thinking of normalizing their relations with Israel would think now and after the Al-Aqsa Intifada a thousand times before they take such steps.

On the popular Arab and Islamic level, we have seen the demonstrations of anger that have taken place in Amman, Istanbul and many other Arab and Islamic capitals and cities.

Europe: At the beginning, European countries called on "the parties to exercise restraint and not to be dragged into violence," according to their statements, but later, as the nature of the matter became a further step to impose full Israeli control of Jerusalem, there was a change in the European position, which called on the preservation of " The Religious and Historical Status of Al-Aqsa Mosque: The Status Quo ".

The problem was in the US position, which completely adopted Netanyahu's speech on the need for electronic doors and cameras to ensure its security, so America chose to work to ensure the security of the occupation, as an alternative to work to end it.

In this context, there is a need to speak with the Americans in order to understand that the Al-Aqsa Intifada must make them think a thousand times before taking the foolish step of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Al-Aqsa Intifada has achieved all these results. What remains important is the continuation of the popular struggle for the accumulation of other achievements, such as the end of the provocative settlers' incursions into the Aqsa Mosque, the cessation of settlement expansion and others as steps on the way to end the longest settler colonial occupation of the last century.

 
Any serious analysis of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict subsequent to the Israeli elections of the 17th of March, will not take the results of those elections as a point of departure, as if these results represent a starting point for a new path. The " new" path was there all the while since the Israeli occupation started in 1967, and ever since one can witness a process of colonization that went on systematically, regardless of the party that was ruling Israel.
This colonization process is practiced since 1967 via five methods that were implemented in different ways during the 48 years that passed since 1967:
First: the colonization of the place, space, territory, and all the land( Judization process). Second: changing the shape of the landscape.Third: displacement,  mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing to tens of thousands of Palestinians. Fourth: the replacement process of Jewish colonizers in the Palestinian Territories in the expense of those Palestinians displaced( the Israelization process). Fifth, The isolation of the Palestinians that were not displaced in fragmented enclaves that are disconnected from each other by the Israeli colonies that exist between each one and the other, or by the separation wall, or by the prevention of freedom of access between the three areas of West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem through the closure system.
These colonization procedures are combined with ethnographic ones. The latter is not excluded to the ethnic cleansing that is taking place only, but it also includes the definition of those isolated in enclaves in different way by each enclave and the other, and as less than Palestinian citizens: in this since the Israeli imposed law considers the Palestinian Jerusalemites to be as " Jordanian citizens residing permanently in Israel", a definition that continued also after Oslo declaration of Principles of 1993. While the West Bank people were considered before Oslo to be "Jordanian citizens residing in areas administered by Israel", and after Oslo they became" Palestinian residents in areas that are under dispute". In regard to the Gazans they were considered prior to Oslo to be " People with unknown nationality residing in areas administered by Israel", and they became to be considered after Oslo as " Palestinian residents in a Palestinian territory".
Upon these categorizations, Gaza of its space that exceeds only a little bit more than one percent of the historical Palestine, is the Palestinian State, according to the Israeli policies. Some add to it Jericho based on 1994 Cairo agreement, and Jenin based on Sharon dismantling of the Israeli colonies there similar to Gaza in 2006.
These Israeli policies continued from 1967 till today regardless of which party/ coalition that was ruling Israel.
In the last Israeli elections, the policies above expressed them selves, also some parties went further building on them towards sustaining the Israeli control over the Palestinian Territories and move from that point to the point of annexation. the programs of the Likud and the right wing parties towards Palestine for the last elections ranged for example between the idea of de facto annexation and de jure  annexation of Area C of West Bank representing 64 Percent of the size of all West Bank. While the Zionist Camp program spoke about a Palestinian State with land swap, keeping the Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley, Annexing the big settlements blocks to Israel, and keeping Jerusalem as the United capital of Israel, while an" arrangement" for the Palestinians to be agreed upon through negotiations. Both the Zionist Camp, the Likud and the right wing Parties agreed on that" no single Palestinian refugee", will be allowed to return to Israel, accordingly to Tzipi Livni's article Failure Not An Option in the special Haaretz magazine for the Israel conference on Peace; and Herzog's policies as the policies of the ZU highlighted in the following piece in the Times of Israel: http://www.timesofisrael.com/from-annexation-to-right-of-return-what-the-parties-say-about-the-palestinians/
 
It can be concluded Then that the  big political parties in Israel programs did not include the minimum that the Palestinians can live with, further than that some positions of the Zionist Camp gave priority to a war against Hamas or Hizbollah on reaching an agreement with the Palestinian authority, moreover they spoke about a framework agreement rather than a final agreement( Livni), (Apo: Quotation from her speech in Haaretz Conference when she said that there or she hope that a framework agreement will be reached) or about another long period of three years of negotiations without a guarantee what the results will be, and without a commitment to freeze the settlement expansion in the big settlement blocks and in East Jerusalem during the negotiations)( Apo: Quotation from Herzog speeches please),  One also will remember Ms Livni idea of 2007 of getting to a framework agreement that will be put in the drawers, and will not be implemented till Hamas regime in Gaza being dismantled.
Therefore the Israeli elections included roughly two camps: one that is clear on his ideas ranging between de facto or de jure annexation, and the second looks for negotiations but is not presenting the minimum requirements that the Palestinians can accept in order to go back to negotiations.
Some Might argue that if the Zionist Camp succeeded, this might created a situation were a bargaining process might took place leading subsequently to a compromise that will result with the resumption of the negotiations.The Arab List inside the Israeli Knesset would also played a role in creating such compromise in case that the Zionist Camp will need their support to his coalition from outside.
While such a thought presented a possibility that might happened if the Zionist Camp succeeded in the elections, leading subsequently to the resumption of the negotiations, but still such negotiations as the history of the Israeli Palestinian negotiations shown cannot guarantee that an agreement will be achieved given the content of the program of the Zionist Camp presented above that cannot meet the minimum requirements of the Palestinians. 
A better way after 25 years of negotiations starting with the 8 rounds of talks in Washington in 1990, will be by having a clear cut positions, and not the so called " constructive ambiguity formulas" that are capable to resume the negotiations, but are not capable to reach agreements. Many attempts and failures were already made, and there are no space any more for another failure.
Such a better way can be achieved by using the Arab Peace Initiative as a point of departure for a UN Security Council resolution that will create a mechanism for the creation of the Palestinian State besides Israel and on 1967 borders, using tools and procedures that will make Israel move forward regardless to its rejectionist position towards the API and the ending of the occupation.
Around The Arab Summit in Cairo of the 28th   29th of March, the API has become " the only game in town" with the potential to move the Israeli Palestinian track forward. Moreover, the Arab Foreign Ministers gave their support to a UN SC resolution for the API on March 10th 2015 with reaffirmation by the Arab League during the Arab Summit on March 29th 2015, coupled with the announcement by Saudi King Salman Ibn Abdelaziz for a UN Security Council resolution for the implementation of the API and a creation of a special UN envoy to see through with the API's implementation.
To approach the implementation effectively, the components of the resolution can include:
 1. Two states based on 1967 borders with agreed upon equal borders modifications and not only reciprocal ones.
2. Go beyond the unilateral recognition of Israel as a Jewish state controversial issue by the Recognition of the attachments and narratives of both the Israelis and Palestinians, with an arrangement that will respect the aforementioned attachments and narratives.
3. Sovereignty of Jerusalem should not be excluded to one party.
4. Reciprocal security arrangements that meet the requirements of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. 
5. An agreed upon solution the refugee problem in accordance to the UN Resolution 194.
The resolution can include conditions for effective execution:
 
                 1. Commencing with an international conference for peace that will create mechanism for follow-up on the time-framed negotiations; the mechanism will include cooperation between Quartet countries and the Arab League with Jordan and Egypt.
 
                  2. During the negotiations, both sides must fulfill obligations according to previous agreements. The International community will have its disposal tools and procedures to be used against the party(ies) that does not meet its obligations or is unable to go forward with the resolution's implementation. 
 
                   3. The implementation of the resolution will be supported by a follow-up committee that will bridge communication between the Arab League, Quartet, and the parties; while Jordan and Egypt- due to their diplomatic relations with Israel- will communicate between Israel and the Arab League. 
incentives to be provided to the Palestinians to the effect of accepting Palestine as a full-member to the UN.  Additionally, to allow Palestinian reconciliation to be implemented, build Gaza, and create Palestinian facts on the ground in East Jerusalem and Area C of West Bank, and the linking of the West Bank and Gaza; moreover, the tasks of the Quartet office in Jerusalem to be transformed to be equipped with such transformative tasks that will create a symmetry in the ground between the two sides of the conflict. 
As such, one will highly consider the reports coming from New York regarding a possible Quartet process of activating the API as a basis for a resolution on the bi-lateral Israeli-Palestinian track.
The only way out of impasse looks to be a Quartet based plan that will start with a new UNSC clear cut resolution that will be implemented with or without negotiations leading to two States Solution. Russia as an active member in the Quartet might play an important role in that direction.
 


Alongside the damage created by the latest and still-ongoing war between the Palestinians and the Israelis, one can see that the Arab Peace Initiative is gaining more ground this time not as a point of departure for a comprehensive Middle East solution, but as an umbrella for a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf countries seem to be ready to play an active role in that direction. 

The latest war that started in West Bank on the 3rd of June 2014- directly after the abduction of the three young Israeli settlers- and then moved to Gaza, was one that was possible to be avoided if the Israeli government did what democratic countries do with such an event of the abduction of the three young settlers- that is by searching for the assailants and bring them to justice. Instead, the Israeli government launched a big campaign of invasion and detention in West Bank and East Jerusalem, while the Israeli extremists killed the young Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir which by itself created the solidarity of the non-Hamas factions in Gaza whom started launching rockets against Israel, with Hamas later on joining after its Al-Qassam Brigade fighters were killed by a shelling of an Israeli jet. This also happened in a period when Hamas showed more moderation by supporting from the oustide a technocratic government that President Abbas composed and accepted the PA’s return to Gaza. 

It was a war of choice, initiated after the failure of the Kerry Initiative to get the two sides to an agreement. Kerry himself warned several times that violence might erupt if his initiative failed. 

It is also not a war against Hamas; it is a war against the Palestinians, with the aim of pushing them to accept the status quo of continuous occupation of the West Bank, and the control of Gaza strip and keeping it under a tight siege. The high causalities among the civilians and the massive damage of homes, schools, mosques, factories, and institutions indicates that the war is against the Palestinians. 

One can notice that it was part of the interim agreements of 1994 and 1996 between Israel and the PLO to create an airport, seaport and fair passage between Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem. The first two were created by the end of the 1990s and several proposals were developed for the third. During the second Intifada, Israel destroyed both the airport and the seaport. Now the Israeli government claims that these issues are part of a permanent status agreement and not the interim one! 

If this is the case, the indirect Cairo negotiations should be transformed to negotiations of the comprehensive solution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict rather than having them as discussions about partial issues such as the amount of permits that Israel will increase for those who pass the crossing borders and the number of trucks of goods allowed to Gaza and others alike that lead to minimizing the Israeli siege around Gaza rather than lifting it as the Palestinian delegation demanded. The new process should be about finalizing and not about reaching a new sustainable temporary arrangement that will keep Israeli control, as was the case. 

When one looks the Palestinian demands, he/she will find these demands as fair and are about linking Gaza to West Bank and Jerusalem, and vice versa (signaling also the lack of freedom of access of West Bank Palestinians to Gaza), and also the seaport and the airport in Gaza should be for the use of all the Palestinians as it was clear in the interim agreement about them, leading also to the free passage that was presented as necessary for the West Bank Palestinians in order to reach the Gaza sea port and the airport for use. The establishment of the airport and the seaport will mean that the Palestinians will have their symbols of independence instead of depending on the airports and the seaports of the neighboring countries in order to travel and to exchange goods. 

With Egypt taking the leading role on the negotiation as the biggest country in the region, the API is brought in as an umbrella to these negotiations that will lead to the presenting the issues of the Palestinian independence as the issues of the negotiations, rather than the previously-traditional failed way of discussing an issue after the other. In other words, it should be negotiations aiming to demarcate the borders between the two states in West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and decide on the modalities of the relations between the two states. In this regard, the issue of lifting the siege on reciprocal freedom of movement of individuals and goods between the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem is a national Palestinian independence issue, and thus it should be solved accordingly. 

This is the way out, and Egypt looks to be ready to play such a leading role. 

In order to support Egypt doing so, a coordination between the Arab League, the Kuwait leadership of the Arab Summit, and the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-Up Committee will be necessary, and moreover a UN Security Council resolution will be needed in order to define and support this new process for the two states, and an international conference will be required in order to launch and create a new international bid of support and follow up on it, leading to the results on an agreement upon a time frame. 

The Arab Gulf countries, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will be in support of such a process, creating with this an operationalization of the API on the Israeli-Palestinian track. Additionally, Hamas will also be involved in it, being part of the united Palestinian delegation to the Cairo negotiations, leading to peace with all the Palestinians- not with part of them to be against the other, as the conspiratorial proposals presented plant seeds to trigger upcoming wars and internal Palestinian fights between the so-called “moderates” and “extremists”. 

Nowadays, with the Palestinians, regardless of their political color, are waiting to see if the Israeli government will be ready to pick the opportunity and change its directions to peace with all the Palestinians, instead of seeking to “divide and rule”, or seeking- under the API umbrella- to “subcontract” by Israel the moderate Arab countries in order to come to Gaza to disarm Hamas there - as presented in several Israeli proposals- something that will not happen given that none of the Palestinian and the Arab moderates will be ready to accept an offer that is less than the Palestinian independence, and then ally with Israel against other Palestinians. Such wishful thinking will never happen.

 

18/08/2014

Tuesday, 03 March 2015 22:35

The day after the Israeli elections

While the European Union prepares to probably launch a new attempt to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement in cooperation with both the Quartet and the USA, we think that such an attempt should be mainly based on the Arab Peace Initiative (API) implementation leading the Israeli-Palestinian track to the establishment of two states living side by side in peace and security- through the following stages: 

First: the pre-negotiation stage. In this stage, a strong engagement with the new Israel government is a must in order to get to terms with the new Israel Prime Minister about what he/she will present later on the negotiating table, and whether this will have to do with meeting the minimum requirements of the Palestinians. 

During this pre-negotiation engagement, the Israeli Prime Minister should also be advised not to demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish State” or as a “State of Jewish People” as long as he does not clearly define its borders; does not recognize dividing Jerusalem as a city of two capitals for two states; and finally as long as he does not assure the status of the Palestinians of Israel as Israelis citizens so as not to transfer them nor their residency area to the Palestinian state. The Prime Minister should also be advised that this process, being based on the API, will lead to the creation of normal relations between Israel and the Arab and Islamic countries. Based on these preparations, the Quartet should prepare parameters and memorandums to be presented to the parties prior to the resumption of the negotiations, calling the two sides to go back to negotiations. Without such a preparatory stage, it will be a disaster and a recipe to a failure of those negotiations. 

Second: once the previous stage is achieved, the international community should call on the two sides to engage in negotiations on the permanent status issues, starting with a launching of an international conference. The said conference will be attended by the Quartet countries, Arab League, core Arab countries, Israel, BRICS countries, and representatives from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The conference will decide the parameters for upcoming negotiations, and will accordingly set up an international Follow-Up Committee to the bi-lateral negotiations in cooperation with regional committees. The committee(s) will intervene in the negotiations when needed to bring in bridging proposals. Such a committee could include the EU countries like France, Germany, UK- BRICS, Arab League, and key Arab countries. 

These negotiations will take the following into consideration: 

1. The negotiations will be on all the permanent status issues between the two sides without exclusion. 

2. The previously agreed on issues between Abu Mazen and Olmert will be recognized and will not be subject of renegotiation, but will be presented in order to go hand in hand with the implementation plans of what is agreed upon about them. 

3. The negotiations should not be gradual but based on a time table and benchmarks. 

4. The negotiations should aim to the establishment of a Palestinian state, on the 1967 borders, that lives in peace and security with Israel and also an agreement on a just solution for the Palestinian refugee problem. 

5. Negotiations should be directed by the Quartet, in coordination with the Arab League, and the relevant Arab countries in order to push the implementation of the API forward in the Israeli-Palestinian track. Also coordination with different international blocs such as BRICS, will be necessary in order to move the process forward in addition to the revival of some of the multilateral working groups. 

6. Steps to be taken unilaterally by Israel during the negotiation time, in order to build confidence on the process and to fulfill the previous agreement obligation, including: 

i. Allow the return of all 1967 displaced persons to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. 

ii. Allow the free access of goods and individuals between West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. 

iii. Freeze the settlement expansion, and allow the Palestinian building and development processes to go freely in Area C of West Bank. 

iv. Reopen the Palestinian closed institutions in East Jerusalem. 

v. Release the Palestinian prisoners. 

vi. Avoid practicing any incursions to the Palestinian territories. 

While the other steps to be taken by the Quartet/International Community during the negotiations include: 

1. Support the Palestinian development projects in Area C, East Jerusalem and Gaza. 

2. Monitor the Israeli restrictions and violations in Area C, East Jerusalem, and the freedom of movement between West Bank and Gaza, and take action toward to these violations.

3. Lift the veto against Palestinian internal reconciliation and support holding PNC, Palestinian presidency and Palestinian Legislative Council elections in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

4. Support the Palestinian Authority finances, and the PA project, while also restricting Israel from stopping the transfer of the Palestinian Tax revenues collected in Israel. 

5. Ensure the Israeli commitment toward all its obligations during the negotiations mentioned hereinbefore. 

6. Boycott the Israel settlements products, and avoid investing in those settlements. 

Third: if the International Community fails to get to the upcoming Israeli government to accept the minimum position required for the resumption of the negotiations, then the International Community should present a Plan B consisting of an international plan toward the two states solution, with a timetable and benchmarks to be met by both parties, and to follow the implementation of that plan with the sides using the economic, technological and other means of support existing as carrots and sticks to move the process forward. 

Fourth: the second and third stages, to be accomplished with: 

1. Supporting the Palestinian initiative toward the elevation of the status of the State of Palestine, to become a member state in the United Nations, and also to support the creation of an international coalition from all the countries who voted in favor of accepting Palestine as a non member state in the UN, to work toward the full Palestinian membership in the UN. 

2. Create a systematic cooperation between the EU and the Arab League, based on the articles and the principles of the 13th of November 2012, Cairo, Declaration resulted from the joint Cairo meeting of the Arab and the European Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and work accordingly with a joint plan for the implementation of the API toward the achievement of a Comprehensive Middle-Eastern Peace. 

Support the Palestinian non-violent struggle against occupation, and promote the Israeli, Arab, and International peace camp and solidarity organizations participation in it.

Friday, 27 February 2015 18:05

My Jerusalem

Jerusalem that looks to be more as if it is the ownership of the Israelis and the internationals, either living in it, or talking about it from outside. What it is represent for me as a Palestinian Jerusalemite?. Why I am also excluded not only when it comes to my rights to the city, and my rights in the city, but also excluded from my right of representing it?

In the ground as many Palestinian Jerusalemites, I have a demolition order to my house since 2002, and as many others a new road that links between two settlements in East Jerusalem started to be created passing exactly at the entrance of my house in Shuafat. 

This is just a minor example of the deprivation of the Palestinian Jerusalemites rights in the city. 

But also I have no right to the city, I am not allowed to make a political claim that East Jerusalem is mine, something that the international community organizations in the city is adapting with, by avoiding to take actions that make Israel angry of them in the city.

Thirdly I have no right to represent my self politically. In the legal level I am obliged to be defined as" A Jordanian Citizen residing Permanently in Israel", as the Israeli authorities define my status, then I am an alien in my city, cannot claim it, and as a" Jordanian" living in Israel as the say, I have to respect the generosity of the Israel of allowing me to live in an "Israeli " territory that was annexed to Israel in 1967. 

Therefore also I have no right to represent my self administratively, and also in the community level. In this level my Arab Municipality was dissolved by the Israeli Authorities in 1967, then I was obliged to deal with an Israeli municipality that do not represent me. Such a municipality imposed on me its community centers that it established inside my communities, and made it the address for providing services to me. 

These are just examples, and there are many others<...>

To read the whole article, please click the preview. 

PUBLISHED IN THE FRAMEWORK OF IMESCLUB - CDCD PARTNERSHIP

Saturday, 31 January 2015 22:26

The Three Roles of the Arab Peace Initiative

In the framework of IMESClub-CDCD partnership "Promoting the API" we share the most recent piece by Dr. Walid Salem, IMESClub member.

 

In the current context, almost 13 years after its initiation and after the passing away of King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia who originally initiated the API, the Arab Peace Initiative is seen to have the following three roles: 

First: Getting the Israeli political arena to move forwards on accepting the API as a point of departure to a comprehensive Middle East peace, starting from the operationalization of it in the Israeli-Palestinian track. 

Second: Use the good offices of the API Follow-Up Committee to elevate Palestine to statehood internationally, in order to create better symmetrical position to the Palestinians with Israel in any future negotiations. 

Third: Call for an API based regional approach that can play the role of support for the Palestinians and present incentives to Israel in order to move the peace process forward. 

The main significance of the API is in its presentation as an initiative that represents the consensus of all the 22 Arab countries (and subsequently all 57 Islamic countries) making it a plan of all Arab countries and not only so-called ‘moderate Arab countries’. Therefore the Israeli acceptance of the API will lead to a comprehensive peace with all the Arab (and Islamic) countries regardless of their ideological differences. 

Upon that, it should be stated clearly that the calls made nowadays to use the API to ally with moderate Arab countries against the extremist ones and against Iran is a non-starter; additionally, it contradicts with the internal logic of the API itself. 

The API is about comprehensive peace between Israel and all the Arab and Islamic countries with the Israeli withdrawal of all occupied Palestinian and Arab territories of 1967; it is not by any means about allying with some Arab countries in order to wage hostility or a war against other Arab or Islamic countries. 

Furthermore, the API cannot be used to bring in Arab countries to insert pressure on the Palestinians to make compromises. President Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have already made all the concessions needed, yet the response by Israel has been more settlement expansion and more extremist positions in contradiction to any agreement with the Palestinian leadership. 

Therefore pressure of the API should be placed on Israel and not the Palestinians. One way to do so is by elevating Palestine in the UN to create better negotiation position for the Palestinians with Israel in any coming negotiations, in addition to other incentives (both positive and negative) that the Arabs can use to move the Israeli stances forward. 

The Arab League created two mechanisms for the API promotion/implementation: firstly by delegating Egypt and Jordan to communicate the API with Israel, in which both countries have carried out countless efforts and it is about high time Israel reciprocated instead of presenting proposals highlighting the use of the API as a point of departure to normalize relations with some Arab countries against others. 

The second mechanism consists of the API Follow-Up Committee taking responsibility to communicate the API with the international community. This committee met 5 times with the US Secretary of State John Kerry during the last 9 months-round of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Recently they met twice in Cairo on 29/11/2014 and 15/01/2015. 

During unilateral meetings and ones with John Kerry, the API Follow-Up Committee focused on the issue of elevating Palestine in the international arena in order to give it better symmetrical position on the negotiations table with Israel. Statements and actions of the Committee testify to this. Thus, calling the Committee to act in order to pressure the Palestinians is contradictory to what the Committee itself is already doing. Moreover, this demand to pressure is too much to be asked for when the API has been around for 13 years without a positive Israeli response. In actuality, what is needed is positive responses from Israel rather than pressure on the Palestinians to compromise. 

Finally, an API-based regional envelope can be created to serve as an umbrella for the Palestinian-Israeli bilateral negotiations. Such a regional envelope will not be a forum for alternative negotiations with Israel as Primw Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Liberman wanted. Neither should regional negotiations be conducted in parallel to bilateral negotiations leading to Arab-Israeli normalization before the Israeli withdrawal or another round of controversy similar to the one of the 1990’s Multilateral Working Groups on what would come first: normalization or withdrawal? Subsequently, such controversy led to the collapse of the Multilateral Working Groups. 

The “alternative” then is a bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations supported by a regional API-based umbrella that works in concerted efforts with the Quartet for Middle East peace as was emphasized in a statement by the Quartet itself last week as a result of its meeting in Brussels. 

Walid Salem 29/01/2015.

 

In the framework of IMESClub-CDCD (The Centre for Democracy & Community Development) partnership we share the latest paper by Walid Salem on the future of the Arab Peace Initiative after the August Israeli war against the Palestinians. "A setback or new horizons?" – read the text to discover the answer.

 

"During the last June – August Israeli war against the Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Palestinians inside Israel, several new proposals were presented by the different Israeli leaders regarding the API. It seemed as if the Israeli leaders had rediscovered the API after 12 years of its presentation. In this regard, proposals about it came from Lieberman, Netanyahu, Yair Lapid and his “Yesh Atid” Party colleague Yaakov Peri, and Tzipi Livni; along with former official security leaders Amos Yadlin, Youval Diskin, and Shlomo Brom. <...>"

 Text available for download in pdf (click the cover): 

(1)

The two Palestinian losses

17/04/2010

The Palestinians lost twice already in their struggle against Zionism: One when it was led by the seculars, and now when it became to be led by the religious right wing coalition.

When it was led by the seculars, those seeked to have the Jewish state in the Palestinian Coastal heart-taking magnificent areas. With that the Palestinians lost their coast, but also had maybe more importantly they lost the coastal culture, which was about openness to the other, diversity, tolerance and participation. They were left with the mountains areas of West Bank with its conservative culture, and the periphery of the coast (Gaza Strip) in addition to East Jerusalem as a town that lost its notables in 1948, and was left with a type of middle class that provides services to the Muslim and Christian Pilgrims to the city during the period of 1948 to 1967.

When the religious- right wing coalition take over the leadership in Israel starting from 1977 change in the Israeli government, those seeked the Israeli dominance over the Jewish religious places in West Bank and East Jerusalem, further they were able to move the language of the supposedly left wing labour party to become more religious, especially in regard to the Jewish holy places in Jerusalem, as happened with Ihud Barak in Camp David negotiations in the year 2000.

With this coalition prevailing the Palestinians might be about to lose 1967 territories almost in the same way that they lost 1948 territories. How?

 

(2)

The Permanent Occupation

                 With what described above, the situation is not anymore about “Peace for land” from the Israeli right wing coalition, but more for “Peace for process”, were the process will become the alternative to the “Peace Process”, the right wing coalition needs such a process in order to be the cover of the shift that already took place from the “temporary occupation” formula of the 1970, and 1980’s, to the “permanent occupation” formula that is adopted nowadays.

The adoption of such new formula, came as a result of the settlement expansion (300,000 inhabitants in West Bank, and 200,000 in East Jerusalem, that created the idea of: since we build all of these settlement, so why to demolish them, and more over: why not to build more?

This move to permanent occupation formula is the one that explains why Israel prevent any building in Area C comprising of 64% of West Bank, and explains what is going on in East Jerusalem, moreover it explains the current mood among the Israeli public opinion, who consider the current situation as less risky of any peace agreement, therefore the common “wisdom” became a one that want to keep occupation, and to have peace in the same time.

 

(3)

The irrelevance of the two states

And the one state solution

Those who spend their time then analyzing what should be the better solution: The two states, or the one state solution, should know that this discussion is irrelevant, because the Israeli policies already united all the country as one state that is all under Israeli dominance. This is obviously against both the two states and the one state solutions.  In this regard they consider the West Bank and East Jerusalem territories as holy to the Jews, therefore they consider these lands as Israeli. In regard to the Palestinians living in these lands they consider them to be a “population” that should not be given more than a self administration as much as they accept the Israeli dominance, and if not they should leave to Jordan. In other words the Palestinians rights towards the land are not reconsidered, and the same the Palestinian collective rights as a national group.

With that the historical land of Palestine to be united under the  Israeli authority, while the Palestinians to be dealt with as scattered population that have no rights as citizens.

Therefore, the process is not in the direction of one state solution for both peoples, but a process towards one state solution that is without the Palestinians. How?

 

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Dark Prospects

Such right wing coalition, with such ideas and practices, if not stopped, will continue the process of taking the ground from under the feet of the Palestinians, a process that happened gradually before 1948 leading to the forced migration of the Palestinians of that time. The fear of such new Palestinian exodus is high, given also that it happened already twice historically, one in 1948, and the second in 1967.

The described above might look as impossible, but it looked also impossible in 1930’s, then it happened in 1948. Why?. Because the dynamics emerging from the settlement expansion at that time created processes of uprooting the Palestinians, when  they found themselves outside the country at the end, Today also if the settlement expansion will continue, then it might create the same dynamics.

When some observers saw that the current global realities are not the same like of what was in 1948, one should notice in the opposite that in Israel today there are right wing groups who are ready to have a confrontation with the world, and ready to pay the price of such confrontation, whatever such price will be in the path for taking over all the historical Palestine. The current growing tension between Israel in the USA (reminding of the one with the British Mandate in Palestine in 1940’s), is still in the beginning, and it is expected to heighten in the coming future.

 

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What exit strategies?

None of the political solutions presented nowadays looks relevant or possible, the bilateral negotiations if resumed will create again an endless process of negotiations, the proximity talks if conducted will lead to endless discussions about the conditions of resuming the negotiations, the international Quartet imposed solution is not on the way, and it will declared it will be impossible to implement it in the ground without bringing international or multitelaral forces to the ground of Israel Palestine which does not look likely to happen. The Arab Peace Initiative also do not look like to move with the continuous Israeli rejection of it.

Further than that, when the two states solution became more accepted internationally, and in the Israeli society, the path to it is closing practically with all the Israeli procedures and activities in the ground. In this regard the Fayyad government two years plan, looks to be the last attempt to get to the Palestinian statehood through the Palestinian unilateral track that it initiated, but this plan still to be tested in two issues: How it will be implemented in Area C and East Jerusalem, and how it will re-unite Gaza with the West Bank?. The Failure to solve these two issues due to the Israeli restrictions will lead the plan to end by being the “Economic Peace” plan of Binyamin Netanyahu.

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The other exist strategies:

Characteristics of the Third White Intifada

Since all those strategies presented hereinbefore will not work, the Palestinian public wisdom created another exist strategy, while some observers spend their time questioning if there will be a Palestinian third Intifada or not, and if there is a fatigue among the Palestinians or not, the Palestinian people already created in the ground their third Intifada, which was called by the Israeli professor Shaul Mishal as “The White Intifada”.

Unlike the previous two Intifadas, this one is not looking for quick results, it acts  and work to be permanent, as much as the occupation is permanent. This is its first characteristics.

Its second characteristic is that it is multidimensional. In one hand it expresses itself through the nonviolent activities against the wall in 15 locations such as Balien, Ne’alen, Al-Ma’asarah, Um-Salmoneh, and Shiekh Jarrah. In second hand it expressess itself by the high adoption of the UN “equal rights discourse”, and carrying this discourse to the UN security council, and all the UN and non-Un world structure, using also in this regard the international decisions on the Palestinian issue, and calling for their implementation.

In this regard it includes a variety of activities: Field activities, legal ones, diplomatic ones, and etc.

Its third characteristic is that it brings together the Palestinian-Internationals, and the Israeli activists against occupation together in the ground conducting the activities all the way ahead together.

Its fourth characteristic, is that it includes concerted and coordinated efforts of the civil society organizations, grassroots organizations, and the PA together, were all are participating in its activities together.

This white Intifida is recruiting today more and more international support, especially after the Israeli Army crimes during the last war in Gaza, now the calls for divestment, boycott of the Israeli settlements products, and the calls for sanctions  against the Israeli government policies are becoming louder and louder. Also the calls on the PA to stop the security cooperation with Israel if there will be no peace process any more are going up, in addition to those calling for resolving the PA, while it might be doubtful that this last thing might happen.

In the future, this white Intifada might create more support in the Arab world (including the Arab countries campaign against the Israeli Nuclear power), and more importantly among the Palestinian, in Israel, and other segments of the Israeli society.

Now, it is a new type of Intifada, very slow, and very patient, it is based on the assumption that there are no solutions in the horizon in the short run, therefore it builds for the future, and for accumulating changes for that future, depending on the Palestinian human capital, and supported by the region, the globe, and the Israeli peace camp human capital.

 

The API Regional Network was established by the CDCD and AJEEC-NISPED as part of their project “Building Sustainable Regional Peace based on the API”. This project is funded by the European Union.

 

The first question is a traditional one for these series: How would you characterize the past decade for the Middle East?

In the past decade, the Middle East has clearly gone through many phases that have shaped the current geopolitical and sociopolitical situation in the Middle East. The most important and significant factor that brought change was of course the Arab Spring. As a result, the whole prism through which the Middle East was viewed has been altered. No longer do the "conventional" political structures remain confident, since the public's voice has gained massive influence. With that change, also comes different state-to-state relations in the region, and how strategies have been formulated. In short, while the Middle East a decade ago was a more rigid framework of politics, today's wave of change has on one hand given it more instability but on the other hand enough space to bring forth sociopolitical progress and security for the entire region.

 

What are the prospects of Arab-Israeli conflict in the current circumstances?

How has the Arab Spring influenced the conflict? It might have been the case that Israel felt isolated from the rest of the region for the obvious reasons, but with the eruption of the Arab Spring, Israel has felt itself closer to the region than it perhaps wants to. First off, the negative consequences of the Arab Spring have been felt in Israel, especially with the civil war in Syria and the political unrest of Egypt.Yet regardless of the situation, the Arab world was able to hold two Arab summits (in one of which the new Libyan government gave their support to the API). Moreover, the API Follow Up Committee headed by Kuwait has met with Kerry at least 5 times. And in this new framework of state interactions, Israel and the world has become aware that the Arab-Israeli conflict needs a solution that is complimented by a regional envelope. This is why we see the current Kerry Initiative having a layer of "regionality" with the Arab League playing a supportive role to the negotiations.

What is a role of civil society in the conflict regulation? Does its role and influence rise or decline?

There is a wide perception that civil society's role ends when there is an agreement. However that is quite incorrect, since civil society must not only work for an agreement but also double its efforts after an agreement is signed, since then it will be the real test to maintain and expand the promise of mutual understanding and cooperation between societies/communities/ and polities. For now, as the negotiations go on, the civil socities on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides have been working hard to spread and sow the seeds of positive peace among the peoples of both societies. This also includes frequent meetings with decision-makers to exchange ideas of how to proceed with peace talks.

What are the three key trends from your point of view that will dominate the international relations in the Middle East this 2014 year?

A. It is safe to say that the international community has understood that the "seperate" problems of any Middle East country must not been seen in an individual manner but in a collective regional approach. And so, the international community will further adopt this regional approach when it interacts with the Middle East.

B. The Israeli-Palestinian will still have a significant attention of the world, as recent remarks by the EU and Secretary John Kerry have indicated the negative ramifications a failure of talks will have not only to Palestine's struggle for nationhood but also to Israel's relations with the world. To contain any failure and its implications will be considered heavily by the international community.

C. The war in Syria and the instability in Egypt will not go missed by the international community's interaction with the Middle East. In order to have a stable region that can be approached comprehensively, the international community will certainly make attempts to limit the negative consequences of Syria and Egypt not to spillover into the rest of the region.