Wednesday, 11 March 2015 22:14

The Role of the API in Light of the Last Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation

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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

Read 18720 times Last modified on Sunday, 15 March 2015 12:47
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.