Peace Talks are Useless
reprinted from Dailyalert.org, April 23, 2010
Why Salam Fayyad Cannot Deliver – Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad may be a good man with good intentions, but those who think that he will be able to persuade the Palestinians to make peace with Israel are deluding themselves. In Palestinian culture, it is more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from the University of Texas at Austin. Fayyad never spent a day in an Israeli jail. Nor did he or any of his sons take an active role in the "struggle" against Israel.
In the parliamentary election in 2006, Fayyad ran as an independent candidate at the head of a party called "Third Way." His party got less than 2% of the votes. Fatah, whose followers control large parts of the West Bank, views Fayyad as a major threat to its power. In fact, Fatah officials have long been accusing Fayyad of working, with the help of the Americans and Israelis, to undermine Fatah’s authority in the West Bank. On a number of occasions, disgruntled Fatah activists have distributed leaflets denouncing Fayyad as a "collaborator"" with Israel. (Hudson Institute New York)
Gaza-West Bank Split Looks Increasingly Permanent – Jonathan Spyer
Four years after the Hamas victory in elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and three years since the Hamas coup in Gaza, the split in the Palestinian national movement has an increasing look of permanence. There is now no process underway toward ending the Palestinian political divide.
Parallel to the rise of Hamas in Gaza, and its ongoing popularity in the West Bank, Fatah is in a process of severe decline. It failed to reform following its election defeat in 2006 and remains riven by factionalism and corruption. The key Palestinian leader in the West Bank today is Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Fayyad is not a Fatah member, and is in effect an appointee of the West. His gradualist approach is quite alien to Palestinian political culture, despite the undoubted improvements this approach has brought to daily life in the West Bank. It is widely believed that without the security forces trained by Gen. Keith Dayton, which keep Fayyad in place, and more importantly without the continued activities of the IDF in the West Bank, the area would fall to Hamas.
Both the Gaza and West Bank governments are dependent for their economic survival on foreign assistance. Half of the Fayyad government’s annual $2.8 billion budget consists of direct foreign aid. The Hamas authorities announced a budget of $540 million, of which $480 million is to come from outside (Iran). The Gaza enclave gives Iran an effective veto over any attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Both Palestinian governments are able to continue to exist because of the interests of rival outside powers that they do so. The split in the Palestinian national movement is thus likely to continue for as long as this regional reality exists. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinians have been involved in a long-term internal debate between those who think they should continue the effort to eliminate Israel, and those who think the fight to destroy it has gone on long enough, and that it’s time for the Palestinians to pursue their own interests in peace and prosperity. While those who prefer to keep fighting are on top, there is no chance for a negotiated settlement. Serious negotiations can only begin when the predominant view is that it is necessary to give up the effort to destroy Israel.
Currently the Palestinians do not believe they can militarily defeat Israel. Their willingness to keep fighting is now sustained by two hopes: that Israel is becoming soft and divided and that it will lose its will to defend itself, or that their international campaign to delegitimize Israel will lead to international pressure that forces it into a series of retreats that ultimately makes it unable to defend itself.
A second crucial issue is whether the Palestinians believe it would be honorable to make peace. This depends on whether the Jews are colonial thieves stealing land solely on the basis of force, or whether they are a people that also historically lived in the land and are attached to it. If the Palestinians understood that there are two peoples with long historical and moral claims to the same land, it would be honorable to recognize that fighting is useless and that compromise is an appropriate way to settle the dispute.
Currently, their leadership and elite are adamant in insisting there is no Jewish people, and that there was no Jewish presence in the land before Islam. They officially and energetically deny that there was ever a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, despite the many Muslim sources from previous generations that recognized its location in pre-Muslim times. The Palestinian leadership is deliberately making an honorable peace impossible by falsely denying that Jews have a legitimate claim to any of the land. The writer is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center and a founder and senior fellow of the Hudson Institute. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)