Palestinian Crossroads (Extract)

September 28, 2008 11:11
3 minute read.


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Extract from an article in Issue 13, October 13, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. "What Palestinians must be prepared to undertake is nothing less than a final and conclusive strategic battle with Israel. Palestinians should not be deterred by the past, but should look with confidence to the future. The … Palestinians have more strategic cards than they think - and Israel has fewer. Over the longer term Israeli military power is of limited use - and will even be a liability - if we learn how to play our cards properly. No political arrangement based on force alone endures. Israel is wrong to think that the longer the game goes on the more strategic opportunities it will have. It is the other way round…" These plain words conclude the 60-page document entitled, "Regaining the Initiative - Palestinian Strategic Options to End Israeli Occupation," which was published in August after a series of workshops attended by Palestinians from both inside and outside the territories. The workshops were convened by the Oxford Research Group and were made possible by a grant from the European Union. The 30-some participants, mostly Fatah supporters, included former Palestinian Authority ministers, prominent academics and members of think tanks. The aim of the project was to find a way for the Palestinians to adopt a different strategy following the anticipated collapse of the "Annapolis Process." One by one, the options open to both sides after the failure of the attempt to reach a permanent solution were analyzed. Israel could try to prolong the negotiations, to set up a provisional Palestinian state within shrunken borders, to carry out further unilateral withdrawals from large areas of the West Bank, or to tempt Egypt and Jordan to take responsibility. The Palestinians would reject each one of these out of hand. Moreover, the authors of the document believe, the Palestinians are capable of "blocking" all of these ostensible options. The essence of the operational plan presented in the document is that the Palestinians will threaten a "reversal" of the negotiating option, to which they have adhered since 1988, including the annulment of their recognition of Israel. In addition, they suggest that it would be necessary to reconstitute the Palestinian Authority so that instead of fulfilling the role of "protecting Israel from bearing its full burden of the costs of Occupation" it would become "a Palestinian Resistance Authority." This implies a threat of "smart resistance" and intifada, which would have to be based on a compromise between Fatah and Hamas. The objective would be "to maximize the cost of continuing occupation for Israel" - or, in other words, generate a combination of terror and various forms of civil resistance. Such a reorientation, the signatories assert, would force Israel to confront a more difficult situation than it would face if it were to accept Palestinian conditions for a final agreement based on the "two-state" formula. Israel would be dealing with a nation resuming violent struggle and presenting its battle as the result of Israeli intransigence. Another document released in recent days was issued by the Israeli-Palestinian IPCRI center in Jerusalem. In it, Joe DeVoir, a young academic, sums up discussions and interviews with a variety of personages in the Palestinian territories. He also examines the various options, including that of a Palestinian switch toward a demand for a one-state solution and all that it entails. The document recommends that the Palestinians should switch to conducting a policy that is termed "a tightly coordinated non-violent campaign" for achieving a statehood. IPCRI intends in the near future to expound more broadly exactly how such a campaign should be conducted. The various options ostensibly open to the Palestinians, including sticking to the tahadiah (the truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza) and its extension to the West Bank or a unilateral declaration of independence are also scrutinized in yet another paper, based on workshops attended by Palestinian intellectuals, held in East Jerusalem hotels this past summer and summed up by the Palestinian "Bringing Peace Together" initiative, headed by Walid Salem. The conclusions were formulated by a reputable journalist, Ata Qaymari. Extract from an article in Issue 13, October 13, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.

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