This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Will Iran be coming to the Geneva talks on Syria? The United Nations thinks Iran is coming. American officials say, Not so fast.
The Syrian opposition, at least whatever is left of it and whoever they are, may or may not be coming, too.
No doubt the carpenters are on call for the late breaking news. They may have to reconfigure the table and the chairs. Perhaps a way of dealing with the various levels of acceptable invites is to make the chairs different heights. Everyone can be at the table but only some can see over the top.
If the Syrian people are relieved that the Geneva talks are about to begin, they should think again. Ever since the former Cold War adversaries brokered their own deal, the plight of the Syrian people has deteriorated further. Look for more of the same whether Iran and the opposition show up or not.
In other words, Syrians shouldn’t hold their breath. Brace for more suffering.
Meanwhile on the other good news front, reports are that Saudi Arabia will take responsibility for the Palestinian refugees in the about-to-be (or not) Israeli/Palestinian agreement. It seems that Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide housing and finances for Palestinians – who will not be returning to Palestine or what could be reasonably called Palestine.
To be specific here is how Alalam reports it:
The development has been revealed by a number of US-based news outlets, which have cited Palestinian weekly al-Minar as reporting that the secret US-Saudi agreement came following a recent visit to Riyadh by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Quoting an “informed source,” the Palestinian weekly further reports that during Kerry’s visit to the Saudi capital, the kingdom’s authorities expressed their readiness to carry out the US scheme of placing the Palestinian refugees in foreign-based housing units and also assume major funding of the huge project.
According to the source, the Saudis also pledged to convince various countries to accept the Palestinians by offering them “financial” incentives.
The source further quoted a member of the US delegation accompanying Kerry to Riyadh as saying that the Saudis openly expressed their willingness to also exert pressure on Palestinian authorities to implement US strategies concerning the Palestinian refugees.
Political observers in the region believe the secret deal also has the full blessing of the Israeli regime, which considers the Palestinian right of return issue as a major stumbling block in their US-sponsored negotiations with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
What an interesting project!
Foreign-based housing units. Sounds like a resettlement plan that makes foreigners feel, well, foreign.
Finances to help countries accept Palestinians. Citizens of various countries tend to love those who are planted there with financial incentives, don’t they?
Piecing it together, here’s what Kerry’s framework looks like so far: Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, forfeit the right of return, give up Jerusalem, live surrounded by the Wall and ever-expanding Israeli settlements, with Israeli soldiers stationed in the Jordan Valley. Gaza is permanently controlled by Israel and Egypt, while Hamas is in in power and after Hamas is destroyed.
With this scenario, foreign-based housing units sound better and better. But, then, why restrict housing and resettlement to Palestinian refugees outside Palestine?
If Palestinians are to become permanent refugees in their own homeland, Kerry should state what his framework is really about – making Palestinians homeless in the land they call their own.