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Palestinian Authority thought compliance would lead to independence, but it only strengthened Israel’s domination

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The following is an excerpt from Noura Erakat’s new book Justice For Some: Law and the Question of Palestine. In in Erakat outlines how the Palestinian Authority’s “illusory quest” for statehood “has shaped the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to U.S. tutelage and its reticence to embark on a bolder course based on a politics of resistance.”

In 2018, the prospect of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state is obsolete. As of late 2015, the Israeli settler population in the West Bank numbered more than 600,000, a 200 percent increase since the advent of the Oslo peace process in 1993. Israel’s settlement enterprise carves the West Bank into more than twenty noncontiguous landmasses separating approximately three million Palestinians into as many groups that stand apart from one another, thus undermining any sense of territorial contiguity or national cohesion. In 2000, Israel began constructing a separation barrier, or wall, allegedly to halt the flow of Palestinian suicide bombers within Israel’s undeclared borders. By the time of the wall’s completion in 2020, 85 percent of its length will run through the West Bank and effectively confiscate 13 percent of that territory, conveniently where most of Israel’s largest settlement blocs are located. Israeli military law prohibits the presence and travel of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza, thereby entrenching their political and geographic fragmentation. In Gaza, Israel has securitized nearly two million Palestinians and held them captive under a land siege and naval blockade for more than a decade. Palestinians cannot freely travel to East Jerusalem, and that area’s 300,000 Palestinians are subject to an aggressive removal campaign. In the years since 1948, nearly two thirds of the Palestinian population has been driven into a global diaspora, including fifty-eight refugee camps in the Arab world, and is being denied the right to return. Having torpedoed the possibility of a Palestinian state, Israel is now the sole source of authority from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan.

Cover of "Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine." (Image: Stanford University Press)

Cover of “Justice for Some:
Law and the Question of Palestine.” (Image: Stanford University Press)

Legal work has been central to Israel’s expansionist project. The Israeli judiciary, diplomatic corps, and civil and military legal advisers have understood the law’s imbrication with politics and have leveraged the state’s diplomatic, military, and economic prowess to perform legal work in pursuit of its political ambitions. Following the First World War, a sovereign exception marking Palestine as a site of Jewish settlement engendered a specialized legal arrangement that justified the juridical erasure of a Palestinian political community. This regime, together with three decades of British imperial sponsorship, enabled Israel to assert its Jewish-Zionist settler sovereignty by force over 78 percent of Mandate Palestine in 1948. Israel used the fiction of Palestinian national nonexistence together with the structure of permanent emergency between 1948 and 1966 to transform its native Palestinian population into present-absent individuals, whose lands could be arbitrarily confiscated for Jewish settlement. When it terminated its emergency regime, Israel enshrined the subordination of Palestinians as second-class citizens in civil law. In 1967, Israel deployed a legal-political mechanism, also predicated upon Palestinian national nonexistence, to establish an occupation premised on sui generis claims to facilitate its steady land grab within the West Bank and Gaza. The Oslo Accords framework established in 1993 engendered yet another specialized regime that has enabled Israel to continue its settler-colonial expansion, this time under the veneer of peacemaking. Since 2000, also in accord with similar claims of unique distinction, Israel has criminalized all Palestinian use of force. At the same time, the state has expanded its right to use force against Palestinians and in the process has forged new laws of armed conflict.

Israel’s success has had an unintended consequence: it oversees an apartheid regime. Without a partition separating Israel from the territories, Israel now has to contend with the reality that its jurisdiction contains a significant native Palestinian population. According to the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, as of October 2012, approximately 5.9 million Jewish-Israelis, including the settler population, and 6.1 million Palestinians were living across Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Population projections indicate that by 2035, Jewish-Israelis will constitute only 46 percent of the total population. The inclusion of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank as citizens would undermine the Jewish demographic majority inside the 1949 armistice lines (the Green Line). The current arrangement in which Israel rules occupied Palestinians but excludes them from citizenship exemplifies a regime that administers distinct legal systems based on its own racial definitions: in other words, an apartheid regime.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s predecessors knew the dangers of this legal bifurcation. During his tenure as Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert commented that failure to create a Palestinian state would force Israel to “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” After leaving the Prime Minister’s post, Ehud Barak offered this warning: “If, and as long as between the Jordan and the sea, there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic… . If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a bi-national state, and if they don’t, it is an apartheid state.”

Not all Israelis are concerned about this reality. Significant sectors of Israeli society have hailed the current status quo as a tremendous victory. Some want to consecrate their accomplishment by officially annexing Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank, where Israel’s largest settlement blocs are located. In 2012, a government committee revived the discourse of Palestinian nonexistence when it concluded there is no occupation because the West Bank belongs to no other sovereign, justifying Israel’s permanent presence in the territory. While de jure annexation risks absorbing the Palestinian population, an autonomy framework has the capacity to ensure that population’s formal exclusion. Under the Oslo framework’s terms, Israel has steadily reduced the Palestinian population in Area C and concentrated Palestinians within Areas A and B. Although it was ostensibly an interim arrangement until the achievement of final status talks, the Oslo framework has become interminable. Its continuation would successfully contain Palestinians and suspend them as non-sovereigns in their autonomous regions and non-citizens of Israel, thereby diminishing the demographic challenge they pose.

This political trend is not merely a right-wing phenomenon. Population transfers, land swaps, and annexation for the sake of ensuring a decisive Jewish majority and Palestinian exclusion have become increasingly normalized concepts within Israeli mainstream discourse. A 2012 poll evidenced popular Israeli support for the voluntary or forcible transfer of Palestinian citizens out of Israel. More recent initiatives have proposed providing economic incentives to encourage Palestinian citizens to leave. Still other proposals seek to swap villages with large concentrations of Palestinian-Israelis with the Palestinian Authority in exchange for Jewish-Israeli settlements.

More sympathetic, or at least more politically astute, Israelis deny allegations of apartheid by acknowledging Palestinians’ grievances but disaggregating their claims. They emphasize that the treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel is a matter of domestic concern, whereas controversies in the West Bank reflect the challenges of conflict resolution, and Gaza is a national security issue. By emphasizing the statist legal and geographic demarcations separating and distinguishing Palestinians from one another, liberal Israelis refute claims that Israel oversees a singular discriminatory regime. These exculpatory attempts contradict the lived experience of Palestinians themselves.

As early as 2000, after the collapse of the Camp David talks that precipitated the Al Aqsa intifada, a group of Palestinian scholars issued a statement describing Palestinians’ concentration within a “series of small, disconnected areas … being posited as the emerging Palestinian state.” They referred to those areas as “bantustans,” in reference to the model of territorialized subordination of blacks used in apartheid South Africa and Namibia. The statement echoed the Palestinian legal and political analyses that had culminated in the 1975 General Assembly resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism (Resolution 3379), and seemed to signal an return to such analyses. However, there are at least two differences distinguishing these 1975 and 2000 articulations and also differentiating case studies looking at Palestine versus South Africa and Namibia.

First, unlike the situation in the mid-1970s when the PLO supported the introduction of Resolution 3379, the Palestinian leadership today has not officially endorsed the anti-apartheid framework. Recognition of a singular legal regime would contravene its ambitions to establish a state. Palestinian officialdom has referred to apartheid and the possibility of a single democratic state only as a threat to compel Israeli compromise in negotiations. Second, in 1976, the international community rebuffed South Africa’s attempts to establish black homelands, decrying them as measures aiming to “consolidate the inhuman policies of apartheid, to destroy the territorial integrity of the country, to perpetuate white minority domination and to dispossess the African people of South Africa of their inalienable rights.” In contrast, the international community has celebrated Palestinian autonomy as the germ of independence and has contributed tremendous financial and diplomatic support in an effort to uphold an arrangement that is in effect—if not in intention by supporters—oppressive. While Palestinians outside of officialdom have increasingly understood the apparatus of their dispossession and domination as apartheid, the international community has continued to frame it as “interim autonomy,” for the sake of peacemaking. Meanwhile, and under the cover of peacemaking, Israel has intensified its eliminatory structures targeting Palestinian natives.

Despite its seeming success in establishing contiguous sovereignty across most of the area that was formerly Mandate Palestine, Israel’s settler-colonial frontier remains active. Settler-colonial studies scholar Lorenzo Veracini tells us that the ultimate triumph of settler-colonialism is its extinguishment; it becomes so normalized as to be imperceptible. In Palestine, that project remains explicit and vulgar precisely because of the demographic reality as well as the Palestinians’ obstinate refusal to relinquish their claims to native belonging. In a continuation of the policies Israel began in 1947, and which it consolidated into a permanent structure of emergency in 1948, today it and its para-statal institutions remove, dispossess, and concentrate Palestinian natives without regard to legal jurisdictions or geographic demarcations. Israel’s aims then and now are the same: to achieve and maintain a Jewish demographic majority and also to acquire the greatest amount of land with the fewest possible number of Palestinians on it. It achieves this through civil law in Israel, a mix of administrative and martial law in East Jerusalem, martial law in the West Bank, and all out warfare in Gaza.

The concentration of Palestinians under Israeli jurisdiction onto small areas of land is most obvious in the West Bank, where they are placed and bounded into Areas A and B. It is also evident in Gaza, which has the largest concentration, as well as within Israel itself, where the government has been shaping legislative policy intended to remove nearly 80,000 Bedouin Palestinians from the Negev region and concentrate them into noncontiguous urban townships under the auspices of development. In Jerusalem, the so-called center of life policy mandating that Palestinian Jerusalemites demonstrate an uninterrupted presence in that city to maintain their residency has steadily reduced the Palestinian population. In the rest of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has outrightly revoked the residency permits of a quarter of a million Palestinians between 1967 and 1994, shrinking the Palestinian population there by at least 10 percent. Within Israel, a legislative ban on family reunification in certain circumstances denies spouses of Israeli citizens who hail from “enemy states” (where a significant number of Palestinians reside) the right to adjust their status—an explicit effort to diminish their presence. These are only select examples of the matrix of laws and policies aimed at Palestinian removal. Palestinians have increasingly described their condition as constituting an ongoing nakba (catastrophe), in reference to the removal and forced exile of 80 percent of the Palestinian population during the 1948 War. The reference recognizes Israel’s eliminatory project as an institutionalized policy and a colonial continuity.

Israel’s settlement and dispossession policies, together, amount to forced population transfer, a violation of the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. An apartheid regime is both the consequence of Israel’s settler-colonial ambitions and the modal governance structure for protecting and maintaining its colonial takings. A growing number of international human rights organizations and analysts have scrutinized the resulting conditions, and have come to regard the mal-distribution of natural resources, unequal access to housing, and differential punishments in the West Bank as a racially discriminatory regime. In 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination concluded that the “hermetic character of the separation of two groups” in the Occupied Territories is tantamount to apartheid. In 2017, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) caused an uproar when it took this analysis further and concluded that Israel practices apartheid towards all of its Palestinian natives, without regard to legal status or geographic residence. The UN report was the first of its kind to authoritatively make the claim that Israel’s holistic legal regime was not being limited to the Occupied Territories. Israel, together with the United States, forced the United Nations to shelve the report. ESCWA’s Director resigned in protest; the report was leaked and widely disseminated. The Palestinian Authority issued statements condemning the dismissal of the report but did not officially endorse the critique of Israel’s governance as a singular apartheid regime.

It is a cruel, but not unprecedented, twist in the history of co-opted liberation movements and authoritarian postcolonial regimes that the Palestinian leadership has become a part of the Palestinian problem. Today, the buy-in and collaboration of the Palestinian leadership is central both to Israel’s apartheid regime and to the enduring denial of its existence. Palestinian participation in U.S.–brokered bilateral talks sustains the false conception that a sovereign state is within reach. Facts on the ground make evident that establishing a Palestinian state today would be as difficult as, if not more difficult than, dismantling Israel’s apartheid system. The framework of peacemaking sustains the fiction of parity and diminishes the imperative to exert pressure on Israel. In addition, the Palestinian Authority’s representational claims over the Palestinians resident in the West Bank and Gaza, to the exclusion of Palestinian refugees and citizens of Israel, helps uphold the legal and geographic fragmentations separating Palestinians from one another and subverting, in practice but not law, their status as a holistic nation. Historically, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has represented all Palestinians, but since 1993, the liberation movement has been subsumed into the Palestinian Authority rendering it functionally absent. These fragmentations undergird Israeli claims that its relationship with Palestinians is either a matter of conflict resolution or national security but not of apartheid.

Worse, as part of the Faustian bargain that is the Oslo framework, the Palestinian Authority has internalized the colonial logic that its compliance and good behavior will be rewarded with independence. In fact, its subservience has reified Israel’s domination and has significantly benefited a select political and economic Palestinian elite. As part of its pact, the PA diligently polices its own population to protect Israel’s settler population as well as the civilian and military infrastructure that sustains the settlers’ presence. The PA allocates 30 percent of its national budget to security, which makes up half of its public sector. That is more than it spends on its “health, education and agriculture sectors combined.” The PA’s security coordination with Israel has become so effective that U.S. General Keith Dayton, who trained several classes of Palestinian security officers, lauded the Palestinians for turning their guns on “real enemies,” in reference to Palestinians suspected of posing a threat to Israel’s national interests. There is no reciprocal security arrangement to protect Palestinians. In its futile attempt to demonstrate its capacity to govern, the Palestinian leadership has relieved Israel of at least a portion of its military burden as an occupying power and aided it in in controlling the native population.

This approach has severely altered the post-1965 Palestinian national movement and transformed it into a critical part of Israel’s settler-colonial machinery, rather than being the primary impediment to that apparatus. In his work on the colonial politics of recognition, Glenn Coulthard highlights how settler colonialism, as a form of governmentality, makes this perverse outcome predictable. Indigenous nations who have established their sovereignty through formal recognition established a relational structure with the settler states that ensures those states’ continued access to their lands and resources. Under the framework of bureaucratic administration, indigenous peoples become “instruments of their own dispossession.” Under this arrangement, Coulthard continues, “contemporary colonialism works through rather than entirely against freedom.”

Palestinian officialdom’s uncritical adoption of this managerial approach risks confusing what is being offered in terms of limited autonomy with incremental steps towards freedom. This illusory quest, bolstered by the perks of self-autonomy and access to multilateral fora, has shaped the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to U.S. tutelage and its reticence to embark on a bolder course based on a politics of resistance.

Excerpted from “Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine” by Noura Erakat. © 2019 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All Rights Reserved.

Noura Erakat

Noura Erakat is an activist and human rights attorney.

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13 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on July 3, 2019, 10:50 am

    The so-called «Palestinian Authority» is indeed nothing but the comprador bitch of the Zionist entity. For thirty pieces of silver, the «Palestinian Authority» puts an indigenous face on Zionist settler-colonialism and reënforces the Zionist policy of divide et impera. The so-called leaders of the Zionists’ Palestinian puppet entity are on a par with the «heads of state» of the various Bantustans set up by the white-chauvinist régime occupying Azania and Namibia.

  2. Kay24 on July 3, 2019, 5:48 pm

    I often wondered by the PA was so compliant when it comes to the Zionists. Could the Zionists have “bought” some of that compliancy? You get crooked leaders on BOTH sides.
    Abbas lost his spine a long time ago.

    • LiberatePalestine on July 3, 2019, 7:24 pm

      In a population of any size, you can always find someone willing to sell the group out.

      • davisherb on July 4, 2019, 12:18 pm

        You nailed the problem…any solutions that might work?

    • Elizabeth Block on July 4, 2019, 4:52 pm

      For a time – a very, very short time – I thought that when the Israelis finally felt safe, they would give the Palestinians either a state or full citizenship. Silly. They will never feel safe, on principle.
      Mahmoud Abbas, I think, has been trying to make Israel feel safe, in the hope that it will reciprocate with some concessions. Of course it didn’t work.

  3. Mayhem on July 3, 2019, 9:56 pm

    To suggest that the PA has been compliant is utter nonsense. Instead it has sought to deepen Palestin­ian misfortune and use it as a cudgel against Israel in the theatre of international opinion. With so many many rejections of peace deals and offers, one has to conclude that the PA’s leaders simply aren’t interested in peace.
    The failure of the PLO to comply with the Oslo accords was documented back in 1996 by the Israeli government MAJOR PLO VIOLATIONS OF THE OSLO ACCORDS. Israelis continued to experience suicide bombings which the PA did nothing to alleviate.

    • Misterioso on July 4, 2019, 9:41 am



      Re: The Oslo Accords

      The Oslo accords were preceded by both parties signing a Declaration of Principles and the following letter of intent from Yasser Arafat to Prime Minister Rabin. Among other commitments, the PLO agreed to alter the Palestinian Covenant (July, 1968) by removing clauses calling for “armed struggle,” “the elimination of Zionism in Palestine,” “[liberation of the Palestinian] homeland,” and those referring to the illegitimacy of Israel.

      “September 9, 1993
      Yitzhak Rabin
      Prime Minister of Israel
      Mr. Prime Minister,

      “The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era in the history of the Middle East. In firm conviction thereof, I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments:

      “The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.

      “The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

      “The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.

      “The PLO considers that the signing of the Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.

      “In view of the promise of a new era and the signing of the Declaration of Principles and based on Palestinian acceptance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.”

      Yasser Arafat
      The Palestine Liberation Organization”

      In January 1998, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO and President of the PNC, sent the following letter to President Clinton reminding him that contrary to assertions by Israel’s Likud government under Netanyahu, the PLO Charter had been formally amended in accordance with commitments made to Yitzhak Rabin in 1993.

      “January 13, 1998

      “Dear Mr. President.

      “In the mutual recognition letters between me and the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of September 9/10, 1993, the PLO committed to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security, to accept UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides. The PLO also agreed to secure the necessary changes in the Palestinian Covenant to reflect these commitments.

      “Accordingly, the P.N.C. was held in Gaza city between 22-25 of April 1996, and in an extraordinary session decided that the ‘Palestine National Charter is hereby amended by cancelling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O and the Government of Israel on 9/10 September 1993.’

      “It should be noted that the above mentioned resolution acquired the consent of both the American Administration and the Israeli Government. Afterwards I sent letters concerning this historic resolution to your Excellency and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and later a similar letter was sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

      “Both your Excellency and Prime Minister Peres warmly welcomed the P.N.C. Resolution.

      “The Israeli Labor Party, and in appreciation of the P.N.C. resolution dropped its objection to the establishment of a Palestinian State from its political platform.

      “From time to time questions have been raised about the effect of the Palestine National Council’s action, particularly concerning which of the 33 articles of the Palestinian Covenant have been changed.

      “We would like to put to rest these concerns. The Palestine National Council’s resolution, in accordance with Article 33 of the Covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the Covenant. All of the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the P.L.O. commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel are no longer in effect.

      “As a result, Articles 6-10, 15, 19-23, and 30 have been nullified, and the parts in Articles 1-5, 11-14, 16-l8, 25-27 and 29 that are inconsistent with the above mentioned commitments have also been nullified.

      “I can assure you on behalf of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority that all the provisions of the Covenant that were inconsistent with the commitments (of September 9/10, 1993) to Prime Minister Rabin, have been nullified.
      Nablus: January 13, 1998
      Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the P.L.O., President of the P.N.A.”

      Enter Netanyahu, the shyster:

      Videos: July 17, 2010

      In the following segment, Bibi boasts about how he emptied the Oslo Accords of meaning by an interpretation that made a mockery of them:

      Woman: “The Oslo Accords are a disaster.”

      Netanyahu: “Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…”

      “What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: ‘Will you act according to them?’ and I answered: ‘yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.’ “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?”

      Narrator: “The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.”

      Netanyahu: “No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.”

      Woman: “Right [laughs]… The Beit She’an Valley.”

      Netanyahu: “How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter — to me and to Arafat, at the same time — which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to me and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.”

      Woman: “And despite that, one of our own people, excuse me, who knew it was a swindle, and that we were going to commit suicide with the Oslo Accord, gives them — for example — Hebron…”

      Netanyahu: “Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: ‘What would your father say?’ I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?”

      “He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: ‘Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.’ The trick is not to be there and be broken. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.”

      “At a point in the middle of the video Netanayhu asks the camera man to stop taping, but he continues…

      “Netanyahu says what he really thinks for the first time:

      “He brags about how easy is to manipulate the USA and he proudly explains how he sabotaged the Oslo process.”

      For the record:
      By signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted UNSC Res. 242 and thereby agreed to recognize a sovereign Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, i.e., as of 4 June 1967 – 78% of mandated Palestine.

      • Mayhem on July 10, 2019, 1:36 am

        @Misterioso, for your information the evidence is that there has never been one word changed in the Palestinian Covenant:

        1. There is not one document that has ever surfaced to support the claim any change has ever occurred.
        2. PNC Chairman’s Zanoun’s pre-vote speech specifically stated that no amendment was contemplated and that there was to be a redrafting of the new charter. There is no evidence that a redrafted charter is in existence.
        3. There is no evidence that a legal committee was ever formed pursuant to Clause 2 of the April 1996 PNC resolution and no evidence of a new charter (seelink to PNC website at end of article.).
        4. Three Dec. 1998 reaffirmations of Arafat’s January 1998 letter to President Clinton which stated that the consequence of the April 1996 resolution, for which a vast majority of the PNC voted, was an annulment of the specifically enumerated clauses and partial annulments of the other enumerated clauses was an Arafat allegation that never happened. An affirmation of something that never happened does not convert an event that never occurred into an event that happened. Thus, all of those reaffirmations of Arafat’s letter to President Clinton were reaffirmations of nothing. (A reaffirmation of a legally defective charter amendment, does not legally convert the legally defective amendment into a legally effective charter amendment.) (A reaffirmation of a fictional false event, doesn’t make the fictional false event any more factual or true.) If there were a real intention on the part of the Palestinian leadership to annul any part of the Charter, all they had to do was to have the Palestinian National Council vote specifically to annul each clause as Arafat alleged in his letter.
        Refer The PLO Charter Amendment That Never Was

  4. echinococcus on July 4, 2019, 1:15 am

    “Palestinian Authority thought compliance would lead to independence”
    says the title.

    Come on, now. It’s not like you are trying to sell a new and unknown product. This wasn’t centuries ago; it was yesterday. We were around. We’ve lived it minute by minute.

    “Palestinian Authority” leaders couldn’t ever have such a crazy thought –if they were thinking at all. It was obvious to all, let alone the directly interested, that compliance with that charade, with the US-Zionist Empire as a partner, could lead to nothing but worse slavery. Things were freakin obvious and all honest people protested loudly at the time of the Oslo catastrophe. Let’s not pretend.

    Yes, Palestinian resistance had recently experienced a huge physical defeat but it was getting a new lease on life with the Intifada. What happened instead was sellout and the physical liquidation of the resistance, before everyone’s eyes.

  5. VQTilley on July 7, 2019, 12:54 pm

    Nothing to add to this superb analysis except one footnote. I recall a US-raised Palestinian who worked with the PLO negotiating team saying long ago that the PLO leadership suffered from a profound and fatal misunderstanding of the West. In the Arab world, you gain the good graces of others by doing things they want you to do. Reciprocity is the guiding norm, so giving people what they want up front guarantees they will respond by doing what you want. In Western politics, doing what is wanted up front makes you irrelevant: no one bothers to accommodate you afterwards because no one needs anything further from you. The PLO’s failure (refusal) to include Western trained lawyers and advisers in the negotiating team, mentioned recently here by Raja Shehadeh, insulated them from this cultural difference and they have been waiting fruitlessly for the US and Israel to reciprocate ever since.

    I’d suggest that wasn’t the only problem. After the First Intifada started, Arafat’s PLO was mainly anxious to reposition itself as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” because all their diplomatic perks and associated luxuries depended on it. They had common cause with Israel on this agenda because Israel had lost control of the OPT to the Intifada’s organizing committee. Rattling Israel with an apartheid charge therefore runs counter to the deal with Israel that restored their position. Still, the cultural angle seems to remain salient.

    • MHughes976 on July 8, 2019, 4:51 am

      You know these things from the inside, Virginia, and I absolutely don’t. But I still have some sympathy with the PLO leaders. If you’re playing bridge and you’ve been dealt a Yarborough what can you do? What use is ingenuity or expertise, Eastern or Western? I think rather the same about poor old Theresa May, dealt a Yarborough in the Irish border game and about poor old Corbyn, paralysed by the fact, which none of his highly intelligent advisers can resolve, that he loses half his voters if he says anything definite about Brexit.
      The Israelis think that there will be a series of mediations, each offering them better terms than the last, with time so much on their side that they needn’t even bother to state their own terms. Their weapons, good relationships with all the superpowers who just don’t want trouble and disruption in the area and the massive power of the anti-semitism card in the West, are serving them well and seem so far to be justifying their contemptuous, really rather horrible, optimism. At that rate it may not be right, but it is not pure cynicism and selfishness, for the Palestinians to concentrate on the international diplomatic arena where they have some friends, though not friends prepared to make any big sacrifice.

      • VQTilley on July 8, 2019, 4:27 pm

        I see your point, M, but I think Noura didn’t mean that the PA shouldn’t concentrate on the “international diplomatic arena.” She was pointing out that the PA has eliminated its own leverage in that arena. The generous reading, which I suggested might partly apply, is that the PA is culturally obtuse. In the old Arab world, accommodations are made to get deals; in today’s international diplomatic world, deals are struck to get accommodations. To negotiate, or even to get effective mediation, you have to have something someone needs.

        As the West Bank disappears into Israel’s maw, those “friends” you mention have proved bloody worthless. For what is there to “mediate,” anyway? Israel already has what it needs: the PA’s security cooperation. To keep that cooperation, Israel is willing to ensure that the PA leadership continues to pad its swollen pockets (through salaries, graft and corruption), can move around freely (avoiding the humiliations imposed on everyone else), and continues to enjoy its diplomatic perks (first class seats on international travel, full packages in presidential hotel suites, admission to the halls of power, etc.). A small price for Israel to pay for the PA’s enabling Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, which is proceeding apace in the security climate the PA ensures.

        But of course, the increasingly common interpretation of the PA is far worse – that it has sold out. It’s not even controversial to assert that the PA has become Israel’s agent in governing the OPT. The PA keeps the West Bank a peaceful and safe environment for Jewish settlement life to flourish. It didn’t have to do this. In South Africa, the ANC never did that. Those who did, the people staffing the Bantustan governments, were rightly seen as collaborators. It’s hard to credit as mere naivete or foolish optimism such conspicuous failure to achieve any nationalist goal the PA was ever supposed to serve. In all respects, they are a Bantustan government and they are acting like one.

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