Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mazin Qumsiyeh Says In Essence "We Are All Palestinians Now"

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel told his governing coalition that he did not promise an extension to the partial suspension in settlement construction when it expires in September (BTW, the suspension did not cover most of the settlement areas which are around Jerusalem and did not cover existing construction in other areas, not infrastructure, schools, synagogue constructions etc. In other words, there was really no suspension.) Standing next to President Obama he simply emphasised that the topic to be discussed with Palestinians is how we can prevent attacks on illegal settlers in the West Bank.

Six months ago Abbas, encouraged by Obama, agreed to negotiations with Netanyahu only if Israel fulfilled its obligations per the road map of a total settlement freeze including in East Jerusalem. Abbas stated about his decision to renew direct negotiations without even a promise of partial settlement suspension: "Palestinians are not powerful to dictate pre-conditions of negotiations"; later in a prime-time speech to the people, "we did not want the difference between us and the Israelis to come down to differences on modality of negotiations, want to build a peace based on security for both people". He did not once mention the right of refugees to return to their homes and lands. If Netanyahu can use the excuse of having a coalition that can break apart if he gave up an inch, then how can Abbas who is now ruling by Fiat and has already given up 78% of Palestine resist further pressure for further back-downs without rebuilding a representative PLO?

President Obama has been a strong advocate of Israel and half the staff in his administration that have anything to do with US policy in the Middle East are Jewish Zionists (people like Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross). Thus it is not surprising that he never ever said any words to acknowledge Palestinians have any rights to anything (only aspirations for statehood). By contrast he speaks of rights of Israelis (the occupiers) to security and peace.

But in my decades of involvement with the struggle for freedom, I have never seen such a disconnect between people and politicians claiming to represent them. Even in Israeli papers, comments from average Israelis are lopsided against colonial settlers and highly cynical of the Israeli politicians. Palestinians almost uniformly (with the exception of those directly benefiting) oppose the politicians ruling from Ramallah or Gaza. US citizens are extremely unhappy with a situation of two unwinnable wars, over 1000 suicides in US troops serving in those wars, and the destruction of the US economy to serve special interest lobbies (like AIPAC) with endless wars. The good news is that more and more people awake will eventually turn this system around. In this regard, we mourn the loss of our friend Sherif Fam who died yesterday in Boston. Sherif was an exceptional radio host. I interviewed with him many times (e.g. Our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues. We will miss him.

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