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Negotiations without Negotiating
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
December 13, 2017

Washington asks the Palestinian negotiator and its political reference to declare his pre-acceptance to enter into negotiations with the Israeli side, and to disregard the rules and objectives of these negotiations, only because the US administration wants that!

Since Trump's envoys have begun to talk about the "Deal of the Century", the Palestinian side hasn't received more than a package of conditions which are complied with Israeli expansionist considerations, and the US has moved from putting pressure on the Palestinians to get additional concessions to direct orders.

In this context, the recent American conditions to allow the continuation of the work of the PLO office, come from its "positive" interaction with the process of settlement, and its abstention from any political or diplomatic effort, close to the doors of the United Nations and its institutions, even if this effort is only a press statement In that direction.

The US Department of State officials do not hide their optimism, that the Palestinian negotiator will prove its seriousness in the negotiations, which Washington calls for their resumption during the 90-day campaign, set by the US law, to lift restrictions on the activities of organizations excluded from the ban, a temporary exception that should be renewed periodically, according to the evaluation of the US administration to those organizations, including the Palestine Liberation Organization.

American actions and decisions have been alternating toward the PLO and the Palestinian Authority without being matched by an equivalent position. So, when the PA announced its intention to break off contacts with Washington over the background of what happened with the PLO's office, the contacts, instead, were intensified under the pretext of trying to find out what happened and why, which reaffirms that the official Palestinian policy is still committed to the illusion of betting on the US role regarding the settlement, though all proofs that assure that American and Israeli visions toward this settlement are consistent, despite the ambiguity in the US discourse about it, but it is very clear in its aims which neglect the rights of the Palestinian people. That can be seen through the American position on the issues of return, settlement, Jerusalem, borders, security, etc.; and putting the conditions on the PA in terms of defending the occupation by stressing on the cessation of incitement against it, or submitting complaints in the United Nations about crimes committed against the Palestinian people, land and properties.

What is remarkable in the American discourse, is that it no longer taps behind its previous verbal statements about the settlement process, for example it is using " sustainable peace " instead of "viable Palestinian state" in the "road map", as an existing goal without linking it to the realization of Palestinians' aspirations for independence and building their independent state in accordance with the international legitimacy resolutions. With this declared exposure of the US vision about the settlement, Netanyahu's government found its golden opportunity to unleash settlement, demolish Palestinian homes and openly speak of its intention to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank and replace them with settlers.

The American speech recently has spoken about "meaningful" negotiations, bypassing the previous emphasis on the need for both parties to agree on the solution, and although it leaves the Palestinians under the imbalance of power, but nevertheless it leaves them free to accept or reject it, and then this "meaning" that Washington wants for these negotiations is illustrated through its proposed conditions that "qualify" the Palestinian situation, to accept everything that is raised. Therefore, what Washington wants from negotiations, is the presence of the Palestinian negotiator and the signing on a solution, that Washington and Tel Aviv want together and with a regional pressure that serves this path. In other words, the Palestinian negotiator in the exposed American discourse is even deprived from negotiating!

Washington ,so far, has considered the PLO as a political entity that is not "safe" and has not trusted it, because of the decisions and directions, taken by the PLO's institutions at many stations, even if these decisions are not implemented. Among these institutions, is the Palestinian Central Council, especially its decisions, taken at the beginning of the spring of 2015, which led to the correction of the official Palestinian policy on the settlement, and as a result, the Council decided not to engage in the political process if it is not based on the resolutions of international legitimacy, and at the forefront is Resolution 194 which guarantees the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, which they have been expelled from .

Also, it decided to correct the relationship with the occupation by stopping the security coordination with it, and boycotting it economically, in addition, it called for the mobilization of popular resistance in the face of occupation and supporting it politically and on the ground. Therefore, this package of resolutions, which expressed the Palestinian national consensus, is a source of concern and anxiety for both Washington and Tel Aviv. Therefore, all the conditions, proposed by the Trump administration since its contact with the Palestinian Authority have aimed at re-conditioning the Palestinian political and popular situation outside the objective sought by PLO.

Both Washington and Tel Aviv are encouraged by the fact that this policy toward the Palestinian side is faced by a state of silence toward these conditions and dictations. Trump's administration, together with Netanyahu's government, recognize that the verbal positions issued here and there are for domestic consumption only. Moreover, the US administration is no longer satisfied with the PA's slow move toward filing complaints to the International Criminal Court about the crimes of occupation, but it even wants it to "declare repentance" even about thinking about it, not just to flag it, as the former US administration sometimes was doing through turning a blind eye to that, and considering it as is "feckless" threat.

It is clear that there is an attempt to "legalize" the official Palestinian political behavior, through determinants that are gradually announced by the US administration, in agreement with the occupation government. So, all official and unofficial Palestinian statements have become under the microscope of the American and Israeli observers, as a prelude to the intervention through more dictations.

From this point of view, also, the US administration is observing at the path of Palestinian reconciliation, especially with regard to the security files, and most importantly the resistance weapon, and it has delayed the international acceptance of the reconciliation agreement by opposing the issuance of a statement in the Security Council about that.

It is clear that when Washington has not objected to the Cairo agreement on reconciliation recently, it has sought to move towards implementing the conditions set out by the Trump envoy, Greenblatt, in the Gaza Strip as well as in the West Bank. It is also clear that it is rethinking its calculations in this regard, as there is a consensus by most forces and factions to protect the resistance arm and to seek the reunification of the national liberation program in the context of rebuilding the Palestinian political system.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is an Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Translated by: Rawan Al-Bash
Revised by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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