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The trap of the Regional Conference
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
April 11, 2017

The resumption of negotiations without handling the Palestinian crises would be as a political suicide.

There are many indicators that Washington is seeking to achieve a regional "deal" that includes a solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, accordance with a new settlement approach based on the US-Israeli understandings, on a wide range of key issues in this conflict.

Although, the decisions of Arab «Dead Sea» summit indicated that the official Arab position is in line with the previous summits about the conflict, including the 2002 Arab initiative in Beirut summit, but the involvement of some Arab capitals in discussing the elements of US deal, indicates clearly that the US endeavor is supported by a large number of Arab countries in touch with the Palestinian cause and the repercussions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In the framework of this deal, the negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides are supposed to be resumed within the new approach that is based on the American position that the settlements are not an obstacle before the "peace" process and without setting an aim for these negotiations after Washington gave up under the new administration its adoption to «The two-state solution».

It can be said that the American idea to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through a regional conference is an extension of what was done under the previous US administration, and the unannounced summit in Aqaba, Jordan, was one of Washington's attempts to implement this idea.

It is clear that the solution of conflict in the framework of a regional conference with the presence of Israel and Arab countries, means a reversal of the priorities of the Arab international agenda towards the solution, It begins with the official Arab normalization with the occupation and moves towards discussing the Palestinian file after its disengagement with the supposed Arab support in confronting the American and Israeli conditions and pressures ,and pushing the Palestinian negotiator to accept what he could not accept in previous negotiations rounds.

The regional conference also means that the direction that Washington is pushing toward it in its dealing with the Arab turmoil’s will laid its heavy shadow on the course of discussing into the future of the occupied Palestinian territories, and any Arab side that participates in this conference will find itself in front of swaps between many proposed files on and under the table, and it is not surprising that the abdication in the Palestinian issue is the closest in political practice, in exchange for Washington's accordance with some Arab sides’ vision for the course of events that are happening in the region.

Within this context, and on the basis of the very close American position to Tel Aviv, resuming negotiations will be a disaster if it is resumed ,on the future of Palestinian national rights.

The regional conference essentially means excluding the reference of United Nations and its relevant resolutions from the course of conflict solution and thus, its reference will turn to the non-Palestinian positions which will participate in Conference. It is normal that American-Israeli consensus is the guiding element of the course of the solution and the outcome of negotiations; it is clear from now on, with excluding the aim of establishing an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the borders of 4th of June, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

One of the most important resolutions that were excluded in the previous and subsequent negotiations (if they are resumed) was the Resolution 194, which guarantees for the Palestinian refugees their return to their homes and properties from which they were expelled, and the adopted resolution by the General Assembly of United Nations in the fall of 2012, in which it recognized Palestine as a state under occupation with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the borders ,Which already have been mentioned.

The Trump’s administration has already announced that it will accept the solution that will be acceptable to both , the Israeli and Palestinian sides, refusing to talk about a specific American vision about ways to resolve the conflict and the purpose of the settlement process if it is resumed. Thus, he left it to the balance of power on the ground within the huge imbalance in the level between the occupying state and the Palestinian people under this occupation.

But there are signs that Trump's administration does not object to the "economic peace" plan that has been launched since many years by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The media recently quoted the US demand to Netanyahu to provide economic incentives for the Palestinians to seek a new course of negotiation.
The plan is essentially based on the abolition of the fundamental political course that relates to the right of the Palestinian people to establish its state, because the search for its independence , means looking into the future of the occupied Palestinian territories as a whole. This is completely rejected by Tel Aviv, which has worked since the beginning of the settlement and still to make the areas under the power of the Palestinian Authority on the basis of «more residents... less land».

When both Washington and Tel Aviv emphasize the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian entity, this means that the security mandate, will be exclusively in the hands of Tel Aviv. This has been clearly stated by Netanyahu several times, and if we relates it to the "new" approach of settlement and considers it as a “fait accompli” by Washington and others , so, about half of the West Bank will remain under Israeli control in all its forms, and thus, cancelling the possibility of the establishment of an independent state on all the occupied Palestinian territories by the 1967 aggression.

Most of the observers considered that the acceptance of the Palestinian negotiator to resume the negotiations within the indicators mentioned above, would be tantamount to suicide and an entrenched trap that puts him under severe pressure to make compromises that affect Palestinian rights.

It can be said that the search to revive the settlement without looking first at the internal situation and dealing with the complex and cumulative Palestinian crises, would be a grave mistake. The proper way for the Palestinian situation is to return to the resolutions of the national consensus and to implement them immediately, starting with the decisions of the Central Council at its last session and the decisions of the comprehensive national dialogues in order to end the division and rebuild the Palestinian political system on democratic foundations.

This only will protect the Palestinian political and popular situation, and enable the Palestinians to impose their presence as a key factor in the regional equations, and thus impose a search for a settlement that responds to national rights and does not exceed them as what is currently happening in these days during the search for the "regional deal."

Mohammad Al-Sahli is Editor in Chief of Alhourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Rawda Abo Zarqa and Manal Mansour
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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