Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Salvaging a lost cause

The practical consequence of handing over the Palestinian Authority’s keys to Israel would be that Israel would become a full-fledged occupying power over three million Palestinians living in the West Bank.  CR Sasikumar The practical consequence of handing over the Palestinian Authority’s keys to Israel would be that Israel would become a full-fledged occupying power over three million Palestinians living in the West Bank. CR Sasikumar
Written by Chinmaya R Gharekhan | Posted: May 1, 2014 12:59 am | Updated: April 30, 2014 11:47 pm

The deadline for this round of peace talks has expired. Dissolving the Palestinian Authority is the best course of action for Palestinians.

Nearly two and a half decades have gone by since the Oslo Accords were signed. The Palestinians are further away from their goal than they were then. The latest round of negotiations began in Washington on July 29, 2013, following an agreement between the parties brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry. The novel feature of this round was that a definite deadline was fixed — nine months, ending on April 29, 2014 — for the conclusion of the talks.

The deadline has expired. Let alone settling the problem, Kerry could not even manage to persuade the parties to extend the talks by six months. He made more than a dozen trips to the region and his effort and dedication deserve recognition, but that will be no consolation to him. He held Israel responsible for the deadlock, stating publicly that Israel’s decision to build 700 more settlement housing units was directly responsible for the breakdown.

The Palestinians gave an additional reason — namely, Israel’s failure to abide by its commitment to release the Palestinian prisoners by the agreed date. Israel says that it was the Palestinian decision to adhere to 15 UN conventions that was responsible for the collapse of the talks. The two sides have always had one thing strongly in common through the past four decades: each wants the other held responsible for the failure of negotiations. But now, Israel feels so confident of itself that it no longer cares if it is blamed for the breakdown.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had a slight upper hand in terms of public diplomacy. Most of the international community was holding Israel responsible for its intransigent attitude. This might have been of little comfort to the Palestinians, but it did make it possible for donors to continue with their financial support. That sympathy has greatly diminished, if not been wiped out altogether, by the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, concluded in Gaza on April 24.

The timing was particularly bad, since it gave the “Jewish state” a plausible excuse to call off the talks before the April 29 deadline. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Abbas could have peace with Israel or with Hamas, he could not have both. Abbas should have waited until the expiry of the deadline before making peace with Hamas. Having said this, it is clear that Israel was an accessory to this development before the fact; it continued…

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