President Mahmoud Abbas was not shocked when the Americans informed him about their failure to convince the Israelis to freeze the settlements, in order to push forward the direct negotiations between the Palestinian authority and Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The great wall erected by extremism in the Hebrew state to deter the attempts of dragging it toward serious negotiations over the Palestinian state, is blinding any prospect of a solution. Nonetheless, it does not obscure the fact that the division between Ramallah – the “weak” partner in peace – and the forgotten Gaza to its authority and poverty, is still the strongest weapon of this extremism.
The result is null for all the shuttle tours that took a lot of George Mitchell’s time, followed by direct pressures exerted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, thus exhausting much more time from the Palestinians than the Israelis – that is, if they exhausted any of their blackmail abilities to begin with. The Israelis are certainly registering one victory after the other over the American administration’s Democrats, starting with the reduced ability of President Barack Obama to threaten with any sanctions in the face of the outbreak of Jewish settlement activities, and ending with forcing this administration to publicly recognize that this file was no longer on the negotiations table as a first priority.
There is nothing new in saying that the beginning was seen with the slap of the congressional elections, as the Jewish lobby appeared to be the most prominent voter. Moreover, there is nothing new in saying that this bitter experience for the Democrats represented a “rehearsal” for the upcoming presidential elections in the United States. Today, while Obama is “besieged” amid Netanyahu’s blackmail and the Wikileaks scandals which are undermining the remaining trust between some Arabs and the “soft” diplomacy of the American administration, the Palestinians have no incentive to trust the fact that this diplomacy is worth trying again. But what is the alternative?
True, Obama has so far been losing in the battle of the major promises to revive the lifeless Palestinian-Israeli track. However, the Palestinians cannot just rely on scoring points through evidence proving the obstinacy and unwillingness of Netanyahu’s government to find a so-called “balanced” solution, or even one proving Washington’s inability to meet its promises. They are still the biggest losers and will remain in the position of those wagering on weak cards as long as Palestinian division has placed free weapons in Israel’s hands. As for the American game of blackmail, it will remain open to the presidential elections in the United States in 2012.
Once again, the Palestinians would be mistaken if they were to place hope in Obama’s uprising in the face of what they consider to be an Israeli slap of the American president, and if Abbas averts the truth by describing Washington’s recognition of the failure as being “a difficult crisis,” while everyone knows the futility of the attempts to reach a solution with the extremist Israeli right-wing. Consequently, the United States’ return to the dialogue of the deaf in the indirect negotiations will generate results that are worse than null for the Palestinian authority.
In this context, the attempt of Hillary Clinton’s team to promote a new approach placing the border and security files ahead of the settlement conundrum, is a mere attempt to run forward. Moreover, it gives the Israeli time-wasting game all the freedom it needs to eliminate any grounds for the negotiations.
Far from the political vocabulary which no longer has anything to water down at the level of the dead peace process, can the authority or Hamas disregard the Israeli sarcastic question: “What Palestinian state is being recognized by the Brazilians and the Argentines?” We are in the presence of a dead peace and a state which is intended to remain an illusion by Netanyahu, while Hamas and the authority are competing over arrests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as over claims of torture and human rights violations.
In the meantime, the Israelis are wondering: “When will the Palestinians understand what the Americans have understood,” after they were able to convince the Americans to place the settlement file on the shelf while certainly aware of the fact that the arms of the struggle between the authority and Hamas are a necessity to extend the lifetime of the alliance of extremists in the Hebrew state. There is a great difference between the Palestinian arms of treason and the Gaza authority’s training of its muscles through the protection of public morals on the street, and the Israeli arms of blackmail employed with Washington, through the use of the ammunition of “the alliance of the extremists” that is “sponsored” by Iran.
The difference between the concerns over the Iranian “nuclear” bomb and the fears over the moral situation in the Gaza of the poor, equals the distance between the dream of a Palestinian state and what some Palestinians are doing to thwart it. As for Abbas’ threat to disband the authority, it is similar to a rifle without bullets and is allowing Israel to launch its Judaization battle from the widest doors.
The difference between Obama and Netanyahu is that the former is trying and failing, while the latter is succeeding in convincing the Israelis that they are safe as long as the Palestinians and others in the neighboring states are competing over the prevention of the launching of rockets.