Palestinians should keep relations with US, not commit suicide

The Palestinians need to be realistic in their approach so they can avoid traps being strewn on their path.
Sunday 17/12/2017
Those calling for boycotting US Vice-President Mike Pence’s visit to the Middle East do not mean well for the Palestinians

Those, such as Hamas, who are calling for a third Palestinian intifada in response to US President Donald Trump’s unjust and condemnable decision on Jerusa­lem are inviting all Palestinians to commit suicide.

This intifada would be untimely. It would serve as another excuse for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to claim the Palestinians cannot be serious partners in peace nego­tiations, while we know that Netanyahu does not believe in any peace process himself and is simply after consecrating Israeli occupation of part of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Then again, do Palestinians have any choice other than the peace process to push for their rights, including their right to claim East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent state? Let anyone who has another realistic choice make it known. It is a historical fact that the Palestinians have lost every military confrontation with Israeli forces, with perhaps the exception of a March 1968 battle along with the Jordanian Army.

They did, however, score a great victory with their peaceful revolt in the intifada of 1987 and 1988, famous for its “Children of the Stones.” Otherwise, every­thing else is just talk. This is, unfortunately, the painful truth that needs to be kept in mind as Trump’s unabashed siding with the Israeli occupation is debated.

Those calling for boycotting US Vice-President Mike Pence’s visit to the Middle East do not mean well for the Palestinians.

In 2000, Ariel Sharon’s visit to Haram al-Sharif ignited the second intifada. The wily Sharon, however, succeeded in closing the road to Washington for Yasser Arafat, who made the mistake of militarising the intifada. Never­theless, Arafat placed the Palestinian cause on the Middle East’s political map and succeeded in thrusting it into the White House.

There is no point in launch­ing an intifada for its own sake. What would be the point of a new intifada at the end of 2017? Do the Palestinians have an alternative to negotia­tions with Israel with US mediation?

Many will surely say that the United States can no longer be trusted as an unbi­ased mediator. The Palestinians, however, need to be realistic in their approach so they can avoid the traps being strewn in their path. They need to give up hope of one day seeing Israel give up its antagonistic policy. So why boycott the US vice-president? That’s what Israel was hoping for.

Starting another intifada would serve the goals of those who want to use the Palestinians and Jerusalem to advance their own agendas and projects.

There may be no imme­diate benefit in meeting with Pence but it is sure to not cause any loss. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should seriously think about this critical stage in the Palestinian cause and leave hollow slogans aside.

Yes, the American administra­tion is unjust towards the Palestinians but that is no reason for the latter to break relations with the former. On the contrary, lessons should be sought from the recent past as we ask why the second intifada failed but the first succeeded.

The first intifada succeeded because it was peaceful and led to a clear political agenda, which was adopted by the Palestin­ian National Council in November 1988. It led to direct contacts with the US administration and to the Oslo Accords. It was thanks to this agreement that Arafat returned to the Palestinian territories and was later buried in Ramallah, a stone’s throw from Jerusalem.

When all is said and done, the Palestinian cause remains a case of a people who have had their national rights and lands spoilt. By intensi­fying its settlement-creating drive, Israel is pushing to wipe out the geographical area known as the West Bank. This is where the real battle lies for the Palestinians, who are in unfavourable conditions.

Trump’s decision adds to the odds working against the Palestinians. The US admin­istration seems much more bent on pleasing the extreme right in Israel due to purely internal considerations. Never­theless, it is much better for the Palestinians to keep their relations with the United States than to sever them. Having a small chance at influencing American decisions is better than nothing at all.