Palestinian-Israeli peace process dormant, deadlocked and declared �dead� and
at least two-thirds of the Palestinians living in exile, hosted and influenced
by regional powers, the Palestinian leadership is facing an overdue review of
its self-defeating unilateral approach to change course towards a multilateral,
or better a collective, Arab approach to resolving the conflict with Israel.
to an Israeli intransigent insistence on bilateral tracks of negotiations with
the Arab League states, whether in armistice or peace talks, the Palestinian
leadership followed the Arab example and adopted a unilateral approach to
dealing with Israel, in an historical trend that deprived it from valuable
negotiating assets and absolved those states from what the Arab masses, the
Palestinians inclusive, perceive as Pan-Arab obligations.
League states, which fought the emerging Jewish state in Palestine in unison,
at least theoretically, in 1948 signed the armistice agreements individually
and were individually forced into separate peace negotiations after their
humiliating military defeat in 1967.
individual unilateral approach to the conflict with Israel was divisive to the
Arab ranks, gave Israel a free hand to target Arabs individually without any
hope for any unified Arab back-up, held the Palestinian people hostage to the
Israeli colonial occupation, and doomed any regional comprehensive solution to
the Arab-Israeli conflict.
the Palestinian unilateral approach has been the most destructive because it
was used as the raison d�tere for the other Arabs to break ranks in unilateral
dealings with Israel.
Palestinian leadership went unilateral to launch an �armed struggle� against
Israel at a time when the Arab states were at their most vulnerable militarily
and had done with their pre-1967 �Arab Joint Defense Pact� as well as with any
military solution for the �liberation of Palestine.�
however succeeded in bringing the Palestinian people back to the regional
political map, a development that Israel failed to avert after years of
negating their existence in the �land without people� as its founding fathers
used to claim.
the Palestinian historical window of opportunity to unilaterally exist and act
had narrowed quickly and was short-lived as soon as the Arab states recovered
from their defeat, not only to resume their endeavors to liberate their
occupied lands militarily (Egypt and Syria in 1973) but also to pursue �peace
options� to achieve the same goal.
and the Palestinian unilateralism was an Israeli strategic goal from the
beginning and has always played into the hands of the Israeli strategists who
played each and every people of the Arabs against the other to condemn all of
them as losers.
Palestinian unilateral approach was repeatedly self-justified by a declared
pledge to defend the �Palestinian independent decision-making� vis-�-vis individual
or collective Arab calls for coordination politically and defensively.
cost the Palestinian people a lot of bloodshed and a distracting political
wrangling with Arab states, amid wide spread criticism that the Palestinian
justification is only a pretext to go it alone with the Israelis, an accusation
that has come true with the Oslo accords, which infuriated the direct
the Jordanian and Egyptian unilateral approaches that led to peace treaties
with the Jewish state were in fact blessed by a Palestinian green light and, in
turn, joined Israel in preserving and reinforcing the Palestinian
unilateralism. Both treaties have turned the two strategically decisive Arab
allies into mediators in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in spite of their
denials and assertions to the contrary.
for too long in a self-inflicted captivity to a counterproductive U.S. strategy
to be able to reconsider an alternative strategic option and using as a
misleading pretext the self-defeating and self-deceiving motto of �independent
national decision-making,� the Palestinian leadership, for example, has kept
its distance from even the least suspicion of being linked in any way to
Israel�s latest war on Lebanon, lest it is labeled a party to the U.S.-termed
�axis of terror.�
Palestinian leadership has been pacified and tamed to be part and parcel of the
Arab officialdom, which is very well versed with the U.S. politics and minutes
of the American strategies, tactics and demands, but stone-deaf to the daily
pulse of their people.
example, on the same day the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were declaring that no links exist between
the case of the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinians and the two soldiers
captured by Hizbullah, spokesmen for more than 10.000 Palestinian detainees in
Israeli jails were appealing to Sayyed Hassan Nassrullah to include their
beloved ones in any deal with Israel.
while Abbas was telling reporters that the Palestinian and Lebanese conflicts
with Israel were two separate �paths,� the defunct peace process that was
declared �dead� by none other than the Arab League chief, Amr Mousa, led to
Palestinian despair that is leading to calls to do away with the Oslo accords
and the Israeli-reoccupied autonomous Palestinian Authority.
popular identification with anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. Arab resistance, whether
in Lebanon or Iraq, has reached an all-time high. A poll conducted by the
Ramallah-based Near East Consulting group and released August 8 found that
Hizbullah had the support of 97 percent of Palestinians, compared with 3
percent who said they were opposed to the group.
Palestinian leadership in total disregard of their people�s wishes strictly adhered
to disengagement from a Hizbullah-led resistance to the U.S.-backed Israeli
33-day bombardment of Lebanon, betting on an Israeli overwhelming victory, thus
missing an opportunity to end Israel�s six-year old war on the Palestinian
people and free some of their detainees in the Israeli jails.
families of the Jordanian POWs in Israeli jails are still lamenting their
government�s similar decision to disengage from a Hizbullah-Israeli deal two
linking to the Lebanese wagon heading for the United Nations Security Council,
the Palestinian leadership could have made up for failing to clinch a UN
resolution to stop the Israeli war on the Palestinian Authority, government and
people, thanks to the U.S. veto, and for failing to convene an Arab League
summit to help stop the Israeli onslaught and break the eight-month military,
economic, financial and diplomatic siege imposed on the Palestinian people
early in 2006.
Arab League foreign ministers managed to meet on Lebanon in Beirut about two
weeks ago, they were relieved to avoid linking the Palestinian and Lebanese
tracks in their move towards the UN Security Council.
also is not on the Palestinians� side to give them hope that their salvation is
on the horizon, let alone being imminent. The campaign for the upcoming U.S.
elections has already begun and Israelis have become experts in exploiting this
waste of time of inactive U.S. foreign diplomacy, as much as Arab officialdom
have become experts in waiting for U.S. diplomacy to become active again.
the Palestinians still have one opening out of their captivity: Linking to the
Syrian peace option, at least to be in harmony with their recent repeated calls
for an international conference to work out a comprehensive regional solution.
doesn�t necessarily mean joining the U.S.-termed Syrian-Iranian �axis of
terror,� nor a break with their peace allies in Egypt and Jordan.
Syrian option could be developed into an Arab peace front including Egypt and
Jordan to pursue peace with Israel collectively, backed politically by the Arab
League and the majority of the United Nations members and defensively by the
resistance movements to the ongoing Israeli military adventures that have been
for years pushing a sustainable and lasting peace out of the regional reach.
option could create a united Arab peace front, in an overdue response to an old
demand by the sympathizing world community.
Arab collective approach to a comprehensive regional peace was tested by the late
Saudi Arabian king, Fahad, early in the 1980s, to be updated and upgraded by a
Saudi initiative that was adopted by the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut,
Lebanon, in March 2002, an effort that was swiftly and vehemently aborted by
the Israeli and U.S. strategic allies.
has historically vetoed the United Nations out of the Arab-Israeli conflict and
blocked the implementation of dozens of UN resolutions to resolve it.
the UN resolutions, the successive U.S. administrations and their Western
allies have proposed more than two dozens of the so-called �peace plans� since
Israel was conditionally admitted to the U.N. in 1949, all of them dealt with
and were accepted by the Arabs, including the Palestinians, but all were
aborted by Israel because none of them obliged it to commit to the UN
resolutions and international law.
U.S.-only approach has not delivered, but prolonged the Palestinians' plight.
A third option should be sought, not to rule the United
States out of the regional peace-making, but to involve it, help it balance its
regional policy to be evenhanded, weigh in to make peace instead of its 60-year
old policy of just managing a peace process in the region.
Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank. He is the
editor of the English Web site of the Palestine Media Centre (PMC).