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Friday, March 2, 2007

Which word will PLO honor?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/03/which-word-will-plo-honor.html

On February 16, Forward newspaper published an Op-Ed by Afif Safieh, head of the PLO delegation to the United States. It is entitled "We Palestinians will honor our word." It can only be characterized as a shameless document. The PLO has a perfect record. They have broken every single agreement that they have made with Israel, in detail, paragraph by paragraph.
 
In the Oslo Declaration of Principles, they undertook to refrain from violence, and Yasser Arafat assured Israel and the United States that the PLO recognizes the right of Israel to exist. Of these undertakings, nothing at all remains. Hundreds of reassurances about stopping violence were followed regularly by terror attacks, beginning in 1994. Joint patrols with Israel came to an end after Palestinians killed their Israeli counterparts. Even while assuring the world that he opposed violence, Arafat was signing salary chits for terrorists and the Palestinian treasury was funding the manufacture of suicide bomber vests. In violation of the Oslo DOP and the Wye River accords, a steady torrent of incitement issued from Palestinian Authority media - articles asserting that Jews are the root of all evil, little girls promising to blow themselves up to liberate Jerusalem, texts that teach the "duty" of Jihad.
 
The elections that brought the Hamas to power, held with the consent and on the insistence of the PLO were illegal. Under the Oslo interim agreement, parties that are committed to violence were not allowed to participate in the elections, yet Hamas was allowed to participate.  
 
With the signing of the Mecca agreement, in which Hamas will be allowed to enter the PLO and Fatah will join the Hamas dominated PNA government, nothing is left of the PLO undertaking to recognize Israel. Hamas officials remarked that the agreement means that Fatah is finished. The PLO will henceforth be Hamas. The word they will honor is the word in the Hamas Charter - "Jihad." After signing the agreement, Hamas reiterated that they will never recognize Israel and never make peace with Israel. Moderate Palestinians condemned this agreement as Fatah capitulation to Hamas. Nobody who wants peace in the Middle East or a better future for Palestinians can accept this document, or can accept the PLO after they signed this document.
 
It is past time to say "Enough" to PLO prevarications. We must have faith that there are Palestinians who want peace, and who will one day live in peace with Israel. But negotiations and peace cannot be based on fictitious history, and blatant lies of the type that Safieh perpetrated in his article cannot be accepted in silence out of politeness.
 
The op-ed of Afif Safieh is of the same nature as the Friedensreden of Adolf Hitler, the speeches that promised peace, which were always made after a particularly onerous Nazi aggression.  
 
It is understandable that Safieh had the effrontery to concoct this nonsensical document. What possessed the Forward to publish his mendacious propaganda?
 
Ami Isseroff
 

We Palestinians Will Honor Our Word
Opinion
http://www.forward.com/articles/we-palestinians-will-honor-our-word/
Afif Safieh | Fri. Feb 16, 2007

I know of no way to measure suffering, no mechanism to quantify pain. All I know is that we Palestinians are not children of a lesser God.

Had I been a Jew or a Gypsy, I would consider the Holocaust to be the most atrocious event in history. Had I been a Native American, it would be the arrival of the European settlers and the subsequent near-total extermination of the indigenous population. Had I been an African American, it would be slavery in previous centuries and apartheid in the last. Had I been an Armenian, it would be the Turkish massacre.

I happen to be a Palestinian, and for Palestinians the most atrocious event in history is what we call the Nakba, the catastrophe. Humanity should consider all the above as morally unacceptable, all as politically inadmissible. Lest I be misunderstood, I am not comparing the Nakba to the Holocaust. Each catastrophe stands on its own, and I do not like to indulge in comparative martyrology or a hierarchy of tragedies. I only mention our respective traumas in order to illustrate that we each bring to the table our own particular history.

The fact that the accords reached last week in Mecca between Hamas and Fatah were met with a variety of reactions, ranging from warm to cautious to skeptical, makes it imperative to revisit and learn the lessons of the diplomatic history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Time and again the three "no's" of the Khartoum summit in 1967 — no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel — are invoked as proof conclusive of Arab intransigence toward Israel. Such a claim, however, conveniently forgets that Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt and Jordan accepted United Nations Security Council resolution 242 just months after the Khartoum meeting.

Also forgotten is that Syria, after the October War in 1973 — the purpose of which, it should be remembered, was to reactivate a dormant diplomatic process and to capture the attention of American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — accepted U.N. resolution 338, which incorporated resolution 242. Ignored, too, is that the entire Arab world endorsed a peace plan put forth by the then-Saudi crown prince Fahd at a 1982 summit in Fez, Morocco, as well as unanimously backed the initiative put forth by then-Saudi crown prince Abdallah in Beirut in 2002.

For the Palestinian national movement, the October War in 1973 was a demarcation line in strategic thinking. It is then that we concluded that there was no military solution to the conflict. Until then we had advocated a unitary, democratic, bicultural, multiethnic and pluri-confessional state in Mandatory Palestine.

After 1973, a pragmatic coalition within the Palestine Liberation Organization emerged. Composed of Yasser Arafat's Fatah, Nayef Hawatmeh's Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and As Sa'iqa, the Palestinian branch of the Syrian Ba'ath Party, the coalition demanded not absolute justice but rather possible justice within the framework of a two-state solution. The fact that As Sa'iqa belonged to that school of thought, it is worth noting, is proof that Damascus can be a constructive player in the region if properly engaged and its concerns addressed. Syria is not necessarily the eternal spoiler that needs to use the Lebanese theater or the Palestinian scene in order to remind everyone of its presence.

Led by this pragmatic coalition, the PLO was ready for a historical compromise as far back as 1974. It was not the rejectionist player, as many have labeled it, but rather the rejected party until the Oslo peace talks in 1993. Throughout its presence in Lebanon, the PLO aimed to remain a military factor so as to be accepted as a diplomatic actor.

I have told my many Israeli interlocutors that I believe that the Israeli posture in peace negotiations was to expect a diplomatic outcome that would reflect Israeli power and intransigence, American alignment toward Israeli preferences, declining Russian influence, European abdication, Arab impotence and what they hoped to be Palestinian resignation.

It is this attitude that has resulted in having a durable peace process instead of a lasting and permanent peace. Peace and security will stem not from territorial aggrandizement but from regional acceptance — and make no mistake about it, we Palestinians are the key to regional acceptance of Israel. For years now, the Arab world from Morocco to Muscat has been ready to recognize the existence of Israel if it withdraws back from its expanded 1967 borders. The perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is due not to the Arab rejection of Israeli existence, but to the Israeli rejection of Arab acceptance.

The absence of a credible diplomatic avenue has allowed for the emergence and the strengthening of radical movements. The electoral defeat of Fatah in January 2006 was caused by a plurality of factors, not least of them the fact that Fatah became identified with negotiations and a peace process that was non-existent for the last six years and totally unconvincing during the years preceding. To the Palestinians, the last 15 years of "peacemaking" were years during which we witnessed the expansion of the occupation — with the number of settlers doubling — not a withdrawal from the occupation.

Now, however, there is a chance to move beyond this history. As a result of the agreement reached last week in Mecca, the Palestinian government will be more representative than at any period before. The new foreign minister, Ziad Abu Amr, both enjoys the confidence of Hamas and is a political friend of Mahmoud Abbas — who as PLO chairman is charged with negotiating on behalf of the Palestinian people and as P.A. president has prerogative over the conduct of foreign affairs.

Both Fatah and Hamas are in favor of a cease-fire, for which they can now ensure disciplined Palestinian adherence — especially if it is reciprocated by the Israeli side and extended to the West Bank, where alas we have recently witnessed an escalation in assassinations and arrests. And in Mecca, Hamas and Fatah agreed that the Palestinian government will honor all agreements signed by the PLO, will abide by all the resolutions of previous Arab summits and will base its activity on international law.

The term "honor," rest assured, has as much a ring of nobility to it in Arabic — if not more — as it does in any other language.

A territory that was occupied in 1967 in less than six days can also be evacuated in six days — so that Israelis can rest on the seventh, and we can all finally engage in the fascinating journey of nation-building and economic recovery.

Afif Safieh is head of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission to the United States.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/03/which-word-will-plo-honor.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

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