CAIRO’s Negotiations Should Focus on Freedom and Dignity for the Palestinians.
The PLO announced the sending of unified delegation to Cairo to participate in intense negotiations with Israel through Egyptian intermediaries intended to institute a ceasefire in Gaza. Leading up to the PLO delegation announcement, PA President Mahmoud visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate and reaffirm support for the Egyptian ceasefire plan. As such, one has to be clear on the unfolding process and the negotiation lines that will become transparent in the next few days. More importantly, how best for the Palestinians as a people, to confront plans coming from the smoke filled rooms in Cairo which seeks to dispossess them one more time but with the complicity and participation of the PA, Arab “leaders” and the Western powers.
Gaza’s resistance and steadfastness, in reality, is a Palestinian war of independence witnessing complete self-reliance and internal grassroots solidarity in the face of Israeli, PA, Arab and Western collusions to maintain the Occupation intact.
Let us again be clear on Israel’s approach to the Cairo negotiations, which at present sees high level coordinating of its positions with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the US with the specific short-term goal of a ceasefire to immediately be followed with restoring Abbas’s authority and power inside Gaza. Israel’s failure in this campaign is as much a result of the lack of intelligence on the ground as it is the success of resistance planning on the ground. As such, immediate reconstitution of Abbas and the PA in Gaza would be the game changer for Israel if the same framework present in the West Bank is permitted to sink roots in the Strip.
Observing the sudden shift in Abbas’s statement and articulating a veneer of “resistance” should be understood as part and parcel of a coordinated strategy to place him and the PA’s security ahead of the popular resistance train and in control of possible immediate outcomes. Palestinians in the West Bank have been subject to an intense de-programming campaign as well as structured economic and social class engineering to create an elite with interest firmly embedded into the Israeli occupation infrastructure and against the best interests of the Palestinians.
The long term plan for Israel is to transform Gaza’s security to the PA and to something akin to the existing framework successfully in place in the West Bank since Oslo whereby security coordination is undertaken with Israeli occupation forces and US-Jordanian training and technical know-how (in the case of Gaza Egypt intelligence will have a big hand). Israel’s major challenge since its inception is the presence and continued generational trans-communication of Palestine as an idea and a reality; as well as, an unending demand for a free Palestine in the face of overwhelming power.
In Cairo we will witness diplomatic violence at the highest levels directed at Palestinians who have the temerity to resist, demand freedom and an immediate end to the Occupation in Gaza and Palestine. The parties gathered are coming with their political, economic and diplomatic knives ready to dismember the Palestinian resistance in the same way the Gaza population was dismembered one child playing, one hospital, one mosque, one street, one family, and one building at a time.
The Egyptian, Saudi, US, European and PA positions will be coordinated and extreme pressure will be placed on all the factions representing Gaza’s resistance. Gaza’s Palestinian population is what will be at the bargaining table. And the lives and wellbeing of the 1.8 million will be utilized to force concession from the Palestinian delegation on the un-negotiable: the end to the siege and occupation.
Egypt’s current government will attempt to score domestic points against the Brotherhood Movement by pressuring Hamas’s delegation and extracting the most restrictive conditions so as to bolster its claims against the movement that was deemed an enemy outfit. Furthermore, Al-Sisi’s government is indebted to Israel’s assistance and lobbing on its behalf after the coup. Israel did help keep away any real European or American opposition to the removal of a democratically elected president in Egypt and this is a real opportunity to settle the debt.
Some Gulf States will participate in the negotiations from a distance via a phone link. They do hold the purse strings for the possible reconstruction efforts. On the one hand, their anti-resistance stand is informed by their opposition to the Brotherhood Movement program while on the other is dictated by a desire to settle the Palestine file so as to shift toward a more sustained confrontation with Iran. Israel is a key “ally” and would provide the needed military strength, in their view, to confront Iran. Their involvement in the negotiations from a distance will have a profound impact on the resistance and the Palestinian delegation. Abbas’s role is very critical and the Gulf States are banking on him to deliver the resistance on a silver platter.
Likewise, US involvement will be informed by American domestic considerations and the upcoming November elections and the 2016 Presidential elections. At present, Obama is a lame duck president and lost much of his power and influence with Democratic Party members’ who are running for political cover and away from the White House. The Republicans and Tea Party activists are setting the terms of debate domestically and more so when expressing unconditional support for Israel.
Netanyahu and right wing settlers in Israel have more clout in Washington D.C. than the President himself. The US will represent Israeli interests and will mount extreme pressure on the Palestinian delegation through the funding provided to Abbas and the long-term coordination of PA security in the West Bank. The US will call for disarming the resistance in the Gaza Strip and instituting a security structure run by PA, Egypt, and Jordan with total Israeli and American coordination. The Europeans will follow suit and use their “humanitarian” funding to extract similar concessions favoring Israel and at the expense of the Palestinians in Gaza.
Seeing the level of systematic, structured and well-planned destruction in Gaza will for sure have calls in the Cairo meetings for a massive humanitarian response and the participants in the negotiations, who are directly involved in the room and those making the funding decisions in the Gulf from a distance over the phone, will pressure the PA delegation to bargain away Palestinian rights over food, medicine, and needed supplies.
Israel’s stated goals in the Gaza campaign have failed at all levels and the Cairo negotiations will be structured to transform a strategic defeat into a possible political victory. The call from the US and European powers to disarm Gaza will be echoed in the meeting rooms by Egypt and sections of the Palestinian delegation through a plan to reconstitute the PA security and transform control of the Strip prison gates to this force. It also might include an introduction of US and European forces at the Rafah crossing to make sure that the Palestinian resistance is structurally dismembered and a prevention of the possibility of rearming in the future.
I wrote an earlier article stating that Israel is a child of Western colonialism and as such their involvement is set up to protect and ensure the success of this project for the foreseeable future.
Palestinians should make these negotiations about demands of all parties to recognize this is a war of independence and assert a unified position for the right to freedom and dignity. The PA representatives at the negotiations should be ready to assert or otherwise be pressured by Palestinians across the world to have a higher ceiling for Palestinian demands, and not accept the existing framework that brings them to the prison warden to dictate yet another sentence and further confining conditions.
We are a free and dignified people no matter what the Occupation structure says nor Zionism’s historical and ongoing distortions. The Arab leaders “assistance” to the Palestinians in the past have managed in 1936 and 1948 to grant Zionism and Israel a victory in the middle of defeat. This means all the Palestinian delegates in Cairo should trust in themselves and not accept anything other than freedom, dignity and an end to the Occupation.
Furthermore, at no time should supplies or support to the Palestinians living under siege in Gaza be allowed as a pressure instrument or bargaining away from fundamental rights. In addition, Palestinians delegates should not, at anytime, agree to stop their attempts at pursuing Israeli leaders and those responsible for war crimes in Gaza at the International Court of Justice.
Failure to understand the significance of moment by the Palestinian leadership will have dire consequences in the long run as the time has come to transform the sacrifices on the ground into real and tangible results in the political arena. The Oslo framework is dead and the international community has failed the Palestinians many times over and the negotiations in Cairo is more than a mere ceasefire; rather it is an attempt to recentralize Palestine as the focal point for world peace. You have nothing to lose by asserting your rights to freedom and let not the factional differences and promises of momentary “funding” or “VIP” privileges take your eyes away from the prize, the important and significant demand for freedom and an end to the Occupation.
We, as Palestinians in diaspora, urge you to act in the best interest of our people and not allow offers of salary payments, food supplies, and foreign aid determines your will and the will of our people. We are tired of broken promises, endless “peace” negotiations, visits by western diplomat committed to Israel’s protection with the audacity to call us names and insulting our people at every opportunity. No one will grant you freedom and dignity; rather you should seize it with your nails and teeth.