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Palestinians Concede UN Push Has Not Advanced The Cause

In a lecture at Columbia University’s Amman-based Middle East Research Centre, Fayyad appears resigned to continued frustration in the Palestinian quest for statehood, despite the decision to go to the UN. The Jordan Times has the story:

The Palestinian premier, a champion of institution-building as a path to statehood, said the current political conditions within Israel, the Palestinian territories and across the world are not favourable to lead to concrete steps towards a Palestinian state.  […]

The former International Monetary Fund official said that with the EU preoccupied with the Eurozone crisis, the US nearing presidential elections, and the Arab Spring bringing sweeping change throughout the region, the Palestinian cause has been pushed to the background of policy makers’ concerns.

“The world has moved on and we are alone, effectively.”

Palestinian affairs are in a sad state (no pun intended). Not only has the UN bid fizzled, leaving Palestinians still faced with the necessity of direct negotiations with Israelis who resent the attempted runaround; Hamas now stands to gain support from countries like Qatar, Turkey and Egypt.  Negotiations on reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions move almost as glacially as negotiations with Israel.

The UN bid failed because the plan concocted by Fayyad and PA President Mahmoud Abbas was based on false premises. The Palestinian Authority has some attributes of statehood, but its dependence on Israel and foreign supporters as well as its lack of control over its own territories mark its statehood as an aspiration to be respected rather than a reality to be recognized.

Fayyad has been a placeholder, a premier without a parliament.  The myth of a dynamic and developing Palestinian Authority was his greatest achievement, but over time the unyielding limits within which he operated have undermined the credibility of the myth.

The dash for statehood at the UN was less the next step in a carefully constructed campaign than a desperate attempt to regain relevance and popularity among a Palestinian population that had lost faith in his leadership.  It’s failure leaves Ayyad and the Palestinian Authority in a political cul de sac.

The path to Palestinian statehood lies through negotiations with Israel.  Given the power realities on the ground, there is no other way.  But the core problem of the “land for peace” formula remains: Israelis cannot offer enough land to get the kind of peace they want.

Via Meadia wants both sides to gain from the negotiation: a secure and viable state for the Palestinians, a secure and durable peace for the Israelis.  But that goal is still a long way away and it looks more and more as if Salam Fayyad will leave office without having reached it.

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  • PetraMB

    “But the core problem of the “land for peace” formula remains: Israelis cannot offer enough land to get the kind of peace they want.”

    That’s not really the “core problem” — which is instead that — even if Israel accepts the notion that some six decades of Arab/Palestinian rejectionism, terrorism and war should be simply forgotten and that therefore the Palestinian should now get the equivalent of 100 percent of the pre-1967 Jordanian West Bank and Egyptian-controlled Gaza (as offered by Olmert) — the Palestinians are apparently neither willing nor able to offer the peace Israel can rightfully expect and demand.

    I also don’t think that the cause of peace is in any way furthered by avoiding to point out what has been amply illustrated by the discourse in the Arab and Muslim world for decades, and what is now going to bear poisonous fruit in the newly “democratic” Islamist-ruled Middle East: as long as antisemitic tropes and anti-Israel incitement are everyday standard fare, it doesn’t really matter how much land Israel offers for peace, because short of ceasing to exist, it will never be “enough” to counter the glorification of “resistance” that is so popular in a region that doesn’t really have all that much else to glorify.

    The whole Mideast policy debate is hopelessly skewed and outright dishonest — just one example: Can you ever imagine that a leading Israeli politician representing a religious Jewish party that just won elections would come to do the rounds in Washington think tanks, where he would explicitly reject a Palestinian state and refuse to rule out violence against the Palestinians, and then Washington’s best and brightest would fawn all over the place about what a nice and moderate chap he is?

    Well, it worked out splendidly for Tunisia’s Ghannouchi…

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