While talk of ‘internationalizing’ the Palestinian situation has all but vanished, the current stasis stands in stark contrast to the plight of the Palestinians both inside and outside Palestine, remarks a Palestinian commentator.
by Ahmad Jamil ‘Azm – al Ghad
There have been almost no reports or any information worth mentioning regarding Saturday’s meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In fact, there are no reports of any political efforts to achieve anything specific at the Palestinian level, other than talk of a European (basically French) idea to form an international group that will back the negotiations. And this highlights the strangely quiescent state of official Palestinian nerves.
Tomorrow, (Wednesday) the Palestinian president will deliver his speech to the UN General Assembly. Based on what has happened over the past few years, there is usually some international anticipation of what the Palestinians may say and a calculation of the international reaction. But this year, there is nothing more than ambiguous talk from Palestinian figures and some of the media about a potential threat to abrogate the peace accords with the Israelis – which is most unlikely. In fact, some Palestinian and other commentators, have gone so far as to imagine that ‘Abbas may announce his resignation from the UN’s podium.
The scene seems rife with mystery, bordering on surrealism. But the greatest mystery and strangest surrealistic twist is the absence of any real scene, or the fact that the scene is empty, and is now being filled by dreams of political bombshells. Thus, instead of the world being concerned with the details of what transpired between Kerry and ‘Abbas, a protocol statement that says almost nothing about the meeting was issued. Then rumors and reports appeared in Israeli press to the effect that Kerry had blocked a potential meeting between ‘Abbas and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu based on the pretext that he (Kerry) wants the U.S. to be present at any such meeting; but the Americans then denied these reports.
If we were to consider the scene free from dreams about resignation or political bombshells, logic would lead us to the conclusion that the notion that is being proposed is that of a resumption of negotiations, and that the French are pushing for an international support group to sponsor this. But nothing of the sort may be expected this week. Instead, it will be discussed in the coming weeks, because it requires much preparation. And even if an announcement were to be made this week, it would be meaningless and would have to do with yet another round of negotiations. In light of this, the secret behind the Palestinians’ calm nerves seems explicable.
If Jerusalem is one of the issues that will undermine any proposed negotiations or peace agreement, then the Israelis have been trying to create a de facto situation in the holy sites over the past weeks. They are doing things that they have never done before, ever since the Holy Sanctuary was first occupied in 1967.
Past experience tempts the observer to assume that there is something afoot that is not being divulged, something that is leading to this Palestinian quiescence and American and international silence. This strange silence is now tempting politicians and the media to spread imaginary notions, predictions and scenarios, such as that the president will resign or that the Americans have blocked a meeting between ‘Abbas and Netanyahu. Such speculation and leaks are now filling the scene – along with Israel’s daily policies that are seeking to impose a new fait accompli in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.
There is a clear Palestinian retreat from using the UN as means and resorting to what until recently, used to be referred to as ‘internationalization. But that expression is also gradually disappearing from circulation. Even the scenarios of resignation and cancelling accords are in themselves a retreat from such international channels – unless placed within a broad strategy, of whose existence we have no sign.
Reports about the International Criminal Court and the resort to it are not stirring any international interest; nor are they eliciting any political reactions worth mentioning. There is no more talk of international recognition of the State of Palestine (after obtaining the status of ‘non-member state’ in the UN). Nor is there any talk of the UN setting a date for ending the occupation. There is only ambiguous talk of negotiations, regardless of their terms of reference or form.
“But the problem is that the Palestinian situation cannot brook silence; nor can it withstand the current calm. For this calm weighs very heavily on our shoulders; alternatively, it may be seen as ‘unbearably light’ when placed alongside the difficulties facing the Palestinians, whether because of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories, or the suffering of the people of Gaza, or that of the Palestinian refugees both inside and outside Palestine,” concludes ‘Azm.