Peace Funeral

Khaled Duzdar

March 26, 2006


The Israeli incursion into Jericho is but another indication to the development of the future of Israeli Palestinian relations. It is a clear sign of the end of any political solution and a final death blow to the peace process. It also signals a new circle of violence between the two people. The unnecessary and unacceptable Jericho military operation was a clear breach of an international agreement by Israel and its actions have slammed the door that was still slightly open for peace. Perhaps Israel can blame the Palestinians for everything that has happened, but in reality, Israel should only blame itself for empowering Hamas. Israel’s failure to engage the Palestinian Authority under Abu Mazen has led directly to the empowerment of Hamas, and now, Israel does not have to worry about keeping agreements because Hamas will systematically revoke all the agreements between the sides.


The Israeli aggressions empower Hamas' position in not trusting the Israeli government. After Jericho, Hamas is right for not accepting the signed agreements between Israel and the PLO. Israel has proven that there no agreements that are sacred for Israel. Hamas is also right in conditioning relations with Israel on Israel first recognizing Palestinian rights and in demanding serious international guarantees. Since Israel has unilaterally revoked all of the agreements, there is no base to demand that Hamas recognize the agreements with Israel. There are no implemented agreements anymore, starting from Oslo and ending with the agreements on Rafah and the other crossings.


There was no excusable reason behind the Israeli actions in arresting Sa'adat and his detention mates. Israeli claims of operating in precaution are not justified since the Palestinian Authority didn't show any intentions to release the prisoners from Jericho prison. There may have been Palestinians calls to release the Sa'adat and his friends, there was even a Palestinian High Court decision in this regard, but the Palestinian Authority did not release them.  Moreover, the act of demolishing the last standing prison in the Palestinian Authority makes no sense, in terms of Israeli interests, and now the prison standing in ruin symbolizes the demolishing of the last standing agreement between Israel and the Palestinian entity.


The international response to the Israeli aggression was annoying and frustrating. The operation was also a big slap in the face of the international community, proving that Israel acts without considering its obligations to any agreements or understandings with the international community, even if these acts jeopardize all efforts to reach a solution for the conflict. Israel only recognizes itself and its needs, and acts above any laws.


The Jericho operation followed other aggressive incursions to Palestinian cities and camps in Nablus and Jenin. It is clear that these acts serve the Kadima party elections campaign and nothing more. When polls showed a decrease in public support for Kadima, Olmert and Mofaz decided on the Jericho attack. It is a bitter reality that the Israeli elections campaigns have to be always run with Palestinian blood.


There are also real concerns regarding the behavior of the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas in his role in Jericho story. The American administration had informed the Palestinian Authority that they would pull out their observers' days before the incursion. Instead of taking the warnings seriously, Abbas was touring around the world, instead being beside his people when they needed him.


Maybe it is time for Mr. Abbas to reconsider his position and policies. The Palestinians strategy and policies should be there to confront the intimidating new realities. The Palestinian people need a strong Palestinian position. We are now going back to point zero and the Palestinians need to reconsider their strategy and leadership. Now it is the time for strong leadership to lead the nation to safe shores and to end the anarchy in the Palestinian cities.  Elections were never our priorities as Palestinians; freedom and Palestinian rights are what we need. The Palestinians are definitely in need of a leadership which can achieve security, freedom and independence for the Palestinian people.


We need a strong Palestinian leadership that can clearly reject Israeli unilateralism not by adopting armed resistance, but creating a coherent strategy that will force the Israelis to come back to the negotiating table to reach a permanent peace agreement based on recognizing and implementing Palestinian rights for freedom and independence. The Israeli plans for unilateralism will not end the occupation; they will strengthen it and will cause great suffering to the Palestinian public, which will only increase the will of the public to prevent the Israelis from enjoying calm and security.


Today we can say goodbye to the peace process. The political process was finally buried in Jericho and Israel has no intentions or even interests in finding Palestinian partners. Israel thinks that it is today in a position where it can impose a solution on the Palestinians. Israel is only concerned with its own interests. Israel believes that it is no longer obligated to fulfill its obligations towards the Palestinians. The future government of Israel may believe that it can deceive the Israeli public and the international community in claiming that there is no Palestinian partner. As a result they think that they can act unilaterally, but will this policy bring peace to Israel and Israelis?


Israel can surround itself with walls and barriers and can disengage itself from the Palestinians, but this will never end the conflict.  There can be no “end of conflict” without reaching a sustainable agreement with the Palestinians. Israeli unilateralism may sell well to the Israeli public, but in reality, these steps only serve the interest of some politicians and their parties, but it will not serve the interests of the Israeli public.