Palestine, Victim of Disunity in Islamic World

Monday, February 24, 2014

Interview with Mohammad Ali Mohtadi
Senior Middle East Analyst

Israel is not willing to discuss the division of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) to allow Palestinians have East Al-Quds as their capital. The Israeli regime, as such, argues that Al-Quds is and will remain “perennial and indivisible” capital of Israel. On the other hand, Palestinians insist that East Al-Quds should be the capital of the independent Palestinian state in the future. In the latest remarks by a Palestinian official, a high-ranking member of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has emphasized that if the new round of negotiations with Israel hit a deadlock, the Palestinians will resume armed struggle against Israel. The main reasons behind the current deadlock in the so-called peace negotiations, Palestinians demands from Israelis and vice versa, as well as the consequences of the establishment of a Jewish state on the occupied Palestinian lands and similar issues have been discussed in the following interview with Mohammad Ali Mohtadi, a senior analyst of Middle East issues.

Q: What is your analysis of the general course of peace negotiations? What reasons can possibly prevent establishment of two independent states in Palestine?

A: During the past few decades, the Americans have frequently tried to provide necessary grounds for the implementation of different versions of a peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians, which was first put forth in the Spanish capital city of Madrid in the 1990s. None of those versions, however, have been ever successful either under the former US President George W. Bush Sr., or under his successors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush Jr. At present, [the US President Barack] Obama has also initiated a peace plan with no clear hope about its success. The question is why these plans have regularly failed. The first problem, apparently, is the issue of the needed land. By saying this, I mean where and on what land such a state is to be created? At present, the Palestinian territory includes Gaza Strip, which is besieged by Israel on two sides, and the West Bank of the Jordan River where Palestinians are bent on creating their future state. The West Bank, however, has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. The biggest part of that region is actually occupied by the settlements built by the Israeli regime and settlers are by no means willing to withdraw from those settlements. Therefore, the Palestinian state, which everybody talks about its establishment, has no land where it could be established, no sovereign rights, no army, and not even the right of establishing independent relations with other countries.

Q: Some say the plan offered by [US Secretary of State] John Kerry actually aims to resolve disputes between Israelis and Palestinians. Do you think that his plan stands any chance of success?

A: Although the details of the plan have not been made public yet, the Palestinians are apparently supposed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Even if Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, in that case, gentiles (none-Jews) will have no place in that state. Also, if 4-5 million Palestinians – who according to the UN Security Council Resolution 194 have the right to return to their ancestral land – actually went back there, there would be no more land remained for a Jewish state. At present, about 1.5 million Palestinians live in Israel, especially in Galilee region as well as in the Negev Desert in the southern part of Israel, who would face an uncertain fate if Kerry’s plan is implemented. Without a doubt, Israel will expel them. The question is where such a big population of Palestinians is supposed to go? Will they be allowed to settle in the West Bank, which has been already given to the Israeli settlers and where Israel continues to build more and more illegal settler units, or will they go to the Gaza Strip, which is even now grappling with problems caused by the density of population over its small area and lack of suitable facilities for a decent life? Therefore, and in view of the above facts, the acceptance of the creation of an Israeli state by Palestinians would lead to a catastrophe situation for them.

Q: What will be the main consequences of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state at the end of the negotiations for Palestinians?

A: It seems a conspiracy is currently underway according to which Palestinians are going to be accepted as citizens in countries where they are residing now. In this case, Palestinians living in host countries will become nationals of those countries. This is a plan which is generally known as “tawtin” in Arabic, which literally means to give a homeland to refugees to settle in. Israel insists that this plan should be carried out in neighboring countries such as Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. According to this plan, millions of Palestinians have been already accepted as guests and refugees by these countries. Therefore, before the time that Palestine is liberated when – according to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 194 – they would be entitled to go back to their homeland, they will be given remuneration and then they will become nationals of host countries. The host countries, however, have not accepted this plan so far. It seems that the United States is currently following up on this plan as the American officials believe that by spending the hefty money provided by Saudi Arabia and mounting pressure on neighboring countries of Israel, they would be actually able to put that plan in gear.

Q: Representative of the Palestinian Authority has announced that if the ongoing negotiations end inconclusively and development of Israeli settlements continue, there would be another option available to Palestinians in the form of resistance, including armed resistance, against the Israeli occupation. To what extent, do you think, it would be possible for Palestinians to choose this option in view of the internal conflicts between Fatah and Hamas and also in view of the current situation of the Palestinian issue at international level?

A: The Palestinians are currently in really dire straits. The Palestinian Hamas movement gave up armed resistance in 2006 when it was elected to rule the Gaza Strip. If push comes to the shove and no hope is left, there would be no way for Palestinians, but to resume armed resistance. At present, the Palestinian resistance is surrounded in Gaza Strip while being suppressed in the West Bank. The siege of Gaza has been completed not only by Israeli forces, but also by the secret service of the Palestinian Authority and through coordination between that secret service and the intelligence service of Israel. [The Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza] Mr. Ismail Haniyeh has frequently emphasized that he is willing to reconcile with Fatah movement. We even witnessed that a delegation representing Fatah movement visited Gaza Strip.

However, when Hamas seeks reconciliation with Fatah at a time that it is in a weaker position compared to the other party, it would have to give in to conditions set for it by Fatah. In recent negotiations, we witnessed that Fatah was trying to impose its views on Hamas. So, what must be done? A new plan has recently surfaced, which is called “Tamarod (rebellion).” Following the Tamarod movement reached its goals in Egypt, Palestinian thinkers such as [Munir] Shafiq proposed that a similar movement was necessary in the West Bank. This would trigger the third Intifada, but this time under the name of Tamarod or rebellion. In case this plan gets under way, there would be no need to armed resistance because a nation that is bent on gaining its independence and reclaiming its occupied land cannot be accused of terrorism. This is the main issue which has already scared both the United States and Israel.

Q: Don’t you think that the absence of a single voice in Palestine will further embolden the Israeli side and make it come up with new political demands?

A: Israelis do not want to let national unity to be created among Palestinians. Fatah has practically become one with the Palestinian Authority. If the Palestinian Authority decides to stand up to Israel’s demands, the Tel Aviv regime would cut their funds and lay siege to them. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority has no independent will of its own for making decisions. Under these circumstances, with whom Hamas is going to reach reconciliation? There have been two projects going on in the Palestinian lands which cannot become one. The first has been the resistance project as opposed to the second, which is the project pursued by the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority has already announced that it does not believe in resistance and will oppose it. It has also declared that it seeks peaceful negotiations with Israel. Up to the present day, all efforts made to reconcile these two projects in order to come up with a single national plan have hit a brick wall. In the meantime, Israeli and Jordanian officials as well as Egyptian authorities were not willing to see unity among various Palestinian groups.

Q: What do you think is the most ideal formula to determine the fate of Al-Quds during negotiations in such a way that it would, at least, relatively, facilitate peace talks?

A: I personally believe that the issue of Palestine is not a simple issue to be solved by the Palestinian Authority or even a number of Palestinian organizations. This is an issue for the entire Palestinian nation, the Arab world and the Islamic world. Therefore, as long as the Islamic world has not gotten ready to face Israel, there would be no practical solution to this problem. This is an issue which should be discussed within a civilizational framework and is far beyond the capacity of a few resistance groups or negotiating teams.

Key Words: Palestine, Disunity in Islamic World, Peace Negotiations, John Kerry, Jewish State, Israel, Fatah and Hamas, Israeli Settlements, Al-Quds, Palestinian Resistance, Mohtadi

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Mohammad Ali Mohtadi:

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*Arab States’ Strong “Nay” to (P)GCC Union Plan:

*Hidden Goals Behind Terrorist Attacks in Beirut:

*Photo Credit: National Post, Alalam

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