Oslo and the PA role

When I first heard of the Oslo agreements and the promise of an independent Palestinian state, I felt as most Palestinians did, happy and hopeful of a better future with some unease. The source of the unease was bypassing the Madrid track and hence jeopardizing the Arab depth and support. However, my initial guarded enthusiasm with Oslo did not last too long. Within days I began to ask myself these nagging questions:

– Why would Israel abandon the Madrid track in favour of recognizing its declared arch enemy, “the terrorist PLO”?

– Why would Israel throw a life line to Arafat and the PLO and recognize it rather than negotiate with some of the Internal Intifada leaders? For obvious reasons, Israel has always insisted that it would only negotiate with people from the occupied territories. Moreover, the PLO and Arafat was at its weakest and bleakest point in history.

– Why would Arafat/PLO a abandon its Arab strategic depth and strength and negotiate alone with Israel? How can’t they see that alone, they would be very vulnerable to Israelis’ overwhelming superiority in every aspect?

– Knowing the Zionist/Jewish lobby firm grip on the US’s decision and opinion makers, why would the PLO accept a lone American mediating position instead of the more objective and neutral International one under the Madrid track?

– Why would Israel allow more than 15,000 of the PLO (Arafat’s men) back into Palestine when few years earlier it invaded Lebanon and blockaded and bounded its capital, Beirut for 59 days to send them as far away from Palestine as possible?

In pondering these questions and others, I was griped with this very uneasy feeling about Oslo and the PA. As more details about Oslo started to emerge, my fears grew stronger and ever more justified:

First the PA recognized Israel “right to EXIST” on 78% of Palestine in exchange for Israel mere recognition of the PLO as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians”. With this, Arafat and his cronies had traded our strongest and some say only card for the mere Israeli recognition of the PLO. They gave away the store – 78% of Palestine- in exchange for some guarantees for their political survival. Once they bargained away this card for so little, what did they have left to offer?

Second, how could Arafat/PA renounce arm struggle while Israel continue to occupy and colonize Palestinian land? Israel continue to occupy, oppress and dispossess our people. So laying down our arms is nothing more than surrender! But why surrender? what do we gain from such surrender? True we have lost few battles but not the war. Our Arab and Islamic depths allows us to lose many battles if needed but not necessarily lose the war.

Third, how can Arafat/PA initiate and maintain security cooperation with Israel while Israel continue to hold more than 6,000 of our men, women and children in prison? There is no historical precedence where a national “patriotic” leadership ever accepted to initiate and maintain peace with its occupier and oppressor while 6,000 of its best continue to rot in enemy jails!

Fourth, how could Arafat/PA accept less than .07% (Yes 7/1000) of Palestine while more illegal settlements and settlers are added daily? Keep in mind that this .07% are Palestinian population centres considered risky and troublesome for Israel. So in fact Arafat/PA was doing Israel great favour by administering them while working at dismantling the popular resistance infrastructure within these areas. Something Israel failed to do over 26 years of occupation and 6 years of the 1st Intifada – (1987-1993).

Fifth, How could Arafat accept to renounce “terrorism” in writing at Israel insistence thus implying that our struggle for freedom and liberation is nothing more than mindless terrorism. Would it not be more fitting and dignified to call for a halt to hostilities on both sides till this seemingly peace theatrics bare fruit, if at all.

At this point I am almost sure that either Arafat/PA are the stupidest incompetents ever walked the face of this earth, and know nothing about politics and the art of negotiation and agreements or they sold out our cause to preserve themselves and their privileges. The way I see it, Israel gains are concrete and can not be repealed while the Palestinian “gains” were only promises and even if fulfilled they can be easily repealed by Israel. In exchange for recognizing Arafat/PA and letting them set up shop on .07% of Palestine, Israel gained the following:

– Have Arafat/PA recognize Israel right to exist over 78% of Palestine – Palestinian strongest cards.

– End the 2nd Intifada, 1987-1993. The Intifada was costing Israel billions of dollars a year in lost tourist revenues; it was causing reverse Jewish migration, It was stunting the Israeli economy and it maintained a sense of insecurity for the Israeli population.

– Have the PA dismantle the underground popular resistance to the occupation, something Israel failed to do over 26 years of occupation.

– Have the PA administer the Palestinian population centres – Israel consider these areas as risky and troublesome with very little benefits. I.e. Israel was not planning on setting up any colonies in Nablus, Ramallah or Jenine and other cities. To the contrary its soldier were always running the risk of being killed or injured while in close contact with the oppressed population.

– End Israel isolation – once Arafat/PLO recognized Israel. Many Arab, Islamic and other countries including the Vatican are talking about recognizing Israel. However, once they do and assuming Israel does not honour its commitment in Oslo, can Arafat have these countries withdraw their recognition?

– Stop reversed migration of Jews from Israel to the US and Europe

– Seize more land and add more settlers while the PA had to keep the peace over resisting farmers and land owners. Such actions used to create fierce clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli army and that resulted in a public relation nightmare for them and blackened their ever so important international image.

– Enabled Israel to continue its program of colonizing the rest of Palestine in peace

It is becoming so clear to me that Israel intends to have the PA administer unwanted Palestinian population centres and serve as its main security arm within the Palestinian population. For that the PA was armed with short range light weaponry. In case the PA failed or refused its Israeli police role, under the pretext of fighting armed men or even “a Palestinian Army”, Israel will cripple these Palestinian population centres which are the central force of resistance. This is the centre peace of Israel’s Oslo strategy as it relates to the establishment of the PA.

It is a win-win strategy for Israel. If the PA accept its role as another security arm for Israel, the PA can be more efficient at subduing the Palestinian population as it is implementing Palestinian self-rule that leave real control of the land and resources in Israel’s hands. At best this may succeed and hence solve Israel’s’ nightmare of the so called demographic time Bomb for the short and intermediate future. At worst, it may instigate a civil war that would be tremendously beneficial to Israel. On the other hand if the PA was unable or unwilling to take this role, Israel will use its “armed” presence to bomb Palestinian population centres back to the stone ages. And if the geopolitical climate allow, it may instigate a massacre or even a regional war to drive a sizeable chunk of the Palestinian population east of the Jordan river and subsequently create a Palestinian state in Jordan.

At this time my doubts about an Oslo sell out has evaporated. It is becoming so clear to me that Arafat and his PA did sell the cause to preserve their power and ensure its survival all at the expense of prolonging our people suffering. Willingly or otherwise, they have lend Israel the peace cover it needs while Israel seemed determined on not honouring even the very little it committed itself to in Oslo. I kept hoping and perhaps wishfully thinking that Arafat/PA would use the numerous opportunities they were given to declare Oslo null and void and let Israel go back into the Palestinian population centres and do its own dirty work and pay the price itself.

Instead Arafat/PA continued the peace negotiation charade with Israel while:

– Israel refuse to release over 6,000 Palestinian man, women and children from jail!!!

– Israel continue to usurp Palestinian land and build and expand Zionist colonies!!!

– Israel keeps adding more settlers in violation of Oslo agreements!!!

– Israel continue to Jewdize Jerusalem at the expense of Arabs!!!

In Arafat words, Israel is not complying fully with a single Oslo component!!!

A true nationalist leader would have admitted his short sightedness and declare Oslo dead for any of the above reasons. Instead and despite all the above, Arafat/PA continued to fully cooperate with Israel on security arrangements and continued to dismantle popular Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and jail freedom fighters!!!

Thanks to Arafat and his cronies, Israel was able to have it both ways, It was able to have its cake and eat it too – peace and legitimized occupation. However, I fear one of its most damaging and lasting legacy will be significantly increasing the Zionist expectation. Accepting the Oslo terms has basically robbed our people of the fruit of their first Intifada and convinced the Zionist that the Palestinians will eventually settle for much less than the minimal demands they now have. Much more suffering and blood will have to be shed to regain lost grounds and re-establish our position before Oslo. This is why I will never forgive Arafat and his cronies for robbing us of the fruits of the first Intifada so that he could be called “president” and they can line up their bank accounts with more money than they can spend in 10 lives.

For your reflection: When Rabin exclaimed to Perez in astonishment of how he could expect the Palestinians to accept Oslo after all these years of scarifies, Perez answered “Arafat will not resist the temptation to rule”. And when Rabin expressed his fear of Palestinians establishing a state, Perez answered with his famous line “you can make an Omelette from an egg, but you can not make an egg from an omelette. The Israelis seem to know this semblance of bankrupt leadership more than we Palestinians do. We will continue to pay the price of our ignorance, naiveté and reluctance to clean our house and insist on 100% clean leadership.

Mr. Salah Musa is a Palestinian activist and IT strategist.