Read part one here.
According to Chief Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator Saeb Erekat, the recently-released Palestine Papers have put his life in apparent danger. But did he ever consider that his complicit negotiations and deceptive concessions put hundreds of thousands of Palestinian lives in danger too?
I’d like to draw your attention to a status chart published 1 May 2009. It lists a number of Palestinian and Israeli obligations under Phase 1 of the alleged road map to peace and denotes whether or not their respective governments fulfilled the promises. It only takes a precursory glance to notice the lopsided nature of the report. Whereas the PA has either completely fulfilled or is working to fulfill its obligations, the Government of Israel has yet to complete any. The lopsidedness, however, extends further than the status of fulfillment. The obligations themselves are a clear sign of a backwards and decrepit attempt to stabilize the entire region and normalize the occupation.
The chart can be found here, but rather than reading it in the layout provided on the website, I encourage you to read the two tables side by side and compare the individual obligations.
The first Palestinian obligation reads: “Unequivocal statement reiterating Israels right to exist in peace and security; calling for end of armed activity” and, according to the report, the obligation has been completely fulfilled. The Israeli obligation reads slightly differently: “Statement affirming commitment to the two-state vision; calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians”. Status: “Failed”.
In comparing this pair of commitments alone, it is easy to notice the extent to which the road map leans towards the pro-Israel contingency. Not only must the PA recognize Israel’s right to exist in the Occupied Territories, it must reiterate this position. In other words, the PA is forced to actively push back all claims to any occupied Palestinian territories. In return, Israel’s government must issue a single statement recognizing the presence of a second state lying adjacent to its borders.
The Israeli obligation doesn’t consider Palestinians’ right to exist in peace and security nor does it even identify the state by the name of Palestine. At face value, this might be relatively easy to overlook or consider it a result of poor wording. However, this merits two immediate responses:
1. Explicitly failing to name the territory as Palestine plays in the favor of those who seek to normalize the historical context of the occupation. The territories might as well be considered two separate nations: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A development as egregious as this one not only divides the Palestinian diaspora but also makes Nakba-deniers happy. “There never existed a Palestine, and now there definitely doesn’t exist a country by that name.”
2. Poor wording is not an option. Documented road maps are considered on an international level. Every detail, every word, every concession is considered at great length. After all, the purpose of this process is to establish a viable and mutually exclusive coexistence between two people.
Unfortunately, the inherent asymmetry in the commitments as expressed by this particular phase in the process casts doubt upon the true effectiveness of the road map. The PA took the bait nonetheless and the Government of Israel has yet to face criticism for failing to commit to its own obligation.
If there’s one thing to credit the PA with, it’s for not failing to implement any of its set of commitments. According to the report, the PA has undergone plans to end incitement against Israel, has committed to arresting individuals conspiring to violently resist the Israeli army settlers, and has implemented the early stages of a reform campaign to bring those who approve of this road map to the head of the government.
To the contrary, the Israeli government has failed to end incitement, cease its destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, and improve the humanitarian situation of those under its occupation, among many other obligations. Released in the middle of May 2009, one might argue that this document is outdated. However, the demands have yet to be met. In reality, nothing can be outdated about Israel’s failure to uphold its end of peace process.
While the occupation of Palestine continues unhindered, this status report indicates just how low the PA can stoop. As advantageously strategic as it might be for the PA to implement each commitment, it did so at the expense of the people whom it claims to represent. It formally recognized the occupation and, for the sake of its already-questionable agenda, implemented a series of plans to further segregate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. This is the very suspicious essence of the road map for peace.
Frankly, I don’t know what to more disappointed by: the fact that the obligations serve to safeguard, or at least ignore, the occupation or the fact that the PA conceded to each and every one of them.