FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush Playing Russian Roulette with Palestinians

by Sam Bahour

The United States of America is organizing another international conference in the Middle East. This one, sadly, emerges as a result of the destruction of Palestinian society by Israel. By doing so, the US is setting itself up for a political and security failure, yet again. The first US failure was called Oslo, where the Palestinian leadership was lured into a US-sponsored ‘peace process’ that has led to the intentional obliteration of Palestinian cities and dismantling of Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been central to the Middle East ever since Israel was created 54 years ago. Furthermore, ever since Israel occupied the remaining 22% of Palestine – the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – on June 4, 1967 tensions in the region have been steadily increasing. Today’s Middle East crisis reflects another round of US foreign policy failure and the continuation of Israeli disregard for international law and universal standards of nation-state behavior. There is, however, an important difference this time around: the world, including the Arab world, has finally been able to glimpse at the nature of the Israeli occupation. This one difference has the power to create a momentum that may change the political landscape of the Middle East forever, and with it US interests in Middle East.

As Israel defied President Bush’s repeated call for an immediate withdraw from Palestinian cities and refugee camps, some US leaders such as Joseph R. Biden Jr., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have called upon the US to provide the region with the “strong leadership that only America can provide.” This is a senior US foreign affairs official who was unable to predict and is now unable to admit that the last 35 years of US support – financially, politically and morally – for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people would lead to a human catastrophe. Equally astonishing is the refusal of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ask why Palestinians should accept American leadership now, after it failed throughout the entire course of the Oslo peace process to address the political rights of the Palestinian people.

The Bush administration’s decision to ignore Israel’s 18-month military aggression on Palestinian cities displays that American leadership is already in full support of Israel’s actions. Bush’s earlier landmark policy change in support of a Palestinian state, now seems only to have provided a thin veneer of political cover under which Israeli tanks rolled into nearly every Palestinian city. All this comes with the backdrop of President Bush, after being rebuffed by Israeli refusal to stop its war on Palestinians, calling prime minister Ariel Sharon a ‘man of peace’.

Conversely, the Palestinian leadership is in over its head. President Arafat does not have a public or organizational mandate to negotiate anything other than the principles in the PLO Covenant. Some would even argue that with the total collapse of the Oslo Peace Accords, the reference points of the Madrid Conference, namely Palestinian acceptance of UN resolutions 242 and 338 and the PLO recognition of the State of Israel, are now also in need of reassessment. The US will continue to abuse this Palestinian political vacuum in order to promote its agenda of having Arab States (fearful for their own survival) pressure President Arafat into accepting less than what Palestinians rightfully and legally deserve. However, the US is mistaken to believe that in this period the Palestinian Authority President and his handful of personal aides or a few randomly appointed Palestinian civilians authoritatively speak for the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Authority that was established to operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the Oslo agreement was created by US-blessing and has now been dismantled by US-blessing. That leaves us where we were pre- Oslo with regard to Palestinian politics, with the PLO being the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This being the case, it is crucial that the PLO convene an emergency Palestine National Council meeting outside of Palestine in order to assume the reins of leading the Palestinian struggle. For Palestinians there is too much at stake to wait for President Arafat to be released from captivity by Israel and the US before taking action. Also, it is unfair to all those Palestinians that have sacrificed so much in this struggle to allow the Palestinian Authority to negotiate under these conditions.

With or without the US-sponsored conference being proposed by Secretary of State Powell, the US can end the Israeli occupation and reinstate Palestinians their national, political and civil rights as defined in over 60 UN resolutions. This, and only this, will reinstate US credibility in the region. If the conference maintains the Israeli occupation, in any way, shape or form, it will commit the region to more bloodshed and put regional US strategic interests at serious risk. Given that all participants, except Israel, would be coming to this conference with a US political and economic knife at their throats, it is unlikely that the US and Israel will walk away with anything more than a media success, and at best, another empty ‘peace process’ that delays solving the conflict for a few more years.

The US is clearly defining its Middle East foreign policy by playing Russian Roulette with the Palestinian cause. By spearheading a political initiative based upon Palestinian physical and political ruins, the international/regional conference initiative has two conceivable outcomes. Either the Palestinian struggle will end with the fate that befell Native Americans, or the Palestinians, these suffering 6 million people, will be the Achilles heel of a much larger movement that will tear the US hegemony in the Middle East at its seams. If I were a betting man, I would take the latter, for Martin Luther King was right on the money when he said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” Without the enfranchisement of the Palestinian people, the Middle East will know neither.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living in the besieged Palestinian City of Al-Bireh/Ramallah in the West Bank and can be reached at sbahour@palnet.com

.

 

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah and serves as a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and blogs at ePalestine.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail