Arabs reward Zionist aggression

The so-called “Middle East peace process” may be about to start moving, but in the wrong direction.

On 29 April, Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, signalled that the Arab states are prepared to entertain the possibility of land swaps that would allow Israel to keep blocs of illegal Jewish colonies in the occupied West Bank in return for transferring undefined land occupied in 1948 to the Palestinians.

John Kerry and Hamad al-Thani

USA’s John Kerry and Qatar’s Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani

The Qatari official revealed this after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry. Speaking in Washington, where he is leading an Arab League delegation, he reiterated the need to base an agreement between Israel and a future Palestine on the 1967 lines but, for the first time, he cited the possibility of “comparable”, mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

This is a far cry from the original 2002 “Arab peace initiative” – the Saudi peace plan that was subsequently adopted by the Arab League – which offered Israel peace with the entire Arab and Muslim worlds in exchange for a “complete withdrawal” from territories captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The climbdown appears to have been endorsed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel’s quisling administration in the occupied West Bank. Although the PA has not made an official statement, Saeb Erekat, its chief negotiator who is supposed to have resigned as chief negotiator in February 2011, said Al-Thani’s statement reflected longstanding Palestinian positions.

“Upon Israel’s unequivocal acceptance of the two-state solution on the 1967 border, the State of Palestine, as a sovereign country, might consider minor agreed border modifications equal in size and quality, in the same geographic area, and that do not harm Palestinian interests,” he said.

Needless to say, the Palestinian right of return does not even get a mention in the Arab League plan. Nor do there seem to be any qualms about the immorality of rewarding Israeli aggression by allowing Israel to swallow up illegally occupied and illegally colonized Palestinian territory, the so-called “settlement blocs”.

Just as worrying is the probability that Israel would use any land swap to ethnically cleanse its Arab citizens, by transferring to a quisling Palestinian administration territory occupied in 1948 but inhabited largely by Israeli Arabs, thereby temporarily defusing its “demographic bomb”.

As far as the Arab League concession to Israel is concerned, we find ourselves in total agreement with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. In a statement on 30 April, it expressed “deep concern” over the league’s change of position, adding:

The long experience with the Zionist enemy has taught us that this enemy is looking for more concessions on our rights and our national constants. The occupation does not seek peace and only wants to impose a surrender on our people and nation.

It is trying to gain time by talking about the illusion of peace in order to impose a further fait accompli on the ground.

In addition, as Hamas’s politburo deputy director, Moussa Abu Marzouk, asks: “Have the Zionists … met any Arab or even Palestinian concession with a similar one?” On the contrary, as he says: “The recent concessions will only attract new pressure and more limitless concessions.”

Finally, as the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi says in an editorial, the new Arab League stance “may turn the Palestinian cause into a matter of economics, jobs and roads, rather than the cause of an oppressed people that wants to retrieve its land and establish an independent state on its entire occupied land”.

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