friends in the US Congress, hoping for a change in the White House at the end of Obama’s current term. The events in the Ukraine and Putin’s annexation of the Crimea strengthens Netanyahu’s view that Obama is weak and naïve and has no grasp of reality – and that is why he failed to prevent the occupation of the Crimean peninsula, and also why he puts his trust in the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.
The Palestinian issue is no longer the central axis
The Palestinian question exposed Obama’s tendency to compromise. The US leadership tried to compromise between Netanyahu’s desire to hold on to “Greater Israel,” and its own commitment to Palestinian independence and sovereignty, which led to bitter disappointment among Palestinians. Though the US did not accept the legality of the settlements and disagrees with Netanyahu over this issue, this does not affect its basic position, automatically supporting Israel, preventing any resolution against Israel in the UN Security Council, and refusing to apply pressure on Israel’s rightwing government. The US has retreated from all its promises and commitments to the Palestinians to set up a sovereign Palestinian state in the occupied territories and stop the Israeli settlements.
While the US remains Israel’s strategic ally, the Palestinians have played all their cards and they have no way of pressuring the US. They have become a weak entity, entirely dependent on US and EU aid. The schism between Hamas and Fatah, which also divided the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, left the Palestinians without a leadership able to represent it and lead the struggle for independence.
The Hamas movement is under siege on two fronts. After Mohamed Morsi was removed from presidential office, the Egyptian regime placed Hamas on its list of terror organizations and destroyed all the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai. Secondly, Israel, cooperating with the Egyptians, continues its blockade on the Strip. This has weakened the Hamas leadership, and all that concerns it today is not the liberation of a nation under occupation but the survival of its regime in Gaza.
As for the Palestinian Authority’s relations to Gaza, it is counting on the Egyptian regime and taking advantage of Hamas’ situation to strengthen its hold on the West Bank. Its most pressing concern is to ensure its own survival by isolating Hamas and by continuing the “peace process” which ensures continued funding. This approach leads only to a dead end and strengthens Israel’s extreme rightwing which claims the existing situation can be left as it is and that there is no need to withdraw from the West Bank.
After nine months, negotiations under the auspices of US Secretary of State John Kerry have reached a deadlock, and it appears that Israel rejects every suggestion regarding the core issues – borders, settlements, Jerusalem and the refugees. In light of this miserable situation, the US is trying to continue the negotiations via a document that adds nothing, that only gives cover for a continuation of the show whose finale will not be good.
The Palestinian leadership’s attitude to the Arab Spring and the rift between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi exposes its reactionary character – it has long since lost its revolutionary and progressive qualities. The revolutions and struggles in the Arab world have pushed the Palestinian issue aside, and it has lost its leading role in the struggle against imperialism and occupation. The Egyptian people, with its workers’ strikes, student demonstrations, and the youth protests against the regime, is playing a role with historic significance in the Arab struggle for just, democratic governments. The Tunisian people, who agreed on an exemplary democratic constitution, and held new elections based on accords between the Islamic stream and the liberal left stream, are a basis and role model for the entire Arab world.
What is happening in Syria is without doubt the big test for the Palestinian conscience. After long years of Syrian solidarity with the suffering and struggle of the Palestinian people, when the Syrian people face a war of extermination and a crisis even greater than the Nakba, the Palestinians and its leaders chose to maintain neutrality. This position reflects their loss of vitality, and explains their failure in building an alternative to both Hamas and Fatah.
Translated by Yonatan Preminger