Peace talks are a good thing, right? You'd expect the world to embrace the possibility of peace, and to encourage the parties involved. But its never really that simple:
An organization calling itself the US Palestinian Community Network has sent out a mass email calling for rejection of the peace process as posing a threat to the Palestinian people. All who genuinely seek peace should be appalled by this blatant rejectionism. Their email follows:
The US Palestinian Community Network calls upon all organizations, associations, and Palestinian and Arab community groups, as well as solidarity organizations, and individuals, to sign on to the below statement rejecting the resumption of direct negotiations, in the midst of ongoing Israeli structural racism and violence inflicted upon Palestinians, to take place between Palestinian Authority
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, declare our commitment to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people – one land, one people, one cause. Our people, in the West Bank and Gaza, suffering and steadfast under siege and occupation; our people in Palestine 1948, confronting racism, ethnic cleansing and political repression; and our people in the refugee camps and in diaspora around the world, struggling to return home and liberate their homeland, deserve a leadership that defends their inalienable rights, takes its legitimacy from its popular support, and upholds the liberation of its land and its people as the highest national goal. We deserve a leadership that defends our collective rights. As such, we reject the direct negotiations taking place in Washington, DC on September 2, 2010, which shield Israel as it continues its colonial and apartheid project. Negotiations in these current conditions without necessary pressure and any terms of reference amount to the barter of Palestinian cities as opposed to the defense of collective rights and to that we say: Palestine is not for sale!
These direct negotiations have not served the interests of Palestinians, who, under the conditions of the peace process have been forced into further policing of our own people already suffering under the yoke of occupation, in exchange only for worsening conditions.
Indeed, the past 17 years of the Oslo accords have witnessed the ongoing imprisonment of people of conscience, settlement-expansion, ethnic cleansing and racism against our people, while our national institutions and liberation movement have been systematically dismantled and replaced with an Authority whose primary goal is to respond to the demands of the Occupier in a Quixotic attempt to build a state without sovereignty. The Palestinian Authority should join the mounting voices and the growing movement that condemns Netanyahu’s instransigent rebuff of international law. While the international solidarity movement with Palestine is growing steadily; while reports of the international isolation of Israel, including the rising movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, multiply daily; while the conscience of the world demands justice, accountability and international prosecution of Israeli war crimes, the Palestinian Authority has chosen instead to provide cover to the Israeli occupation and its intolerable, bitter, racism, abandoning even the pretext of a “settlement freeze,” and going to direct negotiations while the occupier daily commits crimes against the Palestinian people.
Sadly, the Palestinian Authority is itself a creature of such negotiations. The vast majority of the Palestinian people, in Palestine and in exile, demand full recognition of our national rights, particularly the refugees’ right to return to their original homes, lands and properties. When the Palestinian Authority bargains our inalienable rights and puts them on the table to be carved up by the occupier, we must be heard, loudly and clearly, to say that this Authority does not represent Palestinians and will not be allowed to sell our cause and our people in our name.
As Palestinians in the United States, it is also clear that the Obama administration offers nothing new to the Palestinian people. The U.S. administration continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan and threaten the region with further war and occupation. It provides aid and has ongoing trade relations with despotic Arab regimes who, with U.S. support, can afford to repress the collective rights of their Arab populations. Additionally, it provides billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Israel on an annual basis, and unlimited political and diplomatic support to the occupier irrespective of its contravention of international law and announced U.S. foreign policy. We are not convinced by U.S. “assurances,” when the actions of the United States government have assured nothing for the Palestinian people to date but ongoing occupation and impunity for Israeli war crimes.
Today, we say – these direct negotiations pose only a threat to our people. As Palestinians in the United States, we find no voice being heard here – not the U.S. administration and not the Palestinian Authority – that represents our people, our rights, our dreams and our cause. These negotiations are a farce and doomed to failure – but worse than that, they are a cover for ongoing crimes. They discard any and all pretense of international legitimacy, relying on the goodwill of the U.S./Israeli alliance, and place our fundamental rights – particularly the right to return – up for sale. We will not allow this to happen. The Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas do not represent us, and these negotiations are illegitimate and unacceptable.
Instead, we call for international support of our people, not a “peace process” that perpetuates our dispossession and displacement and provides cover for the occupier. International isolation of Israel, boycott, divestment and sanctions, international prosecution of Israeli war criminals are necessary, as is clear support for our rights, including the right to resist occupation, the right to self-determination, and the right to return home – the key to our cause. As with all unjust and illegitimate regimes that have acted to liquidate the Palestinian cause, these negotiations and the Authority that comes to them will fail in the face of steadfast commitment to justice. Our voices must be heard now to ensure this is the case.