The Palestinian Leadership’s Regression in the Peace Process


Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Vol. 15,  No. 20    July 1, 2015

Dr. Saeb Erekat

Dr. Saeb Erekat

  • Dr. Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and head of the Palestinian negotiating team, published a new position paper on June 18 that   includes a set of recommendations for the Palestinian leadership.
  • The document outlines a Palestinian strategy for a diplomatic struggle with Israel. Its main points include:
  • Annulling the PLO’s recognition of Israel
  • A diplomatic campaign to recruit international support to coerce an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines
  • Insisting on the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” along with their descendants
  • Rejection of any proposals for a temporary or partial settlement with Israel
  • A legal battle against Israel in the international arena aimed at constraining Israel’s ability to defend itself against Palestinian terror
  • Strategic cooperation with Hamas and Islamic Jihad by integrating them into the PLO’s institutions
  • The  waging of an all-out “peaceful popular struggle” against Israel (defined by Palestinian leadership as local terror attacks
  • The document reflects the old Palestinian strategy of “stages,” which regards an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders as affording an improved posture to continue the struggle.

Below is a full translation of the recommendations section of Erekat’s position paper: 1

Recommendations

In light of the ongoing Israeli settlement activity and its increase by 40 percent in 2014, along with Israel’s opposition to locating the boundaries of the two states on the June 4, 1967 border, and, in addition, its opposition to releasing the fourth group of prisoners [who were arrested] before the Oslo [agreements], the piratical seizure and holding of the monies of the Palestinian people, the holding of other monies, and the escalation of attacks, clashes, invasions, the denials of agreements, and the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip by land, sea, and air.

[In light of] the definition of the relations with Israel, the implementation of the Palestinian national reconciliation, the State of Palestine’s continued joining of international institutions and conventions, and the enhancement of our relations in the Arab and international domains becoming a supreme national need, on this basis we make the following recommendations:

1. To call on the occupation authority [Israel] to take full responsibility for the Palestinian people in the occupied State of Palestine (the West Bank, eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and the Gaza Strip), so long as it [Israel] has not consented to fulfill the obligations imposed on it in the signed agreements, including reconsideration of the security and economic relations. We warn against entering any negotiations to improve the situation, since the goal is to change the situation by implementing the resolutions of the Palestinian Central Council that were published in March 2015.

2. Total opposition to the “State of Gaza” plan, presenting it as a useless notion, making a connection between it and the relinquishment of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the right of return of the refugees, and as vitiating the Palestinian national program.

3. The UN Security Council: Holding consultations via the Arab Committee that was established by the Arab League on January 15, 2015, with the members of the Security Council and with regional and international organizations, on preparing a new proposal for a resolution to be brought before the Security Council after its approval by the Arab Committee, whose members are Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, and the secretary-general of the Arab League.

In this context, we warn against the possible preparation of a proposal for a UN Security Council resolution that includes all the elements that have been rejected by the Palestinians and the Arabs, such as the Jewish state, leaving occupation forces along the Jordan River, or the principle of territorial swaps, demilitarization of the state, and vague formulations regarding Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and refugees.

It should be emphasized that the drafting of a new proposal for a Security Council resolution must include: the establishment of the State of Palestine on the 1967 lines with eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital; a solution of the refugee problem based on Resolution 194; the release of the prisoners; the negation of the Jewish state or any security formulations whose import is to leave Israeli forces along the Jordan River and anything entailing a continued division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; reliance on the Arab Peace Initiative with all of its components and the legitimate international resolutions from Resolution 242 to General Assembly Resolution 19/67 of 2012 that recognized the State of Palestine as an observer member; adherence [to the demand] to put a total stop to settlements in the West Bank, including in eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and with no exceptions; and the release of the prisoners.

This should be aimed at launching a peace process with an international summit meeting under international supervision, which will include, in addition to the permanent member states of the Security Council, representatives of Arab states, the European Union, and the BRICS states [Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa], and the setting of a final time-frame for negotiations over the course of one year, and the full implementation of the agreement within a period that will not exceed two years.

The PLO Executive Committee will be responsible for preparing a new proposal for a Security Council resolution.

4. The international conventions: The PLO Executive Committee, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, will be responsible for the activity of the Supreme National Committee in matters related to the International Criminal Court, and specifically regarding preparation of the file on aggression against the Gaza Strip in 2014, and the file on settlement from 1967 to the present, in a way that will include all the settlement actions including terror by settler groups, land confiscations, home destructions, the bypass roads, the infrastructure, settlement construction in all its forms, the racist separation fence, and so on, and continued active monitoring of the implementation of the rulings of the International Court, while using them as a source of legal authority on the issue of settlement and the fence in all of our international activities.

The State of Palestine will officially submit on June 25, 2015, all the files and the responses to the questions of the International Criminal Court, and in particular the file on settlement and aggression against the Gaza Strip and the prisoners.

Headquarters of the ICC in The Hague

Headquarters of the ICC in The Hague

Likewise, the Executive Committee will monitor the activity of the Ministerial Committee that was established to attune the Palestinian laws and the responsibilities imposed on the State of Palestine as a result of joining a number of international conventions.

This includes preparing the ground for joining a number of additional treaties, institutions, conventions, protocols, and international agreements, whose number after being joined will come to 484 conventions. It also includes continued efforts vis-à-vis the secretary-general of the United Nations to establish a special regime for international protection of the Palestinian people in the occupied State of Palestine.

5. Emphasizing to the international community that the State of Palestine’s joining of international conventions, including the International Criminal Court, is considered a right of the State of Palestine and a step that had to be taken so as to uphold the principle of two states on the June 4, 1967 lines and avoid compromising the interests of the Palestinian people.

6. Monitoring of the legal claims that are submitted against the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in American courts, the appeal on the recent ruling of the court in New York, submission of claims against the government of Israel for killing of Palestinian civilians who hold American citizenship, and highlighting the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 2015, that refused to recognize Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as part of Israel.

7. Continued activity among the states of the European Union to secure their recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 lines whose capital is eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem], particularly in light of the recognition of the Swedish government and the vote of a number of European parliaments in favor of recognizing the State of Palestine.

8. Stepping up activity vis-à-vis the European Union to gain support for the State of Palestine in its efforts to submit the file on settlement and Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip in 2014 to the International Criminal Court, and likewise to implement the resolutions of the parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, so as to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the Palestinian people in the occupied State of Palestine (the West Bank including eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the Gaza Strip), taking into consideration that the European Union welcomed the State of Palestine’s joining of the International Criminal Court and acceptance as a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

9. Activity vis-à-vis the European Union to reinforce the European guidelines on boycotting products of the Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian and Arab lands, and particularly in light of the fact that 16 states of the European Union took a decision to add labels to all settlement products, while continuing the resolute activity to bring an end to all activity of foreign companies in the settlements.

10. Activity vis-à-vis all the institutions of the European Union to prevent the addition of any Palestinian movement or organization to the terrorism list, while adopting a resolution that will distinguish between legitimate resistance and terror.

11. Continued activity and coordination with the Committee of the Arab Peace Initiative headed by Egypt, while ensuring that it meets regularly and whenever there is a need for it.

12. Including the Arab League in efforts of the State of Palestine to submit the settlements file and the file on aggression against the Gaza Strip in 2014 to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

13. Continued activity of the Arab Ministerial Committee (Kuwait, Palestine, and the secretary-general of the Arab League) vis-à-vis Switzerland, the depositary state of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to find ways to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to the Palestine people in the occupied State of Palestine (the West Bank including eastern Al-Quds and the Gaza Strip).

Pulling Palestinian Recognition of Israel

14. Weighing the possibility of removing the PLO’s recognition of the state of Israel, so that there will be mutual recognition between the state of Israel and the State of Palestine on the June 4, 1967 lines.

15. The PLO will continue to serve as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in all its locations.

16. The State of Palestine’s membership in all of the regional and international organizations and institutions will be maintained.

17. Accelerating the work on reaching a Palestinian reconciliation, in a way that will ensure an agreement on holding elections for the presidency of Palestine and for the Palestinian National Council, and will enable the government of national agreement to fulfill all of its responsibilities regarding the Gaza Strip.

Re-Engage with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad

18. Before the elections are held, the Palestinian National Council must convene with the participation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to elect a new Executive Committee of the PLO so that a temporary government of the State of Palestine will be established in keeping with UN General Assembly Resolution 19/67 of 2012.

19. Emphasizing that the Palestinian National Council is the parliament of the State of Palestine.

20. The holding of the seventh convention of the Fatah movement no later than the end of 2015.

21. The [PLO] Executive Committee will perform direct, detailed, periodic, and regular monitoring of the situation in the capital city Al-Quds [Jerusalem], develop its institutions, and defend it heroically and courageously and its national soil, and the steadfastness of our people on its land, and its Christian and Islamic holy places, and will hold a weekly meeting on this issue, opposing and struggling against the division according to [a criterion] of time and place of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.

22. Continued support for the struggle [كفاخ] of the prisoners for freedom and against the Israeli policy of terror, and activity to secure the return of the expellees of the Church of the Nativity.

23. Direct support for the popular struggle [مقاومة], and particularly against settlement, and development of the connection and the support in the national and regional committees, putting this at the top of the responsibilities of the PLO and its institutions in all the domains.

24. Direct interest in the situation of the Palestinian concentrations in the refugee camps and active and more effective monitoring by the Executive Committee of the situation of our people in Syria, Lebanon, and the diaspora, and particularly of the recent indecisiveness on the question of the Yarmouk camp.

Refugees wait in line to receive food aid distributed in the Yarmouk camp on January 31, 2014 in Damascus, Syria. (United Nation Relief and Works Agency – UNRWA)

Refugees wait in line to receive food aid distributed in the Yarmouk camp on January 31, 2014 in Damascus, Syria. (United Nation Relief and Works Agency – UNRWA)

25. Development of public diplomacy and cultural activity for the protection of the national identity and against any form of extremism and terror and for propagation of the values of tolerance, enlightenment, and justice and the rest of the values of humanity.

When we call to define the relationship with Israel, or direct a call to the occupation government [Israel] to assume its full responsibility, this is not a call to dismantle the Palestinian National Authority, which we view as a fruit of the struggle of the Palestinian people, rather, what we intend is to oppose Israel’s activity to turn the Palestinian National Authority (which was founded to shift the Palestinian people from occupation to independence) into an authority that pays salaries and conducts security coordination, since successive Israeli governments have succeeded to wrest powers from the Palestinian Authority in all areas of security, geography, personal, legal, and economic status. [underlined in original]

There is no need to discuss dismantling the Palestinian Authority or not dismantling it, because the matter is not on the agenda. But what is required concerns the duty to find a way to create a necessary balance in the existing Palestinian-Israeli relations on the basis of mutual obligations, and not only Palestinian obligations without Israeli obligations. [underlined in original]

As we have outlined a strategy, Israel too has outlined a strategy that is based on: [underlined in original]

  • Leaving the Palestinian Authority without authority, (that is, operative authority).
  • Continuation of the Israeli occupation, including the settlements and the Judaization of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and without paying a price.
  • Leaving the Gaza Strip outside the framework of Palestinian jurisdiction, in such a way that there will be a state in the Gaza Strip or that will ensure that a Palestinian state will not be established, since it is not possible to establish it without the Gaza Strip.
  • Establishing the concept of one state with two systems [authorities].

It is impossible to accept the continuation of the current situation, and particularly after the formation of the most extreme Israeli government in the history of Israel, and in light of the rise of the Arab list in the elections “inside” [Israel] as manifested in the agreement between the Arab [political] blocs to establish the United Arab List, and the positive implications this holds for the future.

Implementation of the Palestinian strategy in all the spheres – the Arab, the American, the Israeli, the European, Russia, China, and the BRICS states, the unaligned states, the Organization of American States and the African Union, and before that, in the Palestinian sphere with regard to the need to end the division and carry out the reconciliation, while augmenting the steadfastness of our people on the land of the occupied state in the West Bank including eastern Al-Quds and the Gaza Strip, and the escalation of the tactics of the peaceful popular struggle [مقاومة] in the framework of an ongoing and systematic program, and in addition to the joining by the State of Palestine of institutions, conventions, laws, and protocols — all these as ways of shortening the path to returning the State of Palestine on the 1967 lines, with its capital in eastern Al-Quds [Jerusalem], to the geographic map.

* * *

Note

1 http://www.alwatanvoice.com/arabic/news/2015/06/18/731476.html

 

About Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi

Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.