By Henry Siegman

Introduction

Failed bilateral talks over these past 16 years have shown that a Middle East peace accord can never be reached by the parties themselves. Israeli governments believe they can defy international condemnation of their illegal colonial project in the West Bank because they can count on the US to oppose international sanctions

Bilateral talks that are not framed by US-formulated parameters (based on Security Council resolutions, the Oslo accords, the Arab Peace Initiative, the "road map" and other previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements) cannot succeed.

Israel's government believes that the US Congress will not permit an American president to issue such parameters and demand their acceptance. What hope there is for the bilateral talks that resume in Washington DC on September 2 depends entirely on President Obama proving that belief to be wrong, and on whether the "bridging proposals" he has promised, should the talks reach an impasse, are a euphemism for the submission of American parameters. Such a US initiative must offer Israel iron-clad assurances for its security within its pre-1967 borders, but at the same time must make it clear these assurances are not available if Israel insists on denying Palestinians a viable and sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza.

By Dr. Mohsen Saleh

The Palestinian reconciliation agreement still lacks the necessary momentum to transform it into a practical programme that has the potential to be implemented on the ground. Sixth months have lapsed since the signing of the reconciliation agreement on 3 May 2011, yet no genuine initiatives have been presented for its implementation. This despite the fact that negotiations between Fatah and Hamas happened throughout most of 2009, and it took nearly eighteen months to respond to Hamas' objections. Although the 4 100-word draft agreement was thorough and detailed, it appears to lack any sign of life.

By Mohsen Mohammed Saleh

Is real reform of the Palestinian Authority (PA) possible, or is reform simply a matter of 'dancing to the Occupation's tune'? Also, can the types of reform be divided and classified in such a way that some administrative, economic, educational, and social reforms are achieved, with the understanding that political and security reforms are much more difficult – if not impossible? Or will reform solely improve the image of the Occupation and prolong its existence – which in itself is considered a deviation from the prime objective that the Palestinian Authority was established to achieve: ending the Occupation and not merely improving the status quo under its reign?

By Al-Zaytouna Centre

Summary: Palestinian resistance in the West Bank is currently experiencing great difficulties, and there can be no expectation of an increase in armed resistance against Israeli occupation in the territory. The Palestinian Authority and the government in Ramallah have repeatedly rejected armed resistance, committed themselves to pursuing members of the resistance, and have activated security co-ordination with Israel as an obligation of the Quartet Roadmap. While Fatah provides support and political cover for the Authority, the latter has begun dismantling or neutralising Fatah resistance cells. The members of other PLO factions suffer persecution by the Authority, and their limited resources and political conditions diminish their military capacity. Although Hamas and Islamic Jihad retain free political and military decision-making, the security measures applied by the Authority's security apparatuses through security coordination with the occupation have made it difficult for these two movements to carry out effective resistance activity from within the West Bank. Given the status quo in the West Bank, and the stalemate in negotiations, the Palestinian scene could witness a new commencement of resistance efforts if President Mahmoud Abbas resigns, frustration increases in the West Bank, the Authority collapses, or a Palestinian reconciliation programme which adopts resistance as an alternative to political settlement is realised. An analysis of the quest for a political resolution to the Israel-Palestinian issue is a prerequisite for discussing the prospects for resistance in the West Bank. Such an analysis should consider a number of levels.

 

By Afro-Middle East Centre

On 12 June 2014, three teenage boys were reported missing from Gush Etzion, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank near Hebron. The Israeli government quickly accused Hamas of kidnapping the boys and announced ‘Operation Brother’s Keeper’ – the most extensive military deployment on the West Bank since the second intifada. Israeli officials said the operation had two objectives: to find the missing settlers; and to crack down on Hamas. Thus, the operation must be understood in the context of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s failed peace initiative, and the decision by Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government. The operation has substantially targeted Hamas: 500 abductions/arrests have already occurred; 269 of these are Hamas members and twelve are parliamentarians who could have served in a unity government.

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