Saturday, October 16, 2010

Barghouthi: Smothered by Settlements

By MUSTAFA BARGHOUTHI, The New York Times, October 14, 2010

Negotiations between two unequal parties cannot succeed. Success in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations requires a reasonable balance of power, clear terms of reference and abstention of both sides from imposing unilateral facts on the ground. None of that existed in the talks that were re-initiated in September.

Much like previous rounds of talks, these negotiations were dominated on one side by an Israeli government that controls the land, roads, airspace, borders, water and electricity, as well as the trade and economy of the Palestinian side, while possessing a powerful military establishment (now the third military exporter in the world) and a robust gross domestic product, which has tripled in the last decade.

This same Israeli “partner” now also boasts a general public that has shifted dramatically to the right, and to which an apartheid system for Palestinians has become an acceptable norm.

On the other side is the Palestinian Authority — one that paradoxically holds little real authority, and exists as a sort of fiefdom within the Israeli matrix of control. Further debilitating the P.A. is a protracted internal Palestinian division, total dependence on foreign aid and a decline of democracy and human rights. Finally, the Palestinian Authority is constantly pressured to provide security for its occupier while failing to provide any protection whatsoever to its own people from that same occupier.

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