Monday, April 16, 2007

The Politics of Pragmatism

If we are to see this conflict resolved, it must be based on mutual understanding and acceptance as well as a breakdown of racism and supremacy in all its forms.

By Remi Kanazi

"The latest back and forth between Israel and the Palestinian unity government (and its regional interlocutors) will not bring peace to fruition. Many respected commentators in the Middle East have accused Israel of rejecting peace, primarily due to its refusal to fully embrace the Arab peace initiative. Yet this initiative, when entered into the international community’s trash compactor of “pragmatism,” will leave the Palestinian people with nothing more than an old, albeit neatly packaged, version of the Oslo Accords. These commentators’ near-sighted, almost desperate view, which is predicated on the notion that anything is better than the squalor Palestinians are living in today, will only further devastate the Palestinian people. It is one thing to compromise on the implementation of the rights of Palestinians, but it is quite another to diverge from one’s principles based on “new realities” imposed on the conflict by one’s adversary. We must never forget the lessons of the Oslo period, nor can we forget that after 40 years of compromise and conciliatory action, Palestinian suffering has been exponentially magnified. The professed pragmatist line only diminishes the rights of the oppressed, strengthens the oppressor’s position, and makes a mockery of institutions (i.e. the United Nations) whose many functions ostensibly include the protection of persecuted peoples......

This leads back to the Arab peace initiative. There are already signs of Hamas being corrupted by the pragmatist line to ensure its power in the occupied territories. This is not to say that negotiations can’t and shouldn’t take place, but at this point, on all five sides (Hamas, Fatah, Israel, the US, and the Quartet), intention substantively matters more than words and action. The “disengagement” of Gaza led to widespread suffering, settlements doubled during the Oslo years, and after free and fair democratic elections, sanctions were placed on the Palestinian government. This goes to show how seemingly positive actions, when combined with sinister ulterior motives, can be even more damaging than the status quo. If steps are taken to improve the lives of Palestinians on a permanent basis, it should be welcomed, but neither Hamas nor Fatah should be tempted by calls for negotiations in return for, what would be, short-term political capitalization......"

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