Friday, December 7, 2007

Empty heads and full pockets

The PA has come under increasing scrutiny in the aftermath of Annapolis

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Just back from Annapolis, and with no tangible achievements to present to, let alone impress, a people long disillusioned with American-sponsored "peace conferences", Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have been trying desperately to convince the Palestinians that "this time it is going to be serious.".....

In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, Khatib pointed out that the PA believed it was unrealistic, though perfectly legal from the perspective of international law, to have as a starting position the Partition Resolution of 1947 instead of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. "They think it is difficult to revert to the past and that the international community would reject such a step on our part."

Professor Ali Jerbawi of Beir Zeit University disagrees. He told the Weekly that the PA should have made the 1947 partition plan, not UN resolutions 242 and 338, their opening negotiating position. "They are naïve and ignorant. Even my grandmother understood that in order to have a reasonable price for one's commodity, one had to demand first the highest possible price in order to be able to get the wanted price.".....

The PLO Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) has at its disposal the services of the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), which has received tens of million of dollars of funds, but has done very little to make Palestinian negotiators better equipped to face their Israeli counterparts.

Just take a look at the document formulated jointly between Israel and the PA at the last minute at the Annapolis conference. This document, which the NSU helped formulate, was completely void of any call for ending the manifestly criminal blockade of Gaza, the removal of Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank or release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli dungeons and detention camps. Moreover, not a word was mentioned about freezing Israeli settlement expansions.

The NSU is funded and effectively controlled by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), a think-tank based in London which is vulnerable to pressure from pro- Israeli circles. For example, two years ago, the ASI forced the NSU to fire two highly-qualified Palestinian-American lawyers, Michael Tarazi and Diana Butto, for going too far in defending Palestinian rights, especially during TV debates with Israeli spokesmen......

But, the main problem lies with the Palestinian Authority itself and its relations with the NSU, mostly based on cronyism and nepotism. The author sought to contact the NSU in Ramallah, but received a hostile response. One lady told me "why don't you go and negotiate with Israel. Maybe you could do a better job.""

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