Friday, October 19, 2007

Headlong to more of the same

While the US continues to ignore its citizens, next month's peace conference seems fated to mimic the same old empty rhetoric

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....Meanwhile, all indications are that the US is irrevocably bent on confrontation in the Arab region, a policy shared to varying degrees by its Arab and European allies and, of course, Israel. Their aim is to expunge such givens as Arab solidarity, the Palestinian cause and even the Arab-Israeli conflict, and to isolate and seal off everything that represents that "past" without resolving any issue unless by settlement with Israeli national consensus.

With the end of the neo-conservatives, the banner of "the spread of democracy" beneath which this clique paraded fell, leaving its less deceptive partner, "the fight against terrorism", in place. The banner that has effectively and flagrantly taken the place of "democracy" is "American hegemony", by which is meant the imposition of a single all- encompassing form of control over the material and mental region located between the preservation of Israel and oil, and the areas adjacent. The fall of "democracy", in turn, removed any vestiges of embarrassment and discomfort among Arab neo-cons and neo-liberals whose regimes, which they served in the days of Washington's neo-conservatives, now feel threatened or at least open to blackmail by America's number one ally. Indeed, gone now is even the slightest compunction at siding with Israel (militarily or non-militarily) in its confrontation against other Arabs.....

The situation as it stands can be broken down into the following inferential equation: the US is pursuing a confrontationist, anti-conciliatory policy in the region; consensus over the presidency of Lebanon (among other things, we add cautiously) is a regional and international matter; and local reconciliation is an unlikely outcome of international confrontation......

On the Palestinian side, when some Hamas leaders say that talks are in progress with Fatah in this country or that, they look like unsteady tightrope walkers. More importantly, they are effectively belittling the importance of discussing opposition to the Bush meeting in November and sidelining the need to discuss the behaviour of the PA. The ultimate effect of such statements is to make Hamas appear interested primarily in returning to a power- sharing arrangement with Fatah.

Yet it is not Fatah that is ruling the PA at the moment, but rather a certain political trend, most of whose main figures either came from outside Fatah or had never held key positions in that movement.....They have a project and they are determined to subordinate any details, such as dialogue, to the implementation of their project and what they hope to gain out of implementing it.

There are undoubtedly many Fatah members who have no objection to speaking with Hamas. There are also many who oppose the PA presidency's way of handling things. Perhaps these are the people Hamas should be speaking with, without claiming that they are speaking with Fatah in general and in a way that establishes common ground to build on towards the development of a political programme. Surely this is the only way to prevent the imposition on the Palestinians of a political map that features only an unjust settlement on one side and a self-serving PA project on the other, with no politicised opposition with a viable political vision in between. "

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