Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Once upon a time, the UN Partition Plan of 1947 offered the Palestinians 47 percent of their country. They didn’t like it. The Israelis, who were arriving from all over Europe, didn’t like it either. Then came the Oslo Agreement. It offered them 22 percent of the original land. They were tired of almost 50 years of Diaspora and brutal Israeli occupation and said yes. So did the Israelis.
Later on, the Israelis reconsidered. Barak’s generous offer at Camp David offered them 80 percent of the 22 percent of the 100 percent that was originally theirs. They didn’t like it, neither did the Israelis. Sharon came along with another offer in 2000: 42 percent of the 80 percent of the 22 percent of the original 100 percent, but with conditions. Among other things, he insists on the right to share control over Palestinian land, sea and airspace, and to “invade” anywhere, anytime he wishes.
The Zionists, including Americans, thought Sharon’s offer was way out of line. According to their Bible, only zero percent of the whole Palestinian land should be given to non-Jews.
It seems both Bush and Sharon were listening. The recent road map to peace approved by the quartet (the US, Britain, Russia and the European Union) now has Israeli-American conditions. The Palestinians should forget about Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the right to elect their own leaders or write their own school curriculum without prior approval from Bush and Sharon. In addition, the Palestinians have to live with a security wall that imprisons three million in the West Bank and one million in Gaza. The wall further eats into the remaining bits and pieces of their original land, isolates different parts, towns and cities — sometimes part of the same neighborhood — and keeps a large number of Jewish settlers on Israel’s side of the wall.
With their towns and leadership under siege, and with the Israeli army waging an elaborate war on civilians, I wonder what kind of state is left for the Palestinians to defend or to negotiate about. I would advise the Palestinian Authority to just pick up what is left of their dignity and leave, pronounce all peace agreements (or what is left of them) null and void, and start anew their fight for freedom. This way, Israel will be responsible, as an occupying force, for the welfare and security of the occupied. Sharon will not find a punching bag in the authority and someone to blame for every suicide attack. Instead, Israel, as an occupier, will be solely responsible for providing security to both Israelis and Palestinians.
I say: Quit a bad deal that keeps getting shoddier, and rekindle your struggle for full freedom. Whatever you get will certainly be better than this made-for-suckers scheme.
- Arab News Opinion 12 October 2003