So, the Arab League has rejected the latest United States Middle East Peace Plan. So, what’s new, I hear you ask? Well, the sun came up this morning and February followed January which might induce someone to say, “Same old, Same old!”
Egypt had previously welcomed the MEPP. It is reported as saying that ‘it welcomed Trump’s efforts and encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to “study the plan closely” in order to establish an “independent and sovereign state on the occupied Palestinian territories.’ However, once they were all alone in the room, it seems that in order to save face in a room full of haters, it changed its mind.
Palestinian Authority President Abbas declared, “I will never accept this solution. I will not have it recorded in my history that I have sold Jerusalem.” But then he added the most perplexing statement: “We’re not nihilists.” Perhaps he forgot to exhale.
This, of course, is not the first time the Palestinian Arabs have rejected American attempts at peace. Think back to 1978 when the Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin negotiated a peace treaty at Camp David under the guidance of a Jimmy Carter MEPP. Yassar Arafat speaking for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) rejected it out of hand, the UN General Assembly rejected it and Egypt was expelled from the Arab League.
In 1983, Arafat and the PLO rejected President Reagan’s MEPP. Reagan’s plan proposed Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza but the PLO, since listed as a terrorist organisation, wanted a separate Palestinian state.
In 1993, Arafat on behalf of the PLO signed President Bush’s MEPP (aka the Oslo Accords) with Israel. Under Oslo, Arafat established the Palestinian Authority having administrative autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza. He rejected the Oslo Accords in 1995.
In 2000, President Clinton convened a Camp David summit between Israeli PM Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. At that summit, another MEPP was proposed by Clinton and agreed to by Barak which included everything that the Palestinians had previously demanded. It was rejected out of hand by Arafat. The details of Clinton’s MEPP is reported in the left-wing Guardian which has proven to be no friend of Israel. Even so, it relates that Arafat did not negotiate at all; “he just kept saying no.“
Now, the 2020 MEPP has been rejected by Abbas on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Every time the Palestinians have previously rejected an MEPP, they have given a reason and when subsequent concessions have been made, the Palestinian Leadership has rejected them with a new reason. Perhaps, there is another secret reason for the rejection.
Arafat gave a hint of this when he said that some people wanted him to agree with the MEPP so that they could accuse him of selling out the Palestinians. That, of course, is no secret.
The secret reason is that Palestinian leaders can only survive as leader while there is chaos among the Palestinians. Arafat proved that his survival depended on maintaining a sense of chaos and heart-break in the everyday life of the Palestinians with unrelenting, on-going violence, ruthlessness and poverty, which he blamed on Israel and friends of Israel.
While the people are thus occupied with a perceived common enemy, they are unable to organise into a cohesive political force that would, in peaceful times, challenge the Leadership for reform.
A Middle East Peace Plan will never be approved by the Palestinian leaders because the leadership don’t want an organised opposition that a long-lasting peace would make possible. What is quite depressing is that the political corruption of those people has been so complete over the past 50 years, that peace is probably now out of reach altogether.
Dr David Long is a retired solicitor and economist.
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