December 2, 2010
The Western-backed ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank has just concluded its fifth convention in Ramallah with a series of statements that will make it virtually impossible for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reach a deal with Israel that includes any compromises.
A statement issued by the Fatah Revolutionary Council, which consists of more than 100 Fatah officials, said no to almost every proposal or idea that could have paved the way for some kind of a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
No to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state; no to any solution that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders; no to the idea of a land swap between Israel and the Palestinians; no to any resuming peace talks with Israel unless construction in settlements and east Jerusalem is halted; no to understandings between Israel and the US regarding the future of the peace process; no to supplying Israel with US weapons; no to recognizing the Western Wall's significance to Jews and not to a new Israeli law that requires a referendum before any withdrawal from Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
With a position like this, it is hard to see how any progress could be achieved when and if the peace talks ever resume. What Fatah is actually saying is that Israel must accept 100% of our demands if it wants peace. This is the only "yes" that Fatah had to offer.
The Fatah statement should not come as a surprise to anyone: this has in fact always been the faction's position, especially since the beginning of the peace process with Israel. Fatah has actually been consistent in its policy and its positions have not changed over the past two decades.
The problem is not Fatah as much as it is the Western governments that continue to ignore what Fatah is -- and always has been -- saying. The international media is also to be blamed for ignoring or downplaying such statements made by the "moderate" Fatah in the West Bank.
Abbas could not make any concessions to Israel in light of the Fatah declaration even if he wanted to.
The message that Fatah has once again sent to all Palestinians is that no one has a mandate to reach a deal with Israel that does not meet all their demands. This is why the Fatah communiqué was published in Arabic in Fatah-controlled media outlets – to make sure that Palestinians read every word and understand the message.
Of course Abbas, who attended the Fatah gathering, has endorsed the statement, vowing that he would not make any compromises on any of the Palestinians' rights.
Abbas is well aware of the fact that he would be condemned as a traitor if he dared to make any concessions to Israel on core issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the "right of return for Palestinian refugees."
It is for this reason that Abbas's predecessor, Yasser Arafat, refused to accept anything less than 100% of his demands at the Camp David summit in 2000.
Abbas knows that the Arab and Islamic street is still not prepared to accept a solution that would include making significant concessions to Israel.
The Palestinians are ruled by two powers that want 100%: Fatah says it wants 100% of the territories captured by Israel in 1967; Hamas wants 100% of all the land, including Israel proper.
Sadly, there still is no third Palestinian party that is willing to stand in the middle.
The communiqué sounds more like a battle cry than a political statement, particularly given the fact that it ends with the declaration: "Revolution until victory, victory, victory!"
In this part of the world, it is important to listen to what people say in their own language -- not only what they say in English to US and European governments and journalists.
This article was written by Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.
Readers who want to help the Palestinians should follow his essays: http://www.hudson-ny.org/author/Khaled+Abu+Toameh