Assessing the Geneva Accords, Part II
Assessing the Geneva Accords, Part II
PROVISIONS OF THE ACCORD
This brings us, finally, to the actual content and provisions of the accord itself. Many progressive people, including many I know in the Palestine solidarity and anti-Occupation movements in Winnipeg and Montreal, seem to think that the Geneva Accord is different from past efforts. They seem to think that it's the best that can be achieved. We have to be â€œrealistic.â€ And they think that Sharonâ€™s opposition to the G.A. proves that there must be something good about it â€“â€“ even though the Labor Party has actually been worse than Likud in terms of expanding settlements in the Occupied Territories, and in terms of solidifying what Israeli activist Jeff Halper calls the â€œMatrix of Control.â€
There's a lot of lofty rhetoric in the preamble, and a stated assumption that a two-state solution is the â€œonly viable option.â€ The preamble also asserts that the signatories of the accord (Israel and the PLO) will â€œconduct themselves in conformity with the norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.â€ It further claims to base itself on UN resolutions 242 and 338, and suggests that the G.A. â€œwill constitute the FULL implementation of these resolutions.â€ As we will see, however, the actual provisions of the accord stand the rhetoric of the preamble on its head, make a mockery of the notion of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, and undermine a series of UN resolutions related to Israel-Palestine, not to mention â€œthe norms of international law and the Charter of the United Nationsâ€ which the Geneva Accord claims to â€œre-affirm.â€
Article 1 of the accord insists that the GAâ€™s implementation â€œwill settle ALL the claims of the Parties.â€ Itâ€™s an end to conflict provision, which means, explicitly stated, that â€œno further claims related to events prior to this Agreement may be raised by either Party.â€ By signing this accord, the entire history of Palestinian dispossession, the theft of land, the lives lost, the claims for reparations arising out of al-Nakbah, the claims based on the right of return of refugees, the Palestinian demand for an acknowledgement of responsibility â€“â€“ itâ€™s all void. Itâ€™s considered â€œresolvedâ€ by the provisions of the accord. In essence, the individual and collective rights of an entire people are considered forfeit. Forfeit, in part, because of the scribbled signatures of Palestinian elites who have lost touch with the street â€“â€“ in other words, by people increasingly viewed as shameful collaborators by ordinary Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories and diaspora.
Article 2 pledges the Parties â€œnot to interfere in each otherâ€™s internal affairs,â€ and vows to establish â€œrobust modalities for security cooperationâ€ in order â€œto end terrorism and violenceâ€ against both peoples. As we shall see, only the hypothetical state of Palestine is bound by the G.A. â€œnot to interfereâ€ in the internal affairs of Israel â€“â€“ not the other way around â€“â€“ and the â€œrobust modalities for security cooperationâ€ revolve primarily around Palestinian obligations to protect Israelis and guarantee Israeli security. Throughout the Geneva Accord, obligations are usually one-way, extending from â€œthe State of Palestineâ€ to Israel, not vice versa.
Article 3 establishes an Implementation & Verification Group (IVG) possibly made up of the U.S., Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, and other parties, to enforce the Geneva Accord, monitor the two sides, and resolve possible disputes. It also refers to a Multinational Force (MF) to help the IVG monitor and enforce the G.A, though the composition, structure, size, and control of this multinational force are left undefined, and like many critical components of the Geneva Accord, only to be dealt with in a yet-to-be-drafted section of the agreement called â€œAnnex X.â€ One is left with the distinct impression in this, and other sections of the Geneva Accord, that the United States will play a prominent and determining role in both the IVG and the multinational force, and may even use such an agreement to establish an independent military presence (including new bases) inside the proposed Palestinian â€œstate.â€ The ambiguity of the G.A., and the fact that most major issues are defined in, or deferred to, the mysterious Annex X, means that the role of the United States is downplayed and not explicit. But the possibility of a decisive U.S. role compromises the Geneva Accordâ€™s pretense of â€œeven-handedness,â€ and doesnâ€™t bode well for stability and peace and justice in the region.
Territory and borders between Palestine and Israel are discussed in Article 4, which claims to base all borders and adjustments on international law, in accordance with UN resolutions 242 and 338. The article begins by affirming that borders will be based on the June 4th, 1967 lines, with the possibility of â€œreciprocal modifications on a 1:1 basis.â€ At first reading, this sounds lovely and reasonable, a vast improvement over past proposals. But the accord does not talk about land quality when it talks about â€œreciprocal modifications.â€ It only talks about quantity. It is clear from the preliminary maps (published in Haâ€™aretz along with the initial draft of the accord), that Israel will annex to itself vast portions of the central West Bank, and other areas that happen to be the most â€œdevelopedâ€ in terms of illegal Israeli colonies, and which not coincidentally, are situated over top of the regionâ€™s major water aquifers. In return for annexing this coveted land to Israel, the Palestinians will be offered an additional line of desert alongside the Gaza Strip, and similar â€œreal estateâ€ â€“â€“ of course, â€œgenerouslyâ€ exchanged on a 1:1 basis.
The Geneva Accord claims that the proposed states of Israel and Palestine will â€œrecognize and respect each otherâ€™s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence, as well as the inviolability of each otherâ€™s territory, including territorial waters and airspaceâ€ (Article 4/2). The accord is full of such assertions of respect and mutual self-determination, followed immediately by provisions that undermine them, and cast doubt on the intentions and sincerity of its authors.
Article 4/5 details settlements and settlement withdrawal, stating that Israel is â€œresponsible for resettling the Israelis residing in Palestinian sovereign territory outside this territory.â€ But considering that the Geneva Accord appears to leave most of the central West Bank settlements, in and around East Jerusalem, intact â€“â€“ the vast majority of all settlers â€“â€“ and redraws the borders to reflect this illegal occupation, it is not exactly clear which â€œsettlementsâ€ and which Israelis will actually be uprooted from their colonies and â€œresettledâ€ elsewhere. The document is deliberately ambiguous about such details. Not one single, specific â€œsettlementâ€ is named and slated for withdrawal. Not one is named for transfer to the jurisdiction of the new state of Palestine. The document refers to â€œimmovable propertyâ€ and â€œinfrastructureâ€ within such un-named vacated colonies that will allegedly be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty. But even this seemingly positive provision is negated by the fact that no colonies are named, most in fact are annexed, and the fact that Israel (as outlined in a later article in the G.A.) will actually deduct the value of such property from any reparations and claims it might be forced to pay out to Palestinian refugees.
Article 4/6 outlines the creation of a â€œcorridor linking the West Bank and Gaza Strip,â€ which would be an essential component of any viable Palestinian state, allowing free movement of goods and people between two parts of the same country. But the first, authoritative description of this corridor in the Geneva Accord is that it will be â€œunder Israeli sovereignty.â€ The accord further states that such a corridor will â€œnot disrupt Israeli transportation,â€ and will be built with â€œdefensive barriersâ€ along its entire length to ensure that no one can enter Israel or Palestine from the corridor. The accord does not say whether Palestinian transportation will be protected or disrupted, nor does it spell out what â€œIsraeli sovereigntyâ€ and control over the corridor means for the movement of Palestinians.
Article 5/1 refers to wonderful things like â€œmutual understanding and cooperation,â€ and states that Israel and Palestine will â€œrecognize and respect each otherâ€™s right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from the threat or acts of war, terrorism and violence.â€ It also states that they will â€œrefrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of the other.â€ The Geneva Accord does not say what â€œterritorial integrityâ€ and â€œpolitical independenceâ€ means in the context of Israeli control over Palestinian borders, and Israeli sovereignty over the corridor between Gaza and the West Bank, let alone the many other provisions of the agreement which undermine access to the Palestiniansâ€™ historic capital, circumscribe Palestinian control over its own airspace, prevent it from having its own army, prevent it from importing or manufacturing certain kinds of weapons, and which allow for a continuing Israeli military presence inside the new Palestinian â€œstate.â€
Under the Geneva Accord, Israel will be able to maintain troops in the Jordan Valley, and military bases (innocuously called â€œearly warning stationsâ€) in northern and central West Bank, for an ambiguous and possibly indefinite period of time, subject to perpetual renewal by â€œthe partiesâ€™ consent,â€ but deferred long enough in any case, to allow the â€œfacts on the groundâ€ to change dramatically over the next six years (Articles 5/7 and 5/8). The Israeli air force is â€œentitled to use the Palestinian sovereign airspaceâ€ for training purposes â€œsubject to review every ten yearsâ€ (article 5/9). In other words, in perpetuity, and calling into question the meaning and intention of the earlier professed commitment of the G.A. (in Article 4) to â€œthe inviolability of each otherâ€™s territory,â€ specifically including waters and airspace.
All Palestinian border crossings will have joint Palestinian Security Force (PSF) and Multinational Force (MF) monitoring teams, to "prevent the entry into Palestine of any weapons, materials or equipment that are in contravention" of the Geneva Accord (Article 5/12). No corresponding provision relates to Israel. Furthermore, â€œIsrael may maintain an unseen presence" in â€œpassenger terminalsâ€ and â€œcargo terminalsâ€ at Palestinian â€œcontrolledâ€ borders, and possibly inside the Palestinian state itself, in order to monitor and inspect the movement of goods and people into and out of the Palestinian state (Article 5/12). No corresponding provision relates to Palestinian supervision of Israeli borders, customs and security procedures, let alone mail and cargo facilities.
Article 6 ostensibly relates to the contentious, and politically important issue of Jerusalem, long recognized by the world community as the shared capital of any Jewish and Palestinian states, going back to the UN Partition Plan of 1947. This section of the Geneva Accord begins positively, as most do, by stating that Israel and Palestine will â€œrecognize the universal historic, religious, spiritual, and cultural significance of Jerusalem and its holiness enshrined in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,â€ and will furthermore "safeguard the character, holiness, and freedom of worship in the city." It also implies that the city will be shared in some way: Israel and Palestine â€œshall have their mutually recognized capitals in the areas of Jerusalem under their respective sovereignty.â€ But like all parts of the accord, the initial proclamations are undermined by subsequent provisions, and by ambiguous language, and by deferral of discussion of critical elements to Annex X.
In addition to the wonderful assertion of mutual respect and cooperation above, Article 6 states that the two Parties will "respect the existing division of administrative functions" in Jerusalem (Article 6 / 1). What does that mean? â€œExistingâ€ administrative divisions? One cannot be sure, but it suggests to me that the two sides must recognize, in advance, Israelâ€™s illegal occupation of Arab East Jerusalem, forcibly annexed in the 1967 war. Regarding the professed goal of a shared capital â€œin the areas of Jerusalem under their respective sovereignty,â€ one ought to remember Yossi Belinâ€™s previous commitment to a â€œshared Jerusalem,â€ and his record of word-play and manipulation on precisely this issue, as reflected in the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan of 1995. In the Beilin-Abu Mazen proposal, and again at Camp David, much was made of the supposed Israeli â€œconcessionâ€ which would â€œdivideâ€ Jerusalem, and â€œallowâ€ the Palestinians to have East Jerusalem as their national capital. But as Tanya Reinhart has noted, this whole framework, and the mythology of â€œpainfulâ€ Israeli concessions that has arisen from it, rests on a â€œverbal trick.â€ The Beilin-Abu Mazen plan stated that: â€œIsrael will recognize that the [portion of the] area defined as â€˜Al-Qudsâ€™ prior to the six days war which exceeds the area annexed to Israel in 1967 will be the capital of the Palestinian state.â€ If you can actually get your head around this formulation, what this ends up meaning is that a small, neighboring village called Abu-Dis, east of East Jerusalem, would be called â€œAl-Qudsâ€ (the Arab name for Jerusalem), and would serve as the capital of the Palestinian state. Itâ€™s a monumental farce, which Edward Said and other commentators have long pointed out, a farce that concedes and legitimizes the Israeli occupation and control of East Jerusalem proper â€“â€“ but one which has apparently been accepted by Arafat and other PA officials.
Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Geneva Accord that makes one think Beilin and friends have turned their backs on this rhetorical larceny, apart from allowing a limited Palestinian presence in a section of the Old City. Article 6/5 talks about the Temple Mount compound in particular, and highlights the "unique religious and cultural significance of the site to the Jewish people" â€“â€“ but this time, strangely, not to Muslims as well. It goes on to say that the new quasi-state of Palestine "shall be responsible for maintaining the security of the Compound and for ensuring that it will not be used for any hostile acts against Israelis." In other words, the first and primary task listed for the PSF in the al-Haram / al-Sharif compound is to protect Israelis!
Ultimately, the entire Article 6 amounts to a legitimization of Israel's illegal 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem. After talking exclusively about â€œsecurityâ€ in the Old City, we come to Article 6/11, which talks about the two Jerusalem â€œmunicipalitiesâ€ (one Palestinian and one Israeli) forming a joint Jerusalem Coordination and Development Committee (JCDC). In other words, the rest of Arab East Jerusalem is pre-supposed to be Israeli. Only the Old City is now being "negotiated" in the Geneva Accord, and a portion of it will "generously" be offered to the new Palestinian state, with the restrictions and multinational policing outlined!
Article 6/12 strips Palestinian citizens of Israel living in certain parts of Jerusalem of their citizenship, and implicitly assigns them to the new Palestinian state. It does not give them an option. There is no corresponding mention of Jewish Israelis residing in these same areas, no indication that they might be forced to do anything (including vacate homes or property, or choose between citizenships â€“â€“ let alone get stripped of existing rights they might enjoy) in order to facilitate the â€œseparationâ€ of peoples which such a depressing â€œtwo-state solutionâ€ entails. Instead, the long-held, and deeply racist view of Palestinian citizens of Israel as a â€œdemographic threatâ€ or â€œfifth columnâ€ becomes, in the Geneva Accord, a provision to purge Israel of unwanted citizens. Maximize the land; minimize the number of Palestinians on it â€“â€“ a long and illustrious Zionist goal. Nothing here to make a â€œreasonableâ€ person blink â€¦
One of the longest sections of the Geneva Accord is Article 7, detailing provisions for resolving what it calls â€œthe refugee problem.â€ The article begins by affirming UN resolution 194 as "the basis for resolving the refugee issue," and proclaims that this resolution will be "fulfilled" by implementation of the agreement. Individual â€œfreedomâ€ and â€œchoiceâ€ for Palestinian refugees is professed and affirmed throughout Article 7, but within the constraints outlined in the Geneva Accord itself (what it calls "the options and modalities set forthâ€¦").
But when you actually read the â€œoptions and modalities set forth,â€ you find that the range of options available to Palestinian refugees is negligible, and entirely dependent on the â€œsovereign discretionâ€ of Israel, or â€œthird countriesâ€ to which they might apply. Israel is granted complete veto over Palestinian refugees seeking to return to their homes inside Israel proper (Article 7/4). Thus, the Geneva Accord is in direct violation of UN resolution 194, which it claims forms the very basis of its provisions, and which it claims would be â€œfulfilledâ€ by virtue of implementing the agreement! But for anyone interested in the facts, Resolution 194 (December 1948) is unequivocal. It states that: â€œrefugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.â€ The right of Palestinians to return to their actual homeland is affirmed, and articulated as an inalienable individual and human right â€“â€“ not subject to Israeli â€œdiscretion,â€ and similarly not subject to â€œconcessionâ€ by Palestinian negotiators.
But the Geneva Accord puts an end to all future refugee claims (Article 7/7), and heavily proscribes the methods and terms and options available to those refugees who might actually avail themselves of its complicated application process. The accord does not speculate about the difficulties of informing Palestinian refugees of their many â€œoptions,â€ nor does it worry about aiding them in the process of filing claims and applications, as many refugees eke out an existence in situations of dire poverty and destitution in refugee camps, from Gaza and the West Bank, to Lebanon and Jordan. The burden of filing claims is upon them, the burden of â€œprovingâ€ title to lost lands is upon them, the burden of â€œprovingâ€ values of lost property is upon them, and after all this, refugees have two years to file their claims, or else even the limited options outlined in the accord are completely forfeit.
Article 7 also spends a good deal of time talking about â€œinternational fundsâ€ to handle refugee claims, compensation, and reparations. Itâ€™s evident from the accord that Israel wants to internationalize the fund-raising to pay for its own war crimes, as outlined in Articles 7/8 and 7/10 â€“â€“ a clear indication that it does not accept responsibility for the refugee crisis in the first place. This is exactly what the United States is trying to do right now with Iraq, internationalize its re-construction. They bomb the shit out of the country almost every week for the last ten years, subject it to brutal sanctions, reduce the civilian infrastructure to rubble, kill half a million children, and plunge the Iraqi people into a state of famine and poverty unknown in its national history â€“â€“ and now they want the rest of the world to pay for its recovery! They want the rest of the world to pay for the reconstruction contracts awarded to American corporations â€¦ presumably to make the extraction of Iraqi oil easier for yet more American corporations.
Well, Israel wants to do the same. Not only does Israel not accept responsibility for the Palestinian refugee crisis, but the Geneva Accord talks about Israel contributing to this hypothetical international fund (to handle compensation and reparations) as if itâ€™s some great humanitarian gesture. Later on, however, the accord says that Israel will deduct from this same fund the value of any property or goods it leaves behind in vacated colonies in the new Palestinian state (Article 7/9)!!! Incredible. One is left wondering if the combined â€œvalueâ€ of Palestinian refugee claims (not just in terms of property lost, but also in terms of lives affected) will match Israelâ€™s own estimate of property values left behind in abandoned colonies. One is left wondering who will have the power to influence the criteria by which such values are determined. And reading the Geneva Accord, one is not left with a good feeling in the stomach, with a sense of hope about the prospect of Palestinian refugees receiving a fair settlement.
The Geneva Accord also calls for the dismantling of the UNRWA within 5 years. The UNRWA is the United Nations refugee service for Palestine, and is the single largest humanitarian organization operating in the Occupied Territories, and refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan. Incidentally, it released a new report today, calling for international aid and financing to send emergency relief to Gaza, where it states that at least two-thirds of the population is living in â€œdire poverty.â€ Many refugees live from day to day, week to week, from emergency relief dispensed through such organizations, and this is the organization that Israel wants to phase out. The Geneva Accord considers the â€œrefugee problemâ€ solved, by definition, through the implementation of the provisions of Article 7. Whether Palestinian refugees actually file claims, whether they even hear about the â€œoptions and modalities set forthâ€ in the Geneva Accord, whether they actually receive reparations or are repatriated to their lost homes, villages, or cities, and whether the worst off actually get help to rise above the squalor and hardship of life in the camps, is irrelevant. Israel will have tried its best. Justice will have been done. End of story.
A lot more could be said about the actual provisions and articles of the Geneva Accord. But let me wrap up by noting that there is no mention whatsoever in this 50-page document of â€œthe wallâ€ being built right now, the â€œapartheid wallâ€ as it has come to be called, which is carving out vast chunks of the West Bank. Not one foot of this proposed 600 kilometer wall is being built on Israeli land, along the actual recognized 1967 border. Itâ€™s being used to annex even more Palestinian land, regardless of any â€œreciprocal modificationsâ€ alluded to in the Geneva Accord. The fact that the accordâ€™s authors are silent about the wall, about its impact, about its proposed route, and about its consequences for a viable Palestinian state, speaks volumes about their awareness of present realities. It speaks volumes about their recognition (or lack thereof) of the importance of halting measures designed to impose new realities, designed to create new â€œfacts on the ground,â€ which can only prejudice future negotiations, and jeopardize any just and meaningful settlement between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
Finally, the explanation of procedures related to almost every substantive issue in the Geneva Accord is deferred to a later document called â€œAnnex Xâ€ â€“â€“ a document which has either not been written, or not been released to the public. For some reason, thereâ€™s no reference to Annex I to IX, but anyway, this means that itâ€™s hard to pass judgment on what we do have, because knowing how the agreement handles things like borders, settlement withdrawal, refugees, Jerusalem, and so on (in other word, knowing how it handles everything of importance), is ultimately contingent upon what is outlined in Annex X. There is the illusion in the Geneva Accord of putting the hard, contentious points front and center. Much has been made of this supposed improvement over Oslo, where contentious issues were left to â€œfinal statusâ€ talks, leaving Israel to continue building settlements, to continue consolidation of its occupation in the interim. But the Geneva Accord is hardly better. Many of these â€œhard issuesâ€ are given sections of their own, overflowing with warm and fuzzy assertions of mutual respect and cooperation. But apart from the provisions which consistently undermine the Geneva Accordâ€™s own rhetoric, key explanations of methodology, criteria, and application are deferred to Annex X â€“â€“ making the attention paid to this entire agreement seem even more ridiculous, in my opinion.
The Geneva Accord recycles every old and bankrupt proposal that Israel and the United States have tried to impose upon Palestinians â€“ during the entire Olso process, up to and including Camp David in July 2000. It does not even use the word â€œOccupationâ€ to describe Israelâ€™s military presence in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. In fact, it pretends that East Jerusalem is simply another â€œneighborhoodâ€ of Israelâ€™s capitol, and posits that the new area that Israelis must negotiate and make â€œpainful concessionsâ€ around is only the Old City, one small and admittedly important section of Arab East Jerusalem, but certainly not the entire piece of land called East Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967! Nor does the Geneva Accord acknowledge Israelâ€™s responsibility for the Palestinian refugee crisis, let alone the Palestinian Nakbah (or â€œcatastropheâ€) which was unleashed in 1947-48, and which resulted in the complete destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages and a series of brutal massacres. Instead, the Geneva Accord makes a vague reference (Article 7/14/d) to educational and reconciliation programs for â€œdeveloping appropriate ways of commemorating those villages and communities that existed prior to 1949.â€ Think about that for a second; â€œthat existed.â€ What, they just disappeared like the dinosaurs? No one knows why? No oneâ€™s to blame? What an outrageous insult to those who lost their homes, to those killed, and to those who survived the Haganahâ€™s, and Irgunâ€™s, and Stern Gangâ€™s policy of ethnic cleansing! How nice that Palestinians might be able to put up a plaque at the site of Deir Yassin, where hundreds of Palestinian civilians were massacred in April 1948, and where there now sits a quiet, Jewish suburb of Jerusalem re-named Givat Shaul. Quite the â€œreconciliationâ€ program!
The Geneva Accord claims that a â€œsovereignâ€ Palestinian state will be created in the West Bank and Gaza, but it will have no army, no control of borders and airspace, will be a patchwork of barely contiguous cantons, will have no real access to its historic capitol, and will still have an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, and military outposts in northern and central West Bank. The â€œvictoryâ€ that PA sellout figures like Arafat and Rabbo are supposed to sell to their own people is that Palestinians will now have some control over access and policing of the Al-Haram / Al-Sharif religious compound, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock. Thatâ€™s the â€œvictory.â€ They can put up a plaque and maybe hold a workshop at Deir Yassin. (Oh no! A workshop might not be what the accord calls an â€œappropriateâ€ way of commemorating massacres and destroyed villages! A workshop might get people upset, people who are comfortable in their view of themselves, comfortable in their national mythologies.)
But ultimately, it seems to me, Palestinian negotiators can no longer hide the fact that the core demands of the Palestinian liberation movement have been signed away in principle, by elites with zero popular support, and Palestinians from a range of backgrounds and perspectives are threatening revolt against the PA. I think it would be foolish to under-estimate the possibility of a real civil war within Palestine. Increasing numbers of Palestinians consider the PA an obstacle to real Palestinian self-determination and national liberation. Many are beginning to refer to officials like Rabbo as â€œtraitors.â€ Dissent, ultimatums, and threats against the PA for selling out the right of return and other popular demands, are on the rise. Insofar as Arafat and the PA actually endorse the Geneva Accord, and similar â€œsolutions,â€ we may soon witness their challenge or eclipse by new forces or movements within Palestinian society. The Right of Return is an individual and human right, not negotiable by anyone other than the refugees themselves. This was affirmed by UN resolution 194 specifically, but the principle itself has been generally affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Hague Convention, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and according to one commentator, goes all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215. Any Palestinian leader and organization which fails to acknowledge this, and advocate on its behalf â€“â€“ and any â€œpeace proposalâ€ which fails to gain the support of ordinary Palestinians, not just marginal elites willing to repress dissent and â€œirregular forcesâ€ â€“â€“ has little chance of success.
Finally, the Geneva Accord describes â€œterrorismâ€ â€“â€“ it never defines it, but it describes it â€“â€“ solely as a military and security issue, not as a political and diplomatic issue. Throughout the document it is apparent that the primary task of the Palestinians is to â€œprotectâ€ and â€œguaranteeâ€ the security and well-being of Israelis. Not the other way around. Itâ€™s not even presented in mutual terms. The Palestinian victims of Israeli occupation are assumed to be the criminals: it is they alone who require monitoring, it is they alone who are to be disarmed, and who are expected to allow Israeli inspectors at Palestinian â€œcontrolledâ€ borders, at civilian bus and airport terminals, at mail and cargo depots â€“ in their â€œsovereign and inviolableâ€ state. The primary task of the Palestinian police force that is proposed in the agreement is the same as that under Oslo: disarm, and put an end to all â€œirregular forces.â€ In other words, repress your own people, and make sure none of them get crazy ideas about attacking Israel. Not just Hamas and Islamic Jihad, not just individuals and organizations that might carry out attacks on Israeli civilians, but anyone who resists, anyone who might take seriously the right to resist foreign occupation, a right guaranteed under international law. The Geneva Accord is the same recipe for bankruptcy, and represents the same utter capitulation expected from the Palestinians, that doomed the Oslo process, and guaranteed only one thing with certainty â€“â€“ namely, continued Palestinian resistance to Occupation, continued violence on both sides, continued suicide attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets, continued Israeli state terrorism, and sadly, continued international silence. Silence â€¦ as the prospects for a meaningful peace and viable Palestinian state are ground into dust by Israeli tanks and bulldozers, making room (dare I say â€œlebensraum?â€) for Israeli walls, and by-pass roads, and settlements, settlements, settlements.
Paul Burrows is a member of the Canada Palestine Support Network (Winnipeg), and International Solidarity Movement-Canada (www.ismcanada.org).