Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Are the Palestinians willing to have peace?

Since the beginning of the Oslo Accords in 1993 the PLO had agreed to a cease fire in order to recognize a two-state solution surrounding the original Armistice Agreement's Green Line which is widely known today as the pre-1967 borders.

While they eventually only achieved a self-governing entity, the Palestinian Authority, they did agree that the issues of settlement activity in West Bank and Gaza would be finalised leading on from the Oslo Accords. Considering that there weren't too many advantages to this agreement they were content with the decision, although no concessions were actually made by Israel to retreat from the existing settlements which were part of the negotiations. Instead, during the protracted interim period of the Oslo process, they began new settlements in the occupied territories, expanded existing settlements and constructed a network of bypass roads to enable Israeli settlers to travel from their settlements to Israel proper without passing through Palestinian-inhabited areas. These projects were understood by most Palestinians as marking out territory that Israel sought to annex in the final agreements. [The Oslo Accords]

Radicals had emerged - namely Hamas and Jihad - in reaction to these settlement expansions, and since these groups saw no serious commitment toward an Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state, they decided it was a declaration of war and subsequently based their own charters on a similar concept.

Despite these issues the negotiations were at large still being pursued. However once Netanyahu took office, the Oslo Accords completely failed because he fundamentally opposed it.

In the following years, the Arabs had also accepted the 2000 Clinton Parameters, the Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, then the Geneva Accords of 2003, and again re-established the Arab Peace Initiative in 2007 all of which described the two-state solution, and yet the settlement expansions still continued. [Why two states]

Following Hamas’ victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Ismail Haniyeh, the newly elected prime minister, sent a dispatch to U.S. President George W. Bush, asking to be recognized and offering a long-term truce with Israel and the establishment of a border on the lines of 1967. His message, as a similar one sent to the Israeli authorities, remained unanswered.
Hamas: We’ll recognize Israel within '67 borders

The Hamas charter was also debunked. It no longer became the same militant resistant group that was responsible for the intifada that began with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto:

“The differences between the party’s platform and the Islamic Charter [of Hamas] do not represent an attempt at deception or the empty and unconsidered use of words. They are a product of a change and modification of lines of thought as a part of the process by which Hamas has become a political movement.”

Regardless of their militant past, Hamas clearly showed they were willing to be committed towards opening dialogues for negotiation which in effect would implement a cease fire in order to have peaceful negotiations regarding the two-state process. Incidentally, subsequent cease fires were in fact honored by Hamas, then consequently broken by Israel as is thoroughly described in the following article: Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?

During this time, the US Bush Administration and Israel branded Hamas a terrorist organisation placing them on their "hit list" regardless of their commitment and actions towards peaceful negotiations. This significantly affected peace talks because neither government wanted to negotiate with the elected party of Gaza even when considering that history had shown in Arafat's PLO that negotiations were a very real possibility.

Arafat's letter to Yitzhak Rabin following the Oslo Accords:
September 9, 1993

Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel

Mr. Prime Minister,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments:
The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.
The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The PLO commits itself... to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations... the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators... the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid.
Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.

Yasser Arafat.
Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.
Instead, Israel continued to expand with more and more settlements and broken cease fires.
Ultimately they chose war instead of peace, and Hamas replied in kind with their new Al-Qassam rockets. Whenever an F16 fighter jet made a flyover and shelled Gaza's infrastructure, Hamas responded.

In 2011, however, Hamas managed to state that they would still be willing to accept a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders and within the Green Lines, even though they were less optimistic about this recognition as described in the following article: Hamas will accept the 1967 Borders and a Truce with Israel

PR campaigns work well to avert attention away from these "trivial" details.

Despite all this evidence however, the above notes only describe the political situation between governing bodies. More notably, the voice of the Palestinian people and their fundamental stance on the situation still outweighs any political commitment made by Hamas or the PA. A more accurate judgement to decide whether or not Arabs genuinely want peace would be needed to illustrate their legitimacy against Israeli claims that Palestinians "do not want to recognize the state of Israel" or worse, that they "want to drive all Jews into the sea".

When looking at this from a practical perspective, populations cannot sustain their livelihood in an ongoing conflict. That is why the Palestinians marched against Hamas and Fatah during the Arab Spring before the two factions decided to create the Unity party as an interim to allow the people to vote once again for a unifying organisation.

There have been numerous polls made to understand the Palestinian perspective, and the general consensus is very different to what the Israeli propaganda like to portray in order to justify their own need for self-determination above all other matters:

  • 70% of Palestinians opposed to the launching of rockets into Israel from Gaza
  • 75% believing that military escalation would not serve them, only Israel
  • 54.8% prefer the two-state solution: an Israeli state and a Palestinian state while most others either don't know, refuse to answer, or are for a bi-nation.
  • 67.5% are in favor of concluding a peace agreement with Israel while 24.8% are in favor of a truce with Israel


The above information provides ample evidence to support the notion that Palestinians in general do prefer peace over war whether it is part of the common people's perspective or of their own leaders and representatives.

With this, what more would be needed to convince the Israeli government and its people that Arabs are willing to begin dialogues on the two-state solution? All that is required is an equal commitment by Israel to show they are genuinely willing to begin talks, and this can be proven by agreeing to a complete halt on its pursuit to de-legitimize the concept of a Palestinian state.

Ultimately, that means permanent settlement freezes; not the temporary 10-month plans that only apply for "new" construction sites in the West Bank alone while ignoring both the new constructions in East Jerusalem and the general expansions of existing settlements throughout the entire Palestinian Territories.

Putting this into context, Israel has never once put a complete halt on their land-grab, and that in effect implies they have never once shown a willingness to recognize the self-determination and sovereignty of a Palestinian state.


  1. Thank you for this. It indeed sheds some light over issues that, we Israelies (or just me) were feed with. I was not aware of some points that you brought and intend to dig deeper into. Not that it would change my own views, that are always pro-peace and anti-settlements, but would defintlly change the way I look at (even) left oriented press.

  2. Thank you for this. It indeed sheds some light over issues that, we Israelies (or just me) were feed with. I was not aware of some points that you brought and intend to dig deeper into. Not that it would change my own views, that are always pro-peace and anti-settlements, but would defintlly change the way I look at (even) left oriented press.

  3. I wish you the best of luck in your research and appreciate the positive open-minded response. That in itself is already the path towards peace.