On January 4, 2015, The New York Times ran an Op-Ed piece by Dennis Ross, in response to the Palestinian Authority’s recent steps toward international recognition of Palestinian statehood and sovereignty. The racist piece, called “Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass,” explains Ross’s view that Palestinians are culturally unable to negotiate [read: on Israel’s terms], and therefore they do not deserve international solidarity, statehood, or even peace.
Ross advocates that it’s “time to make things costly” for the Palestinian people if they do not accept Israeli and American terms for “peace.” As though suffering ethnic cleansing for over 66 years has not “cost” the Palestinians enough. Over 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the most recent summer 2014 war on Gaza.
No wonder Ross’s position echoes the right-wing rhetoric of the current Israeli administration. He has been the United States’ chief Israel-Palestine henchman since the early 1990s, working under George H.W. Bush and later Clinton. Ross negotiated the second round of Oslo Accords, signed in 1995. Yet the Oslo strategy of a broken non-contiguous Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one has soundly failed, with Israel refusing to live up to its parts of the bargain.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s signed the Rome Statute just before the new year, starting the process for member state status in the International Criminal Court. Palestine will officially become a member on April 1. The PA also filed an “Ad Hoc Declaration” for the ICC to investigate Israeli war crimes as of June 13, 2014, which would include both Operations Brother’s Keeper and Protective Edge.
This latest move on the part of the PA is an effort to use international pressure and all available legal avenues to gain statehood recognition. It comes after the United States blocked the PA’s recent attempt to pass a United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. The resolution set up more negotiations with Israel, establishing a non-contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
To be sure, this resolution would not have ended the occupation. Khalida Jarrar, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, explained, “This is a pathway to negotiations and more negotiations… The Palestinian official leadership knows that talk of ‘two states for two peoples’ is not a Palestinian national consensus, nor are land swaps with the occupation state.”
Yet even the promise of more negotiations with a scheduled withdrawal from the West Bank was too much for the Zionist regime or the United States to handle. The status quo is in their interest. The more they are able to delay concessions by Israel, the more settlements are built, military bases are expanded, and so on.
Ross, in responding to these developments, asserts that the only viable negotiations are negotiations on Israel’s terms. According to him, Israel should not even be bound by UN resolutions without being able to retain essential control over Palestinian territory. This is exactly how Oslo was negotiated – without the participation of Palestinian representatives.
As evidence of Palestinian bad faith, Ross cites three “serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton’s parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts last year.”
The 2000 Camp David Accords, also negotiated by Ross, were anything but negotiations – they were the point at which the Oslo “process” collapsed. The Palestinian representative, Yasser Arafat, asked that they be cancelled because Israel had not yet lived up to its prior obligations of curtailing settlements. Even during the negotiations, Israeli President Ehud Barak reneged on turning over sections of Jerusalem.
In between the years that Ross cites 2000 and 2008, Israel rejected a peace plan offered by Arab nations that would have recognized Israel as a state. Israel also launched a genocidal massacre campaign on the people of the West Bank village of Jenin. It began constructing the Apartheid Wall in 2002. This wall has already been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.
In 2006, Israel began its economic blockade of Gaza in response to democratic Palestinian elections. The Israeli military has continued to murder with impunity.
Both in 2000 and 2008, the “peace” plans offered Palestinians would not have meant self-determination. They did not allow displaced Palestinians to return to their homeland (the right of return); they did not return “settlement” land in the West Bank; and they allowed Israel to continue to control Palestine’s affairs militarily and through economic strangulation.
Finally, in 2014, there was no “peace offer.” Israel suspended negotiations as punishment for the PA entering a Unity Agreement with the Hamas government in Gaza, and then launched a devastating war.
The Palestinians have also offered many, many concessions over decades of occupation and war, during which millions have been murdered and made refugees. Israel continues to regularly steal tax money owed to the PA to pay its employees and government workers in Gaza. Even the concept of carving two states out of historic Palestine represents a compromise of approximately 80 percent of their historic land.
Peace cannot be achieved on Israel’s terms. So long as the occupation exists, there will be resistance. So long as the state of Israel oppresses and tries to crush the self determination of the Palestinian people, the people will fight back. As long as the United States seeks to use its alliance with Israel to dominate the Middle East, there will be international solidarity and anti-imperialist struggle.
Palestinians do not mourn these negotiations or a “U.S. brokered peace process.” They mourn the thousands upon thousands who have been killed or imprisoned by the occupation. With international solidarity only on the rise, Dennis Ross and U.S. imperialism can stick their heads in the sand and demand negotiations, but sooner or later the organized struggle of the Palestinian people will prevail.