A day after talks between Mr Abbas and Israeli PM Ehud Olmert ended without visible progress, the PLO secretary general [Abd Rabbo] said that “Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence.”
“If the situation does not progress [. . .] we must undertake steps similar to that in Kosovo and unilaterally declare independence,” he added.
President Abbas responded saying that Palestinians are committed to reaching a negotiated peace agreement this year, but if “we are unable to do that . . . we will return to our Arab [brothers] to take the appropriate decision,” he said.
The statement left itself open to interpretations and in Israel some looked at it in light of what others had to say; people like Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, who voiced opposition to any unilateral declaration of independence, pointing out that the PLO had already declared independence in 1988.
Instead “we need real independence, not a declaration. We need real independence by ending the occupation,” Erekat stressed.
Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said that “decisions should be taken and then declared, and not be declared and then be taken.”
Now that’s an interesting take on things. Decisions before declarations…we may be at this impasse forever, then. What would the world be like without Palestine and Israel negotiating?
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The Globe and Mail noted that the comparisons with Kosovo weren’t valid for a number of reasons:
The parallels between the Kosovars and the Palestinians are actually quite thin. Where Serbian troops were driven out of Kosovo by a NATO bombing campaign nine years ago, the Israeli military is still spread throughout the West Bank. Meanwhile, Palestinians themselves are divided between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions.
An independence declaration issued by Mr. Abbas in Ramallah would mean little in Gaza, where Hamas has ruled since seizing control last June. Hamas, which won legislative elections in 2006, claims to be the legitimate Palestinian government and a Hamas spokesman yesterday dismissed Mr. Abed Rabbo as someone not worth listening to.
In other words, Kosovo was united in its concerted push for sovereignty. Hamas and Fatah are deeply suspicious of one another and cannot reach any concord. They are playing an eternal win/lose game.
Maybe someone should quote the Christian scripture to them — i.e., how a house divided against itself cannot stand.
On the other hand, with the talk of peace-keeping troops coming to visit for awhile, Palestinians may begin to look more like their Muslim confreres in Kosovo.
The forces unleashed by the US and EU backing of Kosovo’s move to independence haven’t finished playing out yet. The only thing we know for sure is that there will be blood. Lots of blood.
Hat tip: Insubria