Sari Nusseibeh: stop negotiations immediately – they have become useless

Lawrence of Cyberia has translated an interview with Palestinian intellectual and dormant politican Sari Nusseibeh, head of Al-Quds University (now cut off by The Wall) in East Jerusaelem, that was published on 17 January in French in Le Figaro newspaper.  Here are a few excerpts from the Lawrence of Cyberia blog:

Why have the Palestinians failed?

We failed, it is true, partly because of our inability to negotiate or to understand negotiating, and partly because of our corruption. Still worse, while playing politics, while running after a state, we allowed the living conditions of our people to deteriorate significantly. Twenty years ago, Palestinians in Gaza had no political rights, but they could travel to the West Bank, or even to Tel Aviv, to work there, go to the beach, to the restaurant. But we also failed because of the other party, which didn’t want to give us anything. Today, the Israeli dynamic goes against any concession. They no longer see the need for a compromise. The Israelis think more than ever in a Machiavellian way, believing that force is the only thing that matters, that it is the only guarantee of survival. Why would they be interested in negotiations?…

What do you recommend today?

The latest plan I have proposed is a letter I sent six months ago to Obama and George Mitchell. I suggested they should immediately stop the negotiations, which have become useless; all the issues have been more or less settled, only the unsolvable points remain. Instead, the United States should propose its own solution to the remaining problems. Each side would put forward this plan to its own people in a referendum. The vote would take place on the same day, and the result would be conditional upon the acceptance of the other party”

These excerpts are from the translation posted on the Lawrence of Cyberia blog here.  The full original text, in French, is published here.

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[Another exchange from the interview with Sari Nusseibeh published by Le Figaro that Lawrence of Cyberia posted, which shows a slightly less pessimistic attitude, is this:

What will happen to the Palestinians without a state?

We are still there, and that’s the paradox: in 1948, the Israelis wanted to create a state without Palestinians, and they almost succeeded in driving them out.  In 1967, their victory reunited the refugees with those who had remained in Israel. We were scattered, they brought us back together. The Israelis are sowing their own failure by their success. The colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, which makes impossible a two-state solution, will force Israel to live with a sizeable Arab population and to reconsider its democratic system“.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister rebuffs UN concern on East Jerusalem and Gaza

Concerns expressed by the UN’s high-level Special Representative for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, about recent and possible future evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and about the continuing blockade against Gaza, were rebuffed in a meeting on Sunday with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

UN Special Envoy Robert Serry and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon - 9 Aug 2009

UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry to the left, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on the right, photo by Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In a press summary sent to journalists by email, the Israeli Foreign Ministry reported that “The Deputy Foreign Minister emphasized that Jerusalem is an extremely important and sensitive issue not just for Israel, but for the Jewish people as a whole. Ayalon stressed that Jerusalem remains the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel and as such Israeli law is applicable there. There is a consensus view on this issue, not just in Israel but around the Jewish world. The Deputy Foreign Minister reemphasized the important humanitarian steps that Israel has taken in Judea and Samaria towards the Palestinian population there. ‘We would like to further alleviate the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and at the same time it is important that the international community will increase the pressure on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit’ Ayalon told Serry during the meeting”.

In other words, Serry received a resounding rebuff.

On the 2nd of August, the day two families of Palestinian refugees were evicted from their homes by Israeli Border Police at gunpoint and replaced by Jewish settlers, Serry issued a statement saying that “today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel… to allow settlers to take possession of these properties.” And, he said, the evictions violated the International Quartet’s calls for Israel to “refrain from provocative acts in East Jerusalem.”

Israeli Police and Special Forces Prevent Faisal Husseini Memorial Meeting in Jerusalem

Israeli police and special forces prevented the holding of a memorial meeting in honor of the memory of the late Jerusalem political figure, Faisal Husseini, who died in Kuwait on 31 May 2008. The memorial was scheduled to take place at 4: 00 pm Sunday afternoon in East Jerusalem’s Hakawati Theatre,

This would have been the seventh Feisal Husseini memorial meeting in Jerusalem. Last year’s event was held in the Dar al-Tifl school, originally established sixty years ago by Hind Husseini to house and educate 55 orphans who survived the 1948 massacre and expulsion of Palestinians from the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem by the Jewish Irgun and Stern Gang militias, during the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel.

But, although all previous six annual Faisal Husseini memorial meetings went ahead without interference, this year’s event was not allowed to take place.

“The Israeli police brought with them ‘the brass’, and on the side they had special forces ready”, said Adnan Abdel-Razek, a former UN official and then an associate working with Faisal Husseini in the Orient House, who was there to attend Sunday’s memorial. “They did not even have a court order – which would have meant they would have had to go to the court and explain why they wanted to prevent the memorial, and we would have had the opportunity to explain why we wanted to hold it. No, in Jerusalem, in this supposedly ‘united Jerusalem’, the Israeli police relied on the British Military Regulations of 1947″.

Abdel Razek explained: “They told us to leave, and then they started chasing people. We decided to regroup in front of Orient House. They were brutal – and they were more than brutal, they were nasty. They hit some people. Then they detained Abdel-Qader Husseini, the son of Faisal, who was the sponsor of the memorial meeting. We have 40 witnesses who say that Abdel-Qader did not do anything to provoke this detention. He did not even open his mouth. But the officer in charge said ‘It’s my decision’. Fifteen minutes later Abdel-Qader was released. Then, the officer said that he would not allow even two people to gather together. We know the law and argued with him, saying that the exact stipulation in the military regulation prevents three people (not two) assembling. So, eventually, the officer said that three people could not gather together, then he changed it back to two”.

He continued: “The Israelis have zero tolerance for any Palestinian voice, and it’s getting worse and worse. We have no government, the PLO does not weigh in, and the Palestinian National Authority is not active in stopping the march of the occupation. The Israelis are building settlements, continuing construction of The Wall, confiscating land, and our people are busy discussing ‘important matters’ to advance the negotiations. But there is no way the Israelis can prevent people forever from exercising their basic human rights to political expression and free speech.”

Both Dar al-Tifl, which is located behind the American Colony Hotel, and the Hakawati Theatre, are in the same neighborhood and very close to Orient House, described on its own website as the “Palestinian national gathering place for Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem …which aspires to develop Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of the emerging Palestinian state”.

Orient House, a Husseini family property, was closed for a long period after the June 1967 war. It was renovated in the early 1980s to serve as Faisal Husseini’s office and headquarters, first for his Arab Studies Society, and later, when Husseini served as a member of the Palestinian team to the multilateral negotiations that emerged from the Madrid Peace Conference, Orient House became known as the unofficial Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Jerusalem,.

Husseini, a member of Fatah, was the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee Member in charge of Jerusalem.

Faisal Husseini’s offices in the Orient House were shut down by the Israeli authorities during the first Intifada from 1988 until 1992, and again on 10 August 2001, during the second Intifada. It has not since reopened. The only current occupant of the building, the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) non-government charity organization, works out of rented office space on the upper floors.