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Ramzy Baroud:Toward another Oslo

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  • ummyakoub
    Abbas may be leading Palestinians toward another Oslo By RAMZY BAROUD - Miami Herald May 2, 2003 http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/5764828.htm
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2003
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      Abbas may be leading Palestinians toward another Oslo


      By RAMZY BAROUD - Miami Herald May 2, 2003

      http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/5764828.htm

      Mahmoud Abbas' government was approved by the Palestinian Parliament
      on April 29. Palestinians finally have their own prime minister.

      As a result, Palestinian society has been consumed with an intense
      debate. In the forefront of the debate was the personal legacy of
      Abbas himself, seen as the first real challenge to the authority of
      Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

      Arafat has rarely been challenged from within his own ranks. Israel
      schemed for years to undermine his influence among his people, but it
      failed. In fact, opinion polls have shown that Arafat's popularity
      surges during Israeli crackdowns on the Palestinians, especially if
      Arafat becomes a target.

      Opposition groups such as Hamas as well as independent politicians
      have failed to present a challenge to Arafat. Some are not interested
      in presenting themselves as alternatives, and others, although
      respected, haven't been given the chance to prove their capability to
      lead.

      Within Arafat's circle, Abbas' challenge is unprecedented. Abbas is
      different because his emergence is the outcome of two simultaneous
      movements -- one genuine, the other political. The genuine movement
      was the Palestinian people's desire for true reforms and democracy.
      The other came out of the so-called road map for peace initiative.

      The Palestinians' call for reforms emerged shortly after the birth of
      the Palestinian Authority. Reforms have been strongly emphasized in
      recent months, following the Israeli reoccupation of the major urban
      centers in the West Bank in March 2002 and again last June.

      While the Palestinian resistance put up a good fight, the PA
      scrambled with uncertainty and apparently without a Plan B.
      Accusations were exchanged among Palestinian officials, with some
      vowing to ''resist until the end'' and others willing to talk with
      Israel without conditions and to comprise -- even though virtually
      nothing on which to compromise was left.

      A split took place in the PA, reflecting a reality that was always
      present but was never displayed so openly. That split subsequently
      was reflected in the Fatah movement -- the largest PLO faction and
      the leadership base for the PA.

      • One Fatah faction is concerned more about national unity among
      Palestinian movements. It refuses to negotiate under occupation and
      settlement expansion, and it demands an end to the assassination
      policy of Israel. This faction believes in the continuing attacks
      targeting Israeli forces and armed settlers, yet it believes in
      Israel's right to exist and candidly preaches co-existence under a
      just and peaceful formula.

      The leaders of this segment either have been assassinated or
      arrested, or are on Israel's wanted list. Marwan Barghouti, an
      elected Palestinian member of Parliament who is now in an Israeli
      prison, is the leader of this movement.

      • Another Fatah faction, now emerging more forcefully, is represented
      by Abbas, who made a few friends upon his return to the occupied
      territories from exile following the signing of the Oslo Accord in
      1993. He was one of the engineers of the accord, which Palestinians
      now regard as one of the worst decisions made by their leadership.
      His wealth, crowned by his $1.5 million villa in Gaza -- one of the
      poorest spots on earth -- evoked objections and bitter questions.

      The intifada was a direct response to the unfairness of Oslo and led
      to the marginalization of Abbas during its first year. But in its
      second year, he again was on the scene, demanding an end to all
      violence and calling for disarming Palestinian groups and for
      unconditional return to the negotiation table. He indicated his
      willingness to compromise on fundamental issues that had ignited
      the Palestinian struggle, especially the discounting of Palestinian
      rights in Jerusalem.

      Meanwhile, the Palestinians were increasingly demanding PA reforms
      that would create accountability on all levels and achieve an
      equitable political governance representing all Palestinians.

      The loud voices demanding reforms were heard as Israel -- and
      consequently the United States -- called for Palestinian reforms as
      well. But Israel's desire for reforms was motivated by entirely
      different reasons, primarily aimed at fighting the intifada with
      Palestinian resources. Until the present intifada, Israel was
      considerably successful in this regard.

      Through all this, the Palestinians' objectives remain as clear as
      always: an end to the Israeli occupation and the dismantling of
      settlements on their land. They are interested neither in ending
      their intifada nor subscribing to the political system of imposed
      democracies. Their indifference or rejection of Abbas represents
      their rejection of the political situation that his reemergence
      brought about, which, as far as Palestinians are concerned, is yet
      another Oslo.

      Palestinians have paid a heavy price to rectify the futility of Oslo.
      Will they choose to go down that same road (map) again?

      Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of The Palestine Chronicle.

      *********************************************************************

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