Yossi Beilin, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, calls on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to put an end to the ‘fig leaf’ that is the Palestinian Authority.
This is as big as an op-ed gets: Yossi Beilin, the Israeli architect of the Oslo process, has published a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urging him to shut down the Palestinian Authority and let Prime Minister Netanyahu bear direct responsibility for the fate of the Palestinians under Israeli control.
Do not hesitate for a moment! Do not accept the request of President Obama, who merely wants to be left undisturbed before election day. Do not let Prime Minister Netanyahu hide behind the fig leaf of the Palestinian Authority — impose upon him, once again, the responsibility for the fate of 4 million Palestinians. Remain as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which will give you the authority to lead the political negotiations if and when they resume.
But for the sake of your own people, and for the sake of peace, you cannot let this farce continue.
For years, Beilin was known as a relentless advocate of the peace process, even as more and more people came to realize that the endless process was keeping the occupation alive. Beilin still believes in the two-state solution – but even he knows that the Palestinian Authority won’t get us there, so he begs the Palestinian president to “end this farce.”
The date for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which was set in Oslo, passed 13 years ago. The Palestinian Authority was never meant to live that long. But even at the peak of military escalation, Israeli leaders kept the PA alive, because of the vital role it played in normalizing Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza.
Today, Israel enjoys the best of all worlds: it controls all entries and exits to and from the West Bank, it builds settlements and moves Jews to live in them, it uses the natural resources in the West Bank, and it even controls the airspace and electromagnetic frequencies. Yet Israel doesn’t need to bother itself with running the lives of millions of Palestinians, who are deprived of basic civil rights: the Palestinian Authority deals with them, and even does the necessary police work for Israel, while the European Union, the Arab League and the American taxpayer pay the bills. It’s occupation by proxy – the most comfortable arrangement Israel achieved since it took control over the territories in 1967.
Everybody knows that. This is the reason that whenever Israel’s overzealous “friends” in Congress stop funding the Palestinian Authority – reading the condemnations it received from Jerusalem at face value, and totally missing Israel’s double-game – it is Prime Minister Netanyahu himself who urges them to release the money. After all, Israel enjoys those funds much more than the Palestinians, who have began to see the Authority as a second authoritarian regime imposed on them.
After Israel managed to stop the last Palestinian effort to transform the Authority into a full state – at least in name – through the unilateral move at the UN, President Abbas decided to threaten Israel with shutting down the PA. The idea was to be made known in a special letter Prime Minister Fayyad was to pass to Netanyahu after Passover (Haaretz’s Barak Ravid obtained a copy of this letter). But Washington was so alarmed by this option that the White House applied enormous pressure on Abbas, finally convincing him only to appeal to Netanyahu with four demands, the most important being the recognition of the 1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations.
Netanyahu is expected to answer Abbas with a demand that the Palestinians enter negotiations “without preconditions.”
This is the context of Beilin’s public letter, which ends with a plea to the Palestinians not to give in to Washington’s threats. What Beilin doesn’t write – but clearly understands – is that by now, the United States has become the greatest enabler of the occupation. Will American officials be able to continue talking about the need for both sides to re-enter the peace process, now that the man most closely identified with it has abandoned any such hope?