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Sharm Al-Sheikh summit means nothing to Palestinians, says Palestinian official

The summit affirmed the parties commitment to promote stability and peace for both Palestinians and Israelis amid escalating tensions ahead of Ramadan

Jerusalem24The closing statement of the Sharm el-Sheikh security summit held in Egypt, between representatives from Palestinian Authority, Israel, US, Egypt, and Jordan on Sunday, said that the participants affirmed their commitment to promoting stability and peace for the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The Sharm Al-Sheikh summit is a follow-up to February 26’s meeting at the Jordanian Red Sea port city of Aqaba which discussed easing the tension in the occupied Palestinian territories following Israel’s wide-scale military invasions into Palestinian cities, which so far resulted in the killing of 88 Palestinians, including 17 children.

23 Palestinians killed during the period between the two summits

While participants in the Aqaba meeting agreed to take steps to calm down the situation before the advent of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, expected to start on Thursday, 23 Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank during the period between the two summits, February 26 to March 19.

PLO secretary general, Hussein Al-sheikh, said on Monday morning, that the Sharm Al-sheikh negotiations were characterized by difficulty in the face of the Palestinian delegation’s firm position by refusing to engage in any security or economic path before reaching a political agreement where Israel is committed to stopping all unilateral measures.

“There has been progress in some issues and tracks, and there are still some outstanding and disputed files.”

On Sunday, the Palestinian factions condemned the PA’s participation in the “security summit” in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mustafa Al-Barghouthi, politician and Secretary General of the National Initiative, told Jerusalem24, that the only thing that came out of this meeting is only matters that relate to security issues, without touching on the main causes of the problem which are the political ones, and in particular the issue of the occupation.

“The escalation and tension are not related only to a lack of confidence on both sides, there has been no confidence for decades. The problem is the continuation of the occupation, the root cause is the system of apartheid that Israel is trying to subjugate the Palestinians to.”

Missing the word “freeze” on settlement-building activities

The Sharm Al-Sheikh closing statement said that Israel and the Palestinian Authority reaffirmed their commitment to work immediately to end the 3-6 months of unilateral measures. This includes an Israeli commitment to stop discussing any new settlement units for a period of 4 months and to stop licensing any settlement outposts for a period of 6 months.

Al-Barghouthi believes that the statement is very weak and doesn’t include anything regarding the political rights of Palestinians, saying that the very major mistake that was done in Sharm Al-Sheikh is that they spoke about Israel’s commitment not to discuss new plans of settlements expansion for four months.

“What about the 13 settlements they have started building in an unprecedented manner for a decade? What about the 10,000 units they approved to start building? What about the settlements that were dismantled during the so-called ‘peace process’, and now they are rebuilding them again.”

The statement brought back the PA to the security coordination issue with the occupier, says Al-Barghouthi, in that sense unfortunately, it equaled between the two sides when it spoke about provocation and the necessity of silencing critical voices.

Al-Barghouthi stressed that the statement did not literally say there will be a “freeze” on settlement-building activities.

“It actually allowed Israel to claim that they are legally building, since the statement only talked about new plans. Anyhow, the settlement council usually accepts and issues new settlements and unit building plans every three months. So, nothing was achieved, on the contrary, Israel was given the green light to continue building the 13 new settlement and the 10,000 new units,” adds Al-Barghouthi.

“This is unprecedented and unacceptable, and when they say this is in exchange of Israel not discussing new settlements, the Palestinian side would abstain from going to the International Court of Justice, and abstain from continuing to go to the International Criminal Court that is unacceptable.”

“The statement means nothing to the Palestinian people”

 According to Al-Barghouthi, the Palestinian side was weak, and should have not gone to the summit without, unifying the Palestinians.

“The meeting we needed more is a meeting between the Palestinian groups to establish a unified Palestinian leadership, so the PA itself can get stronger instead of being weak and subject to pressure from different side.”

 This statement means nothing to the Palestinian people, says Al-Barghouthi.

“It [the statement] is not serving the Palestinian people. The last thing we wanted is the activation of the security coordination with the occupying power, which is wrong, how can you ask the people who are under occupation to provide protection to their occupier while they’re unable to protect themselves?”

Whatever came out in the statement will not be respected by this Israeli government.

Going down the same road

There are many explanations to this path, Al-Barghouthi asserts. “The first is definitely pressure from outside. Second, a wrong belief, these people have been on the same tack for 32 years, and it did fail drastically.”

Al-Barghouthi adds that at one point, in 2005-2006, the Palestinian people gave the PA the chance to try, “and the whole line of building hope on negotiations with this Israeli apartheid system failed drastically, Oslo failed, Israel killed it.”

Al-Barghouthi believes that the Palestinians need to approach a different path.

“We need to strengthen ourselves, we need to change the balance of power that Israel is abusing constantly, by building Palestinian internal unity, by enhancing popular resistance, by demanding boycott, divestments and sanctions on this Israeli government, and not by meeting with it.”

US and Israel’s fascist government

On Sunday, following the Sharm Al-Sheikh summit, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said that, “There’s no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people,” during a memorial service for a late Likud activist in Paris.

The far-right lawmaker said that the Palestinian people were “an invention” cooked up in the 20th century to fight Zionism and that it was people like him and his grandparents who were the “real Palestinians”.

Following the Huwara settlers rampage on February 26, same day of the Aqaba meeting, Smotrich said that the whole town should be “wiped out”, attracting worldwide condemnations, including condemnations from US officials.

Al-Barghouthi believes that Smotrich’s statements are a reflection of both, the fascism of the Israeli government, and the weakness of the US administration.

“The US administration’s goal is to maintain its strategic alliance with Israel as a security strategic ally. This administration is very weak, they are so weak they will not exercise any pressure to Israel to stop settlements activities, which destroys the two-state solution which they advocate, and that’s why they turned to the Palestinian side.”

This US administration lacks the will, says Al-Barghouthi, “Why can’t they at least open the American consulate in Jerusalem as they have promised in the last two years. Why don’t they open the PLO office in Washington? They cannot achieve these little things, so, why expect they to be able to pressure the Israelis to stop settlements building and expansion?”

Listen to the full interview on Wake up Palestine




Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 6 years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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