Like most Palestinians, I am confused. It’s been over a month since I wrote my last article. The delay was not the product of lethargy or lack of time, but actually it was lack of concentration on the issues at hand. I wrote the beginnings of several articles during this period, but after reading what I wrote I was not sure if I believed in what I wrote. At times, I was pro Abu Mazin and other times I found myself anti-Abu Mazin.

I was happy to hear that Abu Mazin was coming to Washington, but I found myself sad at times when I think of Abu Mazin’s trip to the White House. I was happy to hear that Arafat re-issued a policy statement using the PLO, not the PNA regarding violence and enticement to violence. At least I was assured that the PLO was still alive and well, but at the same time I did not like the fact that the PLO is only used whenever circumstances call for its use. I think you get the confused picture in my head.

The trip to Washington: Is it a victory for the Palestinians or a meaningless gesture on the part of the American Administration. I am not really sure if Abbas was invited to Washington as a guest to the White House or a summoned witness to give a deposition and receive new instructions. Why are we being uplifted to the position of a real state with a Prime Minister to visit the White House at a time when we do not even have a state? We just happened to have a Prime Minister who visits Washington, while our president is being held hostage. What is wrong with that picture?

Some Palestinians are jubilant about the visit thinking that now Abu Mazin will tell on Israel, instead I believe Bush will be telling Abu Mazin what to do for Israel. It seems that we float on a ‘Shiber’ of water, as the Arabic proverb has it. ‘Shiber’ is a distance measurement of less than a foot, for those who don’t know Arabic. Better yet I think we are floating by ‘Tayamom’ ( another Arabic word that means performing Ablution without water)

Why am I saying this? Because we should never forget who we are and were we came from. Having a prime Minister to visit the White House while our president is being held hostage is wrong, wrong, wrong. I am also saying that because a day before Abbas met with Sharon in Jerusalem, the Israeli Knesset issued a resolution considering the West Bank and Gaza ‘ not occupied’ areas. The Road Map stated:’ Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians anywhere.’ Instead they issued a proclamation stating that the occupied Palestinian land was not occupied, which means its only one step away from being annexed.

The Road Map also stated: ‘ The following is a performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet [the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia]. The destination is a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005, as presented in President Bush’s speech of 24 June, and welcomed by the EU, Russia and the UN in the 16 July and 17 September Quartet Ministerial statements.’ I only see the Palestinian doing their best to insure the security of Israel while Palestinians are dying everyday and their land is being confiscated under the auspices of the Quartet.

On the same day that Sharon sent his men last month to dismantle 2 mobile homes from the top of a hill over looking a Palestinian village, and the news media went ‘gaga’ over it and carried it as its main story of the day, ‘ Israel dismantling, West Bank settlements’. But the news media did not report what was happening in the village of Beit Iksa. In Beit Iksa that day it was revealed that a new Israeli settlement project is expected to swallow up the entire land of Beit Iksa Village, northwest Jerusalem. On that day, the 1600 residents of the village woke up in shock to the roars of Israeli armored vehicles and municipality cars. An Israeli captain of what is referred to as the ‘civil administration’ and head of the organization committee of Beit Ilksa settlement informed the residents that their land and agricultural fields are now in the hands of the occupation army and the settlers whose aim is to establish a new settlement on the village’s land (around 14,000 dunums).

Like I said I was happy to see Arafat issuing an order by the PLO, because if my information is correct, I don’t remember hearing of an extension by the Israelis for the PNA. The PNA was a product of Oslo, which is dead now, and therefore, the PNA doesn’t hold much water in the legalities of International Law. I was happy to see the PLO being used again, but was sad because it was used to re-establish a 1936 criminal law to deal with the enticement to resistance. The statement also said ‘ hence, the Palestinian laws respecting the diversity of the political spectrum, and to insure the freedom of thought, and the freedom of opinion…’ ‘It was decided’: ‘ The following actions will be illegal in all Palestinian municipalities, ….the use of violence, or the enticement for the use of violence, that would damage relations with brethren states and foreign states, and the establishment of illegal associations that conducts or entices others to commit crimes in enticing the populace to change by illegal force agreements made by the PLO with brethren states and foreign states.’

What about if the agreements were crushed by one of those foreign states, should the Palestinian people still respect these agreements? We are being asked to respect the wishes of these ‘foreign states’ but to hell with our wishes and the wishes of our people in Palestine and wherever they might be, in the camps of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or even in no man land on the border between Iraq and Jordan.

It looks like we are doing a good job in weakening our resistance and weakening our just demands for a sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capitol, a just solution to the refugee problem, etc… we all know the UN resolutions that deals with Palestine, especially, 194, 242, and 338 which calls for the return of the refugees to their homes AND- not or -compensation for their loss of properties, and the principle of ‘Land for Peace’ that is stated in 242, and 338. Yet, last week one of our own, Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey held a press conference announcing the results of a poll conducted among 4,500 Palestinian refugees on the right of return. In his study, Shikaki

reported that only 10 percent of Palestinian refugees would insist on returning to Israel and becoming citizens there. Supporters of Israel and others who want to disregard refugee rights in any solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict embraced the findings.

This study will immensely weaken the position of Abu Mazin when he meets with Bush tomorrow that is if the refugee problem is on the agenda. The study was conducted using samples from Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank and Gaza refugee camps. What about the refugees in Syria? What about those Palestinians stranded in the blistering Iraqi desert in tents where the temperature during the day reaches 140 degrees F? Also the sample size used was the same for all three areas, even though the populations in those areas are substantially different. How about the economic and social conditions of those studded? I am sure a Palestinian refugee in Amman would answer differently from one in Ein Elhilwa or Sabra, again one in Khan Yunis would be different than one in Balata. Also the questions asked were designed to arrive exactly at that result. Even with the result that the study assumed it arrived at we see that 23% of those in Lebanon would prefer becoming Israeli citizens compared with 5% of those in Amman. That result by itself is a statement to what our people’s lives in Lebanon is like. I am not sure of who was the source of funding for this study, but I can assure you it helped no one but Israel, and weakened the negotiating position of Abu Mazin.

The position of the Israeli government as reported on their website is: ‘ The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear _expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting. The government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River. Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem. The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty. The Jordan River will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel. The Kingdom of Jordan is a desirable partner in the permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians in matters that will be agreed upon. The government succeeded in significantly reducing the extent of territory that the Palestinians expected to receive in the interim arrangement. The government will insist that security areas essential to Israel’s defense, including the western security area and the Jewish settlements, shall remain under Israeli rule.’ This is Israel’s stated position any questions? This reminds me of the anti-drug commercial shown on TV in the US where they have eggs frying in a pan ‘ This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?’ Where are our brains? Are we on the right path? Is there a right path for us? Besides our rocks, that is.

Hesam Tellawai: