Jan 26 2011

MY Int’l Herald Tribune column

Published by at 1:28 am under Articles,Palestinian politics

We must speak out

By Daoud Kuttab, International Herald Tribune

For years, the Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation from a foreign military occupation was criticized as two-faced. The late Yasser Arafat was dubbed a terrorist in sheep’s clothing; his attempts to simultaneously use military and political means to accomplish Palestinian goals were rejected by the Western world.

The current Palestinian leadership under President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is dramatically different. Abbas has rejected all forms of anti-Israeli violence and has worked with U.S. security officials to set up a security plan that has reduced anti-Israeli violence and has been welcomed by even senior members of the Israeli Army.

Palestine television, which falls under the president’s powers, was totally revamped and cleaned of anti-Israeli incitement. Prime Minister Fayyad has worked hard to improve Palestinian education, health, women’s rights and the economy. He has championed building up the infrastructure of Palestinian statehood rather than cursing the Israeli occupation.

The international community, represented in the Quartet by the United States, Russia, Europe and the United Nations, was in return expected to get the Israelis to fulfill their obligations according to the Road Map for peace that the Quartet issued and both parties accepted. This included dismantling settlement outposts (buildings that are illegal according to Israeli law), suspending settlement activities, and bringing Israeli troops back to pre-October 2000 lines. The Israelis have refused to carry out these commitments.

Palestinians are committed to using nonviolent means — calling on the world to divest from Israel, to refuse Israeli settlement products that are sold as “made in Israel,” and to arbitrate on the continuation of illegal settlements.

The commitment of Palestinian leaders to their people requires them to use political means to accomplish freedom and liberty.

If they are not allowed to use all available political means, they would have no choice but to quit their jobs or dissolve the Palestinian Authority.

Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist.

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