My head feels like it will explode. There are many urgent questions but, like most Palestinians, I feel a sense of incomprehension as I listen to the news about John Kerry’s recurring visits, and the talk of a Palestinian state and lasting peace.
When people step away from their TV screens and go out into the street, they experience a different reality. They experience heavily armed soldiers storming, killing and imprisoning.
What is happening? Where is the peace? Where are the negotiations? And who is Kerry anyway?
To the Palestinian Authority negotiators, I ask: What are you doing?
Israel gains time
Allow me to travel with you twenty years back in time to the start of Oslo negotiations, which also marked the beginning of the attempted eradication of our dream of an independent Palestinian state. The Zionists have always aimed to gain time in order to impose a fait accompli on the Palestinian people.
More time is tantamount to more construction of colonies; the number of colonies that were constructed since Oslo has doubled, bringing the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank — including East Jerusalem — to as many as 650,000, according to some figures.
More time means more checkpoints and more separation walls, all of which put the entire Palestinian people in ghettoes and Bantustans where they cannot move securely through the barriers of humiliation and the gates of indignity. That’s what negotiations have brought us.
And now, shamelessly and brazenly, you are talking about a Palestinian state on twelve percent of historic Palestine? Where is this Palestinian state? And what are its borders?
Who gave you the right to negotiate on my behalf? Who gave you the right to prevent my children from visiting the sea, which is not farther than 25 kilometers from where we live? They have not seen it in their whole lives.
Who gave you the right to prevent my children and me from visiting Jerusalem? That great city is only 20 kilometers from my home, but we can only hear about it in the news and see it in pictures.
Who gave you the right to negotiate on my right to live in freedom, peace and security? Such rights are inalienable and cannot be usurped or surrendered by anyone.
And when will your negotiations come to an end? Will any agreement be subject to a popular referendum in which the entire Palestinian people living in Palestine and in the diaspora participate?
You recognize quite well that these negotiations are absurdly hollow and meaningless, and that you are certain that the primary beneficiary from these negotiations will be the Israeli occupation. So why do you cling on to these negotiations with tooth and claw?
I am quite sure that these negotiations will not achieve peace, or a Palestinian state.
Doomed to failure
Reality suggests that Israeli occupation forces will not abide by the outcome of these negotiations, just as Israel has refused to abide by the outcome of previous negotiations — under the pretext of security.
If the negotiations fail — and I’m sure they are doomed to failure — what will happen next? What are the alternatives and what are your plans? What is your strategy for ending the occupation?
I am disheartened to say that after these failed negotiations there will be more failed negotiations. You are divided and quarreling among yourselves.
Your goals are not national. You do not work in the best interests of the people, but for partisan and factional interests.
What a pity that you do not believe in our right to live in freedom, like other peoples of the world.
Freedom is not something that is given to people. It is something that is gained.
We will not gain our freedom except through popular resistance, in which all segments of the Palestinian people are unified against the occupation, in an organized popular intifada.
There will not be a popular intifada before the Palestinian Authority is dissolved, and a unified, principles-centered national leadership is formed. Only such leadership can take forward a global intifada to end the occupation once and for all.
Iyad Burnat organizes regular protests against Israel’s wall in the West Bank village of Bilin.