When Olmert and Abbas shake hands

What will follow their handshake?: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the West Bank city of Jericho, 6 August 2007. (Omar Rashidi/MaanImages/POOL)

On Monday, Israeli occupation Authority Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and occupied Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas once again met and shook hands, each promising respective constituents that a so-called “peaceful solution” is near. Olmert “agreed” that cooperation between Israel and the PA will expand, something that is not lost on the millions of occupied Palestinians who continue to suffer each day as many other things expand beneath their feet — the settlement colonies, the apartheid wall, the egregious acts of violence and oppression enacted by the Israeli occupation military.

What does an expansion of cooperation between the PA and Israel mean when the prisons of the foreign occupier, the nuclear state, are filled to the brim with Palestinian political prisoners, as many as 12,000 people who are tortured and broken and humiliated? An expansion of cooperation comes with Abbas’ capitulation to Olmert’s designs of an ethno-centric state for Jews only, whose second-in-command, Avigdor Lieberman, is an unashamed proponent of ethnic cleansing from Moldovia who consistently demands that all Arabs be “transfered” or wiped out. An expansion of cooperation is called for as Mahmoud Abbas’ private militia continues to beg Israel for arms and power moves against the democratically-elected Hamas party, like a kid asking a rich man for a few pennies to buy candy.

An expansion of cooperation means more whittling away of the rights of the Palestinian people. It means the further dispossession of land and farms and freedom and time and money and childhoods. It means the only true “solution” — one state, for every person, and a respect for human rights and the Palestinian right of return — continues to be further away from realization.

Meanwhile, as Abbas thanks Olmert for scraps, life here on the ground continues to worsen and sour. The Israeli military death squads are scooping people up in Nablus and throwing them in prison camps. Or shooting them. Or dropping bombs on them in Gaza. Or sealing off entire villages with the apartheid wall. Or making them wait in the blistering hot sun at some of the 450 checkpoints. Yes, thank you, Olmert.

A friend here in Dheisheh posed this question with a glint in his eye: What will happen when Abbas’ constituents, the millions of Palestinians who see right through his capitualtions, go to back to the polls and re-elect Hamas? What will he do then?

Nora Barrows-Friedman is the senior producer and co-host of Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio, and also reports for InterPress Service in Europe. Her website is www.norabf.com.