Mahmoud Abbas becoming President of the Palestinian Authority following his victory in the presidential elections may have been a factor in pushing the political process forward but it is not the main factor behind the moving political process in Palestine and the region.
The main factor is the accumulation achieved by the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the face of the Israeli aggression, and by the Palestinian people’s endurance of all forms of individual and mass torture and this people’s ability to confront the aggression and continue to defend themselves with all means possible.
The other side of this steadfastness and holding back the occupation forces is the negative accumulation on the Israeli side and the concentration of this accumulation in human, economic and political losses that Israel has incurred in the past four years.
These accumulations happened and continue to happen in the shadow of an even greater blundering in the policy of the US in the Middle East -” a region of great strategic importance to Washington and its economic and political interests.
The big failure in Iraq has deprived Washington of claiming victory, and the conflicts that will take place on the Iraqi scene after the election results have been announced will deprive it of claiming that any accomplishment has been achieved from the Iraqi invasion by Washington and its allies.
Therefore, the US administration which previously (during the first term of George W. Bush) fell in the grip of the Pentagon hawks with Zionist loyalties such as Wolfowitz and Faith, is now trying to free itself from that grip and to move in a different direction.
The new direction that the US administration will follow will be the one favored by the US oil group which has great influence in Washington and can affect US decision-making. The US oil group (as well as the Oil Industry group) sees the Middle East as one of the most important parts of the world and one with the most influence on the US economy. Therefore, they favor that the US administration follows a “wise” policy that meets some of the legitimate demands of the peoples of the region, especially the people who have suffered and continue to suffer from the Israeli occupation and its practices which violate international treaties and international resolutions.
The US oil community favors a US policy that deals with the core of the Middle East problems and the heart of the violence in it; that is, the Israeli occupation. The oil group sees that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a good start to a “wise” American policy that will create calm and stability in the unstable hot spot of the Middle East.
Instability currently affects, and will affect in the future, the US oil interests in the Middle East -” major interests, because controlling the vast oil sources and reserves in the Middle East will create prosperity in the US, especially if we keep in mind that a high percentage of the returns generated from exporting the Middle East oil is taken by American companies that export needed machinery, equipment and consumer products to markets in oil producing countries.
American control in the Middle East is a double-sided control: oil sources and markets -” this is the most profitable formula any oil group can imagine, and the most beneficial formula for the American economy. Thus, the US oil group is pressuring the US administration to follow a wise policy to find political solutions for the hot problems of the Middle East.
On the international level, the European Union stands, as it always has, firmly by the implementation of a political solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state after ending the Israeli occupation. Russia also takes a position that goes along with international resolutions, and places its hand in the hand of the UN to demand the implementation of these resolutions.
This leads to a conclusion that becomes clear for the first time since the Madrid Peace Conference which is that the position of the US administration is being formed now during Bush’s second term under pressure from the US oil group (and away from the influence of the Zionist Pentagon hawks who used the military industries group and money group during Bush’s first term) -” a position which works towards the implementation of the road map.
This gives the Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas a rare opportunity. The Palestinian Authority now holds one end of the line leading toof the solution and it must reel it in and not falter on any matter, no matter how big or small.
Going back to Abu Mazen’s victory in the presidential elections, I need to remind you of what was said before the elections. I considered Abu Mazen’s victory a political necessity and thus contributed to his political campaign and rallied votes for him because Abu Mazen is (for reasons specific to Israel and the US) a figure acceptable by Washington and Tel Aviv. I was also of the opinion that this acceptance, even if only a temporary one, presents the opportunity to throw the ball in the court of the others to implement the road map.
Tel Aviv and Washington both considered the late President Yasser Arafat to be persona non grata and an unsuitable partner in the peace process because of his firm position and his holding to national fundamentals. These parties are however now facing a new situation. Abu Mazen, who Washington and Tel Aviv consider a partner in the peace process, has become president of the Palestinian Authority, and these parties need to begin political work to implement the road map.
The US administration was using the centers of influence in Washington, and these centers’ ties to major US economic groups, and the ties of some of these centers with Israel and specifically with the Likud party. Its aim was US domination.
Now the US Administration is reorganizing its affairs to use the centers of influence and its ties inside the US and Israel to implement a wise policy that serves the interests of the US and strengthens its control with means different from the ones used in Iraq.
Here I draw the attention of the Palestinian leadership to this great political opportunity, and to the need to act based on the position of power that the Palestinian Authority has assumed due to changes and modifications in the factors influencing American decision-making.
The Palestinian influence is very great and the Palestinian Authority will be making a huge mistake if it does not realize this fact and does not deal with all concerned parties based on this fact.
The most important item on the agenda of this needed action (based on the strong international position and the heroic popular steadfastness) is the Palestinian Authority insisting on linking the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to a start in negotiations to implement the road map.
What Mofaz discussed with Mohamed Dahlan regarding the withdrawal of the Israeli troops from some of the cities of the West Bank is good, but it is not what is needed. What is needed is the following:
– The withdrawal of occupation forces back to the lines of September 2000, the removal of all roadblocks and settlements and a halt to settlement expansion.
– Halting the building of the annexation wall.
– Having these steps coincide with beginning the implementation of the road map and adopting the point of view of British Prime Minister regarding merging some of the stages in the road map into one stage after time has proved that separating them into multiple stages is not necessary.
As for the issue of the prisoners, the Palestinian Authority must insist on the release of all prisoners without discrimination. This is because the occupation’s trial of Palestinian prisoners is illegal and the arrest of members of the resistance by the occupation forces is also illegal. The UN charter gave all the peoples of the world the right to resist occupation with all means possible.
This is how the Palestinian Authority can start to reel in the line after the circumstances and the accumulations of steadfastness have enabled it to grasp one end of it.