By Andrew Williams
Photo: Walt Jabsco
The direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that began in early September will go nowhere. Presented by the US as negotiations to create a Palestinian state, in fact the objectives of the US and other participants are not this at all. For the US and Israel the current framework of talks allows them to set an agenda that reinforces the occupation – as happened in the Oslo talks (1992-3) and subsequent negotiation processes – simultaneously settlements expand, more Palestinians are displaced, and Israeli missiles are fired on Gaza, whilst Palestinians are told they must not resist. The objectives are to weaken Palestinian resolve, deepen the internal Palestinian divisions, enhance the US’s image in the region and rehabilitate Israel’s battered international reputation. For Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s chosen negotiating partner, it is hoped the international stage can bolster his reduced standing. Amongst Palestinians there is widespread understanding of, and consequently little support for, this framework.