In two articles in the Jordanian daily Al-Rai, columnist Dr. Fahed Al-Fanek continues to criticize PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and his policies and calls for flexibility and compromise:
Responsibility For Missed Opportunities
In a column titled "Responsibility for Missed Opportunities," Dr. Al-Fanek criticizes Arafat's political conduct:
"In recent months, Yasser Arafat could have, all at once, saved the Barak government, saved the good reputation of President Clinton and turned him from a reckless president into a peace-making president. In return, he could have had a recognized independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, over most of the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
"Unfortunately, however, Chairman Arafat did not condition the saving of Barak and Clinton - which would have cost the Palestinian people nothing - on achieving an important part of the rights of the Palestinian people, for which much blood was spilt."
"As a result, he is facing now Sharon's obstinacy, as well as President Bush's cold shoulder and a future that is unknown."
"It is entirely clear that the Palestinian side has made a mistake by missing a rare opportunity that may never return. The best evidence for that is the fact that he [Arafat] has now started to demand, in vain, to return to the negotiating table on the basis of the point where the negotiations were stopped in Camp David and Taba, meaning, on the basis of Clinton and Barak's proposals. The same proposals that Arafat rejected, he now demands."
"In the last century, there has been a sequence of opportunities that the leaders of the Palestinian people rejected in order to avoid being accused of leniency and negligence [of the Palestinian rights]. Nobody has learned the lessons from this sequence of missed opportunities."
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"Last year, Barak was under pressure to agree to one concession after the other. Now, on the other hand, we find that Arafat is under pressure to end the Intifada for no return, with the exception of renewing the negotiations from square one. Does he expect from Sharon more than what Barak had offered him?"
"Those who missed these opportunities ... bear the responsibility for the failure, especially since they were given sound and loyal advice by people who put the best interest of the Palestinian people on their mind. They chose to ignore this advice and comply with the advice of those who only care for their personal interests and who see the Palestinian problem as a bargaining chip."
Negotiations Require Compromise
In a previous column titled "The Utopian Peace," Dr. Al-Fanek criticizes the demand for "a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace" " a terminology that is used by the PLO and Syria, as well as, by the Arab world in general " which prevents the concluding of any settlement:
"In order to pass the peace they sign (in the public opinion)... the Arab ruler names it with adjectives that turn it into a utopian peace, that nobody would even consider rejecting or having reservations about: a 'just,' 'comprehensive' and 'lasting' peace that will satisfy future generations."
"The truth is that such a utopian peace does not exist. Furthermore, such a peace cannot be reached by peaceful means. Negotiations, by nature, lead to solutions of compromise and to mutual concessions, so each side reaches essential achievements, but does not get everything it wants."
"When the Arab side negotiates with Israel in order to achieve some peace, it must understand that what it wants is a settlement with Israel that will enjoy the support of the majority of the Israeli people. The other possibility is to coerce the other side by the use of force, if the Arab side is capable of doing so."
"Since its establishment 52 years ago, the State of Israel has been, and still is, stronger than all the Arab countries combined. It tried several times to use force in order to impose the kind of peace it wanted, but failed because peace requires the consent of the Arabs, once they have achieved the rights that would justify ending the conflict."
"Insisting on utopian peace, one that is just, comprehensive, and lasting, by peaceful means is a contradiction in terms. Peace is impossible in religious and ideological conflicts where there are no elements of compromise and settlements; it is only possible in political conflicts..."
"One of the reasons for the failure of the current peace process was the Israeli insistence on absolute security, which is impossible without defeating the Arabs, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Arabs' insistence on regaining the Palestinian people's rights in their entirety on its historical land, is impossible without militarily defeating Israel."
"The Arabs will never agree to be defeated, and the Jews will never allow the shattering of the State of Israel. Hence, the ideologists [from both camps] describe the conflict as an existential conflict, which leads to a party that is defeated and another that defeats, rather than describe it as a border conflict. The pragmatists, on the other hand, describe the solution as mutual concessions from which both sides benefit."
"The question is whether the Arab-Israeli conflict is a religious, ideological, and cultural conflict, in which case it is insoluble, or a political conflict that requires intelligence, flexibility, and good mediation?"