The subject of this blog entry comes from an article in Haaretz, about the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), a Palestinian organization that has been working on negotiations for the past 10 years. It was a senior Israeli official that stated, "We talk about compromise and they speak of justice." The article goes on to state that the organization is very focused on Palestinian rights. This is a concern to Israeli authorities, that it might "increasingly [become] an obstacle with regard to progress after the Annapolis conference."
Asking for justice and recognized rights hinder peace talks?
In addition, the article states that the NSU does not deal in reality, because it ignores the Hamas takeover in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority's (PA) lack of power in the occupied Palestinian territories. The latter statement is of particular interest to me. It doesn't make much sense until one has lived in the occupied Palestinian territories for a while. Technically, there are sections of the occupied Palestinian territories that are under "full Palestinian control." But Palestinian government and authority are only as powerful as Israel allows. These territories are non-continuous clumps of land in the occupied territories. (This map gives an idea of what I'm talking about. "Area A" is under full Palestinian control. "Area B" is under joint Israeli/Palestinian control, and "Area C" is under full Israeli control. Settlements are sometimes also called "colonies" -- areas in which Israelis live in the occupied Palestinian territories.)
Needless to say, I would imagine such a political landscape would make governing difficult.
In other news, soldiers denied Ahmad Qurai',a head of the Palestinian negotiating team for the Annapolis conference, entry into Jerusalem on Sunday. He was on his way to a scheduled meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams. The soldiers that turned him away did not give him a reason for his denied entry. Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni is said to have called Qurai' and apologized.
What strikes me about this incident is the power imbalance it reveals. Something must be wrong when one of the negotiators cannot get to the table because of the systems and structures set in place by those with whom they are trying to negotiate. How can negotiations occur with such an uneven playing field?
About this Blog
"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.