THE Arab League, the organisation of the Arab bourgeoisie, last Saturday gave its backing to the indirect Palestinian-Israeli peace talks being pushed by President Obama.
Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told a Cairo news conference that a final decision to resume indirect talks with Israel will be taken by the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee. This will support the decision of the Arab League, since President Abbas had been waiting for the consent of the Arab League before taking the risk of opening talks with Israel.
The risk is that there will be no Israeli concessions in return and that settlement building in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, plus the deportation of Palestinians will continue.
Erekat commented: ‘If they build one unit out of the 1,600, we will not go to the talks,’ placing his fate directly in the hands of the Zionist leadership.
The Israelis meanwhile stress that they have not, and will not, agree a single concession.
Hamas, which makes up the government of the Gaza Strip, has condemned Abbas for his willingness to restart talks without a single Israeli concession.
Their statement said: ‘Hamas completely rejects any negotiations with the occupation,’ adding that the talk of US guarantees is ‘just another trick’.
In March the Palestinians, with Arab backing, agreed to indirect US-brokered talks for a period of four months, but those plans collapsed days later when Israel said, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, that it would build 1,600 new illegal settler units in occupied East Jerusalem.
This open sabotaging of US-backed talks infuriated President Obama. He has however refused to use the fact that Israel cannot exist without the tens of billions of US aid annually, and US military guarantees, to force it to bend the knee to the US.
The Arab League decision to endorse so-called proximity talks was taken by the committee of foreign ministers after new ‘guarantees’ were given by President Obama in a letter to the Palestinian Authority.
On Friday, after a visit to the region by Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she expected the Israelis and Palestinians to begin indirect talks this week.
Direct talks, which were last launched in the last year of president George W Bush’s administration, collapsed after Israel launched the deadly offensive against the Gaza Strip in December 2008, just before Obama assumed office, killing 1,500 palestinians and wounding thousands.
Saturday’s League statement said it reaffirmed that the negotiations must ‘demand a complete end to settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.’
It added that it will take steps to refer ‘illegal Israeli measures in Jerusalem and occupied lands to the International Court of Justice.’
More than 2,000 Palestinians held May Day demonstrations on Saturday near the Erez crossing from Gaza into Israel, and the Rafah border with Egypt to protest at the Israeli siege of Gaza.
‘We call on the world to stop the siege of Gaza and to come to the defence of Palestinian workers in all Palestinian territories,’ said Ramzi Rabah, a protest organiser.
About 2,000 demonstrators waving red and Palestinian flags gathered near the Erez border crossing with Israel in northern Gaza, where dozens of Palestinians who have been deported from the West Bank are living in tents.
The demonstrators said that the Israeli siege of Gaza was reducing the area to a starvation existence.
The Palestinian people are however standing firm. They want their state with East Jerusalem as its capital, with the settlements abandoned, with refugees having the right to return, and with its boundaries being the 1967 ceasefire lines.
They will not accept a bantustan, a federation with Jordan, or a shadow state with temporary boundaries either at the behest of Israel or through imposition by the US.
The collapse of the coming round of talks, or any attempt to betray the historic demands of the Palestinians, will touch off the Third Intifada and a new stage of the Palestinian and Arab revolutions – this time with much greater support from trade unions throughout the world.