Why Palestinians are so reluctant to smile

The body language evident in two recent pictures of American, Israeli and Palestinian officials speaks volumes. The first was of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli President Shimon Peres. The picture was taken during the World Economic Forum held on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea in May. It was during this conference that Kerry pitched the economic plan that included the goal of raising up to $4 billion to boost the Palestinian economy.

The second photo worthy of deconstruction was taken at a recent press conference in Washington at the resumption of direct Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. In addition to Kerry, the photo includes chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni.

In both photos a trend can easily be noticed: the Israeli participants flash the widest smile possible, followed by the Americans, while the Palestinians have forced Mona Lisa-like smiles.

It is easy to understand why the Israelis were smiling at the Dead Sea and in Washington. They have finally received the payoff that they have been demanding, namely the appearance of talks. Many have commented that the Israeli side is more interested in the process of peace talks than in peace itself. 

Israelis believe that the photo opportunity of talking to Palestinians will help to cleanse the Israeli image from all the sins and guilt that they have accumulated as an occupier holding another people against their will for an astounding 46 years of military occupation.

Kerry has his reasons for smiling. Following guidance from President Barack Obama and his own gut feelings developed over years as a senior member of the US Senate's foreign relations committee, Kerry understands clearly the importance of photos with Palestinians and Israelis shaking hands or standing alongside each other.

This brings in the $64,000 question. Why aren't the Palestinians smiling? Or, more importantly, why are the Palestinians in the same room as their occupiers without having secured a clear pathway to ending this 46-year-old occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.

The forced Palestinian smile is a reflection of the unenviable position that Palestinians find themselves in. Having failed to produce anything like the liberation they promised their followers, the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation are finding themselves having to eat the crumbs being offered by the Americans and Israelis. Having committed to the peace process, Abbas has little choice but to give the go-ahead for direct talks even without all Palestinian demands being met. 

As a politician (and not a revolutionary), Abbas has to accept the constraints that realpolitik presents in modern society. The moment you decide to accept a negotiated track, rather than dubious and possibly unsustainable resistance track, constraints and demands are forced on you.

Having learnt from bad experiences with the Israelis, Palestinian negotiators did try hard to secure three conditions before the start of the face-to-face talks: freezing settlement construction, defining the parameters of the talks to the 1967 borders and obtaining the release of Palestinian prisoners held before the 1993 Oslo peace accords. Palestinians say that all three of their demands were satisfied, albeit at different levels. 

On the settlement issue, the Israelis have promised to limit activities to the three settlement blocks that Israel is hoping will be included in the land swap provision previously agreed in the Camp David talks between Yasser Arafat and then-prime minister Ehud Barak. While this was not clearly and publicly declared, it seems that the Palestinians accepted the US guarantee of its implementation with the clear provision that they would simply walk out if it was not honoured.

The border issue was more complicated, as the Americans seem to have accepted the Israeli argument that there will be nothing to negotiate if one side declares its position prior to the talks. Palestinians balked, and the US secretary of state had to make an oral, and later written, promise that the talks (at which the Americans will be present at all times) will be based on the 1967 border as President Obama himself had stated in his AIPAC speech in 2011. 

What appears to have helped sway the Palestinians was the binding decision by the European Union to refuse to accept any products coming from the areas occupied in 1967, thus indirectly declaring the support of the largest Western bloc to the 1967 borders.

Finally, the prisoner issue was one that Palestinians were adamant about. If Abbas was going to bear the political fallout of going to the peace talks without having secured a settlement freeze and an Israeli commitment to the 1967 borders, at least a prisoner release could help boost his standing amongst reluctant Palestinians.

While Israeli and American smiles were much more obvious in the latest meetings in Jordan and Washington, Palestinians participating in the talks are not likely to smile before they can deliver some concrete changes on the ground to their sceptical constituents.

The author is a veteran Palestinian journalist and the director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


 Rate this Article
Rates : 1, Average : 5

Post a Comment

Did you like this section? Leave a comment!
Your Name : Your Email Address :
Your Comment :
Enter Image Text:

Reader Comments

The Jew LIES are so blatant because of Jew-run USA! HUEY! CHOSEN Israel has never agreed to anything! The 1947 borders that were passed by Jew Truman in the PUPPET UN gave 55 % of Palestine to the 5% Jews at the time. By 1967, Palestine was reduced to 23% of the land because the CHOSEN constantly waged PREEMPTIVE wars on the hapless Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Arabs, Moslems, M.E.Christians and Easterners WITH USA-SUPPLIED WEAPONRY! Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by by a JEW because he agreed to end the conflict based on the Oslo Accords! Jews commit atrocities and then cover them up by LIEING! Enough of this DIGESTED BOLOGNA! Israel itself was formed, with the blessing of Jew-run Presidents and Congress, by Jew GANGS: Histerdut, Hagana, Stern, Irgun who committed Genocides. The UNACCEP part is that it is the Jew-run USA that has been financing these Israeli Atrocities at over $500 BILLION cost per year to the stupid USA GENTILES (Jew for all leprous others) when these idiots need the money here in USA AFTER JEWS SCREWED UP THE WORLD ECONOMIES when the son of convert (from Judaism) grandson of Prescott Bush and his Jew cabal made A WAR OF CHOICE on Iraq and Afghanistan to use the UNPRECEDENTED POWER of USA like a Tyrant to eliminate any possible threat to Israel! Yes, MASTER, CHOSEN ISRAEL! Thy WILL be done! ! Enough lies! Since 1946, ALL USA Presidents (&90% Congress), without exception, are Jews, converts from Judaism for political reasons, married to Jew ACTRESSES or some such or have Jew blood, including Hilary Radkhman Clinton, Michelle COHEN Obama and Barack Dunham (Jew) Obama! When will the 98% GENTILE non-Jews of America say "ENOUGH"!

The Palestinians are reluctant to smile, because they will have to go back, and honor the 1947 partition of Palestine. They are even more reluctant to smile, because they still are not politically united. Mahmoud Abbas has been banned from entering Gaza. Can you imagine Barack Obama being banned from entering California? But Israel will definitely be reluctant to smile, because it is going to have to make a decision about the settlers. Either return them back to the pre-1967 borders, and let them stay and become citizens of Palestine. Are the Palestinians still reluctant to smile? Then think about the Israeli companies employing Palestinians, and the high tax revenue the settlers will be bringing in for the Palestinian Authority.

Jews are silent about CHOSEN Israel’s atrocities since before 1946! Genocide-Committing Israel was founded by real ‘terrorist gangs’ (Hagana, Stern, Irgun, Isterdut etc) who used US weaponry to massacre Palestinians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians, Arabs, Moslems, true M.E. Christians, starting with G Meyerson, Y Shamir, B. Gurion, M. Dayan, A. Sharon, Y. Shamir, Y. Rabin (killed by Jews for wanting to make peace), E. Barak and Olmert, T. Livni, M. Begin and 12 tribes, as in Deir Yasseen massacres and using the Geneva banned napalm, cluster, nail, nuclear-clad bunker busters in pre-emptive Israeli wars and attacks on peaceful Arabs, torture, indefinite detentions without trials, usurpation of lands, lives and properties, massacres by murderer Sharon in Shatilla and Sabra camps (just a fraction of Jew atrocities), and even carpet bombing of defenseless refuges in BARBARIC Israeli ‘collective punishment’! The ‘ENABLER’ in all these Jewish Israeli atrocities is the Jew-run US! Since Jew FDR’s time in 1936 with half-Jew W. Churchill and Jew Truman, all US Presidents, bar none, were ‘Christianists’ converts from Judaism that shamelessly calls Jews CHOSEN over all others, were married to Jewesses or had Jew blood including Mr Obama who is related to Geithner, Cheney and the Jew Bushes! That is why US has shielded Israel (by casting the overwhelming majority of UN Vetoes since 1972) from even criticism, not to mention giving CHOSEN Israel a yearly Aid-Weapons package of $250 billion. Jews Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Murdock, Libby and 12 tribes made US GENTILES pay: 30K dead, 700K PTSD, a wrecked economy, $5 TRILLION, disrespect for Integrity of US, $500 billion more recently to Israel in F35 Stealth Bombers, Iron missile Shield, advanced weaponry and direct $$AID! Jew Tax-exemptions, forgiving of past loans etc and even the bribery costs to US-puppet rulers (Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain etc), and you wonder if US Congress and President should not run for office in ISRAEL! Now that the Jews have destroyed the economy of the US, there will be peace… eventually! Doctor, heal thyself! And you, Gentile USA (Jew for ALL leprous others), HEEL! Heel, said the Orthodox Jew!