By Iqbal Jassat
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
The following few weeks leading up to year-end is the subject of intense debate and being closely monitored by South Africans and Palestinians.
In the case of the former, the build-up to the ANC’s Limpopo conference has been dominating public discourse, for the expected change in leadership is likely to steer the country and its fortunes for the foreseeable future.
And here the similarity with Palestine ends. For while South Africa is able to determine its future as a free, independent and sovereign country within a democratic dispensation – Palestine remains colonized and occupied!
And the tragedy compounding Palestine is that its President has abdicated his responsibility towards his own people. Instead he has allowed himself to be dictated by the occupying power, which explains why the legitimately elected government of Hamas has been isolated and replaced by a group of unelected fellow-collaborators.
Hence, the close scrutiny whereby Palestinians have subjected the Annapolis conference in America has brought to the surface a series of interesting and important issues.
The first is that Abu Mazen – while himself an elected leader within the Palestinian Authority – reneged on the Mecca agreement and with the stroke of a pen undermined his own legitimacy by axing Hamas and replacing them with individuals whom Israel and the US is quite at ease to do business with.
The second is that this self-imposed group has no mandate from either the Palestinians within the Occupied territories or from the 5million plus in the Diaspora, to conclude any deal with the Zionist regime.
The third – and possibly most significant of all – is the likely outcome of the deal at Annapolis.
Analysts suggest that Abu Mazen ought to know negotiations from a position of weakness do not yield any gains. And this is precisely his situation – abject weakness! This is further reinforced by the hard-line position adopted by the Olmert regime, which has not moved an inch beyond some vague illusion of an “independent Palestine”.
Critical demands for real substantive changes which would necessitate Israel to abandon its colonial enterprise are not only being ignored and defied; the Olmert brigade of veteran war-mongers have retained every despicable act of violation of human rights and international law.
They have declared that the “Right of Return” of millions of Palestinians – for decades languishing in miserable camps as refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan etc., – be reinterpreted to allow them to suffer perpetual homelessness rather than return.
Jerusalem or al-Quds they claim as the eternal capital of Zionist Israel. Even as Abu Mazen cosies up to Olmert during their secret talks, Israel relentlessly continues changing the Arab character of this city. Judaisation of Jerusalem has been stepped up to further deceive the world about so-called entrenched “facts on the ground” which cannot be reversed.
The settlement policy too remains intact. So too has the construction of the apartheid wall – snaking across Palestinian land and cutting through homes and orchards – been accelerated at a frenzied pace.
Apart from surrender, what else does Abu Mazen hope to achieve?
Unlike South Africa’s excitement at the prospect of fresh changes brought about by a possible change of guard at the helm of the ANC, Palestinians remain wary about their future in the hands of those willing to sign away their fundamental rights.
-Iqbal Jassat is the Chairman of Media Review Network in South Africa (www.mediareviewnet.com)