Playing a losing hand

Sep 16, 2023
Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat at the White House 1993-09-13

This week sees the 30th anniversary of the shameful, ill-advised Oslo Accord between Israel and Palestine.

In the game of life, like a game of cards you can only play the hand you are dealt and not the hand you wish you could have.

In any card game a seasoned, accomplished player plays the people across the table and weighs the odds before considering how to play their cards to the maximum. The only difference in this game are the stakes. In this game we are betting on the future of Palestine and the Palestinians.

Why the analogy with playing cards? Because politics is a dirty game especially with opponents like ours, who keep aces up their sleeves and a trick or two when the time is opportune.

Such a game was in play thirty years ago at The White House, on 13th September 1993 when US President Bill Clinton, brought Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organisation President, Yasser Arafat together on the White House lawn to agree to a Declaration of Principles between Palestine and Israel, commonly referred to as the “Oslo Accord.” The declaration was signed by PLO negotiator, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzak Rabin. Israel accepted the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians, and the PLO renounced armed struggle, and recognised Israel’s right to exist in peace. Thus gifting Israel 78% of the landmass of historical Palestine and what Israel craved most, legitimacy. Both sides agreed that a Palestinian Authority (PA) would be established and assume governing responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a five-year period. In other words the newly established PA would act as a subcontractor to the occupiers of our lands. Then permanent status talks on the issues of borders, refugees, water resources and Jerusalem would be held.

I was not alone in suspecting this was a poisoned chalice. Renowned Palestinian intellectual, Edward Said, had this to say.

“So first of all let us call the agreement by its real name: an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles,” he continued. “What makes it worse is that for at least the past fifteen years the PLO could have negotiated a better arrangement than this modified Allon Plan, one not requiring so many unilateral concessions to Israel. For reasons best known to the leadership it refused all previous overtures.”

So far, so utterly disastrous for us and extremely beneficial for Israel.

Let’s look at the players in this game before we examine the cards.

Israel versus the Palestinians

  • Israel has the fourth largest armed forces in the world supplied by state of the art machinery of war by western governments, in particular the USA.
  • Israel develops, manufactures and exports the technology of war all over the world.
  • Israel is the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
  • Israel has the possibility to destroy the entire area and has threatened to do so on at least two occasions, most particularly over Iran.
  • Israel is grabbing more and more land in Palestine.
  • Israel is in total charge of the natural resources in Palestine.
  • Israel is the Paymaster General with its hands on the purse strings of Palestine and therefore controls the livelihoods of the Palestinians under occupation.
  • Israel is bombing, killing, incarcerating and abusing the human rights of Palestinians under its occupation on a daily basis.
  • As I am writing these words Israel is holding 5200 prisoners in Israeli jails; men women and children.

And then there is their Trump Card. No, not that Trump. I speak of the total, blind-folded, generous support of the USA, no matter who is in the White House, plus the deep pockets of the Zionist/Jewish donors and supporters from all over the world.

Then there are the Palestinians

  • The Palestinians are fragmented.
  • The Palestinians are divided.
  • The Palestinians are ill equipped and ill trained.
  • The Palestinians are poor and weak.
  • The Palestinians depend for their survival on the good will of various parties with their own agendas and interests in Palestine.
  • The Palestinians are scattered all over the world.
  • The Palestinians in the diaspora have no say on what goes on back home that affects their livelihoods and future aspirations.
  • The Palestinians are constantly under pressure by the host nations who control their very lives and future.

Add to this toxic mix the complete absence and indifference towards the Palestinian plight by the Arab Governments and the Muslim Umma. Even the most optimistic player of the Palestinian cards must conclude that this is a losing hand.

Yet, I do not see it as a losing hand. We have been reacting to this dominance all our lives. Time to take the initiative and turn the tables on the Israelis. If not calling their bluff, trumping their hand.

But how could we, the abandoned, ill-equipped, divided, disheveled Palestinians beat the strong, united, the well equipped and well backed Israelis? I’ll tell you how. By withdrawing from the game altogether. That does not mean that we throw in our hand because we are losing. We are throwing in our hand because we are saying to the world, ‘This is a loaded game. This is a crooked game and this is an unfair game.’

We should then reshuffle the deck; reconsider the options and work to unite the Palestinians under one banner.

The first tangible step of changing the course of this game is unity. Dissolve the PA and throw the whole game in the lap of the International Community, shifting the burden from the occupied Palestinians to the occupying Israelis.

Going to the UN and chasing rainbows will not achieve anything. On the contrary, it causes us even more hardship and ridicule. Thanks to the last three pathetic performances of the un-mandated Mr Abbas at the UN, we have been subjected to ridicule and disdain. The Americans will always use their veto in favour of Israel as their trump card, as they have done over and over and over again in the past. They will also threaten to withdraw the aid that is keeping our brothers and sisters under occupation alive. Where America leads the rest of the world follows.

I have been against division on partisan lines all my life. I have been vehemently and firmly against this proposed visit to the UN from deep belief that it would only lead to more pain. My fears and apprehensions have become a tragic reality.

I hope this does not read as if I am raising my hands in surrender. That I shall never do. What I am trying to illustrate here are the pitfalls and the folly in engaging in a futile exercise that will definitely lead to more dangers and more losses. I think we have lost enough and I think it is about time we adopt the winner’s mentality. Don’t you?

Remember what Ghandi said:

‘First they ignore you
Then they laugh at you
Then they fight you
And then you win.’

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