Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Declaration of Principles Is Just a Beginning

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The Declaration of Principles Is Just a Beginning

Article excerpt

The Declaration Of Principles Is Just a Beginning

By Hassan Abdelrahman

The Declaration of Principles (DOP) is an interim arrangement, which we consider a step toward the achievement of selfdetermination for the Palestinian people. Of course, the DOP does not provide the Palestinians with independence, as is our objective. But we believe that it gives us the opportunity to engage with the Israelis in peaceful negotiations that will transform the relationship between the two sides from one of confrontation to partnership in the peace process. These negotiations must lead to the achievement of both Israeli withdrawal from all of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that eventually will be confederated with Jordan. We believe that the DOP, if implemented correctly, can achieve these goals.

During the last hundred years of Palestinian-Zionist confrontation, the trend was toward an expansion of Zionist control, authority and domination over Palestine and the Palestinians. The DOP reverses this trend. It reduces Israeli control over Palestinian life and territory and gradually expands Palestinian authority over first Gaza and Jericho, and then the rest of the West Bank. The DOP makes provisions for the establishment of an elected Palestinian authority and discussions on settlements, Jerusalem and refugees as per U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The DOP should be seen as the opening of a process, not as a final, ultimate solution. It is one stage in a process that will eventually culminate in ending occupation, establishment of a democratic Palestinian government, an independent Palestinian state and peaceful relations between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

Since the DOP was signed in September 1993, Israel has withdrawn its forces from most of Gaza and Jericho, Palestinian security forces are now in control of law and order in those areas, with the exception of areas left for final status negotiations, and there is a Palestinian National Authority which is expanding and doing well given the circumstances and economic and political constraints. There is a new atmosphere in Gaza, despite the tragic events of Nov. 18.

This confrontation between Islamist militants and Palestinian security personnel demonstrated that the forces which have dominated both the political and social life of Gaza are nervous because the Palestinian Authority is trying to implement a new social life which takes into consideration the religious, economic and political pluralism of the Palestinian people. The Islamists are unhappy with this pluralism and want to impose their own social concepts on the Palestinian people, which has produced confrontation between the legitimate Palestinian Authority and a political party or faction that wants to undermine the Palestinian National Authority and its policies.

Those who call for armed struggle at this time are out of touch with regional and international realities.

The lessons of the past show that the time for armed struggle is over. The PLO, which is now in control of Gaza and Jericho, conducted over the last 30 years one of the most intense national resistance struggles in the history of the Middle East, using both arms and diplomacy. …

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