A raw deal, all the way from Madrid to Oslo

The Arab view

Beirut - Arab leaders are still warning of the imminent collapse of the "peace process" but the Palestinian diaspora are talking about doomsday. "Don't talk to me about American mediation - they cannot be 'honest brokers'," one of the most experienced Palestinian officers in Lebanon told me yesterday afternoon after taking another call from Gaza on his refugee camp phone. "What we have to do now is ensure all the Palestinian opposition are united together against Israel, not struggling against each other under Israeli occupation."

Not long ago, his words might be dismissed with contempt. But the calls were coming from Palestinians in the occupied territories, anxious to ensure the Palestinians based in Lebanon and Syria were not going to engage in inter-Palestinian struggles if "the end" comes. "It's a turning- point in the war between our two peoples," the Palestinian said. "The old 'intifada' is finished - the new intifada will be qualitative. We cannot go on throwing stones and setting tyres on fire. There has to be direct contact with the Israelis."

It didn't take long to understand what this means. If the Lebanese guerrilla war against the Israelis, which drove the mighty Israeli army back to the southern frontier of Lebanon, was an example to the Palestinians, would not the Palestinians from Lebanon who are now in the West Bank use the tactics they had developed in the Lebanese war in any coming battle with the Israeli army? Yes, the Palestinian said, he wanted his people to talk to the Israelis, to try to persuade them - desperately - to reverse the events set in motion by Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to construct the Jewish settlement on occupied land. But he didn't hold out much hope. "Madeleine Albright [US Secretary of State] is still talking about putting the 'peace process' back 'on track'," he said. "But she can't. The US has lost all its credibility."

There are few Arabs who would disagree when the most pro-Israeli US government ever is vetoing any condemnation of the Jewish settlement. As an Egyptian journalist said yesterday: "It's the same old story - the Israelis provoke the Arabs by some flagrant violation of the peace, the Palestinians react violently and then the Americans line up behind the Israelis in condemning 'terror'. Our president (Mubarak) is openly saying he was betrayed. He's right - he was betrayed - by the Israelis and by the Americans."

Arabs list the reasons why Washington has so fatally lost control of the "peace process". How can it be a 'middle-man' when its ambassador to Israel is former head of the largest Israeli lobby group in America? How can President Clinton understand what the Israelis are doing to the "peace" when his advisers include a former Israeli army officer who served on the Lebanese border scarcely three years ago? Fewer Arabs remember how many of them so blithely accepted the flawed Oslo agreement of 1993, which fatally undercut the results of the 1991 Madrid summit. At Madrid, they were promised land for peace based on UN Security Council Resolution 242. Oslo allowed the Israelis to renegotiate 242, deciding for themselves which pieces of Palestinians territory they would hand back - and when - while closing off Jerusalem with further settlements before final-status talks. After that, the Beirut camp official said, it was only to be expected that Mr Netanyahu would refuse to give back the occupied Golan and accuse Syria of not wanting peace.

Mr Mubarak did say yesterday that he was still waiting for Mr Netanyahu to honour his word by the "peace process" - he is saying much harsher things to his advisers - while the Israelis are now trading insults with virtually every Arab nation with whom they had, until last year, some semblance of relations.

Can Mr Mubarak trust Mr Netanyahu? When I asked the Israeli Prime Minister in Cairo last month whether Palestinians could buy new homes in Jewish west Jerusalem, as Israelis are to be allowed to in the Arab east of the city, he said he thought they could - "so far as I know." But this is untrue. They are prevented from doing so. Mr Netanyahu says he will provide Arab as well as Jewish homes. Israel promised 18,000 Arab apartments next to the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev in 1980. Not one has been built. On Monday an Israeli spokesman insisted on the BBC that "there is nothing in the (Oslo) agreement, in any shape or form, that limits what Israel can do in its own sovereign capital." But nowhere in the Oslo agreement is there any reference to all of Jerusalem being Israel's "sovereign capital".

The truth is that the Arabs - for all their dictatorial leaders and secret policemen and torture chambers - believe they have been taken for a ride. Which is why some of them are thinking of how to fight for their islands of territory in the West Bank rather than make peace from them.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living