For now peace talks with Israel are pointless
A majority in a Ramallah audience rejected further peace talks with Israel in the short term after a heated public debate that saw wide-ranging criticism of their own leaders and tactics. This was the first of the New Arab Debates (NAD) to be held in the Palestinian Territories.
Ramallah, West Bank, June 11, 2014 – A majority of Palestinians rejected further peace talks with Israel in the short term after a heated public debate that saw wide-ranging criticism of their own leaders and tactics.
At the first of the New Arab Debates (NAD) to be held in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, a predominantly young audience voted 66 percent for the motion: “For now peace talks with Israel are pointless”.
Speaking for the motion, Mamdouh Aker, a physician and former Palestinian peace delegate said returning to talks now would “be a disaster” and called on veteran chief negotiator Saeb Erekat to resign and apologise to the people for the loss of Palestinian lands and the growth of Israeli settlements.
“Nobody should go to negotiations in a weak position. We are negotiating on Israeli terms and when you negotiate on the terms of your adversary you are doomed.”
Asked if the Palestinian Authority was engaged in talks solely to ensure foreign support, Aker said: “To hell with this money. This money is only subsidising the occupation.”
Arguing against the motion, businessman and philanthropist Munib R. Masri said he too was “frustrated” at the slow pace of talks but said he saw no other long-term alternative.
He called on Palestinians to boycott Israeli products in a campaign of “peaceful resistance” and argued that Israeli leaders would only negotiate with Palestinians “when the occupation becomes costly to them”.
He added that the recent formation of a unity government, backed by Hamas Islamists, would make the Palestinians stronger – but only three people in the audience believed the administration would last.
A student said the whole Palestinian leadership had lost legitimacy since the peace process started in Madrid in 1991.
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