Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in Washington. Why?
According to his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, "The president is working to obtain the end of the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza." But according to an official in Gaza, the visit is yet another photo-op, "nothing less, nothing more."
The visit comes at a time when Hamas has declared that the six-month ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Strip is over. The ceasefire officially ended at daybreak in Gaza on Friday. The Izz-al-din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, blamed Israel for the failure of the truce. Israel blames Hamas. It seems that the cycle of violence will continue.
Meanwhile, a new poll jointly conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, revealed that two-thirds of Palestinians support the Arab Peace Initiative, a plan that offers Israel full recognition by Arab countries in return for withdrawing from occupied lands, and nearly two-thirds of Israelis oppose it. If the findings are an accurate representation of Palestinian and Israeli public opinions, then we are no closer to reaching a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than we've been lead to believe by the Annapolis Peace Conference masterminds Bush, Olmert, and Abbas. The timing of the poll coincides with another interesting development. In a resolution co-sponsored by the United States and Russia, the U.N. Security Council declared its support for the process initiated at Annapolis and its commitment to the "irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations" between Israelis and Palestinians.
Security Council Resolution 1850 -- adopted December 16 by a vote of 14-0, with Libya abstaining -- also reiterated the council's support for a two-state solution. It is the first time in five years that the council has weighed in to lend its support to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. However, Israelis and Palestinians have never put much stock in UN resolutions -- most of them remain ink on paper and unimplemented. But what's interesting about this resolution is the fact that the Bush administration in its final days, after having avoided involving the UN in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, finally turned to the United Nations. This simply tells us: we're back to square one!
WE'RE BACK TO more resolutions, more conferences, more negotiations and more empty promises. Meanwhile Gaza residents have been scrounging for green grass to put down in their stomachs in order to survive.
One thing both Israelis and Palestinians agree on. The poll also indicates that 49 percent of Israelis and 57 percent of Palestinians want U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to become more involved in solving their conflict. One more item Mr. Obama needs to add to his Christmas shopping list... after of course, Michelle, the girls, family, friends, the economy, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and...and...Palestinians and Israelis are willing to wait.
Note: I'll be reporting and blogging next week from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV