Al-Zaytouna Centre General-Manager Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh participated in the special session discussing the Palestine issue at the 12th Al Jazeera Forum, entitled “The Gulf, the Arabs and the World Amid Current Developments,” in Doha, Qatar, 28–29/4/2018.
The fifth session of the 12th Al Jazeera Forum was dedicated to the Palestine issue in the context of the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as the “deal of the century.” In addition to Dr. Saleh, the session featured Hani Al-Masri, Dr. Ibrahim Fraihat, Dr. Ilan Pappe, and Sari Orabi.
In his presentation, Saleh said that since the Oslo Accords the peace process has followed the “Dead Horse Theory,” and that the best strategy to deal with a dead horse is to dismount. The 25-old peace process has reached a point where the idea of a two-state solution has collapsed completely. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has become an entity that serves the occupying state more than it serves the interests of the Palestinian people, the fact that Mahmud ‘Abbas himself admitted in the United Nations. Consequently, there is no prospect for an independent Palestinian state. Saleh added that the “deal of the century” did not come to correct the path, it rather came to liquidate the Palestine issue.
Saleh stressed that the weak performance of the Arab and Palestinian leaderships reinforces the environment surrounding the “deal of the century.” There is a real problem in the official Palestinian political structure, which has not been strengthened or developed over the last 25 years; on the contrary, it has significantly weakened. There are crises in the Palestinian leadership, track, vision, management of institutions and in defining priorities and paths. Therefore, and in the midst of all these crises, how could the direction be determined and how the enormous potentials of the Palestinian people at home and abroad can be invested in properly?
Saleh said that instead of developing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) so it would represent every Palestinian, it became a weak one and almost a department in the PA. He added that the Palestinian National Council (PNC) did not convene in the last 27 years, and the average age of its members exceeds 72 years old, without any renewal as per the 2011 reconciliation agreement. And instead of being strengthened by the Gaza Strip (GS) conditions, the Oslo criteria are applied on the strip.
In addition, he maintained that “deal of the century” does not include any reference to the issue of Jerusalem, the future of the Palestinian state or the return of refugees, “which is proof that we are faced with the liquidation, rather than the settlement, of the Palestinian issue.” He said that the deal will not be announced until the appropriate environment is prepared, and that the maximum offered by Israel in this deal does not reach the minimum that the Palestinians expect. He asserted that as long as the Palestinian people refuses such deal, it would not pass, despite all the exerted pressure.
Saleh noted that in the last 70 years more than 240 peace settlements were suggested, but they were all rejected by the Palestinian people and resistance. He added that [improvement] can be attained by patience and rebuilding national institutions.
As for the Zionist Project, Saleh saw that it lives a crisis, for Israel has failed to become a normal state in the region. It also faces Palestinian demographic threat, and a resistance that has developed its capabilities. He noted that normalization with Israel is acceptable on the Arab official level, whereas the general public still refuses it. In addition, the US regional performance is weak due to internal crises, hence finding it difficult to impose its policies.
On the first day of the forum, Saleh also participated with other experts in a roundtable discussion about “The Current Role of Islamists in the Region.”