The Swiss Agreement: A Promise or a Pretense?

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Government And Politics Views: 3040

The "Swiss Agreement", thus far a symbolic peace initiative devised by ex-Israeli and Palestinian officials, embodies the perfect formula for an equally emblematic remedy to the Arab-Israeli conflict. As far as any association with reality is concerned, the agreement, as also seen by many Palestinians and Israelis, is another charade, whose only objective is to gratify the political fervor of the "publicity hounds", as described by a Palestinian opposition leader. 

Even before the hungry eyes probed the agreement's blueprint, mistrust flared; even before the Israeli Labor Party's media offices mailed out hundreds of thousands of copies to every Israeli household, the Sharon government was able to conclude that the agreement "reeked with bad odor." 

While the Israeli right has an abundance of reasons to feel threatened by the Geneva "breakthrough" - on political, ideological and religious grounds - Palestinian skeptics' mulled over the peace proposal using another framework: the last time they rejoiced for a similar 'breakthrough', they forfeited more territories to Israeli settlements and militarized zones at yet a more rapid pace. In fact, since the last breakthrough in Oslo, in September 1993, the number of Israeli Jewish settlers in the Occupied Territories has doubled in number. 

One can assertively claim that in order for the Swiss Agreement to endure, it must, and without any reservation, manifest itself as an essentially distinct initiative from Oslo and its offspring, whose wretched failure is conclusive. Oslo's ills are many; it spurned international law, failed to realize a tangible mechanism of executing the agreement, stipulated no accountability, undermined issues perceived fundamental by Palestinians, among other hindrances. But Oslo's most notable shortcoming was failing to address the historic injustice imposed on the indigenous population of Palestine; in fact, the grotesque history of injustice experienced by the Palestinian people was reduced to a mere 'dispute', whose solution demanded the victim to surrender to the calamities of fate. Israel still argued that the Palestinian refugee problem was not their creation, thus they shouldn't face the brunt of its resolve. 

A glimpse of what the Swiss Agreement partakers are promising is a case in point. "For the first time in history, the Palestinians explicitly and officially recognized the state of Israel as the (exclusive) state of the Jewish people forever. They gave up the right of return to the state of Israel and a solid, stable Jewish majority was guaranteed," writes Amram Mitzna, the former Israeli Labor Party leader, in the Israeli Ha'aretz daily newspaper. Mitzna boasts over the ever-willing Palestinian side's concession to keep major Jerusalem and West Bank settlements intact - in violation of the Fourth Geneva Conventions: "None of the settlers in those areas will have to leave their homes."

Mamduh Nawfal, a political advisor to Yasser Arafat is also counting the blessings of the agreement. However, according to Nawfal's commentary in Al-Hayat, his gains remain sentimental, almost in their entirety, some of which are: "The reconsideration of peace forces within the two parties; the reconsideration of the Palestinian peace plan; it provided a new realistic project around which international forces can find a ground of concurrence; it limited the polarization in Israel based on pursuing the occupation of the Palestinian people; the document proved that there is a Palestinian partner in establishing real peace; it confirmed that Sharon's claim according to which there is no political solution to the struggle is wrong." 

The Oslo sham is reborn in Geneva; the Israelis are to gain peace and security, to legitimize their racially-inspired democracy, to ensure and sustain their territorial gains in the Occupied Territories, while Palestinians will indulge in symbols: the moral victory of Arafat over Sharon and the emergence of the PA as a relevant peace partner, and so on. 

Even as the Swiss Agreement has, flatteringly referred to a "lasting" peace, it refrained from uprightly tackling what a permanent peace truthfully entails: a comprehensive just solution to those who endured the brunt of the conflict for over five decades, Palestinian refugees longing to return, a right supported by a United Nations resolution. Granted, peace also entails compromise, but compromise should not require the near complete sacking of one's aspirations. The agreement's demand on Palestinians to barter their refugees' - 60 percent of the total Palestinian population - right of return, in exchange of curtailed and qualified sovereignty over 10-20 percent of historic Palestine will doubtfully extract mass approval from the Palestinian population. 

If the goal of the Swiss Agreement is to restore lost hope, then triumph is probable, yet brief. If a "lasting" solution is indeed the intent, then genuine Palestinians and Israelis - neither shortsighted nor self-seeking - must work diligently to redress the agreement, and past agreements' shortcomings, without secrecy and without unwarranted barter. A just peace should not be subject to the haggles of Middle East bazaars, should be based on a gallant, even revolutionary rectification of past and present injustices, many of which, the Swiss Agreement seems to entirely discount under the all familiar ruse of "necessary concessions."

Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American journalist and editor-in-chief of The Palestine Chronicle online newspaper. His articles were published and quoted in newspapers around the world, including the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and the Guardian, among others. He is the editor of the anthology: "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion." Baroud is also a researcher for the Qatar-based al-Jazeera Net English.

To buy "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion" CLICK HERE

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Government And Politics
Views: 3040

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Older Comments:
The Zionists did not steal land. Unless you believe that the UN is an illegal organisation, you should remember that the UN founded two states in the British Palestine, which was once part of Turkey, one jewish and one Arab. Secondly, the vast majority of Jews are semitic. You should not trat the nonsense of Arthur Koestler seriously.

In his criticism of the Swiss Agreement, Mr. Baroud simply reveals that he desires revenge rather than the slightest compromise.
With people like Mr. Baroud, there is only one side to this sad story, and no self-examination ofthe failings of Palestinian and Arab leadershipin pursuing questionable tactics resulting in the suffering of their people.
This article is just a retread of the same old victim/oppressor dichotomy which will never lead to a peaceful solution.
IT is time for Israelis and Palestinians to take a giant leap over regressive thinking, and think of a future.

Good work H.A. let truth be spoken. Call a spade, a spade.


The arabs are sitting by and watching the Jews do what they are doing...why don't they help in some sort of productive way instead of helping with murderers.

What are the rulers of Arab countries afraid to say something...since they themselves are just like the jew in that they enslave their own people with ignorance, censorship, and lies.

Muslims (esp. the Palestanians) must show the Israelis how to treat people like human beings. The Israelis or American would NEVER stop killing them.

I know that Israelis treat Palestanians like dogs everyday and SO CALLED THE "CIVILIZED WORLD" and the PUPPETS of the "CIVILIZED WORLD" WOULD NEVER CARE.

The Chrisitans or the WEST would also NEVER acare about Israelis or for Palestanians. If they really do, the Jews would not have put them in Palestanian's 1 sq mile territory. IT WAS A RECIPE FOR DIASTER.

The best place for Jews after Holocaust would have been Germany or someplace in Europe. IT was British and American plot to encourage all Jews to move to Palestine (now known as Isreal + WEST BANK + GAZA STRIP).

The small # of Jews and Christians have been living peacefully alongsie w/ Muslims in ARABIA for centuries. However, when European (Christian) occupation, colonization, lyching and enslavement started, the WORLD BECAME still see the effect of disaster created by CRUSADERS and Coloniolists. Now another WEST BANK and fencing just being created in Tikrit, Iraq by the oppressors and the occupiers in the name of peace.

Although I sound like a taking a CHEAP SHOT at Christians, my claims are true and undisputeable.

If Americans and British thugs are so peace-loving and "Civilized", then WHO DROPPED THE ATOMIC BOMBS on innocient Japanese civilians
...& Who tried to exterminate the Jews????
...& Who started the colonization and enslavement program???

The Blacks in American are still living in enslavement conditions b/c all the resources are being funneled to White areas and to Isreali thugs and to Middle Eastern puppets like Saddam, who used to be U.S.' best puppet and staunchest ally in the Middle East just 7 months ago..

I hope readers can control their angers stemming from my TRUE SHOTS. Its all facts...No need to be mad...Thou Shall Never get angry..."Be Patient when you are angry"...

If the arab had his way...he'd surely roast the Jew in a much worse maybe it's some sort of poetic justice.


Baroud is a typical hate filled so called "muslim"
Half of the Arabs have NO IDEA what it means to be a muslim. They have Indians and Paki's working like slaves, women from south asia as their personnal housekeeping slaves, who they occasionally rape....and they can get away with this because they live in a country that does not reconize another soul as human unless it's ARAB.

Arabs deserve what they get....hell on earth because they are a curruption of everything they preach.


I think you missed the point. This article is about the injustices practised against the Palestinian nation & how the terrorist state of Israel keeps breaking & defying international laws. This article is no anti-jewish, it is anti-zionist. I am sure the author will share with you & me that the Jews have suffered a lot & we sympathise with them because we Arabs are semitic too (actually the true semites along side the Ethiopians)& we are still suffering. The PA has made horrible concessions to the 13th tribe but those foreigners still refuse to give 10 per cent of the lands they have been stealing since 1948. Why cant Israelis who most of them are not semetic(their origins is Kasaria, Russia) make Germany pay the price for the crimes its Nazis committed against the Jews (sephardic & Ashkenads)instead of making the innocent Palestinians still pay for the costs of the holocaust to this day. The least a palestian is entitled to is a nation-state with East Jerusalem as its capital & the return of their refugees to their homeland.

A pity that Baroud cannot recognise the Jewish People's right to a state of their own. If this is indeed a view of the majority of the Palestinians, then there is no hope. One must ask why people around the world are asked to fight for Palestinian nationalism and write out of history the right of Jews to their history