Sunday, September 18, 2016

(Worthwhile Read) Oslo and the Story of the Palestinian Village Leagues - by Yigal Carmon

Twenty-three years ago today, on the lawn of the White House, the Oslo Accord was signed. Both Israel and the US shared the questionable assumption that the PLO represented the one and only option for peace with the Palestinian people. Indeed, such was the situation at that time. However, this situation was the product of the policies of all the parties involved – the US, Israel, and, in its own way, the PLO, which had systematically eliminated its opponents. Fifteen years previously, a Palestinian movement had emerged in the Palestinian territories that sought peace with Israel in opposition to the PLO. It failed. Although 38 years have passed since that failure, the PLO and its supporters in the West are still haunted by this movement. I was personally involved in this endeavor and witnessed it firsthand. Here is the story of the Village Leagues.

Yigal Carmon..
MEMRI Daily Brief No.103..
13 September '16..

In August 1978, Mustafa Dodin and a group of Palestinian activists submitted a request to the Military Administration in the West Bank to establish a village league in the Hebron area. Dodin, a former Jordanian minister, was a prominent figure in that region, and was known for his opposition to the PLO and his ties with the Jordanian government, especially with the circle of Wasfi Al-Tal, who had been Jordan's prime minister.[1] Having returned from Jordan to his native town of Dura near Hebron, Dodin wanted to establish a political movement that would strive for a settlement with Israel. However, the Israeli administration refused to allow political activity of any kind in the occupied territories, even if its objective was to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel. Dodin was therefore compelled to submit a new request for establishing a social-administrative body as was legal under Jordanian law (which continued to apply to the occupied territories under the Israeli Military Administration), namely a village league. Even this request was held up for about a year and a half until its final approval in August 1978.

The objection to political activity reflected what was known as the "Dayan policy," which had prevailed since the summer of 1967. This policy was never formulated systematically by Dayan himself, but was, rather, a composite of general principles, guidelines and specific ad hoc directives that he issued to his subordinates. It included a ban on political activity of any kind, as well as an instruction to avoid any preferential treatment of moderate elements. This applied equally to supporters of Jordan and to the handful of individuals who strove for Palestinian autonomy under the aegis of Israel, whose most notable representative was the renowned attorney from Ramallah, Aziz Shehadeh.[2] In practice, however, implementation of the policy went much further: extremist PLO supporters were treated sympathetically by the Israeli authorities and extremist newspapers such as Al-Fajr and Al-Shaab were granted licenses on direct instructions from Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan. The official explanation given for this was that Israel did not intervene in the public conduct and freedom of speech of residents of the territories so long as they refrained from terrorist activities.

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