I vividly remember the weeks leading up to the first international conference for Middle East peace. U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who had shuttled frantically to resolve the issue of Palestinian representation, kept the 1992 conference’s location under wraps. Once he declared Madrid the site, many of us Palestinians felt a sense of jubilation at the looming discussions.

I thought of this after President Bush’s call last Monday for an international parley on the Middle East to be chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. I and many other Palestinians are much more skeptical now. Attending the Madrid conference felt essential, but the importance of summits has diminished as such forums have failed to produce results.

Palestinians have been more hurt than helped by the false trappings of a state that were provided as part of the Oslo peace process and the famous White House handshake of 1993. Palestinians got an elected president and a government whose ministers and legislators are not guaranteed passage between Gaza and the West Bank; passports whose numbers must be entered into Israeli computers; a postage system and lightly armed police — but no real sovereignty over the land or contiguity between our communities in Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinians have been made to endure hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank, an eight-foot wall deep in our territories and tight Israeli control over borders. In return, Israel was relieved of the need to guard populated Palestinian areas and was no longer obliged to pay public servants or support the occupied population economically as stipulated by international law. (MORE)

The writer directs the Institute of Modern Media at al-Quds University in Ramallah and founded the Arab world’s first Internet radio station, Ammannet. His e-mail address is info@daoudkuttab.com


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