Abbas advisers push for new strategy: ‘Soft sovereignty’; State is ‘distant’ dream

They say that the Palestinian leadership needs to recalibrate, to focus on what is attainable as statehood is a “distant” dream.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Two senior Palestinian Authority (PA) advisers are suggesting a new strategy to PA President Mahmound Abbas, which they term “soft sovereignty.”

In the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi, both of whom are London-based Palestinian negotiators, argue that it’s time for a new approach for the Palestinians.

The article, titled “A Palestinian Reckoning,” is notable in that 1) it argues for a position short of a Palestinian state, something the Palestinian leadership has never been willing to do, and 2) It holds the Palestinians responsible (at least somewhat) for their plight.

The two argue that the wave of normalization between Israel and Arab states has left the Palestinians marginalized and Israel with little incentive to negotiate.

They say that the Palestinian leadership needs to recalibrate, to focus on what is attainable as statehood is a “distant” dream.

“The Palestinians cannot remain hostage to the absence of a state, living in permanent limbo while awaiting a salvation that is visibly retreating and may never arrive,” they write.

As the creation of a state – “hard sovereignty” – is remote, they suggest a compromise: “Soft sovereignty,” in which Jordan and Egypt would take part.

“Under soft sovereignty, border security arrangements would need to be trilateral in both the West Bank (Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian) and Gaza (Egyptian, Israeli, and Palestinian),” they write.

Operating in an environment where Israel is typically held at fault for Palestinian missteps, Agha and Khalidi surprisingly don’t spare the Palestinian leadership for its “massive” failure of diplomacy.

“It takes exceptional talent to transform an almost complete consensus among Arabs and Muslims on the future of Palestine and Jerusalem into just another matter on a packed Arab agenda,” they write.

“[T]he Palestinians have put themselves in a position in which nothing but agreement to all their terms could be acceptable…,” they note.

“Palestinian leaders promised their people a path to freedom and empowerment. Yet in the last two decades, they developed a culture of dependency rather than resourcefulness, an expectation of external salvation rather than self-reliance,” they say.

“This sapped their will to build and develop their society and stymied their willingness to explore new thinking.”