‘Oslo has failed,’ says leader of new Palestinian party, who argues for accepting Israeli rule

The Reform and Development Party’s Ashraf Jabari advocates accepting Israeli rule because “people want economic stability.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Ashraf Jabari, a prominent Hebron businessman, has launched the Reform and Development party, which advocates a one-state solution that he says will drastically improve Palestinians’ lives, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

“The Oslo Accords have failed,” he said. “Most people realize that the economic situation was much better before the Oslo Accords. Let’s focus now on the economic track. We can deal with the political track later. The people are caught hostage to Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. The situation is very bad, and people want economic stability.”

“[PA President Mahmoud] Abbas recently threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority if Israel annexes the West Bank because that would mean the end of the two-state solution,” Jabari said.

“That’s why we are proposing the one-state solution to Israel. We want an end to violence and bloodshed. We want to end the suffering of our people, which has been going on for the past 70 years,” he said.

This doesn’t mean that Jabari says Palestinians prefer Israeli sovereignty, according to The Jerusalem Post.

“We want to have the same rights of Palestinians living under Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “Of course, it would be better for Israel if it accepted an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. But no Israeli prime minister would dare to accept such a solution. On the other hand, no Palestinian leader can give up Jerusalem or make concessions.”

In his eyes, the best answer is for the Palestinians to concentrate on bettering their lives, and this means living under the sovereignty of the Jewish state. Israel “controls everything” anyway, Jabari said, with nearly all Palestinians already doing business with Israel because they “have no other choice.”

However, having spoken to many people, he says that what most concerns the “silent majority” of Palestinians is a strong economy.

“They want jobs. They want economic stability. Look at the Gaza Strip, where the rate of unemployment has reached 60 percent or 70 percent. We can’t continue living like this,” he said.

The Jabari clan is a power in the Hebron region, but the neophyte politician made it clear that he has no ambition to replace the Palestinian leadership, contrary to accusations of some PA officials.

“We continue to see the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. All we are saying is that the economy is our No 1 priority,” he said.

However, Jabari has spoken out against the PA and the Oslo Accords in the past. In a Knesset caucus in July 2018 entitled “25 years of Oslo, Time for Rethinking,” he said openly that the only ones who want the status quo “are those who profit from the conflict,” and that only if the Palestinians live under Israeli rule would there be real peace.

“Twenty-five years ago, the Palestinians were in a terrific situation. Israelis and Palestinians worked together in Hebron. How many people have been killed since 1993? We haven’t achieved anything,” he said at the caucus meeting.

“There is no solution until we all live under the sovereignty of the State of Israel. We can live together without hatred. We have to stop, enough violence and terror. We have to continue together, shoulder to shoulder, in order to succeed,” he said.

In February, Jabari joined Avi Zimmerman of the city of Ariel to launch an economic initiative under the auspices of the Judea-Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote business partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians. About 100 entrepreneurs met to discuss projects in such diverse fields as energy, the environment, industry, high tech and tourism.

At that time, the Hebron businessman was focused on the bottom line and didn’t seem to see politics as a solution.

As he said, “We need to break the fence between Israelis and Palestinians and to know that there’s no other way but to work together. We can’t keep going like we have over 25 years and waiting for a political settlement. We don’t have time to wait for politicians.”