Attorney Sharhabeel Al-Zaeem to RN: We should not lose hope and will continue our faith in peace.

28/01/2012

We are losing all other alternatives as a result of the measures being taken unilaterally by Israel……many Palestinian leaders are realizing this and seeing the one-state solution as the only future option.

RN Interview with Board Member Sharhabeel Al-Zaeem, January 2012

How do you see the situation in Gaza in the light of the Arab Spring?

I believe that the Arab Spring had a very positive effect on Gaza. The situation has changed a lot since the beginning of 2011. We have seen more regular crossings in Rafah, which means that Egyptian policy changed. Moreover, internally the leadership of Hamas became more reasonable, leading to the reconciliation signed into an agreement in November 2011.

You have articulated a human rights argument for a ‘federal Israel-Palestine’ notably as co-author in 2011 of a detailed response to Netanyahu’s ‘foundations for lasting peace’ speech.[[1. Chibli Mallat, Muhammad Aburdaini, and Sharhabeel Al Zaeem “Netanyahu’s proposal for ‘lasting peace’ – and a human rights response.” The Daily Star, 20 August 2009. Available at « Link » accessed 26 January 2012.]]

Is this a serious discussion within the Palestinian leadership or an intellectual exercise?

I believe that this is a serious discussion since we are losing all other alternatives as a result of the measures being taken unilaterally by Israel; therefore I do not think that a viable Palestinian independent state is a future choice anymore. I think that many Palestinian leaders are realizing this and seeing the one-state solution as the only future option.

What should be the priorities for RN on the Israel-Palestine front?

I think that the RN priorities should be focused on keeping the parties negotiating and engaging in a serious dialogue rather than leaning towards unilateral steps accompanied by violent action from both sides.

 “Only free men and women negotiate…..the Palestinian leadership is still at the end of the day occupied by Israel and its caprices.”[[2. Linah Alsaafin, “Palestinians for Dignity: Saeb Erekat, Go Home | The Electronic Intifada.” « Link » 14 January 2012, accessed 26 January 2012.]] This was written by a young blogger in Gaza. What would you say to the increasingly vocal and overwhelmingly youthful impatience with the Palestinian leadership?

We fully understand the suffering of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people. Young women and men eager to live a normal life vent their frustrations daily into such powerful statements, but we should not lose hope and will continue our faith in peace until such caprices are a thing of the past. There are several ways and means to pursue this option.

The first Palestinian intifada is credited with inspiring current uprisings and in particular the use of predominantly nonviolent acts of civil disobedience and resistance yet the perception of the demonstrations were defined for many by the stone throwing of youth. Is the strategic logic of nonviolence altered by the perception of violence?

 I do not think that the perception of nonviolence as ineffective has prevailed. We continue to see daily demonstrations against the wall in West Bank, all in nonviolent ways despite the violent Israeli responses.

You have stood up for human rights through your career as a lawyer: can you give us a sense of achievements and failures in the dire Gazan situation?

There are few achievements and many failures in the Gazan situation; for instance, I can mention success in quite a few individual cases in which we were able to end measures that contradict the law and violate the constitutional rights of the people. On the other hand, there is no more obvious failure than the civil war that took place in Gaza. Some people call it a coup d’état, others call it ‘a clean-up operation’, even  ‘liberation’, but in all cases, the brutal fact is that there was lots of blood shed in the streets. This will always be an ugly failure for defenders of nonviolence.

Are there specific Palestinian writers, artists, or activists who formed your worldview? We also know you are poet. Can you share some of your poetry with our readers?

Yes, I can say that the late famous Professor Edward Said, the eternal Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish, and the nonviolence pioneer Mubarak Awad were the most well-known activists by whom I have been inspired. It is true that I have written, on very special occasions, a few poems but I have never published them; I promise RN that the network they have built will be the first to read anything that I publish.

 

 Interview prepared and conducted by RN Director Trudi Hodges


Previous post:

Next post: