In response to the reports that the French government is planning to convene a ministerial conference on May 30 to discuss an “initiative” for a “peace conference” on Palestine in the latter half of 2015, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine website spoke with Palestinian writer, Comrade Khaled Barakat.
Comrade Barakat said, “All Palestinian resistance forces stand in opposition to the so-called ‘French initiative for peace’ in its latest and earlier proposed versions. They see it clearly as an attempt to liquidate the Palestinian people’s cause and rights.”
“The French government is, like the United States, a ‘dishonest broker.’ France has a long history of colonialism in the region and an ongoing imperialist agenda, and systematically supports the apartheid settler state of Israel. Such a state can never lead efforts towards meaningful peace,” said Barakat.
“If you read the various versions and planks of this ‘initiative’ reported on since July 2015 and earlier, in any language – French, English, or Arabic – it is clearly a recipe to liquidate Palestinian national rights, and especially Palestinian refugees’ right to return,” said Barakat.
Barakat noted that all reports indicate that the initiative envisions “land swaps,” the accommodation of “Israel’s security needs,” and addressing “the refugee problem” through, at most, a mechanism of financial compensation.
“When the Palestinian people read this initiative, they will simply tear up the paper on which it is printed. We oppose the so-called French initiative not only for its political content, and not only because France is playing a colonialist and reactionary role in the region – but also because of French policies in France. Such policies include attacking the Palestine solidarity movement; criminalizing and prosecuting BDS activists supporting the boycott of Israel; the continued imprisonment of Lebanese Arab communist struggler for Palestine, Comrade Georges Ibrahim Abdallah; and the racist policies of the French state towars African, Arab and other oppressed communities within France. All of these policies and practices discredit the French government and its initiative as any force for justice or peace,” said Barakat.
When asked about the role of the Palestinian Authority and the visit of Mahmoud Abbas to France, Barakat said, “this ‘French initiative’ is also dangerous because it comes at a time when Palestinian capitalists are leading by force. There is a readiness among the so-called ‘Palestinian leadership’ to go along with this trend and sign on to a new Oslo. However, we are not just facing the threat of ‘Oslo 2’, but in fact a worse threat, as this is meant to be a ‘permanent,’ rather than temporary, agreement.”
“The colonial nature of the conference is reflected in the exclusion of Palestinians from the planned meeting to discuss their future. I mean the Palestinian people, and not the Palestinian Authority. It is reminiscent of the partition of Palestine against the will of the Palestinian people, the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement, the Balfour declaration, and other colonial divisions of Palestine, its land and its people,” said Barakat. “The Israeli colonial-settler state is the only beneficiary of such a project in Palestine.”
“This is part of a re-alignment of the region as part of an overall imperialist project,” said Barakat. He also noted the role of reactionary Arab regimes in this plan. “France’s billions of dollars in weapons deals with Saudi Arabia come alongside the involvement of the reactionary Saudi regime in this plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
We asked Barakat how to confront these plans. He responded, “We call on all – the revolutionaries, leftists and popular movements of France; the Palestinian and Arab communities; and international movements for justice – to mobilize on May 30 against the ministerial conference being organized to prepare for the so-called ‘peace conference’ in late 2015, and in defense of the full rights of the Palestinian people to return, to self-determination and to national liberation.”