‘Our situation worsens every day’

Palestinians in the West Bank’s Dheisheh refugee camp explain why they have little faith in the talks.

Palestinians say they have little faith in the negotiations when the balance of power is so uneven [AFP]

A second round of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are taking place under the auspices of Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Washington says it hopes the talks will lead to an agreement within a year.

Al Jazeera asked Palestinians living in the West Bank’s Dheisheh refugee camp how they think the negotiations will impact them.

Tamer, 20, student at Bethlehem University

“Most of the people here think that these meetings are the same as the ones before – the meetings happen, and nothing changes. The leaders want to show people that they’re making these meetings, but Israel has permission to do what it wants.

After the peace talks, the leaders will come back and they will sleep in their beds, they will wake up and nothing new will happen. They’ve had so many meetings before. In the camp, nothing’s improving. We don’t have water here. We don’t have freedom. We have more problems each day.”

Diaa, 18, musician

“We know the history of the negotiations. As Palestinians, we’ve learned a lot of lessons. We’ve already been in the negotiations for such a long time, and nothing has changed for us. There are no opportunities to achieve a real peace with Israel.”

Marwan, 50, retail worker
Palestinians say they have little hope for the future [EPA]

“We’ve tried these negotiations for many years, and I don’t think that these talks will bring anything new to our situation. People in the refugee camps understand the politics well. But their situation continues the same. We cannot see hope in the near future. I believe that somehow people give up on politics – they concentrate on how they can make a living.

This situation is getting worse. Every day is worse than the day before. This is what we see. Israel knows that it’s the stronger side, so who can force them to give us anything? Because they have the whole cake, why should they give us a piece of it? Even the Americans can’t force them to give us concessions.

These negotiations may delay a new war, but in the end, conflict and violence will rule. During the talks, they continue to build the settlements. They continue to take our land. They make us live in a big prison with the wall. So it’s the same. Nothing will change.

We want peace. We want to live without fear of getting arrested or killed. For everyone in the camp, in the West Bank, and in the region, we are peaceful people. But when someone comes and occupies you, you have to resist.”

Aisha, 40, mother

“Since a long time, we’ve hoped for change. But every time we go back to the negotiations, we get nothing in return.

This affects our whole lives. The problems with our children, our families, and domestic issues – it’s all connected to the settlement issues, to the prison issues, to the economic issues.

Of course, the occupation affects children a lot. The situation here makes our children anxious and frightened. The negotiations won’t change this. I don’t think that our situation will improve after these negotiations.”

Saeed Abu Mohammed, 56, father of a political prisoner

“Since Oslo and Camp David … things have gotten worse. Today, the settlements and the checkpoints have increased. Before previous peace agreements, there were no settlements like there are now. The water and electricity problems have worsened since those negotiations. From the beginning, the Israelis have gained everything, and Palestinians have gained nothing.

The real peace would mean giving Palestinians control over their infrastructure and taking all the settlements out of the West Bank. This is the real peace. Anything else will never work.”

Source : Al Jazeera


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