What should we be telling Rice?

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is once again visiting the Middle East, this time with the hope of enlisting support for President Bush’s “new strategy” in Iraq and also in order to expedite the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, given America’s notorious inability and/or unwillingness to pressure Israel to give up our stolen land, it would be difficult to give Rice the benefit of the doubt.

On the contrary, it is most likely that Rice will just ruminate the same cud about President Bush’s vision of a viable Palestinian state living in peace side by side with Israel.

And as in the past, Rice will ignore the fact that Israel has been consistently undermining this vision of viable Palestinian statehood by stealing more Palestinian land and building more Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, which makes the implementation of the two-state solution utterly unrealistic if not outright impossible.

As Palestinians, we should be thoroughly disillusioned with Rice’s excessive talk about a peace process that only has the smell of prevarication, deception and ill-will, a process with a form but without a substance.

We know too well that the lot of our people is exacerbating like never before, thanks mainly to America’s conspiratorial designs against our people and our cause.

The draconian blockade imposed on our people because of our democratic choice is still in intact; Israel is still, for the second consecutive year, barring the bulk of our people from accessing food and work; and 11,000 Palestinian political and resistance activists are languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps, many without charge or trial.

And, at the top of this, the Israeli occupation army continues to narrow our horizons by erecting in the midst of our population centers hundreds of evil roadblocks and checkpoints, manned by trigger-happy soldiers who draw wide satisfaction from beating, tormenting and humiliating Palestinian civilians.

And now this woman will have the audacity to tell us that Israel is not our real enemy and that the real problem is not between us and the occupiers of our land and oppressors of our people, but rather between Fatah and Hamas and between the coalition of moderates and the axis of evil!!

Having utterly failed to get successive Israeli governments to stop the tremendous theft of our land, under the false pretext of building the Separation Wall, and having been unable to get Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz to remove even a single roadblock from the West Bank, Rice will want to be remembered as the one who triggered the flames of civil war in Palestine.

She wants to give us money and weapons, not in order to get closer to realizing our goals of freedom and delivery from the claws of the sinister Israeli occupation, but rather to kill each other so that Israel would be able to liquidate our cause.

In short, Rice would like to turn the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into another Iraq, another Somalia and another Afghanistan a la her nefarious doctrine of “creative anarchy.”

We must never allow her to achieve these manifestly criminal goals.

Yes, we realize the US is the only superpower in this world. But this should never ever make us lose our free will and become willing slaves to America’s evangelical imperialism.

More to the point, it is likely that Rice will try to cajole President Abbas to accept a temporary state with temporary borders. We must say a clarion “NO” to this ploy as President Abbas himself said in his speech in Ramallah on Thursday.

Furthermore, Rice might seek to blackmail the Palestinian leadership by conditioning American financial and other assistance to the PA on effecting a bloody confrontation with Hamas. Here, too, we must tell Rice that Palestinian civil war is a red line and that the Americans could take their money and shove it if the expected price is more Palestinian blood, shed by Palestinian hands.

Certainly, nobody is suggesting that we declare war on America. However, it is paramount that we forcefully reassert our national constants in the face of this uncharitable lady lest she gets the impression that we would be willing to compromise our inalienable rights.

We must tell her that the Palestinian people and their leadership will not accept anything less than total Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, including first and foremost East Jerusalem.

And we must also stress to her the inviolability of the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees who were uprooted from their homes and villages when Israel was created in 1948. These enduring victims of ethnic cleansing must be granted the right to repatriation and indemnification pursuant to UN resolution 194.

Finally, we must remind the former Kremlinologist, whose knowledge of the vicissitudes of the Palestinian plight is superficial at best, that true and durable peace must be based on international law and human rights, not on military hegemony and coercion.

Needless to say, this means that Rice ought to be told in unmistakable and straightforward language that the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are “occupied” not “disputed territories” and that Israel will have to remove 100% of its hateful colonies from our homeland. Otherwise, there would be no peace, not after another hundred years.