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‘Palestinians won’t talk peace until Israeli occupation ends’

Palestinians are ‘fed up’ with peace talks and demand action, which the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is unlikely to provide on his Israeli visit, argued Palestinian activist Sam Bahour, in his interview with RT.

Kerry arrived in Israel on Monday, in a direct move to end the four-year stalemate between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

But activist, Sam Bahour, believes the US official's attempts are likely to fail as the Palestinians are firm about not starting any peace talks while they remain under Israeli occupation.   

RT: President Barack Obama was in Israel just last month and barely even mentioned the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. Is John Kerry doing all the dirty work?

Sam Bahour: It’s not clear yet. It seems as if John Kerry’s mission is a continuation of the last 45 years of US policy, which is trying to force the people under occupation, the Palestinians, to come to the table and negotiate their freedom with their occupier. It’s a model that failed for 20 years now during the peace process. And to be honest with you, the Palestinians are fed up with trying to be forced to have to negotiate bilaterally with those who are occupying them. The only thing we should really negotiate now is how the settlements will be dismantled and when the last Israeli soldier is going to leave Palestine.   

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks to US Foreign Service workers during a "meet & greet" at the US Counsulate General on April 8, 2013, in Jerusalem, Israel (AFP Photo / Pool Paul J. Richards)

RT:Many people in the Middle East put all hope in the Obama administration's ability to breathe new life into peace negotiations, yet they are still in collapse. Is the American administration running out of solutions?

SB: Yes, as long as the American administration – whether it’s Obama’s or previous administrations – refuse to apply international law to this conflict, they can pull solutions out of the hat until they're blue in the face - nothing will be successful. At the end of the day, this is a military occupation. Even the US recognizes it as a military occupation. That means the Fourth Geneva Convention applies. What needs to happen is for this occupation to end. Once it ends, the Palestinians – in good faith – could start negotiations with Israel to be able to find a final status solution. But to ask the Palestinians to negotiate while they’re under the boot of occupation is no longer acceptable and it’s rather disingenuous.   

RT:  Reports on Sunday say that Hamas arrested Westerners it claims were spying inside the Gaza strip. Was this a deliberate signal to the US and why was it sent?

SB: I haven’t received enough information to know, but I can tell you for a fact that on the ground things are very messy right now. Not only is there a forced separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but also Israel has forced separation between the west bank and Jerusalem. This continued fragmentation of our land and separation of the Palestinian people is causing our own society’s fabric to come apart. And this latest episode is one of those sad links in a long chain that has been created by the pressures of this occupation over 45 years.

And that’s one of the reasons the Palestinian community is no longer willing to accept the ‘talk of peace’. We’re now willing to see, who’s willing to walk the ‘walk of peace’. And that means to start ending this occupation tomorrow morning instead of continuing to talk about it, while the Palestinians are under that boot of occupation.