Can “Proximity Talks” Avert Boycotts of Apartheid Israel?

President Obama threatened that he would take over the Israel-Palestine peace process himself, along with European allies, and recognize a Palestinian state, if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had not begun by September 1. Despite the howls of outrage from the far right Israeli government and its American acolytes, the threat seems to have worked.

The Israelis have dialed back their threats to build frenetically around East Jerusalem, and proximity talks (negotiations about negotiations) are set to begin the coming week. The Arab League on Saturday backed a trial four-month period of indirect negotiations. The Arab League in 2002 offered Israel a comprehensive peace treaty with all Arab states if it would relinquish the territories that Tel Aviv captured and occupied in 1967. Israeli governments have rudely rejected the peace offer ever since. The likelihood that the Likud-led government of Israel will negotiate in good faith with the occupied Palestinians is low, since it and its political allies are land-hungry expansionists who want to annex more and more of their neighbors’ land to Israel.

Gaza’s unemployment rate of 40%, an artifact in large part of the Israeli economic blockade on the territory, provoked May Day demonstrations by thousands of leftists on Saturday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross points out that the Israeli blockade of the 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza has interfered with the importation into Gaza of essential medicines and medical equipment, and restrictions on fuel imports mean that Gazans have electricity only 60% of the time. Lack of electricity has a deadly impact on hospitals and patients. On the Palestinian West Bank, too, Palestinians are suffering under occupation and colonization, with farmers denied access to their olive groves by militant, gun-toting, bearded Jewish-fundamentalist squatters on Palestinian territory.

In international law, blockades of civilian populations are categorized as collective punishment, which is a war crime. It is also grossly illegal for an Occupying military force to import its own citizens into an occupied territory.

Since the cumbersome internationally-backed but relatively fraudulent ‘peace process’ has only resulted in more and more misery for average Palestinians, it seems likely that President Obama’s threatened course of action may be the only realistic path to a two-state solution.

In this transcript, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago recently outlined the emerging consensus view among dispassionate observers of the conflict, which is that the current situation is Apartheid and that the resulting human rights violations are likely to worsen. Here is the video

Apartheid Israel will inevitably face increasing boycotts, just as Apartheid South Africa did. Matthew Taylor sees the recent nearly-successful attempt of the UC Berkeley student assembly to pass a resolution calling for divestment from corporations such as GE and Caterpillar that economically benefit from the Israeli Occupation as a sure harbinger of the future, even though it was narrowly turned back by the student senate. Even members of of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s own family see his policies toward the Palestinians as ruinous for Israel.

10 Responses

  1. Professor, from your mouth to god’s ear. It is time for justice and an end to the cruel Israeli apartheid system.

  2. I’m still unsure what the game plan is here. It is obvious Obama is very good at applying pressure and that he wants to force Netanyahoo into a Kadima coalition. Maybe he is planning on starting proximity talks know Likud will bail and then blame them in an attempt to marginalise them.

  3. Can’t thank you enough for your courage to speak the truth about Israel’s horrific treatment of the palestinians.Big up to Obama for at least trying to stand up to the shameless and sickening “Israel first” lobby.

  4. Israel has built a wall part of the way … around itself. It is only
    logical that they receive help finishing it. A boycott, blockade,
    and international shunning would be the next steps.

    How ironic that so many escaped the ghettos of Europe only to build
    another.

  5. The Israeli evacuation of Gaza could have been a new beginning. Instead it produced missiles fired daily at Sderot and a Hamas coup. Do you really think Israel will now repeat a pull-out from the West Bank and risk Iranian missiles a few miles from Tel Aviv and the airport? Even if a deal could be worked out with a more centrist Israeli govt, can the Palestinians deliver on their end of any grand bargain?

    • You can’t justify an Israeli siege of a civilian population, half of it children, in this way. And the essentialist proposition implicit in your argument, that there is never any possibility of negotiating with Palestinians in good faith because they are genetically feckless, is very poor analysis. The Israelis have never withdrawn from Gaza in a meaningful sense, and preventing people from access to their markets, from having a harbor or airport, is an ongoing act of war which has unremarkably produced wars. When the Israelis sought a truce with Hamas in 2008, the rockets stopped; but the Israelis immediately planned a war on Gaza, with the truce as a useful lull. So who is it that cannot be depended upon to negotiate in good faith?

  6. @JamesSpeaks ref : “Israel has built a wall part of the way… around itself.” (!) profoundly true. I daresay this historical tendency has been and continues to be a dominant feature of most Fundamentalist religious cultures ~ perhaps to the extent that “reactionary persecution” becomes a rationale for their most precious myth: God’s chosen people-?

  7. I find it terrifying that a lobby can be powerful enough to repress and hide the truth and that most politicians will grovel before it, without shame. It’s always been about
    the money – who has it and who doesn’t.

  8. Professor Juan Cole,
    Thank you for speaking the truth yet again and for highlighting the voices of concerned Jews who can no longer stay quiet at the extreme injustice being perpetrated by Israel, the voices that are now coming from the mainstream but the US “mainstream” media does not allow to become mainstream!

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