Renewed Conflict Looms as Israel-Palestine Talks still in Limbo

The Palestinian-Israeli peace talks are still in limbo, as the Israelis refuse to renew a freeze on new theft of and building on Palestinian land, while the Palestinians sensibly continue to refuse direct talks as long as the Israelis will not renew their settlement freeze. (What is the point of negotiating over territory if large swathes of it are being taken off the table by the other side even while you are talking to them?)

It may be the fault of America’s silly-season election circus to some extent. Many Palestinian officials are convinced that President Obama is waiting until after the US midterm elections to make any further commitment to the peace process.

Whereas in other kinds of news, a lack of progress in peace talks might not be big news, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is sort of like the Titanic heading for the iceberg, and lack of progress in setting the course straight spells looming catastrophe, not mere idling. It is unclear that the long-suffering Palestinians, many of them expelled from their homes in 1948 and left penniless, stateless refugees, are going forever to meekly put up with further land grabs, harassment and displacement as militant Zionist squatters flood illegally into the last bits of the territory assigned Palestinians by the United Nations in 1947. While most Palestinians have been remarkably forebearing about being the worst-treated nation in the world, that another round of violence could ensue upon the hopelessness signalled by a collapse of the Obama peace effort cannot be ruled out.

The impasse has impelled Palestinians to begin thinking about abrogating the Oslo Accords, in which Palestinians recognized Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, which never took place. In fact, since Israel signed the Oslo accords, it has flooded hundreds of thousands of Israeli illegal aliens into the territory it pledged to the Palestine Authority. From the Palestinian point of view, they were snookered. They got bupkes (indeed had much of their territory substracted from them, and Israel got recognition.

The Palestinian leadership is also toying with a unilateral declaration of independence.

Israel’s hard liners are losing ever more international standing. Catholic bishops from the Middle East have just called for an Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories.

Meanwhile, the Israelis continue to strangle Gaza with an inhumane and illegal blockade. The United Nations has just revealed that Israel has actively disrupted projects of school building in the Palestinian camps and slums.

Recently declassified documents demonstrate that the siege of Gaza is for political, not military purposes. It is illegal in international law to punish collectively an entire occupied population.

6 Responses

  1. I find it “interesting” that Richard Falk’s comments to the UN General Assembly annual review of human rights situations around the world that “Israel’s policies imposed in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have transformed its occupation into de facto annexation of the territories,” were completely ignored by the US and EU press.

    In other words, without the forced removal of over 500,000 Israelis land squatters, it is completely impossible for there to be a nation called Palestine. Going to the UN to force a definitive boundary between Israel and Palestine may be the last option left. Once a definitive boundary is drawn by the UN, then Israel will have the choice of defying the world or complying (and having a civil war). Why the Israelis thought they could get away with the land grab is beyond me.

    The big question will be once the resolution is before the UNSC, what will the US do? The US will have no good options because it is likely that a majority of the UNSC would vote for the resolution leaving the US the hard choices of:

    – abstain, meaning the resolution passes and the UN will start to sanction Israel.

    – veto leading to massive security and economic problems for the US. At that point it will be the US and Israel against the world. Not a very good position for a country that is just barely surviving economically. Saudi Arabia might even be forced to use its oil card and embargo oil to the US (China would love that).

    More and more Israel is becoming a terrible tar baby for the US and the people of the US will be facing some hard choices fairly soon. Given that Israel has wide but very shallow support in the US, there is the very real possibility that Americans will quickly throw Israel under the bus and drive the bus over it repeatedly when Americans have to choose between their own lives and Israelis.

    Israelis seem to be betting that Americans are not as selfish as they really are. Israelis do not seem to understand that Americans are nice only as long as it benefits them and as soon as the benefits go away, they will turn on a so-called friend in a heart beat. A casual review of America’s 200+ year history will show that it has screwed EVERY friend it has had, in some cases multiple times, when it benefited Americans. Israelis could very well be next on the list.

  2. You just don’t get it. Palestinians have been squatting for a thousand years on land that God says belongs to right wing Russian Jewish immigrants.

  3. The usual outrage and exasperation is hard to get away from, but hardly productive in itself. The more difficult thing is to consider what scenario, would lead to a plausible future leaving the region in a reasonable peace, aside from die-hard extremists on both sides. That’s where things get difficult, and a better place to exercise our energy than collective indignation.

    In that spirit, the only meaningful accomodation made by Israel with the Arabs that occurs to me was the Egypt/Israel peace of CD I. What began that process was a serious Egyption threat that forced Israel to deal in good faith. (Not a White House dinner party; I’d bet Dennis Ross thought that one up.) Putting aside what a sweet deal Egypt and Israel got in terms of money for CD I, where they shook down the US for tens of billions over the years, consider also the freedom of action Israel gained for its various exercises in the years immediately following: OSIRAK and the Invasion of Lebanon come immediately to mind.

    The underlying lesson to draw is that this is hard core real-politik. Israel is not going to give back an inch of the WB unless forced to, with a bayonet. CD I also provided the bankroll for (I believe) what was the single biggest 10-yr arms buildup of Israel in its history. So, on top of everything else, when lemons were forced on them, Israel made lemonade. Not that anyone can blame them for making the most of their circumstances: Its what everybody ultimately does.

    The least we should do is support Abbas in writing off the totally abused Israeli “commitments” at Oslo, knowing how Israel will then point and say, “look, we told you so, they never meant what they said about recognition.” At most, and realistically, the US should support whatever actions put REAL existential military and economic pressure on Israel, either through a wholesale denial of aid to them or support of Hamas, and wherever those actions may lead. Once there is a degree of true parity we will discover some good faith on Israels part. And though they may again drive a great deal, so be it; it’ll be in their own best interests as an (ongoing) nation.

  4. America will never force Israel to withdraw or give back the West Bank. After 50 years, what has changed? only the continued settlement of the West Bank by the Israelis and the prison like nature of Gaza.

    No way on this Earth would America force Israel to give an inch of the “Promised Land.’
    the Christian Right wing needs the settlements to certify the approaching “End Times.”

    I will make anyone a bet on this outcome, this is one of life’s “sure” things.

  5. According to Wikipedia the popuslation of Israel estimated in May 2010 to be 7,602,400 people,[9] of whom 6,051,000 are Jews.[9][10][11] Arab citizens of Israel form the country’s second-largest ethnic group, which includes Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans. According to the May 2010 population estimate, including 300,000 non-citizen Arabs living in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, this minority numbers 1,551,400.[9]

    If a minority of Palestinians can live in Israel, why should not a minority of Jews be part of a new Palestinian state? If the settlers faced a Palestinian government — democratically elected by persons of all faiths –either they would find ways to live with each other or the problem would solve itself as the settlers decided in the face of ‘ethnic cleansing’ pressures to leave.

    Further one could argue that deserting the bargaining table because your opposite is busy constructing ‘facts on the ground’ is simply a strategic mistake — it simply gives them more times to do so.

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