Israelis Jettison Peace Talks in Favor of Massive Land Theft; Brazil, Argentina Recognize Palestinian State

The victory of the Republican right wing in the November elections for the House of Representatives has allowed the Israeli government to simply refuse to cooperate with a weakened President Barack Obama on a renewed peace process with the Palestinian leadership. The message of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Obama? Translated from the Hebrew, it amounts to “jump in a lake!”

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestine Authority again on Monday broadly hinted that he may declare a Palestinian state unilaterally if the Israelis undermine direct negotiations by refusing to halt their colonization of the West Bank. The Palestine Authority feels as though it is negotiating for what is left of a slurpy with Israelis who have long straws in it and are sucking down the very thing over which they are pretending to negotiate. Abbas thinks that at the end of the talks, if they are conducted in this way, he’ll just be handed an empty paper cup with other people’s spit at the bottom of it.

In Ankara, Turkey, for talks, Abbas said, “We cannot maintain peace negotiations if settlement building is not stopped. We have other options, and we have informed Turkey and the Arab countries that if the talks cannot be restarted, then we will pass on to implementing those options…”

So he said he can’t keep the negotiations going if the Israelis won’t stop colonizing Palestinian land.

Then today the Obama White House announced that it had given up trying to get the Israelis to agree to an extension of the freeze on the initiation of new colonies on the West Bank and around Jerusalem.

Netanyahu, who is essentially a righwing Republican in American terms, took advantage of the victory of the Republicans in the House of Representatives to simply defy Obama. He has refused even to present a proposal for a freeze on further colonization to his cabinet! This notwithstanding an offer by Obama to give Israel advance fighter jets in return. The Guardian revealed that the Obama administration had pressed the Israelis to come up with a map with clearly defined borders of what they claimed as Israeli territory. The US hoped that such a clearly drawn border would discourage further Israeli settlement in what would surely be Palestinian territory. Netanyahu blew Obama off and refused to consider starting with the shape of the borders.

On the other hand, Washington doesn’t want the Palestinians to go it alone in declaring a state. The USG Open Source Center translated this report from Voice of Israel radio:

Israel: US To Fight PA Moves To Circumvent Direct Talks, F-35’s Still on Agenda
Voice of Israel Network B
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 …
Document Type: OSC Translated Text…

The United States has abandoned its efforts to reach an understanding on freezing construction in the territories. It will instead seek other ways to promote the diplomatic process.

Senior US Administration sources said that the United States will hold separate discussions with Israel and the Palestinians. Our political correspondent Shmu’el Tal reports that Yitzhaq Molkho, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s special emissary, will meet with US officials over the coming days.

Israeli sources said that the United States will oppose any Palestinian attempt to circumvent the direct negotiations track with Israel. The sources asserted that Israel’s request for additional F-35 jets from the United States was still on the agenda.

(Description of Source: Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network B in Hebrew — State-funded radio, independent in content)

Likely, bad things will now happen, despite Obama’s perpetual optimism.. If the Likud-led government won’t negotiate into being a two-state solution, granting a Palestinian state in 22% of the League-of-Nations-defined Palestine, then only three possibilities remain.

1. Israeli colonization could proceed apace, reinforcing an Apartheid in which stateless Palestinians without rights precariously eke out a life under foreign military occupation, while being actively stolen from by a horde of Israeli squatters. While such an Apartheid situation is not stable, it could go on for decades before producing a real blow-up.

2. There could be, willy-nilly, a one-state solution. Apartheid could place so many boycotts and so much opprobrium on Israel that ultimately the welfare and livelihoods of ordinary Israelis would be badly affected. They could react by emigrating, or by voting citizenship for the Palestinians as a means of ending a growing international boycott (something that may only develop gradually over the next two decades).

3. The Palestinians could unilaterally declare a state. This step is being toyed with by Mahmoud Abbas. The plan was probably helped by the declarations during the past week on the part of Brazil and Argentina that they recognized the Palestinian state.

AP reports: “Argentina announced Monday that it recognizes the Palestinian territories as a free and independent state within their 1967 borders, a step it said reflects frustration at the slow progress of peace talks with Israel.” Brazil took the same step only a few days before, and much of the rest of South America is expected to follow suit. These recognitions are not earth-shattering, since dozens of countries had already done the same thing, with no discernible effect. They did anger the Israelis, who see the few remnants of the legitimacy of their policies in the international community slipping away.

One problem with a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state is that Israel and the United States reject any such move, and it is hard to see how such a state can come into existence if the Israelis don’t want it to. The second problem is that the final collapse of the peace process could provoke another round of Palestinian uprisings. Stay tuned.

31 Responses

  1. .
    Maybe we should go ahead with the gift of the most advanced military aircraft in the world. Just encourage the secular state of Israel to expand their abuse of their own citizens, and encourage them to attack Iran. But stay out of it directly ourselves.

    Within 2 years of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, this whole mess will sort itself out. And when it does, it will stop that huge drain on the US Treasury.

  2. How long is the world going to remain ignorant and thus silent on what Israel is doing to Arabs? If it was reversed, it would be front page news all over the globe.

    • Should have been, There was no peace process. Same game israel doesn’t care and doesn’t have to, how sad.

  3. I like the unofficial but very apt Israeli “11th Commandment,” or by some tellings the First: “Thou shalt not be a freier.” Here’s a brief article that gives a nice flavor to that word, and illustrates how it fits into the Israeli psyche and colors the external and internal behaviors of that collection of peoples. link to

    “Freier” is an unofficial Hebrew/Yiddish term meaning, very loosely and without all the cultural seasonings, “sucker, sap, dupe, dunce, patsy, dope, idiot, schlemiel (link to, pick your favorite doofus synonym. It is, from folks I have heard, used to describe Uncle Sam. That’s U.S. Uncle Sam, also known as Uncle Sucker.

    Give the Israeli war leaders those F-35s “in exchange for” what, again? What is with OUR war leaders, that they seem not to have the slightest inkling of how things work in the ancient art of politics and statecraft in the Mideast, and not the faintest clue of how one behaves in the bazaar, or the necessary awareness of real self-interest that would give them half a prayer of standing up and haggling, rather than bending over and doing the other thing?

    Of course, maybe this is just part of the working out of what “Christians” say is written in the Bible, God’s immutable word, in the purely fortuitously included Book of Revelation?

    Nothing is ever what it seems, but it does seem that our species’ ability to process complexity and think collectively about its survival is far outstripped by our ability to stepwise approach annihilation, piecemeal or wholesale. After all, we don’t want to be “Freiers,” now do we?

  4. I disagree with you a lot but would really miss your comments re. Pakistan and Afghanistan so please keep them up even if those subjects depresses your blog hit count. I’d like to have a better understanding of Israelis and Palestinians motivations for continuing their conflict, so please continue to write about that too.

  5. Netanyahu didn’t have to freeze settlements to obtain what Obama was offering. Despite his slap in the face, the US will continue to veto any UN Security Council resolutions that Israel doesn’t like, in particular the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. This is what Israelis call a “freier,” a sucker – if a guy is going to give away something for free, you take it.

    For a person who claims to support the founding of a Palestinian state, Obama is certainly doing everything he can to prevent it. By clinging to the rotting corpse of “negotiations” as settlement building accelerates, he is less a referee than the guy pinning Palestine’s arms behind his back while Israel beats him up.

  6. Juan, can you put something out which would describe the likely process that Palestine could pursue at the United Nations towards statehood?

  7. Another option is George Bush started the destruction of the American Imperium. We are heading to the collapse of the dollar and oil purchased with a basket of currencies including the Yuan, Euro, and Yen. With a Soviet style collapse, Israel loses it’s protector and without the economic and military support it receives its position become increasingly untenable. If Iran had the bomb many Israelis say they would decamp to their native countries. Russia has a better economy now and if the Israeli economy goes down with the US then it looks like a better option. Israel would probably do something militarily stupid that would turn it into a pariah state without US cover which would make thing far worse.

    Their only long term hope is to make an honorable peace with their neighbors and the Palestinians. But they keep thinking the US is going to always be there as the dumb giant muscle behind the bully. It probably won’t end nicely for the Zionist at that point but then again Castro is still there without the Soviet Empire. North Korea may be in the same boat once the Chinese tell the Generals it’s time to shoot the Kim family and unify Korea once they have forced the US out of the Chinese regional sphere of influence.

    • The dollar is not about to collapse and having it weakened is good as it makes American products less expensive to purchase offshore. We are not a federation held together at gun point like the old USSR. Get serious about a Soviet style collapse.

      Israel has more companies on the Nasdaq then all of Europe combined. It is not about to collapse and can survive economically at this point without American aid, which I think should be dropped.

      Israel has always been under threat of annihilation so a nuclear armed Iran will not alter anything in terms of population.

      Russia is a decaying country and Jews are treated for the most part better throughout the world so they are not heading back there.

      Most of your post seem like talking points from a Berekley campus lecture but I do agree that peace with the Palestinians is the way to go.

  8. Talk about an intractable situation. The far right is ruining the USA and Israel with their morally bankrupt ideologies. And the far left or whatever Hamas is politically, will be more then happy to step in and lob a few bombs to complicate matters as their charter is the destruction of Israel. The PLA is totally corrupt and not capable of ruling with its current leadership.

    I am sick of hearing about this conflict of which each side has equal blame and international community as at fault as well for its meddling, be it the Brits, USA, Russians, Iranians, etc, etc…..

    How can anyone take sides on this mess?

    • One side is occupying the other militarily and tormenting them economically, militarily and socially; and has been doing so for decades.

      It’s easy to take sides when you’re aware that Israel invaded the Palestinian territories and is encouraging it’s own citizens, as well as foreigners with what they consider to be a desirable ethno-religious background, to illegally take possession of land that belongs to the Palestinian peoples.

      Israel is in a position to end the occupation, they are after all the people conducting it. Nothing the Palestinians can do will end the occupation unless the Israelis decide to end it. In such a situation where one party in a relationship (especially one so mutually detrimental as the Israeli/Palestinian one) has complete power over the other, the responsibilities are different and claiming to hold them to the same standards has no practical effect beyond taking pressure off of the dominant faction.

      I can absolutely understand being sick of hearing about a conflict which has been dragging on for so long, but for my part I find it more tiring knowing that my country has an official policy of protecting criminal behaviour rather than taking a politically difficult stand.

    • This is idea of ‘equal blame’ is absurd on your part.

      The Palestinian Arabs were living their lives in their native land, when suddenly an influx of mainly European Jews showed up with guns and told the Arabs to leave their ancestral homes, because God promised Jews this land.

      I’d say the blame is pretty clear. If I break into your house, that makes me a burglar. If I break into your house, along with my whole family, does that make me less of a burglar? Does that make you and myself equally blameworthy?

      • I think these sorts of analogies go far to put things in practical terms. So, taking it a step further:

        For practical purposes, how secure will one party ever feel, having reached a formal accommodation with another to return PART of the land they took? Taking it a step further, how secure could they feel if they went so far as to return all the land? And it isn’t as though Israel had any inalienable right to land of the 48 mandate.

        In either case, their underlying insecurity would remain. So having committed themselves to this course of action, they understandably feel they have no choice but to stick with it to the bitter end. Having convinced themselves that they have waited 2500 years to reclaim their Kingdom, their inclination is to just keep their swords sharp and angle to wait out the Pals resistance another 2500. Just a thought.

  9. I do not understand the fuss. Unfortunately, this spectacle is not new, and it will be covered up and forgotten in a couple of weeks. For decades, the USG has been the true enabler (financially, diplomatically, and militarily) behind the Israeli colonial project, and sadly this makes all of us indirectly complicit in continuing such crimes.

    Israel: We’re confiscating yet more Palestinian land to build Jews-only settlements. (Jim Crow wasn’t really that bad. Apartheid is fine.)

    Obama: That isn’t helpful. (We are seen as your enabler; please keep it down and don’t embarrass us.)

    Gen. David Petraeus and VP Biden: Israeli actions are endangering our troops.

    Israel: So? What you gonna do about it… ?

    Obama: I’ll …um.. beg you to stop. You are the boss. I’ll even through in boat loads of money and weapons, and commit to shield your crimes from international censure.

    Israel/AIPAC: How dare you even mention it, you anti-Semite! You do not want to declare your loyalty to the colonial enterprise, subordinate US interests to settler thievery and greed, and lick our boots, that’s fine. Our Israel-firsters and bought-and-paid-for Congress always come through; they will keep the money and political support flowing.

  10. When consistently disrespected by Israel over the course of decades, more or less directly (depending on what they could get away with at the moment), the US needs to look coldly at what is in its own best interests. Concept seems simple enough.

    What this means is seeing who we really can do business with. Israel has never really worked with us: what they have done is WORK us, meaning to skin and fleece us for all we’re worth, in terms of money (directly and indirectly, the amounts of which are mind-boggling), and unquestioning diplomatic cover for actions no other country could think of getting away with. In return for which we have gotten less than nothing. The same thing happens between individuals all the time; Its sick, and pathetic.

    On the other hand, if Iran CAN be worked with, however difficult it may be, that would be where US interests really lie.

    People will either work with you (in genuine good faith) or they won’t. Antagonistic styles or negotiating difficulties are beside the point: if at the end of the day you might cut a deal that would leave you in better shape by working with a given party, you do so. If another party does nothing but screw you around, and shows itself to be acting, consistently, in bad faith, you drop them.

    A well-cut deal with Iran would go a long, long ways toward stabilizing the ME, and in a way that could be very much in the best interests of the US. Directly in terms of energy and the Iran/Afpak conflicts, but also in terms of modulating the pressure on Israel (the pressure from Hezbollah might actually be abated) to deal with the Palestinian issue in a civilized manner.

  11. The problem with unilaterally declaring the Palestinian state should be made Israel’s problem the same way the blockade of Gaza should be made Israel’s problem with the relief flotillas. Once declared, the political process to obtain UN recognistion becomes the issue of choice for Palestine, rather than letting the so-called Palestinian terrorism, which is Israel’s issue of choice, dominate the discussion. Hopefully, Israel could then earn sanctions to be imposed against itself, which are of course non-starters until the day the US’s creditors seek a politcal means to embarass us, at which time the whole dynamic changes, and rather suddenly I would guess.

  12. I am actually glad that the peace talks have broken down. As painful as an apartheid situation is, there is still more hope in the eventual outcome, even if it is in 20 years as you, Dr. Cole estimate. This current process of land usurpation will continue for much longer than that under the guise of peace negotiations. In the end, the Palestinians will have nothing so lets just fast forward this farce negotiation process to the point of no return. Thank you Bibi for enabling that…

    I don’t like Mahmood Abbas but I for once have a little respect for him for showing the courage to dig in his heels (a bit…). I think the first thing on Palestinian agenda should be reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas factions.

  13. “the US needs to look coldly at what is in its own best interests. ” A little example of one fundamental problem with “analysis” and efforts to “control” the world in the Great Game of RISK!(tm).

    However convenient and simple it makes things, statements that “the US” or “Israel” or “Iraq” or “Timbuktoo” ought to do or not do this, that or the other, are simply an obscuring fallacy that kills any chance of effective parsing of interests and motivations. It’s called hypostatisation or reification or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. link to “We” are in “Notagainistan” to Prosecute The War on Terrorists, Save The Women and Children, Stabilize Pakistan, Prove The Validity of Career-Important Concepts and Tactics of Counterinsurgency Even If Ther is No Central Government To Be “Insurgent” Against, Kill Wogs Who Dare To Oppose US, or a whole host you-pick-from-the-Chinese-menu reasons. Like making our warlords and MIC guys and “investors” rich, and giving our neolibericons a playground for their Chicken Hawkery and War Wimpery games. All that stuff happens because a relative few of “us” or “them” have sucked the rest of us into thinking in terms of, and believing in, the shadows and frauds they project on the walls of our caves. Because those patterns are so nicely consistent with the processing pathways our brains come encumbered with.

    For a relatively few USers, what’s happening in Notagainistan and Iraq and Costa Rica and Ethiopia and all those other places where “we” are engaged in Imperial activity, is just thre greatest thing since sliced bread, which in their case is buttered heavily with the pork lard of career advancement and revolving-door MIC jobs and “capitalist” access to the world’s declining natural and human resources. “War” is a reified obscurant shorthand for the whole complex of profit and rape and murder and all that tribal stuff that happens at the Band of Brothers level while the Generals maintain a muythology of “success” and “victory” if only the right weapons and tactics and quantum of Will are provided to them.

    “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.” Mark Twain
    ” Patriotism is the last (or maybe first) refuge of the scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson
    “War is a racket.” Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler

  14. It is my understanding that immigration to Israel has dropped dramatically in recent years. If this course continues, coupled with the relatively low Israeli birth rate, at what point will the Israeli’s run out of (acceptable non-Arab) warm bodies to fill the new settlements?

  15. […] Juan Cole writes, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestine Authority again on Monday broadly hinted that he may declare a Palestinian state unilaterally if the Israelis undermine direct negotiations by refusing to halt their colonization of the West Bank. The Palestine Authority feels as though it is negotiating for what is left of a slurpy with Israelis who have long straws in it and are sucking down the very thing over which they are pretending to negotiate. Abbas thinks that at the end of the talks, if they are conducted in this way, he’ll just be handed an empty paper cup with other people’s spit at the bottom of it. […]

  16. Louie, Hamas is difficult to define on our traditional left-right spectrum. They are socially very conservative. I have no idea what their economic policies are like. In terms of foreign relations, they could be defined as liberal, but I really don’t know. But they have a lot of butt-wiping to do before they can be truly Islamic and stand before God with a clean slate. Their treatment og Gilad Shalit is one case in which they could reallllly improve their behaviour; and so is their treatment of perceived “traitors.”

  17. I think it would be a mistake to jump ahead with a UN vote on membership for Palestine. The next move is for more countries to follow in the footsteps of Argentina and Brazil. It is crucial that the EU recognize Palestine as a state before forcing the US veto in the UN. Surprisingly, both France and Spain are lobbying for EU recognition. Another advocate is Javier Solana, so this is not a far fetched strategy at all. I made some other comments on this the other night on Press TV:

    link to

  18. While some Israeli behavior is repulsive, I find it hard to blame Israel for this one. If the Palestinians are the ones who won’t sit down at the negotiating table with the other side, they’re the side at fault. Even if they are afraid of getting the paper cup if they negotiate, can they really think that there chances are better by continuing the status quo?

    • The assumption you’re making is that the Israelis were actually “showing up” at the negotiating table. They were not. They were perhaps, in the generally sense, talking, but merely to keep people’s eyes off their continuing expansion of irretrievable facts on the ground. “Yeah, let’s talk”, is not the same thing as being engaged in a good faith effort to reconcile differences.

  19. David, are you serious? The Palestinian representatives have bent over backwards time and time again selling out their own people, conceding land and rights, bowing to illegitimate Israeli demands. I’m happy to see Abbass show a spine, but realistically, he may as well go back further in history to define the borders.
    The Israeli’s will give nothing and expect everything as long as they have the US backing them. Without backing they would, to a man run for home

  20. Exactly how long is a reasonable amount of time for negotiations???
    I think its absurd how the negotiations clock gets reset every time a new US or Israeli leader steps in – The ‘Middle East Peace Process’ has been going on longer than I can remember – since 1948 in one form or another and with various levels of seriousness and fluctuating levels of background/outright violence.
    Time to step back and butt right out – they will find a peace one way or another- & Israel can finally settle in as a Middle Eastern country [which it is] and not a Western [US] satellite.
    And we could all get on to marveling about how wonderful peace is ????

Comments are closed.