If there is a God, he surely has a sense of humor. The career of Shimon Peres, who is about to finish his term as president of Israel, is clear evidence. Here is a life-long politician, who has never won an election. Here is the world-renowned Man of Peace, who has started several wars and never done anything for peace. Here is the most popular political figure in Israel who for most of his life was hated and despised.
Tag Archives | Oslo Accords
As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the Obama administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will.
Chances are the Americans knew well that peace under the current circumstances is simply not attainable. The Israeli government’s coalition is so adamantly anti-Arab, anti-peace and anti any kind of agreement that would fall short from endorsing the Israeli apartheid-like occupation, predicated on colonial expansion, annexations of borders, land confiscation, control of holy places and much more. Ideally for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the right, far-right and ultranationalists, Palestinians would need to be crammed in disjointed communities, separated from each other by walls, Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, checkpoints, security fences, and a large concentration of Israeli military presence including permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. In fact, while politicians tirelessly speak of peace, the above is the exact ‘vision’ that the Israelis had in mind almost immediately following the 1967 war - the final conquest of all of historic Palestine and occupation of Arab lands.
Palestinians are currently paying the price of earlier Israeli visions, where Vladimir Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ of 1923 was coupled with the Allon plan, named after Yigal Allon, a former general and minister in the Israeli government, who took on the task of drawing an Israeli design for the newly conquered Palestinian territories in 67. Not only would it not make any sense for a Zionist leader like Netanyahu - backed by one of the most rightwing governments in Israeli history - to bargain with Palestinians on what he considers to be Eretz Yisrael - the Whole Land of Israel -he has shown no desire, not even the most miniscule, to reach an agreement that would provide Palestinians with any of their rightful demands, true sovereignty notwithstanding.
A former Israeli army Chief of Staff, a man of limited intelligence, was told that a certain individual was an atheist. “Yes,” he asked, “but a Jewish atheist or a Christian atheist?”Lenin, in his Swiss exile, once inquired about the party affiliation of a newly elected member of the Duma. “Oh, he is just a fool!” his assistant asserted. Lenin answered impatiently: “A fool in favor of whom?”
I am tempted to pose a similar question about people touted to be neutral in our conflict: “Neutral in favor of whom?” The question came to my mind when I saw an Israeli documentary about the US intermediaries who have tried over the last 40 years or so to broker peace between the Palestinians and us. For some reason, most of them were Jews. I am sure that all of them were loyal American citizens, who would have been sincerely offended by any suggestion that they served a foreign country, such as Israel. They honestly felt themselves to be neutral in our conflict. But were they neutral? Are they? Can they be? My answer is: No, they couldn’t. Not because they were dishonest. Not because they consciously served one side. Certainly not. Perish the thought!
But for a much deeper reason. They were brought up on the narrative of one side. From childhood on, they have internalized the history and the terminology of one side (ours). They couldn’t even imagine that the other side has a different narrative, with a different terminology. This does not prevent them from being neutral. Neutral for one side. By the way, in this respect there is no great difference between American Jews and other Americans. They have generally been brought up on the same history and ideology, based on the Hebrew Bible.
Far from relaxing its economic blockade on Gaza as its negotiators sit across the table from their Palestinian counterparts in the latest attempt at peace talks, Israel has tightened the screw – reimposing a ban, lifted just a month ago, on the transfer of construction materials into the occupied territory.
It took the decision last week after discovering a 1.5 mile (2.4km) tunnel running from Gaza into Israel. The ban on building materials had existed for years on the grounds that Israel thought the materials would be used for building what they called “terror tunnels” from Gaza into Israel from which to launch attacks. It had been finally lifted as part of the gradual easing of the economic blockade on Gaza. Now it is back.
Meanwhile talks continue between the two sides, but very little progress has been achieved since late July over 10 weeks of negotiations which have seen Palestinian, Israeli and US negotiators discuss the release of Palestinian prisoners and the construction of settlements in the West Bank.
The latest news coming out of Israel has revealed that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has proposed “toppling” President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority should Palestine’s bid for UN non-member observer status be approved when it is put to the General Assembly on November 29th. Palestine is seeking non-member status with the United Nations as a step towards creating an independent Palestinian state, adhering to the pre-1967 Six Day War boundaries. This proposed area would include the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem—which would also serve as its capital.
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority began to seek recognition as a full member state last fall. However, this failed, due to a lack of support in the Security Council, mainly at the behest of the United States, as it threatened to block any admission of Palestine with their permanent member veto power. This has pushed Abbas to seek a downgraded status as a non-member observer. Last October, Palestine managed to obtain the necessary votes to join UNESCO—the cultural arm of the United Nations. This move led to an immediate punishment by the Israeli government in the form of accelerated illegal settlement construction and withholding tax revenues. The U.S. also withheld funding from UNESCO as part of a legal requirement regarding recognition of the state of Palestine.
Recently, President Barack Obama phoned President Abbas upon winning reelection and urged him to defer the application to the UN. This request was rebuffed by the PA citing that it had been offered zero incentives or concessions to encourage the move. This is just the next level of drama in the seemingly endless and fruitless negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Since the 1993 Oslo Accord promised a resolution to this matter, next to nothing has been accomplished over the last two decades that showcase the promise of a settlement any time soon.