Update on the peace talks

Israel/Palestine
on 46 Comments

Considering the reality of the occupation, why should the Palestinians continue with the peace talks farce? Mark Landler and Isabel Kershner’s article from today’s New York Times, updates the rocky state of the nonnegotiations. The Palestinians are being pressed by the Americans to do Netanyahu a favor and close their eyes because it’s too difficult for him politically to continue a settlement freeze that was never a freeze in the first place. But think about it, if he can’t even pretend to freeze the settlements, why should anyone believe that he’ll be able to decolonize for real in exchange for an agreement with the Palestinians? And if Israel is unable/unwilling to decolonize (the future state of Palestine), what’s the point of this exercise from the Palestinian perspective? They’re in line for nothing but more humiliation.

When Hillary Clinton says that “she believe[s] the Israelis and Palestinians could work out a deal on Jewish settlements,” she is talking about a deal whereby via some rhetorical sleight of hand everyone winks and the settlement building (that was never really frozen) continues to continue so “talks” about nothing can continue “even without a full extension of Israel’s moratorium on settlement construction”: she is not talking about the decolonization of the settlements that would need to come as part of the terms of a final-status agreement. 

Americans and Israelis have been using the illusion of process to sucker the Palestinians since Oslo and nothing has changed in the current circumstances. It’s a terrible thing that the United States is blackmailing the Palestinians by threatening to cut their funding if they don’t play along, but sometimes there’s no choice but to say no. Well, they should say no.

And, fyi, Netanyahu is now asking the EU to upgrade Israel’s status as a reward for all of Israel’s “concessions” to the peace process. Now that’s chutzpah. The EU actually has some leverage, it would appear, but don’t expect it to use it.

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46 Responses

  1. Chaos4700
    September 14, 2010, 8:27 am

    This is what upsets and disgusts me about the Obama Administration. They aren’t about solving problems. They’re about forwarding crappy solutions that enough people will sign onto so they can sweep the problem under the political/media rug and pretend like the “Mission Accomplished” banner they’ve strung up means something other than lauding their underhanded political legerdemain.

  2. marc b.
    September 14, 2010, 8:36 am

    The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has threatened to quit the negotiations if the temporary ban is not extended.

    pure theatre. abbas never should have agreed to take part in negotiations without, at minimum, an extension of the so-called ‘freeze’. without an agreement to that effect, the palestinian position was hopelessly compromised from the start. netanyahu wants abbas to ‘quit’ the negotiations, and abbas has no choice but to ‘quit’. a negotiation for peace completely absent of sincerity.

  3. pabelmont
    September 14, 2010, 9:11 am

    Indeed, indeed. What’s it all in aid of? One possibility is to spin wheels in a properly Zionistic manner until American elections in November are past. I don’t believe this, but what other useful reason could there be?

    MY HOBBY-HORSE:

    If Obama-Clinton-EU-Russia-UN could only bring themselves (in November?) to say, “Look, Israel, the settlements are illegal during occupation, and occupation is on-going with no sign of let-up, so kindly remove all settlers by November 2011. and while you’re at it, remove all vestiges of the wall (you know, the part of the separation barrier which is located on territory captured and occupied in 1967. And lift the blockade on Gaza for good measure. And void all legislation which purports to change the legal status of an occupied territories (e.g., East Jerusalem, Golan Heights, possibly so-called annexations). And let us know one month from now your plans to accomplish these things. If you don’t we will look to our means to persuade you.”

    But this is my hobby-horse, not theirs. November and November and November, roll out your Novembers, but the occupation will likely continue.

  4. Richard Witty
    September 14, 2010, 9:19 am

    The task for Netanyahu and Abbas is ONLY to use their creative and diplomatic skills to design a proposal that meets the needs of the multiple parties, for their communities to endorse or reject.

    Pre-conditions stated in any terms, by anyone, is just jockeying and fundamentally a distraction from the task at hand.

    The only relevant reason that anyone would delay or object to the peace talks, is if they were committed to a version of the single-state, and nothing else, no transition through two-state, only the magic “kumbaya” of a single state.

    • Chaos4700
      September 14, 2010, 9:31 am

      Witty? Read the comment below yours. Prove to us that we’re wrong about you. Confront Max about his statement.

    • annie
      September 14, 2010, 10:47 am

      Pre-conditions stated in any terms, by anyone, is just jockeying and fundamentally a distraction from the task at hand.

      what do you think of the IS/US pre condition to refuse to negotiate with the democratically elected representatives of the palestinians people? the pre condition to negotiate w/fayyed for example? who is not supported by more than 4% or something? the pre condition to deal w/the PA, a configuration of our own making? do you also consider that ” just jockeying and fundamentally a distraction from the task at hand”, because i do.

  5. maximalistNarrative
    September 14, 2010, 9:24 am

    Is it an established fact, that under international law Israel is not occupying, Arab land, but is the legal sovereign over Judea and Samaria.

    • Chaos4700
      September 14, 2010, 9:30 am

      Proof positive that there is no negotiating with Jewish fundamentalist extremists. With guns. And nukes.

    • Richard Witty
      September 14, 2010, 9:39 am

      Israel is a caretaker, not sovereign.

      Sovereignty originates from consent of the governed. Only a very small minority of the residents of Palestine regard Israel as their government.

      • eljay
        September 14, 2010, 10:26 am

        >> Israel is a caretaker …

        1. It’s doing a lousy job of taking care.
        2. The caretaker is tasked with taking care of something, not with keeping some or any of it. Once he does that, he is no longer a caretaker, but a thief.

        However, as long as the caretaker-turned-thief promises not to steal any more than he has already stolen, he will not be punished, he will not have to return any of his ill-gotten gains and your twisted interpretation of “justice” will have been served.

      • pjdude
        September 14, 2010, 12:44 pm

        so than you admit Israel is illegitiamate?

      • Avi
        September 14, 2010, 4:11 pm

        Israel is a caretaker

        I think you mean, “Israel is an undertaker”.

      • eljay
        September 14, 2010, 6:48 pm

        >> I think you mean, “Israel is an undertaker”.

        Well put.

    • Shmuel
      September 14, 2010, 9:40 am

      Is it an established fact, that under international law Israel is not occupying, Arab land, but is the legal sovereign over Judea and Samaria.

      International law is a lot like language. If you make up the meaning of words (or laws) as you go along, no one else will understand you – even if you call the lot of them anti-Semites.

      • maximalistNarrative
        September 14, 2010, 9:59 am

        Shmuel,

        While Anti-semitism is a major force in the Palestine-Lobby attempt to disenfranchise Jews from their land, I based my above comment fully on International law that deems the Jewish people the sovereign of their own land. Jews hold a large majority from the Jordan river to the Med and this majority will continue to grow.

      • marc b.
        September 14, 2010, 10:39 am

        there is a jewish majority in the west bank and gaza? this i did not know.

      • pjdude
        September 14, 2010, 12:45 pm

        except it not there land. stealing something doesn’t make it yours.

      • Ael
        September 14, 2010, 4:10 pm

        One Person, One vote.
        Give everyone the franchise between river and sea and then argue about the details in the Knesset.

      • Avi
        September 14, 2010, 4:17 pm

        While Anti-semitism is a major force in the Palestine-Lobby attempt

        I see you’re making things up as you go along.

        What is factually accurate is that anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic and anti-Arab bigotry is a major force in the Israel lobby.

        This isn’t the first time a Zionist turned reality on its head.

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 4:38 pm

        “Jews hold a large majority from the Jordan river to the Med and this majority will continue to grow”

        Wheww! That’s a relief! And I was all worried about the Palestinian Demographic Time Bomb. I guess the Israelis made love, not war, and defused it!
        The next time anybody complains to me about the Jews ending up a minority in their own country, I’ll refer them to your comment, Max.

        BTW, have you seen the October issue of Motor Cyclist? You’ll love it.

      • Shingo
        September 14, 2010, 8:02 pm

        Max is just playing Orwellian tricks here and inverting reality. Jews are already a minority from The Jordan River to the Med and that disparity is growing.

    • James North
      September 14, 2010, 9:47 am

      Max: I posted this on another thread, but just in case you missed it. . .
      I would guess — although I can’t prove it — that you are adding deliberately provocative comments to this site in the hopes of provoking intemperate outbursts, that you can then label as anti-Semitic and try to discredit us. Most Mondoweiss commentators will see right through your manuever.
      I hope I’m mistaken. So by all means join in the vigorous dialogue here. We have a distinguished range of commentators, many of them Jewish, some of them Israeli, who will be happy to respond to your views. You just might have your prejudices shaken.

      • Mooser
        September 14, 2010, 4:39 pm

        “You just might have your prejudices shaken.”

        What a nice way of saying you think that Mondoweiss has the power to cure sociopathy.

      • rmokhtar
        September 15, 2010, 3:00 am

        Mooser, thank you. Now I can’t stop laughing.

    • annie
      September 14, 2010, 11:00 am

      Israel is not occupying, Arab land, but is the legal sovereign over Judea and Samaria.

      one big apartheid state eh. okkkkkay.

      as an aside everyone. i was recently engaged in some thread where the writer (a conservative neocon masking as a ‘liberal’ ‘progressive’) was asserting all this ballyhoo about israel being democratic yadayada when i asked him to produce a map of israel distinguishing these alleged progressive areas of what he referred to as ‘proper israel’ inside the green line. of course there are none i’ve ever seen except here (if you squint you can see the shape). it looks like dagger aimed downward. the government of israel only offers maps of the whole british mandate.

      i think we should just start referencing it as the one state that it is and call it palestine/israel or something. this farce that it’s two entities is silly. until such time (which i seriously ever doubt will come about) there are 2 governments or two states it’s just the apartheid state w/two sets of laws, or three depending on where and who you are.

    • justicewillprevail
      September 14, 2010, 4:05 pm

      Please quote the relevant law you are referring to as ‘established fact’. I doubt the legal experts at the UN and other international bodies have heard of it. Perhaps it is a fictional law, like the fiction that Jews from all over the world are ‘entitled’ to poor Palestinian farmers’ lands.

    • thankgodimatheist
      September 14, 2010, 7:29 pm

      “Is it an established fact, that under international law Israel is not occupying,”

      Have you heard of something called a link, Maximalist fiction?

    • Shingo
      September 14, 2010, 7:59 pm

      “Is it an established fact, that under international law Israel is not occupying, Arab land, but is the legal sovereign over Judea and Samaria.”

      False. Israel’s Supreme Court has concluded that the West Bank is occupied territory and that the settlements are illegal.

      Theodore Meron stipulated that these settlements were a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention on Human Rights.

      • maximalistNarrative
        September 15, 2010, 1:34 am

        Built into the UN charter is the legality of the state of Israel with expanded borders compared to those currently active. Israel is a re-consitution of the Jewish ancestral homeland, whereas “Palestine” has never been a state and never will be.

        Naturally nobody has anything against Arabs, I certainly don’t, I wish them quite the best.

        The fact remains that morally, legally and demographically, the Land of Israel from the Jordan (and east of it) to the Med are Jewish lands.

  6. Shmuel
    September 14, 2010, 9:36 am

    Thanks, Ilene. Before this round of show talks began, the Israelis decided that they would focus on Palestinian “inflexibility”. Just before Netanyahu left for Washington, an “internal” Israeli foreign ministry (Lieberman’s fief) document was “leaked” to Israel Radio. The document stated that the Palestinians are expected to undermine the talks, because their positions on subjects such as a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and settlement construction are completely inflexible and “have not changed since Camp David”. Lo and behold, Abbas is being accused of inflexibility over the issue of settlement construction (and Jerusalem). I wonder if Netanyahu has seen Abunimah’s pizza video :-)

    Meanwhile, Netanyahu has not only resurrected the idea that the PLO’s (repeated) recognition of Israel’s “right to exist in peace and security” is insufficient and that Palestinian negotiators must now recognise Israel “as a Jewish state” (reminiscent of his battle over the PLO charter), but that this issue must be first on the agenda.

    Why is Mitchell still playing this game?

    • Psychopathic god
      September 14, 2010, 10:47 am

      Eyal Weizman’s language in this talk

      link to opendemocracy.net
      is a bit dense and academic, but his thoughts are very important for understanding the “logic” of Israel’s built environment — how “facts on the ground” reveal and make real Israeli supremacist ideology.

      • annie
        September 14, 2010, 11:15 am

        thank you for the link PG, i’m going to digest it now. i think Eyal Weizman is a brilliant thinker. he totally set the bar w/Lawfare in Gaza: legislative attack. i’m noticing the scubber’s are out in force. it was after weizman’s lawfare article the busybees went about restructuring the concept of lawfare to limit it to the kind of definition contained in max’s article. the technologies of destruction, the technologies of warning, and the elastic limits of law, all designed to circumvent international law.

        he’s just brilliant. thanks for the new article, i’m bookmarking him for good.

    • Psychopathic god
      September 14, 2010, 11:40 am

      indeed, why does US allow itself to be played the fool by Netanyahu? He laid out his agenda in a speech at Council on Foreign Relations in NYC on the tailend of his July 2010 visit to DC to make sure his poodle, Obama, was still toeing the Israeli line.

      link to c-spanvideo.org

      fast forward to 55 minutes into the video, when Bibi responds to Richard Haass’s question about Bibi’s emphasis that Palestinian leaders educate the Palestinian people, insisting to the Palestinian people that they not even harbor the wish in their own heads that Israel not exist. Bibi launches into a (uniquely zionist) historical narrative tracing Palestinian hostility toward Jews back to 1920 and incorporating, of course, that zionists are universally and absolutely blameless and present no causal factors in the conflict — the entire burden is on Palestinians, they are to blame for their own victimization.

  7. Taxi
    September 14, 2010, 10:24 am

    Update shmupdate!

    Don’t be wasting time on updates when it’s clear the talks have no chance in hell of succeeding.

  8. yourstruly
    September 14, 2010, 10:38 am

    The Palestinian people will not accept any agreement that establishes Israel as a Jewish state nor that does not include the right to return. Yes, the Palestine Authority’s non-President (his term of office ended more than a year ago) may sign such an agreement, but even if he does, he’ll be persona non gratis anywhere in occupied Palestine except for the settler-entity.

  9. annie
    September 14, 2010, 10:41 am

    It’s a terrible thing that the United States is blackmailing the Palestinians by threatening to cut their funding if they don’t play along, but sometimes there’s no choice but to say no.

    has there been much documentation of this blackmailing or “cut their funding if they don’t play along”. i need good source links for debates elsewhere. i know it’s happening and my intent is not to challenge this i’d just like more sourcing besides an interview w/meshaal and assertions in various op eds.

    • MHughes976
      September 14, 2010, 11:42 am

      I don’t know if we will find direct, verifiable complaints of pressure by the PA. That’s not the sort of thing they say. I’ve just been reading an account of Fayyad’s recent visit to the Euro Parliament, which was all suave politeness and mutual regard. It is stated that PA funding comes in roughly equal proportion from the EU, Arab governments and a combination of the United States and Norway (non-EU, full of oil). ‘They were trying to reduce dependence on foreign contributions’ – well, well, really? The PA can only be the agent of those who pay it, since it has, as far as I can see, no legitimacy and no ability to exist without what they provide. I don’t suppose anyone in this polished diplomatic world is saying in plain words ‘Play along or we’ll stop your pocket money’, but they don’t have to.

  10. piotr
    September 14, 2010, 10:43 am

    I think that there is a good chance that something good will come out of the peace talks. Namely, that Netanyahu will be pressed to commit to a settlement freeze for the duration, and perhaps freeze on evictions?

    One good sign is that 5 EU foreign ministers tried to visit Israel and PA, and Netanyahu “finessed” it by being unavailable. Subsequent proposal by Israel to upgrade EU ties as a reward for starting the talks was rather desperate.

    I think chances are rather decent. Netanyahu just must show internally that some pressure from outside exists. And once such a freeze exists, just continuing the talks without any results is a plus for Palestinians.

    Remember, die-hard expansionists oppose the talks (recall columns by George Will).

  11. Kathleen
    September 14, 2010, 10:47 am

    Did you see this?
    Team Mohammed vs. Team Jesus – Religious Conflict

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-september-13-2010/team-mohammed-vs–team-jesus—religious-conflict

    • rmokhtar
      September 15, 2010, 3:05 am

      Kathleen,

      I think that was the funniest Jon Stewart episode regarding the Mosque. Seriously, during Ramadan especially, it was a breath of fresh air.

  12. Sin Nombre
    September 14, 2010, 11:29 am

    Ilene Cohen wrote:

    “But think about it, if he can’t even pretend to freeze the settlements, why should anyone believe that he’ll be able to decolonize for real in exchange for an agreement with the Palestinians?”

    I think it’s even worse than that, even with Netanyahu’s apparent hints that he’ll modify the freeze. Theoretically at least the freeze would then be lifted in those settlements in which the Palestinians have already hinted would remain in Israel in exchange for other Israeli land or something else entirely.

    Even though theoretical, this at least is *definable.* What’s worse is Netanyahu’s insistence that the PA recognize Israel as “the jewish state.” And who the hell knows what that could ever possibly be taken to mean? Not least by Israel. A refusal to talk any further about the Right of Return because such a recognition would be said to have settled same? Permission to deprive the Palestinian/arab citizenry of Israel the right to vote? To ethnically cleanse them?

    I don’t think there’s another country on earth that either gives or receives any such kind of recognition to or from any other country. And if I’m further not mistaken Obama himself or his State Dept. said some time ago it did not feel that this was something the Pal’s should have to do.

    It’s one thing to make an agreement that you know the other side will have a hard time keeping. At least you have the agreement. It’s another thing entirely to make an agreement that binds you to something that you have no idea the potential meaning of.

  13. MHughes976
    September 14, 2010, 12:01 pm

    I agree with piotr that anything that looked reasonably like a freeze on settlements and evictions would be taken all round the world as a sign that the tide in Palestine had at last turned. That might explain why Netanyahu prefers to concentrate on ‘recognition of Jewishness’ rather than on settlements. I think we heard on another thread that Shmuel’s wife has remarked perceptively that the demand for this recognition would still look quite reasonable to the majority of people in the West.

  14. syvanen
    September 14, 2010, 6:56 pm

    Hughes points out:

    Shmuel’s wife has remarked perceptively that the demand for this recognition [Israel as a Jewish state] would still look quite reasonable to the majority of people in the West.

    Of course it would. I think most of us have always considered Israel as a Jewish state. That is an obvious common perception. But at a diplomatic level, to insist that this common perception be written into treaties and hence into international law means something that a majority of people in the West would not accept as reasonable. Namely, it would mean that non-Jewish natives of Palestine would be formally classed as second class citizens and that this status is recognized by international law. No Palestinian leader, even the PA puppets installed by Israel and the US, could agree to that.

    There is only one reason that Israel is making the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state: that is they want to sabotage the negotiations. We who support the Palestinians must insist on one simple demand — the Palestinians must be treated fairly and allowed to live in a state that provides justice to all of its citizens.

    What a simple demand. And what amazes me is that this simple demand of justice is considered “radical”. (Well as Phil as pointed out in numerous essays, the demand for the end to slavery was also considered “radical”.)

    • eljay
      September 14, 2010, 7:09 pm

      >> Namely, it would mean that non-Jewish natives of Palestine would be formally classed as second class citizens and that this status is recognized by international law.

      Apparently, with “enough Zionism”, it is possible to have a “Jewish state” that is fully democratic and egalitarian. I’m not sure exactly how that’s supposed to work.

      Then again, I don’t understand the “nuance” of letting thieves keep the loot they steal in exchange for a promise not to steal again and calling that “justice”.

      But I understand that ethnic cleansing is “currently not necessary”. That’s unmistakeably clear.

      • RoHa
        September 14, 2010, 8:37 pm

        With just enough Zionism, the Jewish state would be Jewish and democratic and egalitarian in the same way that France is French and democratic and egalitarian, but with the same tensions between nation and democracy.

        The non-Jewish natives of Palestine would be just as entitled to self-determine themselves as Irish as the non-French natives of Transalpine Gaul are.

        And since ethnic cleansing has been replaced by better wheels, it would not be just to require any sort of admission of wrongdoing or rejection of humanity as long as property rights (proven by proper documentation acceptable to the thieves) are compensated for (in moderation). We should avoid living in the past and harping on events which belong to the Dawn of Time.

        At leat, I think that’s the current narrative.

      • Richard Witty
        September 15, 2010, 10:49 am

        You only ridicule rather than address questions.

        Why is that?

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