The US has failed in the peace process, bring in the international community

As the US admits its failure to secure an Israeli settlement freeze, questions are being raised (most notably in Palestine) as to whether the US is fit to continue to facilitate the peace process. Writing in the the bitterlemons series, Ramallah-based Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour has an alternative suggestion in his piece US mediation monopoly collapsing:

The US is fully aware of its failed attempts at mediation, especially over the past 20 years, and thus moved to create the so-called “Quartet”. In essence, the Quartet attempted to camouflage the dominating US role in the conflict with the inclusion of the European Union, Russian Federation and United Nations. This fuzzy, ineffective diplomatic mechanism, which self-proclaims a mandate of mediating the conflict, falls short of having any real international legitimacy. Over the past years, the Quartet, currently represented by Tony Blair, quietly observed unprecedented Israeli aggression against Palestinians and a collapse of the peace process while doing little more than deciding how high to jump after being ordered to do so by the US.

An alternative to the Quartet would be to create a properly mandated UN Security Council mediation team in which no member would be allowed to exercise veto power. The team would be equipped with the necessary resources to bring Israel (the occupier) and the Palestinians (the occupied) to the table with the agenda of ending the 43-year Israeli military occupation of Palestinians. The basis for an end to the occupation would be dictated as prescribed in international and humanitarian law. This mediation team would have the authority to deploy a specified number of multinational peacekeeping forces should they be required.

The wild card actually blocking such a serious approach to mediation is the US. Why would the US accept a mediation arrangement that would definitely drive a wedge between the US and Israel? There are 101 reasons for the US to take a backseat in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, not the least being the quagmire that it created for itself in Iraq and Afghanistan or the constantly increasing costs that Israel is inflicting upon the US, both financially and politically. Sooner or later, the US must take action to remove Israel from dominating its domestic agenda. With President Barack Obama past the mid-term elections, despite recovering from a setback, he should be able to breathe a little easier and spend serious political capital to repair some of the damage that was done to his presidency when he was forced to retreat from the showdown with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over continued illegal Israeli settlement building.

However, betting on the US or Obama to make a historic unilateral about-face is most likely a losing bet. The international community needs to urgently step up to the plate.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 46 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Potsherd2 says:

    Egypt is taking at least one step in that direction:

    link to haaretz.com

  2. RepStones says:

    Two trains if thought emerge. First that Obama is as utterly inept and cuckolded as his impotency in the face of Israel appears to be. Or that Obama is playing a long (and dangerous) game. Letting Bibi continue putting his notches on the bedpost so that when Obama lays the blame for the failure of his version of the peace process squarely at the feet of Israel, even the most zealous Israel fan would have no rebuttal to that charge.

    What do you think?

    • Taxi says:

      I’m with the later theory, Repstones. Only because judging from Obama’s campaigning style, he tends to be an 11th hour come-back kid kinda operator.

      That’s why yesterday I posted the following question on another thread: “Did Obama just kill Natanyahu with kindness?”.

      • Citizen says:

        11th hour come-back kid–he just was on TV claiming the latest compromise on reestablishing the higher tax rate for those making a million or more in income yearly is wise. And he added that extending the unemployment funds is the icing on this latest baked cake. Actually, even when those higher rates were active the high income peeps didn’t pay them; they never have–they’ve always had IRS built-in ways to avoid taxes, ways unavailable as a practical matter to most US individual tax payers.

    • Chu says:

      I think Obama needs to address this recent failures of the peace process first and foremost at the State of the Union address in the next month. He has a great amount of time to make his case why supporting the state has harmed national self-interests and created apartheid. It’s a bold move, but it’s his chance to move the goalposts inside this rigged game, that moves at a snail’s pace.

    • eljay says:

      >> … even the most zealous Israel fan would have no rebuttal to that charge.

      You clearly under-estimate the power of Zio-supremacist “humanists”! ;-)

    • Citizen says:

      RepStones, I doubt Dennis Ross is harboring that plan. If he does not, neither does Obama.

  3. Les says:

    US out of negotiations, UN in.

  4. eee says:

    The only solution will come from face to face negotiations and will take time. Putting your trust in the international community is a fool’s game.

    Why would a UN sanctioned mediation team be more effective than an American one? Most Israelis trust the US. Most Israelis do not trust the UN. The US can provide credible guarantees, the UN can provide nothing.

    • seafoid says:

      43 years of YESHA but more time needed to finish the job and concrete over the whole of the WB. Israel desperately wants peace, excuse me while I vomit

    • Citizen says:

      Said UN team wouldn’t owe its soul to AIPAC & Company.

    • Most Israelis trust the US.

      ‘scuse me, I can’t stop laughing.

      Mitchell Bard, “The Arab Lobby:” (paraphrased) US thinks Israel needs the US to push it around to make peace. Israel doesn’t need the US; we don’t need to be led by the hand . . .”

      David Makovsky, Robert Satloff, reporting on an 8 day trip to Israel, Jordan, Egypt: “Everywhere we went, everyone we talked to asked, “Where is the US? When is the US going to step up and take action?”

      What I suspect you really mean, eee, is that Israel has worked US for so long and invested so much in manipulating US that Israel believes US is a pliant customer. UN would be, to borrow a line from John Lennon, “It’s like starting o — ver.”

  5. pabelmont says:

    Obama offered and Israel refused. OK, then USA must NOT deliver.

    Not deliver what? A 1-year moratorium on UNSC vetoes. Let Turkey-Argentina-Brasil-Uruguay-Iran propose a resolution calling for removal of all settlers, within 1 year, and removal of the wall, and removal of the settlement buildings, all within 1 year. And let the USA smile and decline to veto.

    Ha!

  6. lysias says:

    Turns out the U.S. played a key role in toppling Australian PM Kevin Rudd back in June. The Age: Arbib revealed as secret US source :

    Secret US embassy cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to The Age reveal that Senator Arbib, one of the architects of Kevin Rudd’s removal as prime minister, has been in regular contact with US embassy officers.

    A former secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party, Senator Arbib was a key backroom figure in the Labor ”coup” in June that resulted in Mr Rudd being replaced by Ms Gillard as PM.

    Just like the toppling of Gough Whitlam decades ago.

    I wonder what role Rudd’s government’s expelling that Israeli “diplomat” for the Mossad’s using forged Australian passports in the Dubai hit played in the U.S.’s deciding to dump him.

    Well, Kevin Rudd, now Foreign Minister, has struck back! He blames the U.S. — not Assange — for the leaks, and his office is now providing consular assistance to Assange: Australian FM blames U.S. for WikiLeaks cables:

    Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, meanwhile, said the people who originally leaked the documents — not WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — are legally liable, and he told Reuters news agency the leaks raised questions about the “adequacy” of U.S. security.

    “I have been pretty consistent about where the core responsibility lies in this entire matter and that lies with the release of an unauthorized nature of this material by U.S. personnel,” Rudd told Reuters.

    “Mr. Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorized release of 250,000 documents from the U.S. diplomatic communications network,” Rudd told the agency. “The Americans are responsible for that.”

    Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard took a different tack this week, calling WikiLeaks “grossly irresponsible” for distributing the documents. The “foundation stone is an illegal act that certainly breached the laws of the United States of America,” she said.

    The Australian High Commission in London said Tuesday it is providing consular assistance to Assange. Rudd said his responsibility as foreign minister is to ensure Assange is treated the same as any other Australian in legal difficulties.

    “He has, in my view, complete entitlement of presumption of innocence before the law, and our job as the Australian government is to ensure that he has full access to normal consular and legal services that we would seek to provide to any Australian in these sorts of difficulties in any country around the world,” Rudd told Reuters.

    Take that, Julia Gillard! Take that, U.S.!

  7. BillM says:

    The US has used such odd language in this “settlement freeze,” decribing itself as having “failed.” I don’t exactly know what to make of that language. If the Palestinians had refused a US proposal, the US would not say that it had “failed.” Rather, it would say the Palestinians have been “unreasonable” or “extremist.” Indeed, in any negotiation, if you actually believe you made a reasonable (or in the US case, generous) offter, you never say you “failed.” I don’t come home and tell my wife I “failed” to buy a new car today. I tell her I negotiated, made an offer, but the guy refused to come down to my price. I haggled, offered to extend the term, offered to buy his silly extended warranty, but he just refused to be reasonable. In other words, it was the other guy’s fault.

    The language of “failure” in incredibly subservient. It indicates there was never any negotiation, just begging (e.g., I “fail” to convince my boss that the new product will be a disaster). It’s hard for me to understand why the US intentionally uses such weak language.

    • Citizen says:

      The US honestly describes it failed, it does not specify how it failed, but it makes factual sense, given the history of the US as a less-than-honest broker for peace itself, that it failed. OTH, it did not fail to give Israel what Israel wants: continuation of the status quo. That’s Obama’s role, the role insiders have refered to as “Israel’s lawyer.”

  8. Sin Nombre says:

    “Ramallah-based Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour has an alternative suggestion … create a properly mandated UN Security Council mediation team….”

    This is all crap. Just pure crap. If there’s any last chance for the Palestinians I think this is it about as clear as can be, and if they don’t at least try it (even if it’s already too late) what the historical verdict will be is that they simply agreed to be bought off, period. (And eventually all their participating in U.S. or U.N. or Quartet “mediation” will just be seen as the fig leaf they used to pretend that they really cared about their land and etc. while they were in truth being bought off.)

    The Palestinians ought to get off their hind legs right now and decide to either declare a state or declare themselves citizens of Israel and demand their equal rights thereunder and go from there, period. They wanna continue to play a game they’ve been losing for decades, well who the hell is gonna have any sympathy for ‘em when they continue to lose? And that won’t matter anyway because after history rolls over ‘em because they continued at the game eventually any people remaining with such sympathy for them will die off anyway.

    Time to bite the bullet, Palestinians. Fecklessness hurts.

    • annie says:

      The Palestinians ought to get off their hind legs right now and decide to either declare a state or declare themselves citizens of Israel and demand their equal rights thereunder and go from there, period.

      and how would this be enforced?

      • Sin Nombre says:

        annie wrote:

        “and how would this be enforced?”

        Perhaps with no more success than has been had heretofore, agreed. But at least you remove the fig leaf that the rest of the world’s states have been hiding behind which is that they are waiting upon the “mediations/peace processes” and other such baloney. You say “here is our state, it is being occupied,” or “we are citizens of Israel, our rights are being denied,” and then “now, are you going to continue to support or even do business with our occupier/denier of equal rights, or not?,” period.

        And even if same gets you no more success, at least you lose/die on your feet rather than on your knees.

        • You say “here is our state, it is being occupied,” or “we are citizens of Israel, our rights are being denied,” and then “now, are you going to continue to support or even do business with our occupier/denier of equal rights, or not?,” period.

          WHO do “you” SAY it to?
          Who has the power to redress the grievance?
          Not the US, surely not Israel.

          The UN gambit is — or a variation of it, composed by Palestinians ignoring US and dealing directly with UN, to declare its state much as Israel did in May 1948: FIAT: We are a state.

          Palestine will need to get their vote count in order.

          Frankly, this is such a genius proposal for getting the US off the hook that I long to see it come to pass.

          Think about it: Israel’s power over US would be vitiated with one fell swoop, the converse of what has been proposed as a way to tame Iran — by settling the Palestine question.

          It is essential to have UN involved because Israel will not go quiet into that good SUNSHINE: Israel will kick and scream and whine and kill. Who will stop them? Hamas? Hezbollah? US military?

        • Sin Nombre says:

          “WHO do “you” SAY it to?”

          Well, you first say/declare it to the world, with as much fanfare as you can muster. (And surely with the help of the Arab League you can muster some.)

          And then, as per your own point, psycho, perhaps go to the U.N. Security Council … and *let* the U.S. veto it. Indeed *invite* it to veto it. *Dare* it to veto it. Put the lie to the U.S.’s claim about really supporting a two-state solution. Let the world see. Let the U.S. start to get isolated, instead of being the isolator via telling the rest of the world to butt out because *it* is gonna fix the situation.

          As you say (albeit with too much validity I think, but still) … take the cards out of the U.S.’s hands.

          Anyone think of a better time to do so? Anyone think that a better time is gonna come along? Anyone think that things are gonna get better doing elsewise?

          In short, don’t let this be represented as just some kind of little … “setback” to the “peace process” and continue to receive George Mitchell or whomever. Call it for what it is: A total abject failure of the U.S. and any “peace process.” No one doubts the P’s have tried to go along with same. And yet what have they gotten out of it? Not even a three month freeze of the land thievery.

          Put it to the world in as pithy a term as possible: “Recognize us (as a state or citizens of Israel), or accept foreign occupations or apartheid.”

        • Citizen says:

          When the occupying jews declared they had a state there was no
          wall, the Brits had just announced they were no longer administrating the land, and there was no lone superpower heavily involved on one side, further, the jews there then were not divided by
          outsiders. If the Palestinian people can overcome the impact of all that and declare their own state–yes, that would force more actual movement in their behalf, and lessen their current inability to make the world’s regimes pay attention.

    • seafoid says:

      There is never ever such a thing as a last chance for an entire people.
      The Israel situation is absurd. 50% of the people in Erez Israel have full rights and the other half don’t. All because the first half are Jewish.

  9. seafoid says:

    For Israel it is all or nothing. Either the settlers win everything or.. there is no possible alternative.

    It is exactly the same with Iran. Either Israel defeats Iran (crazy) or.. there is no possible alternative

    link to haaretz.com

    This is how states die.

    • annie says:

      interesting link:

      The Iranian president openly declares that the “Zionist regime” will fall. Israeli leaders are more cautious in public, but in off-the-record conversations, they sound like Ahmadinejad in reverse.

      At a meeting in the summer of 2007, Dagan presented the Americans with a comprehensive strategy for toppling the Iranian regime. Israel and the United States, he said, “could change the ruling regime in Iran … We could also get them to delay their nuclear project. Iran could become a normal state.”

      Dagan emerges from the cable as an advocate of the strategy of using minimal military force but lots of tricks to wear down the enemy. He proposed fomenting unrest among Iranian students and minorities and exploiting Iran’s economic distress to undermine the regime and create rifts within it. He also suggested unspecified “covert measures.”

      plus, the article referenced the conflict continues until one side is ‘knocked out’, as opposed to a state dying.

      • plus, the article referenced the conflict continues until one side is ‘knocked out’, as opposed to a state dying.

        except that Iran has more staying power than Israel, and for all the talk in US media by Israel advocates about Iran’s isolation, in a hearing on Iran sanctions a few days ago, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen listed the number of countries that have continued or increased their trade and investment activities with Iran. Little countries, to be sure — Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil — you know, pikers.

        otoh, upon his return from a trip to Israel, David Makovsky said that Israelis told him that Iran and Palestine have been dislodged from First Place in the things Israel worries about most. Now, Israel considers international delegitimation its No. 1 existential threat.

  10. BradAllen says:

    Wishful thinking I’m afraid. The reason Israel is able to turn its back on the International community is because it knows it can veto any and all actions against it through the US rep. Israel has long achieved what everyone seems to know but won’t talk aboyut, it is the puppet master and the US is .. well you figure it out. Israel sells itself daily in the US and other Western countries, you don’t see Obama negotiating with King Abdallah for Palestine.

    Where Israel will feel the heat is not from the West or Europe or the Russians, Israel needs to feel the heat from its Arab collaborators, the Saudis, the Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries who would be happy to have the problem just go away. Wikileaks proved that Israel has ongoing relations with many Arab countries and even if there is criticism in public, under the table they work together. Whee these countreis fail is to take the Diplomatic offensive where Israel is weakest, inside Israel.

    Almost every Israeli PM has been to Egypt and Jordan since Sadat made his famous trip. And although there has been some secret visits by the King of Jordan and Mobarak to Israel for talks, never have these been confirmed or made public. The Arabs need to learn marketing 101 and appearances in Israel, challenge the Isareli Govt in its own house. The King of Saudi Arabia needs to back up his peace plan of returning to the 1967 borders by offering to go to Jerusalem with other Arab leaders to negotiate the deal. Push the point inside Israel, go visit the PA in the West bank and establish it as an entity. Put Israel on the diplomatic defensive, they will have nowhere to go.

    • seafoid says:

      I think Israel is way more fragile than that, Brad. Another 10 years of apartheid and even the US will be lost. Look at Bibi having to beg Turkey to reopen the diplomatic link. The Israeli economy isn’t as robust as Israelis like to think and the money siphoned over the years to the settlers is now becoming apparent in Israel’s very poor infrastructure. Israel is three or 4 unsustainable trends all gathering pace and with no reverse direction possible.

      It looks great now but so did Lehman Brothers back in 2005.

      Israeli sabras have this crazy belief that their state is permanent and its future secure regardless of the ineptitude of its leaders.

      • The Israeli economy isn’t as robust as Israelis like to think and the money siphoned over the years to the settlers is now becoming apparent in Israel’s very poor infrastructure. Israel is three or 4 unsustainable trends all gathering pace and with no reverse direction possible.

        from CIA Factbook (Nov 24, 2010), Israel:

        Population:

        7,353,985

        note: the population estimates previously published on this site for the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights are under review, please check back in the future for revised estimates. (July 2010 est.)

        a state that not only has no defined borders but that cannot even estimate the numbers of its inhabitants!

        ECONOMY:

        Public debt: 77.7% of GDP (2009 est.) [ US = 54%; Iran = 17%]

        . . .Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government’s external debt is owed to the US, its major source of economic and military aid.

        Population below poverty line: 23.6%
        Unemployment rate (2009 est): 7.6%

        US borrows money from China and lends it to Israel.

        • Citizen says:

          Yes, US borrows money from China and lends it to Israel, with Israel getting interest on it to boot. Plus all “loans” to Israel end up being simple grants. Add in German reparations. Israel amounts to a welfare recipient being POTUS. Yet the Repubs & Tea Partiers are proud of this state of affairs; the Democrats–they’ve always pushed for redistribution for their favored constituencies. Result: the average Israeli Jew gets US welfare funds while the average US citizen does not, and the average Israeli Jew gets way more US welfare than any US citizen who actually is on US welfare too.
          It is sometimes said that Israel is the 51 st state. In terms of this situation Israel’s star on our flag should be much bigger than the other fifty. The red stripes represent the blood drained for this, and the white stripes represent the average US citizen’s naivety about this, or gullibility. Both are long stripes.

  11. Potsherd2 says:

    All Obama needs to do is inform Israel that the US will vote for any UN resolution establishing a Palestinian state.

    That he hasn’t is certainly a failure.

  12. Sin Nombre says:

    A perfect example of how much moral force would be behind the Palestinians simply now asking the rest of the world for recognition of their state:

    link to jpost.com

    A story, in short, from the J’slem Times, showing how hastily and panicked both the World Jewish Congress and the ADL are about the announcements from Brazil and Argentina. So panicked indeed that they are calling on the U.S. and the Quartet members to *denounce* these moves by Brazil and Argentina.

    See, annie?

  13. eljay says:

    >> So panicked indeed that they are calling on the U.S. and the Quartet members to *denounce* these moves by Brazil and Argentina.

    The Zio-supremacist hypocrisy is astounding. So much talk about how Palestinians don’t have their own state and how they need to make “new narratives” and look to the future and organize themselves and show their independence and manage their own affairs….and when they finally get the ball rolling, it’s maximalist and destabilizing and revolutionary! Watch out, or this Gaza-like entity will unleash 9/11 on Israel! Quickly, “Remember the Holocaust!”

  14. MHughes976 says:

    Well, it would be very nice for a lot of powerful people if after a bit of drama those moderate and trustworthy Palestinian leaders established their lost popularity and a new Palestine, duly confined to the wretched 67 borders, was established and we didn’t have to be bothered about the whole business any longer. I’m not thrilled, though.

  15. simone says:

    In a previous comment Sin Nombre on December 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm says:
    “The Palestinians ought to get off their hind legs right now….”

    This is a blatantly racist comment. Palestinians are not four-legged animals; they do not have hind legs and front legs. And they do not need to be lectured by someone like him/her. Actually, I think if he or she is so tired of Palestinians “playing games”, (what a crock since it is not the Palestinian people but the bought and sold PA who has been playing games), then Sin Nombre can go take up another cause. Palestinians do not need his/her sympathy.

    • RoHa says:

      “Get up on one’s hind legs” is a common idiom for “stand up and make one’s position clear”. Nothing racist about it.

      “Get off one’s hind legs” makes no sense at all. I read it as a typo for the common idiom.

  16. simone says:

    No matter how you slice and dice it, whatever version it takes, this “common idiom” is racist and ought never to be used.

    • RoHa says:

      How is it racist when people use it of themselves?

      I have used it to refer to muself, and I have heard others use it refer to themselves.

      You can see it in literature, too. In John Mortimer’s Rumpole novels, Rumpole (an English barrister) regularly refers to himself getting on his hind legs to make an objection.

      The idiom is actually quite close to relity, since human beings are four-legged animals who stand and walk on their hind legs only.