The Amman talks: Nothing from nothing leaves nothing

There’s a meeting going on in Jordan right about now between the Quartet, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to satisfy a request issued by the Quartet last fall directly after Palestine took its bid for statehood to the UN. Each side was supposed to come up with territorial and security proposals by late January. On November 14th Abbas turned over Palestine’s proposals, Israel has produced nothing.

The meeting is merely an unconvincing formality. Everybody says expectations are low, (“does not expect the talks to deliver any major breakthroughs”) and nothing will come of it. The US won’t be there, here’s why, per the Christian Science Monitor:

• The advent of a tough election year means Mr. Obama is unlikely to jump into any peace initiative or to pressure Israel – something a Republican opponent could use against him.

Something that might conflict with his fundraising goals too, but they don’t mention that. There’s decent coverage in the article  that makes it a cut above the rest:

…while few experts expect anything significant to happen by the Jan. 26 deadline, most observers say both the Israelis and Palestinians have reasons for agreeing to the Amman talks.

Israel wants to be seen as ready and willing to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians, given that its international image has deteriorated since the beginning of the Arab Spring. Israel’s image abroad has been harmed by its leaders’ response to the protests – largely to favor a regional status quo.

The Palestinians may have their eyes set ultimately on the UN and efforts they launched there last fall to win global recognition.

One scenario, Mideast experts say, is that the Palestinian leadership could use the expected failure of the talks to revive its push for official UN recognition of a state of Palestine. The Palestinians could point to both the presumed failure of the Quartet’s initiative and to what they argue is Israel’s refusal to take serious steps toward peace.

Meanwhile over on Hasbara Boulevard, the Jerusalem Post dishes up an enthusiastic  Israeli-PA talks already have a winner – Jordan’s Abdullah.

In the past, meetings such as these often took place in Sharm e-Sheikh, under the auspices of now deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Because of Egypt’s position in the region, and its peace treaty with Israel, Cairo was often the “go-to” address on Palestinian-Israeli issues.

Since Mubarak’s fall, however, a void was created, one Abdullah is more than happy to fill.

Alrighty then– go Abdullah! Steppin’ in for Mubarak, a winning move no doubt.

In another article from the Jerusalem Post, Israeli government officials are given the microphone:

“We sincerely hope that the meeting in Amman heralds the beginning of direct ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve peace,” ……Israel was ready to “move ahead on the path articulated by the Quartet, and we hope the Palestinians are willing to do so as well,” he continued…………….“Israel is ready for mutual, reciprocal confidence- building measures,”

Uh huh. So believing that–not. I’m a soldier in the war on poverty, and this has got poverty written all over it.

Within three months, the Quartet statement read, the sides were to come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security. The Palestinians interpreted that to mean that each side was to present these proposals to the Quartet, which the Palestinians have done, while Israel’s interpretation was that they would be presented by the sides to each other during the three months of intensive negotiations.

The difference, one Israeli official said, was that the Palestinians wanted to get the Quartet more actively involved in arbitrating between the two sides, while Israel wanted to deal directly with the Palestinians without outside interference.

……

Hamas, meanwhile, called on the PA to boycott the Amman meeting, arguing the talks would only benefit Israel and help it improve its image in the international arena.

Israel’s got nothing, you gotta have something…..

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in American Jewish Community, Arab Spring, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Media, Middle East, Nakba, Neocons, Occupation, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

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

  1. Another risible PR move by the apartheid state. We judge you by what you do, not your empty words.

  2. Abierno says:

    Actually, Israel in stating that it will build a wall on the Jordanian border as
    well as on the Lebanese border (incorporating Shebaa farms) has prempted
    any possiblity of a two state solution if one looks at the geography. If there
    is a Palestinian state, it will be – in the tradition of Gaza – entombed by Israel,
    with all avenues of ingress and exgress totally controlled by Israel as is now
    the case. Again, a defacto unilateral establishment of Israel’s borders, essentially
    eliminating or encapsulating the West Bank. Could one anticipate that in the
    case of an Iranian war that Palestinians of the West Bank are not only designated
    as terrorists but also as ” fifth column” belligerents, thereby legalizing the same
    treatment as Gazans in Cast Lead with the added option of legalizing settler
    “military” options against them?

    • thanks abierno. i did not forget about cutting the West Bank into two sections which make it impossible to establish a Palestinian state either.

      i meant ‘nothing’ in terms of a proposal for the quartet.

      • john h says:

        Have you seen what Abbas has just said about the 1947 Partition Plan, annie?

        Check it out, and this article I just found. I suggest it would make an excellent thread here, lots to chew over that we haven’t directly touched, recently at least.

        Please see what you or someone else can put together!

        link to maannews.net

        • john, yes i did read about that when he first said it. plus a number of times pro i posters linked to it in the threads as if it was proof of something. not sure why abbas expressed this when he did, as if the zionists at the time would have ever been satisfied with the partition, it never would have deterred them. it’s going to take an outside force to deter them.

          The author is a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Jerusalem and a senior at Friends School in Ramallah.

          so many of these palestinian kids today are really smart. they’ve had to grow up so fast.

        • eljay says:

          >> … not sure why abbas expressed this when he did, as if the zionists at the time would have ever been satisfied with the partition, it never would have deterred them.

          1. Acceptance of the Partition Plan might have prevented further land grabs by Israel but, given the Zionist goal of establishing a religion-supremacist “Jewish state” with a permanent majority status for Jews, it would have done nothing to halt the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands.

          2. Even though Partition lines were rejected, there was no requirement for Israel to expand beyond them. Expansionism and colonialism are not defensive actions.

        • john h says:

          Oops, I jumped in too quickly and failed to do my homework; he said this over two months ago.

          Yeah I was impressed too that a 17 year-old would write that way. It’s not that Palestinians are any smarter than others, but what you say, they’ve had to grow up so fast. Such a different environment to what most of us have known.

          I still think we could have a thread on this, though. ;)

        • eljay, good points. i’m definitely not an expert in history but i recall this era, and the rejection of the UN plan was not as simple as it’s made out to be. maybe hostage will show up and clarify the shenanigans zionists employed to secure this outcome. it’s my understanding they didn’t want the arab league to accept it anyway..or something. i am horrid with historical facts.

        • Hostage says:

          1. Acceptance of the Partition Plan might have prevented further land grabs by Israel

          That was, and is, a respectable position taken by many in the Arab community. For example, on the day after the partition plan was adopted, the Palestine Post ran a front page article saying that the influential Cairo newspaper, Al Mokkatam, had published an editorial supporting the partition of Palestine. The editorial said

          “We stand for Partition because we believe it is the best final solution for Palestine. If rejection of Partition would have solved the problem we would have welcomed it, but in fact it will lead to further complications that will give the Zionists another space of time to complete their plans of defense and attack.”

          See page 1 of the Palestine Post, 30 November 1947 link to jpress.org.il

          The participants in the Jericho Congress literally said that they were acting in order to save the remainder of the territory of Palestine by peaceful means. See Hebron Mayor Challenges Egyptians to Tell The Truth, Palestine Post 14 December 1948 link to jpress.org.il

          Before the Deir Yassin massacre, the US Minister in Saudi Arabia told Secretary Marshall that the Saudi’s and Abdullah of Transjordan had warned the other members of the Arab League (in March of 1948) that the partition was a civil matter and that the Arab states shouldn’t take any action that the Security Council might interpret as aggression.

          After the Israeli militias started routinely leveling conquered Palestinian villages and conducting sporadic massacres the Arab States came under tremedous public pressure to intervene. Abdullah cabled the UN saying “Secretary-General we were compelled to enter Palestine to protect unarmed Arabs against massacres similar to those of Deir Yasin. We are aware of our national duty towards Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular and also Nazareth and Bethlehem. Be sure that we shall be very considerate in connection with Jews in Palestine and while maintaining at the same time the full rights of the Arabs in Palestine. Zionism did not react to our offers made before the entry of armed forces.” link to unispal.un.org

          Here is a report forwarded to the US State Department afterward:
          A statement by King Abdullah that he had advised the Arab states before the outbreak of fighting to study the situation in Palestine carefully and that he had ordered his forces to enter the former Mandated territory on May 15, 1948, only when he found that other members of the Arab League insisted on intervention was printed in Al Garida Al Misaiya, a new evening daily newspaper, yesterday. The new paper, which will apparently be pro-Wafdist in tone, stated that the Hashemite monarch had given his views in a special interview.

          King Abdullah was quoted as saying he had marched into Palestine in order to avoid accusations which might have been leveled against him. He had given the order to march in without having changed the views expressed in his warning to the other Arab states. This warning had pointed out that it would not be sufficient to rely on courage and faith to secure victory, but that it was necessary to take into account every eventuality and to be prepared for “behind the scenes” activity.

          The order to enter Palestine had been given although he knew that the Transjordanian army and Kingdom lacked sufficient resources to face the situation. “We have made and still are making great sacrifices to safeguard Arab unity”, continued King Abdullah, “but we are now faced with two alternatives”. He defined these as being either to resume fighting with the object of annihilating the Zionists in Palestine and their supporters abroad, or to acknowledge the present status quo and to sign peace agreements. “I believe”, added King Abdullah, “that Transjordan will adopt the latter course”. link to digicoll.library.wisc.edu

  3. Ramzi Jaber says:

    Thanks for this Annie. I would see “nothing from nothing leaves nothing” as the status quo continues. And that’s what the criminal israeli government wants. Look at their actions; today in Haaretz…

    Israel announces contentious Jerusalem construction ahead of peace talks meet
    link to haaretz.com

    However, I expect things to really blow up after this meeting and come end of January.

    We Palestinians have had enough of the Zionist criminal state of Israel. The occupation will NOT stand. Things will start moving. The target date for that movement was Sep 2011. However, due to intense pressure on President Abbas, including from some “collaborator” Arab dictators like King Abdullah and King Abdullah. [Rumors had it that Jordan pressured President Abbas not to submit the statehood application to the UNSC.]

    One Jan 26 passes with no real plan from Israel, our push in the UNSC, UNGA, UN Agencies including the ICJ, and the ICC. Coupled with a united Palestinian position, and MASS non-violent demonstrations across Occupied Palestine (including pre-1948) and in other countries in the world, we will start the final march to Palestinian statehood, be it 1-state or 2-state. Palestine 194!

    • The sources indicated they believed that there will be no progress in peace negotiations until after the American election in November.

      yeah, they’ve got free reign and they know it. it makes my head explode thinking about it. ramzi, please open that link i just posted to Abierno (to one of my posts for my ptv). it’s such a g.d. sham.

      I expect things to really blow up after this meeting and come end of January.

      i dunno. let’s hope the europeans throw a fit cuz no one in the US will. they are not even reporting the new EJ construction in the US. nothing. well, i wanted to get this post up before the meeting so i wasn’t posting it all after the fact. but it’s so puny and worthless and such a facade.

      january 26th .. the deadline and i hope abbas goes back to the UN and raises a stink. for sure this is all planned, delay delay delay and then build like they’re on steroids during election season.

      • Ramzi Jaber says:

        I did, it is a sham. I agree Annie. Not sure if EU will vote for us in UNSC but all 14 lined up agains the US in the last meeting. We’ll see.

        Bottom line, I am not optimistic that things will get better before getting MUCH MUCH worse first such as a major war involving many countries in the region and several remote proxies, leading to major deaths, large numbers of injured, and heavy destruction. 2012 is likely to be a seminal year one or or another.

      • Hostage says:

        i wanted to get this post up before the meeting so i wasn’t posting it all after the fact. but it’s so puny and worthless and such a facade.

        Actually the US had refused to permit the Middle East Quartet to forward the Palestinian proposals on borders to the Israelis and rather ironically claimed that those had to be exchanged in direct talks between the parties. We all know that during the last direct talks the Israeli representative made a point of refusing to touch the Palestinian map, and claimed if he had, the Netanyahu coalition would collapse.

        In the meeting today, the Palestinians got to present their proposal on borders to the Israelis. link to haaretz.com

        Of course hell will freeze over before a Zionist will “offer a map” during negotiations. They’ve had a standing policy against that since 1937, “lest this become the minimal demand of the other side”. See for example Itzhak Galnoor, The partition of Palestine, SUNY Press, 1995, page 273 link to books.google.com

        • In the meeting today, the Palestinians got to present their proposal on borders to the Israelis.

          iow this was a formality to hand over the proposal. still, i am unimpressed. why the whole meeting set up just to hand them a piece of paper? a publicity stunt or some pretext of ‘talks’?

        • Hostage says:

          iow this was a formality to hand over the proposal. still, i am unimpressed. why the whole meeting set up just to hand them a piece of paper?

          It is pretty clear that the Palestinians have met with Israel, without any preconditions, and that they have presented their proposals as requested by the Middle East Quartet. They’ve also stated that if the Quartet can’t deliver on the requirement that Israel present a map and its own proposals on security by January 26th, they intend to pursue others courses of action.

          The Security Council has obviously failed to implement resolutions 242, 338, and 1515, e.g. The Road Map required:
          SETTLEMENTS
          • GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
          • Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).
          link to un.org

  4. talknic says:

    Israel will hold off as long as possible, allowing the concrete to set ever harder on it’s illegal ‘facts on the ground’. Then it will pour a little more. All the while acting per the Declaration for the Establishment of a state which .. “will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel;” who tell us how Israel has and will act towards territory not ” forming part of Egypt, the Lebanon, the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom or Syria” .

    The day Palestine becomes a state, the game is over. Quite simple really.

  5. HarryLaw says:

    It’s time for honesty regarding the legal positions taken by both the Israelis and the PA. the Israeli position as endorsed by the likud charter states that Israel is the whole of the land of Israel and that settlements are a natural outcome of that fact. The PA want to base any agreement on International Law and UN Resolutions, the circle cannot be squared.
    I am reminded of a similiar dilemma experienced by the British and Irish governments in 1985 trying to forge an agreement (the Anglo Irish agreement) on the one hand both sides tried to ignore articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution which claimed sovereignty over the whole island of Ireland and its territorial seas, and the British who said that in International Law that Northern Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom.
    Here is how the agreement was sold to their respective electorates, the Irish version published in Dublin said:
    “Agreement between the government of Ireland and the government of the United Kingdom”. See here:- link to docs.google.com

    The British version published by her Majestys stationary office said “Agreement between the government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Ireland”. see here:- link to cain.ulst.ac.uk

    Notice the difference…

    The Irish version excludes Northern Ireland as part of the UK which is the officially designated name of the state and although in practice the Irish government recognised Northern Irelands defacto position as part of the UK it was precluded from recognising its de jure status (this was established in the Kevin Boland case in the Irish supreme court in 1973/74). The Irish goverment said in effect that they had never recognised Northern Ireland as a de jure part of the UK and so the Anglo-Irish agreement 1985 tried again to deceive the electorates of both states with the Machiavellian disappearance of Northern Ireland from the heading of the agreement. The electorates were not fooled and the Anglo-Irish agreement was dead in the water, it was only when the Irish government amended the constitution that an agreement with the Unionist community was made possible, similiarly the PA must insist on legal facts and certainties and must not be a part of any Machiavellian plots or maneuvers by the US/Israel.

  6. chet says:

    Some confusion here.

    From the J-Post article:

    “Hamas, meanwhile, called on the PA to boycott the Amman meeting, arguing the talks would only benefit Israel and help it improve its image in the international arena.”

    From Gideon Levy in Haaretz:

    “The writing is clearly on the wall. The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshal, has ordered his group’s military wing to stop terrorist attacks against Israel, saying his organization will make do with popular protest. Hamas is declaring that it supports a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and the Palestinian Authority has expressed a willingness, in exchange for 100 prisoners, to give up its demand for a freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank as a condition for the resumption of peace talks. What more will we ask for?

    On our side, too, the writing is clearly on the wall. Israel is ignoring the changes in the Palestinian positions. Most of the media is systematically obscuring the situation. Security sources are saying in response that they know nothing about the shift, or that it is only tactical. Israel is also rejecting the Palestinian Authority’s negligible conditions with repeated “nos” in the finest of Israeli rejectionism.”

    link to haaretz.com

    Rather than rejecting the Amman talks, it appears that Hamas has made a major concession to strengthen the PA negotiating position.

    • Rather than rejecting the Amman talks, it appears that Hamas has made a major concession to strengthen the PA negotiating position.

      chet, you are absolutely correct, the palestinians are getting their ducks all in a row. last week abbas and hamas met again (seriously, look at that photo!) and they are into the whole unity thing right now and israel cannot STAND it. this was less than ten days ago. this is the second time in less than a month.

      so i think what we are seeing here is the palestinians are very serious about the UN thing. very serious. and frankly i think it’s smart because it’s really the only real access to pressure they have. so it’s very clear to me anyway. and the quartet is involved, and there’s been pressure from europeans, and abbas agreed to back off with the bid until after the quartet’s demands have been satisfied..which they have done..but once that date passes all bets are off. so israel is very interested in blaming this on palestine, and coming up with excuse after excuse but it is all smoke and mirrors. they have NO intention, they have always had NO intention, of ever ever allowing the palestinians a state. never.

      so as the pressure builds , you name it..more wars on gaza, building on steroids..anything. but the UN is marching forward and after they get vetoed in the security council it will go to the general assembly. your link:

      Never mind the constant Israeli rejectionism on the peace process, since we only ever take the Palestinians seriously when they talk war and terrorism. When they talk peace and negotiations, we discount what they have to say, but what’s this about an attack on Gaza? Why? What has happened? Can someone explain this discordant, nasty beating of the war drums apart from Israel’s inherent need to threaten again and again?

      to me, it is a clear as night and day what is happening, and keep repeating it:

      Divert, divert, divert.

      to me, israel is throwing everything at the wall to divert from the palestinians statehood bid! that’s just what i see. they are antagonizing gaza no end, ramping up the ultra orthodox thing now, for no apparent reason when it’s been around the whole time. having pissing matches with the EU…they can’t keep up like this forever.

    • chet, one more thing. it would not be a conflicting statement for hamas to both strengthen the pa and advise it to skip the jordanian meeting.

      israel has not offered any proposals as requested by the quartet. under these circumstances coupled with the continued refusal to stop the expansion what is the point of sitting down at the table? abbas agreed to stop any more action w/the UN like the unesco bid for this 3 month period for the purpose of getting talks started and israel has not proceeded in good faith.

      so i agree w/hamas here. this is a worthless gesture designed to make israel look good.

  7. RE: “In another article from the Jerusalem Post, Israeli government officials are given the microphone: ‘We sincerely hope that the meeting in Amman heralds the beginning of direct ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve peace,’ ……Israel was ready to ‘move ahead on the path articulated by the Quartet, and we hope the Palestinians are willing to do so as well,’ he continued…” ~ Annie Robbins

    SEE: Lieberman: Israeli-Palestinian peace will not be achieved within the next decade ~ by Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 12/25/11
    FM says Israel must talk about how to manage the conflict and not how to solve it, maintains Israel need not apologize to European states for calling them ‘irrelevant.’

    (excerpt) Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that he does not believe a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians will be agreed upon within the next decade.
    Speaking at a conference before Israeli ambassadors on Sunday, Lieberman said the Palestinians are not working toward peace but rather trying to determine the facts on the ground and internationalize the conflict. Therefore, Lieberman suggested, Israel must work to manage the conflict and not solve it.
    “In the next decade, this will be the situation and we need to know how to deal with it in the best way possible for both sides,” Lieberman argued. “No territorial concession will solve the real issues: refugees, security arrangements, and Jerusalem.”…

    CONTINUED AT – link to haaretz.com