ICG: The peace process is a ‘collective addiction that serves all manner of needs, reaching an agreement no longer being the main one’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 19 Comments
The Peace Process in Annapolis, MD, 2007.

Welcome to the peace process in 2012. From the International Crisis Group report “The Emperor Has No Clothes: Palestinians and the End of the Peace Process“:

For all the scepticism surrounding the ways of the past, breaking with them will not come easily. Few may still believe in the peace process, but many still see significant utility in it. Ongoing negotiations help Washington manage its relations with the Arab world and to compensate for close ties to Israel with ostensible efforts to meet Palestinian aspirations. Europeans have found a role, bankrolling the Palestinian Authority and, via the Quartet, earning a seat at one of the most prestigious diplomatic tables – a satisfaction they share with Russia and the UN Secretary-General. Peace talks are highly useful to Israel for deflecting international criticism and pressure.

Palestinians suffer most from the status quo, yet even they stand to lose if the comatose process finally were pronounced dead. The Palestinian Authority (PA) might collapse and with it the economic and political benefits it generates as well as the assistance it attracts. For the Palestinian elite, the peace process has meant relative comfort in the West Bank as well as constant, high-level diplomatic attention. Without negotiations, Fatah would lose much of what has come to be seen as its raison d’être and would be even more exposed to Hamas’s criticism.

But the reason most often cited for maintaining the existing peace process is the conviction that halting it risks creating a vacuum that would be filled with despair and chaos. The end result is that the peace process, for all its acknowledged shortcomings, over time has become a collective addiction that serves all manner of needs, reaching an agreement no longer being the main one. And so the illusion continues, for that largely is what it is.

Pretty inspiring, isn’t it? Among the report’s recommendations is this particularly useful insight:

At the core of the Oslo process was the notion that a peace agreement would need to deal with issues emanating from the 1967 War – the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – as opposed to those that arose in 1948 from the establishment of Israel, the trauma of the accompanying war and the displacement of the vast majority of Palestinians. But if that logic was ever persuasive, it no longer is. . .

As difficult as it is to imagine a solution that addresses these issues, it is harder still to imagine one that does not.

Hope someone in Washington is reading it (I won’t hold my breath). Finally the Executive Summary ends:

The inescapable truth, almost two decades into the peace process, is that all actors are now engaged in a game of make-believe: that a resumption of talks in the current context can lead to success; that an agreement can be reached within a short timeframe; that the Quartet is an effective mediator; that the Palestinian leadership is serious about reconciliation, or the UN, or popular resistance, or disbanding the PA. This is not to say that the process itself has run its course. Continued meetings and even partial agreements – invariably welcomed as breakthroughs – are possible precisely because so many have an interest in its perpetuation. But it will not bring about a durable and lasting peace. The first step in breaking what has become an injurious addiction to a futile process is to recognise that it is so – to acknowledge, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. seafoid
    May 7, 2012, 12:28 pm

    Judaism really needs a peace process- all that moral stuff needs acts to back it up. Zionism believes it doesn’t need a peace process. Ideas don’t matter in Zionism.
    Zionism won. Judaism will lose.

  2. Dan Crowther
    May 7, 2012, 1:17 pm

    There isn’t going to be a “peace deal.” Full Stop.

    As brother Malcolm said: It’s the ballot or the bullet

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 7, 2012, 2:17 pm

      The sooner the 2-state solution myth is dead and buried, the sooner we can address the crime against huimanity that is the one-state defacto Israel which has existed since 1967.

      • seafoid
        May 7, 2012, 4:37 pm


        “When he returned to power in 2009, Netanyahu found a way to move the Americans over to his side in the Palestinian arena, without paying a political price”

        The check will be presented to Israel at the appropriate time. Reparations plus interest. Once Israel loses its political cover there will be no hiding place.


        “At the height of Operation Defensive Shield in Gaza in 2002, I asked Peres, who was then foreign minister in Ariel Sharon’s government, how he could lend a hand to the annihilation of the Oslo Accords he had nurtured. “How can I oppose a move that the Americans have agreed to?” Peres responded”

        Short termism is what destroyed the US economy. It will destroy Israel too.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 7, 2012, 11:38 pm

        “It will destroy Israel too.”

        As long as something does. I, frankly, don’t much care what form the destruction of that state takes, so long as the fewest people possible suffer, while justice is done.

      • Hostage
        May 8, 2012, 5:19 am

        The sooner the 2-state solution myth is dead and buried, the sooner we can address the crime against huimanity that is the one-state defacto Israel which has existed since 1967.

        Ending the negotiations is one thing, but statehood is another matter. It is a handy legal status that most other countries have extended to Palestine. It’s actually a myth that the death of the two state solution will immediately result in a one state solution that will make it easier to apply international law. The Hague rules and Geneva Conventions would no longer apply. The United States is a single federal state. It nonetheless has several “territories” that aren’t incorporated in any state and “nationals”, like the Samoans, who aren’t U.S. citizens. It routinely tells the UN that U.S. military activities in Puerto Rico, compensation for past wrong doing and land theft from Hawaiians, Indian Tribes, Eskimos, and descendants of slaves are matters which fall essentially within its own domestic jurisdiction in accordance with Article 2(7) of the UN Charter.

        Native Americans were given citizenship nearly a hundred years ago in order to insure that they would not be considered separate nation-states with distinct international legal personalities. That has actually exacerbated the issue of applying international conventions and obtaining compensation or punishment for past crimes. See U.N. Wraps Up Contentious Study of Native American Communities. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107676

  3. pabelmont
    May 7, 2012, 1:41 pm

    And, of course, the huddled masses of the world (the nations) are powerless to oppose the still puissant USA (puissant is not quite the same as poisonous or pissant, but the various words are similar). Were the nations empowered, bold, or perhaps if they merely saw a danger that was clearer to them than it is to USA, they could begin major economic blockade-boycott-sanction of Israel to require Israel to end the occupation, remove the wall, the settlers, the settlements, and end the siege of Gaza.

    This is not merely a game for the USA and Israel to dictate to the Palestinians, but the nations who could play a role certainly treat it that way. And they’ve got far worse things to worry about — economic meltdown in short term and global warming in long term, both the product of the USA’s untrammeled Capitalism (as to GW, the non-feasance of the USA being the product of uC).

    For the nonce, and in the long run, the ball is in AIPAC’s court.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    May 7, 2012, 3:10 pm

    RE: “Hope someone in Washington is reading it (I won’t hold my breath). ” ~ A. Horowitz
    AND RE: “The first step in breaking what has become an injurious addiction to a futile process is to recognise…that the emperor has no clothes.” ~ ICG

    FROM: Josh Ruebner, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
    SENT: Monday, May 07, 2012 12:16 PM

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    Dear ****,
    We need you to take action right now to make your voice heard in opposition to a resolution that the House will vote on as early as tomorrow to strengthen the U.S.-Israel military relationship.
    Sign this petition to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the sponsor of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, opposing this resolution. If we get 10,000 or more signatures on this petition by tomorrow, we’ll personally deliver it to Rep. Cantor before the vote. . .
    TO SIGN THE PETITION – http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10402

  5. seafoid
    May 7, 2012, 5:02 pm

    We all hear all the time how smart the Jewish people are but how dumb is it to promise to the world a Palestinian state and then strangle it and expect apartheid to work in the 21st century ? Do they honestly expect the world to accept the memory of the murdered of the Holocaust to justify it? Isn’t that insane ?

    • OlegR
      May 8, 2012, 7:15 am

      What’s insane is commenters in Mondoweiss who keep fighting their own created straw men.

      • seafoid
        May 8, 2012, 10:41 am

        You’re not insane Oleg, just deluded.

      • Hostage
        May 8, 2012, 2:09 pm

        You’re not insane Oleg, just deluded.

        He’s not deluded. He’s an arrogant Zionist troll.

  6. Hostage
    May 7, 2012, 5:39 pm

    What I find fascinating are the arguments and non-arguments that get advanced in favor of doing nothing that might disturb “the peace process”, while the same players stand-by and watch Israel turn-off the Palestinians sources of funding, fuel, and sustenance without so much as batting an eye.

    Israeli officials have warned that any bid for full membership at the UN would terminate the peace process. Look for that filed under ‘P’ for please quit some more in the Twilight Zone. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13701636

    The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court recently advised that there was no reasonable basis to proceed with any investigation of war crimes or crimes against humanity unless the relevant bodies at the United Nations or the ICC Assembly of States Parties first make a legal determination as to whether or not the victim qualifies as a State. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, president of the ICC Assembly of State Parties, told Joe Lauria of the WSJ that a Palestinian UN observer state could join the ICC and ask the court to investigate any alleged war crimes and other charges against Israel committed on Palestinian territory after July 2002, including Israel’s 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904060604576575002527221120.html

    The pundits at Foreign Policy routinely recite the requirements under the Quartet Road Map for Hamas to recognize the State of Israel. They note that Palestine could have gotten what it wanted long ago, because Phase II of the 2003 Quartet Road Map for Peace offered the option of creating “an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders” (e.g. armistice lines), and talk as if that milestone has somehow been removed. They claim that Palestine is operating outside the framework of international agreements, despite the fact that the Palestine Papers proved beyond any doubt that George Mitchell had dropped all of the Road Map terms of reference. The pundits fail to note that Phase II also created an obligation for the Quartet to promote international recognition of the State of Palestine and UN membership as interim measures that would occur before taking-up the final stage negotiations on refugees and East Jerusalem. They do note that “As a UN member, Palestine could resort to legal recourse at the UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and possibly the International Criminal Court. Moreover, attaining UN membership would arguably enhance the Palestinians’ claim to the pre-1967 armistice line, since that line will have been recognized internationally.” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/68262/robert-m-danin/the-un-vote-and-palestinian-statehood

    So naturally the uninspired Aaron David Miller, who helped six US Secretaries of State turn the I-P conflict into a proverbial “Gordian Knot”, describes the UN bid as “The most woolly-headed and inconsequential idea” in his article “Dumb Idea Hall Of Fame”. Miller is Dumb squared. Steve Walt once said “Miller is in effect saying that the peace process is dead, yet his analysis also unintentionally illustrates the myopia that has doomed U.S. efforts for twenty years or more. Miller can’t imagine why the Palestinians would pursue recognition as a non-member observer state at this time (even though he admits the Israeli government is “already uninterested in real negotiations”). In fact he admits that “Right now, no idea, particularly the semisacred principle of negotiations on the core issues, such as Jerusalem and refugees, will bring Palestinians any closer to realizing their legitimate national aspirations for statehood.”

    So despite the fact that the talks are pointless and nonproductive, you’ll be ridiculed if you suggest BDS, the statehood bid, or anything else.

  7. Les
    May 7, 2012, 6:58 pm

    Don’t let your ears deceive you. Both Israel and the US consider this a “piece” process.

  8. Charon
    May 7, 2012, 8:08 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the title (quoted from the next-to-last sentence in the third quoted paragraph).

    The Peace Process© has its roots in the Camp David Accords and subsequent agreements. This was supposed to set the ground work for peace in general but the only thing that came out of it was the unpopular Egypt-Israel peace treaty (the latter is where Israel gets its annual $3 billion in US aid) which likely led to Sadat’s assassination.

    A decade later, Israel made the revocation of UNGA resolution 3379 (Zionism is racism) a pre-requisite to attending the Madrid Conference that set the framework for the Oslo Accords. As a result of the conference, India, China, Morocco, Tunisia, and a few other nations recognized and established diplomatic relations with Israel (their support nearly doubled). It’s worth nothing that both this and the early Camp David Accords occurred under the cooperation of Likudite former terrorist leaders Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. Then of course after Oslo, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, then Bibi had his first term and took advantage of the fine print and made the Jordan Valley a ‘security zone’ which in his own words stopped the Oslo Accords. His refusal to pullout of the Jordan Valley is proof that he likely still believes this.

    So the Peace Process© and 2SS has been dead for quite some time now you see.

  9. HarryLaw
    May 8, 2012, 6:06 am

    The Quartet road map should not have proceeded one day longer than the first breach of it by Israel’s daily transfers of its own population into Occupied Territory in breach of the Geneva conventions [a grave war crime article 49.6] Here is what phase one said -Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalise Palestinian life.

    Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and co-operation progress.

    Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report. who is to blame, well obviously Israels contempt for International Law is well known, but they do not recognise that this aspect of Geneva applies to them in relation to the OPT, it does of course, but they genuinely think it does not, States cannot pick and choose which parts of those conventions apply to them, they apply in their entirety to everybody. The PA on the other hand, I think are more culpable they saw the settlements expand every day, but kept up the pretence that they would not create that many problems, now 650,000 settlers later, they now know how wrong they were, what can they do about it, hopefully follow Hostage’s advice on state recognition and ICC membership, or in the words of Professor Finkelstein, JUST APPLY THE LAW.

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 8, 2012, 8:34 am

      “The Quartet road map should not have proceeded one day longer than the first breach of it by Israel’s daily transfers of its own population into Occupied Territory…”

      But the Road Map was never intended to be anything but a cynical smokescreen for the continued theft of Palestine.

    • Hostage
      May 8, 2012, 1:54 pm

      Israels contempt for International Law is well known, but they do not recognise that this aspect of Geneva applies to them in relation to the OPT, it does of course, but they genuinely think it does not

      That’s not really the case. Over the years, the Court has employed a number of legal fictions which were no longer applicable after the Security Council adopted the Secretary Generals report and the Statute of the ICTY in 1993. An independent panel of experts had advised the Secretary General that all four of the Geneva Conventions on war victims had passed into the body of international law that reflected customary state practice. That made them binding on any non-signatories that engaged in armed conflicts. The Security Council annexed the report and the statute to a Chapter VII resolution that required all member states to assist the ICTY in bringing suspects to justice.

      The High Court of Justice deliberately avoided any ruling on the questions of population transfer or deportation in the petitions that were filed after the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion. The decisions never reached the question of the applicability of the customary rules contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Court simply claimed “the question is not before us at this time”. In a recent case involving Palestinian prisoners transferred to jails in Israel, the Court finally ruled that the specific provisions of Knesset statutes had preempted the Geneva Conventions. They’ll probably do exactly the same thing with any statute legalizing outposts, since Palestinians don’t appear to have any other rights under Israel’s unwritten constitution.

      The PA on the other hand, I think are more culpable they saw the settlements expand every day, but kept up the pretence that they would not create that many problems

      That is certainly not the case. The Security Council adopted resolutions which endorsed the Oslo process and the Quartet Road Map. The PA has formally addressed war crimes, crimes against humanity and expansion of the settlements and outposts to the UN Security Council and the 10th Emergency Session of the General Assembly on more than 400 occasions since the year 2000.

      After the 2004 Advisory opinion, the General Assembly Emergency Session demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations as mentioned in the advisory opinion and resolution ES-10/15. It also directed the PA to undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks and to cooperate with Israel on matters of security in accordance with its obligations under the Road Map. The PA has been accused of collaboration. So it has undoubtedly fulfilled its international obligations as defined by the primary organs of the UN. They, on the other hand, have done nothing about Israel’s continuing violations of its own obligations and have failed to promote recognition of the Palestinian state and membership in the UN in line with their own obligations under the Road Map. Here are some links to ES-10/15, 2 August 2004 and the latest letter from Palestine to the Security Council and General Assembly.
      * http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/F3B95E613518A0AC85256EEB00683444

  10. HarryLaw
    May 8, 2012, 5:36 pm

    Hostage, thanks for those links, I did not mean they had done nothing, simply my frustration at what many people regard as the Quartet’s obvious playing for time and being in Israels corner combined with the interminable talks around that table, when it was obvious the talks were going nowhere and in any case as you say Netanyahu gave them their answer in a way they cannot misinterperet by legalising those settlements. Maybe a blessing in disguise.

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