Power and Kerry work to deliver the Security Council and Jerusalem to Israel

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This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Israel on the UN Security Council?  So says Samantha Power in her Senate confirmation hearing.  She’ll lobby for it.

I’m not sure whether she’ll argue for Israel as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council – serving on a rotating basis for two years – or as a permanent member cohabiting with the likes of the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.  The former seems logical though I’m not sure that would be enough to satisfy her pro-Israel supporters.

The Guardian reports that Power also apologized for her previous criticism of Israel, characterizing it as a “long, rambling and remarkably incoherent response to a hypothetical question that I should never have answered.” She’s referred to her comments in an interview in 2002 when she spoke the truth about America’s long, rambling and remarkably incoherent policy toward Palestinians.

At that point in her career, Power had ambitions to lead the Left-leaning anti-genocide community at Harvard and elsewhere.  Then she got Potomac Fever.  Her ambitions changed.  She’s been on her knees ever since.

Power and John Kerry must be bosom buddies now.  Did he watch her testimony yesterday in Amman?  I didn’t.  It’s too painful to watch.

The Guardian also reports an imminent breakthrough and a restarting of the peace process due to Kerry’s efforts.  Will Samantha Power lead the negotiators in prayer before each session?  Or perhaps she’ll be brought in as the honest broker to facilitate the talks once they’ve begun. 

Even though she’s recanted, she once spoke the truth about the need for a real Palestinian state and what America had to do to get it done.  She might also sweeten the deal by offering to lobby for a seat on the UN Security Council for Palestine, too.

Where can these peace talks go?  If everything goes swimmingly and Israel wants to make a deal what will it offer?  If Palestinians are desperate and need to make a deal, what are they willing to accept?

What Kerry has put on the table is top secret.  No one outside his meetings seems to know.  Yet the peace process road is so well travelled it’s easy to guess.

What’s likely left off the table?  For starters, two real states, with Israel withdrawing to its 1967 borders.  Then there’s East Jerusalem – except perhaps some limited sovereignty over holy places.  Gaza won’t be on the table except some dire language about Hamas.  The Palestinian right of return?  You won’t see it on the table, either.   

What’s left for Palestinians?  Symbolic statehood.  Some form of limited political autonomy.  Economic incentives. 

Did I forget Israeli and international forces on the borders of the symbolic, limited autonomy Palestinian state?  Enhanced Swiss Bank accounts for Palestinian leadership?

Cynicism has to be avoided at all costs.  Even corruption can bring parties closer to agreement.  Nonetheless, hope is tempered by reality.  If negotiations begin again we’re in for more of the same – which isn’t near enough. 

What will happen after an agreement or more likely the collapse of the process is, like Kerry’s table, unknown – but thoroughly predictable.

After all, we’ve been down this peace negotiations road before.

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and www.newdiasporabooks.com

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