Reports say peace process is ‘fantasy’ and ‘worst’ since Oslo– but blame falls on Israel this time

Israel/Palestine
on 29 Comments
Yasser Abed Rabbo, photo by Issam Rimawi

Yasser Abed Rabbo, photo by Issam Rimawi

Here are three recent mainstream reports that the peace process is stalled and going nowhere. Interestingly, all three put the blame on Israel, which is a shift from earlier versions of the failure of the peace process. The key issue mentioned is Israel’s refusal to withdraw forces from the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

I’m saving the harshest for last: the statement from PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo, who is authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations, saying that “these are the worst negotiating sessions in 20 years,” a statement mentioned at the State Department briefing yesterday.

First, Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post says John Kerry is conducting diplomacy between the parties by “fantasy.” Though Diehl’s column criticizes Obama for withdrawing from what Diehl considers a necessary cold war in the Middle East (with Saudi Arabia and Israel on the same side), he says that the two-state deal is going nowhere fast. And notice where the blame falls:

Virtually no one outside the State Department — including the nominal parties to the talks — takes seriously the possibility that Kerry’s plan for a Geneva conference to settle the Syrian war can work in the foreseeable future, or that Israelis and Palestinians can agree on a two-state settlement. They play along with the process to please Washington, or Moscow, while complaining to journalists like me that Kerry’s diplomacy is based on fantasy. Who can imagine Syrian President Bashar al-Assad placidly agreeing to step down? Or Netanyahu ceding East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians and their security forces?

Zvi Bar’el in Haaretz echoes Diehl, saying the Obama administration has made the determination to get out of the Middle East as much as it can, and forget about all the geopolitics of that region. Including a fruitless peace process. Notice that Bar’el also blames the Israelis for the failure.

Why does the Obama administration insist on continuing to deal with the Israel-Palestinian conflict, of all things, where its chances of succeeding are less than the odds of winning the lottery? It seems the answer has to do with the paradox that says failure is success. An administration that is concerned about its future is careful of getting into conflict with an Israeli government, and that is all the more true of a right-wing Israeli government. It must settle for a show of willingness and determination to move the process forward, but only the process.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, the process is simple — it has no risk, no potential of military intervention, no strategic threat that could lead to a regional war. Even the tiniest amount of progress, such as dismantling an illegal outpost, releasing prisoners or relief measures for commerce, can be taken as a great accomplishment. For the far-right that is running Israel, the “reevaluation” of American foreign policy is good news. All it has to do is act as if it is a partner in the peace process, as if it is anxious for the welfare of the talks with the Palestinians, as if it accepts the two-state solution. This is the art of horse-thieving that Israel is skilled in, and that the U.S. is also familiar with. That is how friends operate.

Now here is that dialogue from the State Deparment yesterday:

Question: Today, a PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said is the worst negotiating session in 20 years. Do you have any comment on this?

MS. [Jen] PSAKI: Well, Said, we know there’s a range of comments and reports out there. We’re not going to speak to every one of them. We’re still continuing to pursue, of course, a negotiated two-state solution. Our focus remains on that. And there have been also a range of reports recently about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to release prisoners and President Abbas’s decision to put aside efforts to upgrade the status of the Palestinians in international organizations. We consider those to be conducive to creating a positive environment for the negotiations. But they’re ongoing. I don’t have an update for you. And beyond that – go ahead.

QUESTION: What would compel someone of the stature of Yasser Abed Rabbo to come out and say this publicly, that these are the worst negotiating sessions in 20 years? What would compel him to do that? I mean, you are the only one endowed with the ability to comment on these negotiations as they take place. They have already taken place for three months. We have six months to go, so the clock is ticking. So I want your comment on why would he say this if things were moving in the right direction.

MS. PSAKI: I can’t ascribe for you a reason. Obviously, you know the negotiators and who they are and who the parties are who are participating. Both parties have committed to a nine-month timeframe. That has remained the case. So they’re continuing to work through a range of issues that are on the table.

QUESTION: He’s accusing the Israelis of sticking to one point, which is basically maintaining a – some sort of a military presence along the Jordan Valley, and they will not move beyond that. Is that your reading of the negotiations as you are —

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to —

QUESTION: — as you supervise —

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to that. You know that every significant issue is on the table, so certainly security is a part of that.

QUESTION: Did you know anything about the Quartet meeting today?

MS. PSAKI: I do. So they – the Quartet envoys will be meeting in Jerusalem today to discuss the ongoing final status negotiations, and Ambassador Indyk will be representing the United States in that meeting.

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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29 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    October 30, 2013, 11:25 am

    The Israelis only wanted to kick the can down the road, they have succeeded in delaying the Palestinians application to join the other 63 UN Agencies,succeeded in delaying the Palestinians application to join the ICC, and succeeded in continuing the settlement enterprise with thousands of more tenders announced, and, if the report in the Times of Israel is true, Abbas is warming to an interim agreement, how fatal would that be? link to timesofisrael.com

    • Krauss
      October 30, 2013, 3:16 pm

      Interim agreement is no magic bullet. The bruality would continue and Israel’s image would descend further downwards. But America could at least wash its hands of the issue, which is why Obama is probably thinking about it.

      As for the endless whining in Israel about Obama’s “weakness”(read: he has other areas, such as Asia, to tend to), I’m honestly surprised how stupid their analysis is.

      It’s like a bubble. They think they are at the center of the world. Soon, America won’t have to import any oil at all from the Middle East and China will slowly overtake their importance in the region as it becomes more and more dependent upon Arab oil states.

      Israel is a liability. It doesn’t even see this. They think the natural outcome of cutting the cords with them is somehow ‘weakness’. But they should ask themselves: if not America, then who? China is increasingly dependent upon said oil production. Will China rush to the U.N. to save Israel? What can Israel provide China that Saudi Arabia cannot? Which side are the Saudis on? Well, with Israel vs Iran, on Israel’s. With Israel vs the Palestinians, guess ten times.

      I hope Obama completes the cordcutting. He has shown more backbone on the Middle East than most of his predecessors, and that’s a very, very low bar to overcome. Let the Israelis panic, whither and drown in their own hysterical hatred. They’ll then find out how many want their Apartheid state around; not many.

    • pabelmont
      October 30, 2013, 5:40 pm

      Harry, Not sure there’ll be progress after the 9 months.

      PA depends for funds on a life-line, and that is either Israel/USA or controlled (by a turn-off valve) by Israel/USA. Hence, when the 9-months are over, and it is time for PA to apply for membership to ICC and whatever other agencies there are, PA may once again kow-tow to Israel. Since 1990 or thereabouts, Palestinians have been regarding the leadership of the Arafat/Fateh/PA as corrupt, as earning a nice living interceding between Israel and the Palestinian people (under occupation only). the corruption of the OSLO agreement is a major case in point.

      Well, why suppose the corruption (I’m assuming the truth of the charges) will terminate? Isn’t the Egyptian military in exactly the same position, and hasn’t it terminated democracy in Egypt at the direction of the USA in order to keep the flow of money coming to them? Isn’t this the USA’s M/O? Doesn’t Israel collect taxes and then refuse to disgorge them? And doesn’t Israel point a gun to PA’s head? recall the attack on Arafat and his imprisonment within his “compound” toward the end of his life?

      As to Abbas making an interim agreement, this is probably what I mean by kow-towing. Have to see it, of course. If it removes 50% of the settlers and returns 50% of the land stolen by Israel in area C and the Jordan valley, well, that’d be progress. Not holding my breath.

      • Walid
        October 30, 2013, 9:40 pm

        “PA depends for funds on a life-line, and that is either Israel/USA or controlled (by a turn-off valve) by Israel/USA. ”

        Also depends a lot on EU funding as well as that of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Article last month in the Guardian explaining how Israel’s siphoning $300 million annually from the Palestinians that could be helping them create 10,000 jobs and benefitting their economy.

        link to theguardian.com

  2. David Nelson
    October 30, 2013, 11:39 am

    Yeah right, like Palestine has anything to offer Israel. These negotiations have been doomed from the start. I blame Turkey, Egypt and Iran for not sitting at the table with the Palestinians, and I blame the Palestinians for not insisting that representatives from Turkey, Egypt, and Iran sit at the table with Palestine and be included in the negotiations. It has long been known that the US cannot be an impartial actor in the peace process, so why does Palestine keep falling for the ruse? The negotiating table itself is not balanced. Other Middle Eastern powers will balance it out. Expecting the US to play a neutral role keeps everyone locked into this insanity.

    • Danaa
      October 30, 2013, 1:30 pm

      David, the palestinians really had no choice but to sit at a table. probably the best Abbas could get is that Netanyahu agreed not to herd all the Palestinians into a barn, for now. In any case, Abbas has to do what the US insisted he does – which is pretend to “talk peace”. He, or any other palestinian, have no choice on the matter, or else, what aid they get from the outside will be cut off. Insisting on anything from their end was not in the cards. What would Vichy have insisted on in talks with the invading germans?

      I see nothing but bad things coming, like Abbas being compelled to agree to that “interim peace” where the palestinians have less than 60% of the west bank and no right to anything other than food stamps, courtesy of the western aid agencies.

      there is simply no universe where Israel returns any part of east Jerusalem, or the Jordan valley, or shares water rights to the aquifier, or agrees to remove its hooligans and storm troopers from palestinian areas. That’s the offer on the table, from Israel’s side, allowing the west bank to become kind of like Gaza.

    • talknic
      October 31, 2013, 1:07 am

      @ David Nelson “I blame Turkey, Egypt and Iran for not sitting at the table with the Palestinians”

      They don’t have a UNSC veto vote

      “It has long been known that the US cannot be an impartial actor in the peace process, so why does Palestine keep falling for the ruse?”

      It’s one of the only avenues open where they can throw the ball back into Israel’s court and each time they do it becomes more and more apparent Israel is not a partner for peace

  3. W.Jones
    October 30, 2013, 11:43 am

    “or that Israelis and Palestinians can agree on a two-state settlement. They play along with the process to please Washington, or Moscow, while complaining to journalists like me that Kerry’s diplomacy is based on fantasy. Who can imagine Syrian President Bashar al-Assad placidly agreeing to step down? Or Netanyahu ceding East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians and their security forces?”

    I did not think this passage blames either side more than the other. A reader thinking that Net. should cede East Jerusalem would blame Net., while a reader feeling the opposite way would agree with him. That was my reading.

    • W.Jones
      October 30, 2013, 11:57 am

      It talked about his unwillingness to “cede” (give back) important territory to “security forces”, instead of talking about his unwillingness to “give back” territory to the Palestinians (only.) It did not give a counter reason why he should give it up.

      Perhaps latent inside his statement is the idea that Netanyahu is being like Assad in failing to meet liberal hopes. But anyway it was not said very strongly.

      • MHughes976
        October 31, 2013, 4:50 am

        Yes, I can’t really see the remarks by Diehl, who is as far as I know very much committed to the Israeli cause, as implying a more critical or even-handed attitude to Israel. The object of his scorn is Kerry. Bar’el for his part is genuinely critical of the Israeli right-wing Government, though not of Israel, but he is surely rolling out a barrel which has been standard Haaretz fare for many years. I’m not at all sure that the political wind is, on this evidence, blowing from a new direction or making Israel smell less sweet.

      • Walid
        October 31, 2013, 6:31 am

        “It talked about his unwillingness to “cede” (give back)… his unwillingness to “give back” territory…”

        W.Jones, the terms to “cede” or “give back” imply that one is talking about the return of something having been freely given away and is being returned, refused or rejected.

        In talking about Palestinian territories reverting back to their rightful owners, these have been stolen by Israel and I would therefore think that the proper term should be “restituted”. To call the action “giving back”, “abandoning” or “ceding” is more Zionist smoke and mirrors. Careful not to fall for it.

      • bintbiba
        October 31, 2013, 9:38 am

        Walid, I always appreciate your input on MW. Well reasoned and factual.
        Thank you. I wonder what happened to Abdul Rahman and Ramzi Jaber.
        They have been absent for some time, now. Also I miss Mooser.

      • Walid
        October 31, 2013, 12:30 pm

        Hi bintbiba, Ramzi posted something here a couple of days back on the “Montreal Panelists booted out of the festival” thread. Ramzi that has great posts is in Gaza I think; his input is very valuable. The same for Abdul-Rahman that’s very heavy into history. A-R was here last about 2 weeks ago. I also miss the fun of having Mooser around.

      • bintbiba
        October 31, 2013, 1:07 pm

        Thanks Walid, I ‘m glad they’re Abdul Rahman and Ramzi Jaber are still well and active online. I must have missed them .

      • bintbiba
        October 31, 2013, 1:09 pm

        Correction: I’m glad That Abdul Rahman and Ramzi jaber are still well and active online .

  4. Susie Kneedler
    October 30, 2013, 12:29 pm

    Zvi Bar’el: “Even the tiniest amount of progress, such as dismantling an illegal outpost, releasing prisoners or relief measures for commerce, can be taken as a great accomplishment. For the far-right that is running Israel,…[a]ll it has to do is act as if it is a partner in the peace process, as if it is anxious for the welfare of the talks with the Palestinians, as if it accepts the two-state solution. This is the art of horse-thieving that Israel is skilled in….”

    Unfortunately, a BBC report confirms Israeli-government “thieving” (horses or no): the Israeli Interior ministry announces that it’s authorized over 1500 new colonies in East Jerusalem and much more:
    “Israel approves new East Jerusalem settlement homes”:
    “1,531 housing units, public buildings and gardens….The government also approved the development of a tourism and archaeology centre near Jerusalem’s sensitive Old City, as well as plans for the establishment of a national park on Mount Scopus in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem campus.”
    link to bbc.co.uk

    PS: Has NPR announced this new grab? I haven’t heard it and can’t see it on the “News” page link to npr.org.

  5. Annie Robbins
    October 30, 2013, 2:06 pm

    psaki: And there have been also a range of reports recently about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to release prisoners and President Abbas’s decision to put aside efforts to upgrade the status of the Palestinians in international organizations.

    and there’s the administrations success at serving israel. stopping palestinians from going to the UN, and for that they traded the prisoners. this has nothing to do with a final solution, nothing at all.

    • Walid
      October 30, 2013, 8:46 pm

      “this has nothing to do with a final solution, nothing at all.”

      Of course it doesn’t, but it’s a good gimmick to finalize the full takeover of what’s remaining of East Jerusalem and shutting down talks on the Jordan Valley for another 20 years, or earlier if it runs dry and in return, the Palestinians get back 104 prisoners. It’s a winning situation for both sides.

  6. seafoid
    October 30, 2013, 4:51 pm

    “Even the tiniest amount of progress, such as dismantling an illegal outpost, releasing prisoners”

    It’s like the slot machines in Vegas. You get 60 prisoners released for every 500 they imprison . It isn’t progress.
    But how do Jews think this is going to end ?

  7. Mayhem
    October 30, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Like wild dogs champing at the bit – wanting so much for the talks to fail.

    When Israelis and Palestinians renewed peace negotiations, they agreed on only one thing: No talking about the talks.
    In September Israel complained to the United States of alleged Palestinian leaks that violated the agreement and aimed to pressure Israel. Read link to articles.latimes.com

    This disclosure of inside information by the Palestinian side is a deliberate effort to undermine the talks. If they can’t get what they want they’ll destroy the peace process as they have done time and time again.

    • Walid
      October 31, 2013, 12:14 pm

      “This disclosure of inside information by the Palestinian side is a deliberate effort to undermine the talks. (Mayhem)

      Makes one think of the old saying about laying down with dogs, or should it be birds of a feather ?

      • seafoid
        October 31, 2013, 12:34 pm

        “This disclosure of inside information by the Palestinian side is a deliberate effort to undermine the talks. (Mayhem)

        ROTFLMFAO

        What a crock of Zionist bollocks.
        Like anything ever stopped them building houses for Jews on Palestinian land.

  8. Walid
    October 30, 2013, 8:39 pm

    “What would compel someone of the stature of Yasser Abed Rabbo to come out and say this publicly, that these are the worst negotiating sessions in 20 years? ”

    It’s good PR to be used on the Palestinian population; makes them believe their government is looking out for them and at the same time, it prepares them to accept further concessions that will have to be made to the big, bad and intransigent Israelis.

  9. Bumblebye
    October 30, 2013, 8:50 pm

    bbcR5Live Up All Night after 1am GMT will have Israeli amb to UK on to talk ‘piece process’. Think he’s anglo-Israeli called Taub. Full of the most feeble hasbara from what i heard last time.

  10. traintosiberia
    October 30, 2013, 9:52 pm

    Israel has used various ethno religious crisis to its advantage. It has created when none has existed prior to it’s monkeying around. China remain vulnerable to situation in Xinxiang .An audacious terror activity might harden Chinese attitude to any Muslim entity to the advantage of Israel.

  11. Inanna
    October 31, 2013, 12:38 am

    The hasbara is getting so stale it can’t be recycled. Noone believes anymore that Israel wants a Palestinian state and they know where to put the blame. With the narrative breaking down, I wonder what desperate zionists will come up with next? It’s not going to end well since desperate people do desperate things and in this case, it’s Palestinians who will pay the price.

    • Walid
      October 31, 2013, 6:47 am

      “Noone believes anymore …”

      Inanna, Israel concerns itself only with what the US believes or thinks of its actions and doesn’t give a hoot about what the rest of the world believes. So far, most of the American public is either believing or wanting to believe everything Israel says.

      • seafoid
        October 31, 2013, 10:09 am

        But they are losing people every year. Tooth decay doesn’t happen overnight either.

        It’s too brutal and too mendacious to make it long term. Zionism’s great nemesis is reality.

  12. peeesss
    November 1, 2013, 1:08 am

    “Its too brutal and too mendacious to make it long term”. I wish it were so. The brutality and mendaciousness has lasted since the 1920’s. It gets worse every year. And with the Abbas and Erekat Vichi so called “government”, US/Israeli collaborators and enforcers, in power, no equitable , just solution will prevail.

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