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The deal: Kerry gets an ‘announcement,’ Netanyahu gets EU to drop sanctions

Israel/Palestine
on 30 Comments

Secretary of State Kerry is desperate to make an announcement of renewed talks, any talks. As ever, his #1 concern is looking good (literally and figuratively).  Prime Minister Netanyahu just wants Kerry off his back because he is anguished over the just-announced EU sanctions which will penalize Israeli institutions that support the settlement enterprise.  If the sanctions actually take effect, he will look weak and, even worse, he could be viewed as having produced the “delegitimization” of the occupation.

This is what I think happened:

Kerry: Bibi, my dear friend, please do me a solid. Just let me announce negotiations.

Bibi: Beat it, geezer. You are getting on my nerves.

Kerry: Thanks a lot. My wife is sick and you can’t even help a brother out.

Bibi: No way.

Kerry: Uh, you know those EU sanctions?

Bibi: I’m surprised you would mention them. You did fuck-all to make them go away.

Kerry: Well, we could do something.

Bibi: You mean…

Kerry: I mean you agree to a non-binding peace talks formula. Actually, you agree to nothing. You just agree to allow the United States to state that we favor negotiations based on the ’67 lines which, by the way, has always been our position although you don’t let us say it.

Bibi: But we don’t have to agree that the ’67 borders have any validity.

Kerry: No, of course not. No, but you allow us to say it.

Bibi: I don’t know if I can permit that. Wait… Can you also say that the United States accepts the position that Israel be recognized “as a Jewish state.” That is AIPAC’s position too and you do have elections coming up, my friend.

Kerry:  That isn’t a problem. The donors will love that. Also, Susan Rice, Samantha Power and your next senator, I mean our next Democratic senator, Cory Booker, want us to say that,

Bibi: I love Cory. Anyway, if we agree to that,  you will get the EU to drop the sanctions?

Kerry: Yes. But you also have to let out some Palestinian prisoners you have been holding since 1993.

Bibi: We’ll just arrest them again.

Kerry: Whatever. So we have a deal. I get to make an announcement and we get the EU to drop sanctions on settlements.

Bibi: Yes, here’s a tip. Start with Germany. They live in terror that I’ll, you know, say the word Holocaust.

Kerry: Right.

Bibi: You know I’m not giving up the West Bank or freezing settlements or anything.

Kerry:  And we’d never ask you too. By the way, there may be more money coming your way.

Bibi: Yeah, Cantor and Schumer told me.

Kerry: Thank you, Bibi. You are a great man.

Bibi: I know. Love to Teresa.

Kerry: And love to you and your Cabinet. Don’t forget to watch my announcement on CNN. I’ll be wearing that tie Sarah gave me.

Next: Kerry makes announcement. The Israel lobby from J Street to former Ambassador Indyk cheer. And, almost immediately, Germany announces it does not support sanctions. Next up, UK and France.

The Palestinians and America’s honor: screwed. Same as it ever was.

[Editor: Kerry’s Magnificent Breakthrough: A Psychodrama first appeared on MJ Rosenberg’s site today.]

MJ Rosenberg
About M.J. Rosenberg

M.J. Rosenberg served as a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow with Media Matters Action Network, and prior to that worked on Capitol Hill for various Democratic members of the House and Senate for 15 years. He was also a Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the early 1980s, he was editor of AIPACs weekly newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum. You can follow his work at mjayrosenberg.com.

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30 Responses

  1. Egbert
    Egbert
    July 21, 2013, 2:06 pm

    The final link – Germany announces it does not support sanctions – is broken. It should be

    http://www.jpost.com/International/Germany-backs-away-from-EU-settlement-directives-320469

    • American
      American
      July 21, 2013, 3:08 pm

      There are 28 states in the EU. Let’s see what they do.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 22, 2013, 4:16 am

        There are 28 states in the EU. Let’s see what they do.

        More to the point, the article is only quoting Merkel’s spokesman in the Bundestag. There are several parties beside Merkel’s there who hope to change her policies after the September elections:

        All of Germany’s six leading polls show no majority for Merkel’s current coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic Party. The polls indicate majorities for two coalitions that Steinbrueck says he won’t participate in: Merkel’s CDU with his SPD and an SPD-Greens-Left alliance. A CDU tie-up with the Greens is also mathematically possible.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-22/german-spd-seen-by-merkel-party-leader-turning-to-left.html

        Reuters reports Merkel’s road to a third term could be rocky:

        The vote could well play out according to script. Merkel’s conservatives hold a dominant 16-19 point lead over the next strongest party, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), and recent polls suggest she may be able to renew her centre-right coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) after September 22nd.

        But should she fail to secure a parliamentary majority with the FDP, the election aftermath is likely to be far messier than many casual observers of German politics presume.

        In this scenario, Merkel would probably have to pay a very heavy price in terms of policy concessions to stay in the Chancellery.

        http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/07/07/uk-germany-election-analysis-idUKBRE9660DT20130707

        The Greens and others prevailed over Merkel in the recent fight over settlement product labeling, e.g.:

        The left-liberal German Green party finally forced the hand of the conservative Merkel administration to explicitly declare—what before had been an open secret—its support for product labels covering export goods from the occupied territories in the West Bank and Golan Heights.

        http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.527933

    • Justpassingby
      Justpassingby
      July 21, 2013, 3:22 pm

      Does it? Actually it just seems like this christian zionist is against it.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      July 21, 2013, 10:01 pm

      It should be

      You’re right Egbert – it should be a comprehensive boycott on all of Israel.

  2. justicewillprevail
    justicewillprevail
    July 21, 2013, 3:08 pm

    Well that isn’t such a great idea, since one of the factors persuading the Palestinians to go was the EU vote

    “A Palestinian source said that the publication of EU guidelines on Friday banning funding or grants to Israeli bodies with links to settlements was “decisive” in persuading the Palestinians to take the first steps back to negotiations.”

    And more realistically, Ghassan Khatib, former director of communications for the Palestinian Authority says, “The thing that bothers me is that it seems that the resumption of negotiations is seen as an objective in itself. But the problem was never the lack of negotiations, direct or indirect. It is the huge gap between Israel’s stated position and its practices, and the lack of willingness by the US to put pressure on them.”

    Meanwhile Lieberman and Bennet don’t even want talks, they are fine and dandy with the apartheid status quo, since they reckon that, with US cover, they can continue stealing land and building settlements, until there is no Palestine at all, just a disenfranchised, dispossessed population with no state and no rights, corralled into walled ghettoes.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/21/israel-palestinian-peace-talks-doubt

    As Khatib says, US pressure is the vital factor, one which has already dragged ISrael into talks it never wanted. But it requires a lot more pressure than either Kerry or Obama has ever demonstrated they have either the will or the muscle to enforce. Would Aipac allow them to do so? The only hope that Israel seems to have is to keep prevaricating, cede nothing and hope they can blame the Palestinians for the breakdown of talks. Meanwhile, keep encouraging building and demolishing, the options available according to who your parents happen to be. Apartheid in action.

  3. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    July 21, 2013, 3:21 pm

    EU kill their own resolution? Not likely, and quite far fetched to be honest.
    Actually terrorlisting the lebanese seems more likely to be the deal.

    “The European Union is moving closer to declaring the military wing of the Lebanese party Hezbollah a terrorist organization and could make a decision as soon as Monday if the last few countries with reservations are swayed, a senior EU official said Friday.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/eu-moves-closer-action-hezbollah-102100315.html

  4. MRW
    MRW
    July 21, 2013, 4:05 pm

    Wishful thinking. Europe isn’t acting because of geopolitical beneficence. There are factions set to erupt in various countries if these aren’t dealt with socially. Then there is the matter of votes. Half of Europe is experiencing crippling austerity and unemployment. You think the loss of Soda Streams and Ahava cosmetics are going to make much difference?

  5. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    July 21, 2013, 4:20 pm

    Germany backs away from EU guidelines, also not keen on the labeling issues. This is why the Palestinian leadership have to use all the legal tools available to them to achieve anything. On labeling many EU laws are now in place and applicable in all EU states and have mandatory country of origin labeling [South Africa have just forced Israeli companies operating in the West Bank not to label products “Made in Israel”. see Open Shahuda St here.. http://openshuhadastreet.org/south-africa-puts-a-label-on-settlement-goods/ also hounding Israel through the ICC and ICJ, these options must be pursued, otherwise the West will think the Palestinians can have sand kicked in their faces all the time. When Israel was given its birth certificate they wasted no time in letting the world know about it. In my opinion the most important thing is to get Natenyahu to agree to a freeze on settlements, in that event talks would not be an end in themselves. The prisoner issue while important for the prisoners and their families is not of acute political significance and it would be wrong for Abbas to use any releases as a meaningful political concession. At the end of the day the issue will not be decided by a political agreement between Israel and Palestine[ which is impossible] but by the application of International law forced on the recalcitrant party.

  6. annie
    annie
    July 21, 2013, 4:46 pm

    i can’t find anything about this (germany backing down on EU sanctions) in the german press. i even translated it into german and searched for it that way. so far jpost is the only one reporting it and that seems sort of strange that it would not be published in german.

  7. crone
    crone
    July 21, 2013, 5:43 pm

    Annie, perhaps it’s a momentary aberration on the part of the JP? If wishes were horses…

  8. amigo
    amigo
    July 21, 2013, 6:16 pm

    Germany is not backing down.This would never have seen the light of day if Germany had problems with it.

    Rest assured, the full membership would have been polled so as to avoid needless embarrassment.

    This just some paid media hack trying to put a spanner in the works.

    Expect more of these tactics.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 22, 2013, 4:29 am

      This just some paid media hack trying to put a spanner in the works.

      Nope this really is a member of the Bundestag who serves as Merkel’s coalition spokesman on foreign affairs. Although Merkel’s party is 19 points ahead in the polls, they indicate she might not have a lock on the necessary parliamentary majority with her current coalition partners after the September elections. So, she may have to eat this guy’s words in a couple of months.

  9. amigo
    amigo
    July 21, 2013, 6:32 pm

    Kerry gets an announcement and nietanyahu gets a referendum.

    ” Netanyahu planning referendum law for any peace deal with Palestinians
    Under pressure from right-wing members of his government, Netanyahu plans to introduce a law which will make ratification of any agreement dependent on a public referendum.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.537094

  10. rensanceman
    rensanceman
    July 21, 2013, 8:14 pm

    “I pulled the Palestinians down from the tree of preconditions; I did not agree to a further freeze of building in the territories; I refused to release 120 prisoners before the talks begin; and the 1967 borders are not mentioned”. Netanyahu’s comments in Haretz, July 21,
    This raw display of arrogance is there for world to see.

  11. Djinn
    Djinn
    July 21, 2013, 10:43 pm

    My German is very very rusty so this could simply be a rehash of the Jpost story but it seems to be the actual release from the CDU / CSU parliamentary group.

    http://www.presseportal.de/pm/7846/2517938/missfelder-eu-foerderleitlinien-zu-israel-leisten-keinen-beitrag-zur-loesung-des-nahost-konflikts

  12. American
    American
    July 22, 2013, 1:26 am

    Anyone who had any hope for the Kerry talks—Forget it.
    The US has sent another lawyer for Israel, Martin Indyk to be the US Rep. for the I/P talks.

    Report: Martin Indyk to be U.S. representative on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
    Former U.S. ambassador to Israel said to be favored by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    By Barak Ravid | Jul. 21, 2013 | 9:06 PM |

    Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk might be appointed the U.S. representative at Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, American blogger Laura Rozen reported Sunday, quoting diplomatic sources.

    Writing in Al-Monitor website, Rozen suggested the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was considering appointing Indyk, who also served as the Clinton’s administration’s assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs as the man in charge of the day to day negotiations.

    Rozen added that a final decision was yet to be reached, but that after getting the parties back to the table, Kerry would now “determine the right combination of players to work with the parties, knowing it’s going to be a slog and that he can’t carry it on his own shoulders day in and day out.”

    Five hours after Rozen’s initial report, Israeli channels 2 and 10 reported that Indyk would be appointed. Channel 2 added that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had approved of the choice.

    Indyk, born to a Jewish family in London, but raised in Australia is currently Vice President and Director for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. During the time of the Clinton administration he served two terms as ambassador to Israel, and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs.

    Indyk has remained in contact throughout the years with both Netanyahu and Abbas, and has made it a habit to meet with both leaders when he visits Israel.”

    If there is any doubt what Indyk is, here you go…. in which Norman rips him a new ashole by exposing his I-Firstdom lies.

    AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to a discussion on the crisis in Gaza, the US role in the conflict and what the prospects are for the incoming Obama administration.

    Martin Indyk is the former US ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration. He’s currently the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has a new book out; it’s called Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. He’s an adviser to Hillary Clinton, who was tapped to be Obama’s Secretary of State, and is among those mentioned as a potential special envoy to the Middle East. Martin Indyk joins us from Washington, D.C.

    We’re also joined by Norman Finkelstein here in New York, leading critic of Israeli foreign policy, the author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah.

    We turn first to Ambassador Indyk. Can you explain why you think Israel began this assault almost two weeks ago now?

    MARTIN INDYK: Good morning, Amy. Thanks very much for having me on the show. I feel a little bit sandbagged here. I was not told that I was going to be in some kind of debate with Norman Finkelstein. I’m not interested in doing that. I’m also not here as a spokesman for Israel. But I will try to answer your questions as best I can.

    I think that what happened here was that there was a ceasefire, an informal ceasefire, between Hamas and Israel that had lasted for about five months. Hamas decided to break that ceasefire with a prolonged series of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in southern Israel. And the Israeli government responded with overwhelming force, designed, as they have said, to try to reestablish deterrence, to prevent Hamas from doing that again, and to try to get a ceasefire in place that would prevent Hamas from smuggling in offensive weapons into Gaza, the better to attack Israel.

    AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, your assessment of why Israel attacked now?

    NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the record is fairly clear. You can find it on the Israeli website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Mr. Indyk is correct that Hamas had adhered to the ceasefire from June 17th until November 4th. On November 4th, here Mr. Indyk, I think, goes awry. The record is clear: Israel broke the ceasefire by going into the Gaza and killing six or seven Palestinian militants. At that point — and now I’m quoting the official Israeli website — Hamas retaliated or, in retaliation for the Israeli attack, then launched the missiles.

    Now, as to the reason why, the record is fairly clear as well. According to Ha’aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for this invasion before the ceasefire even began. In fact, according to yesterday’s Ha’aretz, the plans for the invasion began in March. And the main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one, as Mr. Indyk I think correctly points out, to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman’s language basically means Israel’s capacity to terrorize the region into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.

    And the second main reason for the attack is because Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. That is to say, Hamas was signaling they had joined the international consensus, they had joined most of the international community, overwhelmingly the international community, in seeking a diplomatic settlement. And at that point, Israel was faced with what Israelis call a Palestinian peace offensive. And in order to defeat the peace offensive, they sought to dismantle Hamas.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to — Ambassador Indyk, this issue of supporters of Israel say repeatedly that Hamas is still committed to the destruction of Israel. Is your sense that over the last year or so there has been some kind of a change in the viewpoints of the Hamas leaders?

    MARTIN INDYK: No, I don’t think there’s any evidence of that. Hamas is very clear that it will not make peace with Israel; it will not recognize Israel; its intention is to destroy the Jewish state, that it’s an abomination in the midst of the Arab heartland, Islamic world, and so on. And I don’t see that there’s any change in that whatsoever.

    I think the change that’s taken place is a change on the ground. Hamas, having won the PA elections and then — we don’t need to go into the details of that, but essentially what happened was, as a result of a competition between Hamas and Fatah over who would rule, Hamas took control of Gaza by force in what was, in effect, a putsch against the Palestinian Authority. It therefore moved from being a terrorist organization to a terrorist government, responsible for controlling territory in Gaza and responsible for meeting the needs of one-and-a-half million Palestinians in Gaza.

    There was a fundamental change in Hamas’s organization. By the way, it was a change which was hotly contested within Hamas. The external leadership of Hamas, which is based in Damascus, led by Khaled Meshal, was at the time deeply opposed to the idea of taking control of Gaza, precisely because he did not want to be responsible for meeting the needs of the Gazans. But the militants of Hamas in Gaza decided to take on Fatah and kick them out.

    And as a consequence, Hamas was then placed in a dilemma. It may, over time — as they face the consequences of having to rule in Gaza, it may, over time, moderate their position. Certainly, now they have to consider, in the context of the diplomatic efforts underway that you detailed for a ceasefire, what is more important to them: continuing their ability to attack Israel from Gaza — and in that case, they will not accept the kind of arrangements that Israel is now insisting on that would prevent them smuggling in offensive weapons — or whether they want to focus on meeting the needs of the Palestinian people. For that purpose, they will need the opening of the passages so that goods and people can flow in and out of Gaza. In other words, they’re going to face a choice between whether they want to have the ability to use this ceasefire — eventually, when it will be established — to continue their what they call resistance, what normally we understand as violence and terrorism against civilians, whether they’re going to continue that or whether they’re going to focus on meeting the needs of the people that they’re responsible for in Gaza. And that dilemma, as I say, over time, may lead to a moderation, but I don’t see it yet.

    AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein?

    NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I think the problem of Mr. Indyk’s presentation is he constantly reverses cause and effect. Just as he said a moment ago that it was Hamas which broke the ceasefire, although he well knows it was Israel that broke the ceasefire on November 4th, he now reverses cause and effect as to how the present impasse came about. In January 2006, as he writes in his book, Hamas came to power in a free and fair election. I think those are his words. He then claims on your program and he claims in his book that Hamas committed a “putsch” — his word — in order to eliminate the Palestinian Authority. And as I’m sure Mr. Indyk well knows and as was documented in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair by the writer David Rose, basing himself on internal US documents, it was the United States in cahoots with the Palestinian Authority and Israel which were attempting a putsch on Hamas, and Hamas preempted the putsch. That, too, is no longer debatable or no longer a controversial claim.

    Now, Mr. Indyk says that Hamas is reluctant or unclear about whether it wants to rule in Gaza. The issue is not whether it wants to rule in Gaza; the issue is can it rule in Gaza if Israel maintains a blockade and prevents economic activity among the Palestinians. The blockade, incidentally, was implemented before Hamas came to power. The blockade doesn’t even have anything to do with Hamas. The blockade came to — there were Americans who were sent over, in particular James Wolfensohn, to try to break the blockade after Israel redeployed its troops in Gaza.

    AMY GOODMAN: The former World Bank president.

    NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Correct. The problem all along has been that Israel doesn’t want Gaza to develop, and Israel doesn’t want to resolve diplomatically the conflict. Mr. Indyk well knows that both the leadership in Damascus and the leadership in the Gaza have repeatedly made statements they’re willing to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border. The record is fairly clear. In fact, it’s unambiguously clear.

    Every year, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution entitled “Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question.” And every year the vote is the same: it’s the whole world on one side; Israel, the United States and some South Sea atolls and Australia on the other side. The vote this past year was 164-to-7. Every year since 1989 —- in 1989, the vote was 151-to-3, the whole world on one side, the United States, Israel and the island state of Dominica on the other side.

    We have the Arab League, all twenty-two members of the Arab League, favoring a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We have the Palestinian Authority favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We now have Hamas favoring that two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. The one and only obstacle is Israel, backed by the United States. That’s the problem.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, Ambassador Indyk, why doesn’t Israel accept this ceasefire?

    MARTIN INDYK: Look, Amy, I was invited on to talk about my book and the Gaza situation. I was not invited on to debate with Norman Finkelstein, and I’m not prepared to do that. So if you want to talk about the situation, I’m happy to do that, but I’m not here to be the representative of the government of Israel. You can easily invite somebody on to -—

    AMY GOODMAN: No, of course not. No, we’re asking your opinion. I don’t see you as the representative of Israel. But let me get your —-

    MARTIN INDYK: Well, why don’t we focus on some other issues, like the American role in this or something that -—

    AMY GOODMAN: Very good point.

    MARTIN INDYK: — can get us out of this ridiculous debate, in which he’s just a propaganda spokesman for Hamas, you know.

    AMY GOODMAN: Let me get your response to the current US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, what she said the other day at the UN about reaching a ceasefire agreement. Let me play a clip.

    CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Hundreds of thousands of Israelis lived under the daily threat of rocket attack, and frankly, no country, none of our countries, would have been willing to tolerate such a circumstance. Moreover, the people of Gaza watched as insecurity and lawlessness increased and as their living conditions grew more dire because of Hamas’s actions, which began with the illegal coup against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.

    A ceasefire that returns to those circumstances is unacceptable, and it will not last. We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security.

    AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Indyk, what is your response to the Secretary of State? You’re the adviser to the incoming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Do you think the Bush administration should now be — the Obama administration coming in — should be pushing for a ceasefire right now?

    MARTIN INDYK: Sorry to make one more correction before I answer: I was an adviser to Hillary Clinton during the campaign, her campaign for the presidency, but I am not advising her at the moment, so nothing I now say should be taken as representing her views.

    I think that it is essential to get a ceasefire in place as quickly as possible. I think that there is a serious effort underway, as you have already detailed, to do that. I hope that it can be put in place before President-elect Obama goes into the Oval Office in, what is it, twelve days’ time and Secretary of State-designate Clinton takes up her responsibilities. If that’s not the case, then they’re going to need to work very effectively to put that in place as quickly as possible and — but then they will need to use that as a springboard to undertake an effort, not just to try to move towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but, in my view, it’s important to put that in the context of a new Obama-Clinton-led initiative for a comprehensive peace that would also involve negotiations between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon.

    President-elect Obama has said during the campaign that it would be a priority of his from day one, which I think is very important. But that desire of his to pay attention to this problem from day one has now become a necessity because of this crisis in Gaza, a necessity essentially for two reasons. Number one is to end this conflict. Let’s say three reasons. Number one — well, let’s say three reasons. Number one is to end this conflict after so many years and so many dead on both sides. But number two, those in the Arab world who want to resolve the conflict with Israel have necessarily been seriously weakened by this conflict, this crisis in Gaza. There’s a great deal of anger in the Arab street and in the Muslim world. Those who oppose settling this conflict peacefully, starting with Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian leadership, they, this bloc of rejectionists, have now got the wind at their backs. And it’s very important to show that moderation, compromise, reconciliation and peace can prevail over the view that they are propagating, which is that violence, terrorism and defiance can achieve a better deal for the Palestinians and the Arabs.

    AMY GOODMAN: We have to break for sixty seconds. Then we’re going to come back. We’re talking to Ambassador Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel. He’s currently at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. His new book is called Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. Norman Finkelstein, also with his, his latest piece is called “Foiling Another Palestinian ‘Peace Offensive’: Behind the Latest Bloodbath in Gaza.” This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

    [break]

    AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Ambassador Martin Indyk, his new book, Innocent Abroad — Martin Indyk is currently head of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution — and Norman Finkelstein. Norman Finkelstein is author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez. Juan?

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Ambassador Indyk, I’d like to ask you about the timing of this Israeli offensive. Clearly, it’s in the waning days of the Bush administration and before President-elect Obama is inaugurated as president. Your sense of whether the timing had something to do with the reality that the US response, in many ways, would be muted or at least in transition as the administration is in transition?

    MARTIN INDYK: Well, I think it’s important to understand that the ceasefire basically had come to an end. It was a six-month ceasefire. And so, I don’t think that the Israelis purposely decided that this was the moment to strike. If Hamas had not launched rockets, I think they would have been perfectly happy to continue with the ceasefire.

    But once that rocket barrage came down, I do think that Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, who’s really the strategist of this whole operation and is a man who I worked with very closely — when I was ambassador in Israel, he was Israeli prime minister at the time, and we were trying at the end of the Clinton administration to get a full, comprehensive peace in Clinton’s last year and Barak’s first year in office as prime minister. But what I learned in those days of working with him was that he’s a man who looks at operations with the very strict timetable. He actually dismantles clocks for a hobby. In other words, he’s kind of obsessed with timing. And we saw this very clearly — and it’s something I outline in my book — in the way that he tried to conduct the peace operations in the year 2000. And he miscalculated the timing then.

    Now, he faces two dates. The first one is the one that you referred to, January 20th, when a new president comes into office here in Washington and a president, George W. Bush, who’s been very supportive of Israel and essentially, for most of the time in office, given Israel a blank check when it comes to dealing with Hamas, which he sees as a terrorist organization, and this is part of the war on terror. So, yes, I think that Barak probably calculated that he needed to get this operation over on Bush’s watch and have it finished before Barack Obama came into office.

    There is another date that I think probably was even more important in his own mind, and that is the date of February 10th, in which he, along with Israel’s other politicians, will have to face the Israeli electorate in a general election, unless those elections are postponed, and that doesn’t look likely. And for that reason, as well, he needs the operation over. If, instead, the Israeli army goes in and takes control of Gaza City and Jabalya refugee camp and Rafah City in the south of Gaza, and suddenly, you know, the Israeli electorate on February 10th see that Israel is now back in occupation of Gaza, which they left because they didn’t want to stay in occupation there — they left unilaterally several years ago — and the Israeli soldiers are dying, and the whole world is condemning Israel, and there’s a crisis in US-Israel relations with the new president, they will not reward Ehud Barak at all.

    So that’s why I think you see already, today, much greater interest on his part and the part of the government of Israel in working out a ceasefire. I believe that they will try, to the extent that they can do anything about it, to get that in place before Obama comes into office —-

    AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, let me -—

    MARTIN INDYK: — so that he can show an Israeli electorate that this was a successful operation from Israel’s point of view.

    AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, do you agree with Ambassador Indyk that Israel would have continued the ceasefire if Hamas hadn’t started firing rockets into Israel?

    NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the record shows that Hamas wanted to continue the ceasefire, but only on condition that Israel eases the blockade. As your viewers surely know, long before Hamas began the retaliatory rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinians were facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of the blockade. The former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, described what was going on in Gaza as a destruction of a civilization. This was during the ceasefire period.

    Now, I think it’s important to keep in mind Mr. Indyk wants to talk about the book. Well, I think we should talk about the book. In fact, I stayed up ’til 1:30 a.m. to complete the book, made sure I read up to page 415, read every word of the book. The problem is, with his book, as with his presentation here, is he systematically misrepresents the record of the peace process. He’s lying not only to his readers, but to the American people. He keeps putting the burden of responsibility for the impasse in the peace process on the Palestinians.

    A moment ago, he referred to the “rejectionists” who are trying to block a settlement of the conflict. What does the record show? The record shows, I said a moment ago, for the past twenty or more years, the entire international community has sought to settle the conflict in the June 1967 border with a just resolution of the refugee question. Are all 164 nations of the United Nations the rejectionists? And are the only people in favor of peace the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Australia? Who are the rejectionists? Who’s opposing a peace?

    According to Mr. Indyk’s account of the negotiations that culminated in the Camp David and Taba meetings, he says it was the Palestinians that were blocking a settlement. What does the record show? The record shows that in every crucial issue raised at Camp David, then under the Clinton parameters, and then in Taba, at every single point, all the concessions came from the Palestinians. Israel didn’t make any concessions. Every concession came from the Palestinians. The Palestinians have repeatedly expressed a willingness to settle the conflict in accordance with international law.

    The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in the West Bank, are illegal under international law.

    Now, the important point is, on all those questions, the Palestinians were willing to make concessions. They were willing to allow Israel to keep 60 percent of the settlements, 80 percent of the settlers. They were willing to compromise on Jerusalem. They were willing to give up basically on the right of return. They made all the concessions. Israel didn’t make any concessions. How is this rendered in Martin Indyk’s book? It’s rendered as, quote, “Barak’s bold and courageous initiatives for peace” and “Arafat and the PLO rejecting the bold and courageous initiatives of Barak.” Constantly, he turns reality on its head.

    AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Indyk, your response to that?

    MARTIN INDYK: I told you, Amy, I’m not here to debate Norman Finkelstein. That was not the ground rules that you set —-

    NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m talking about your book.

    MARTIN INDYK: —- that you set for inviting me on this program. And I’m not going to respond to his ad hominem attacks.

    AMY GOODMAN: But he’s talking about —-

    MARTIN INDYK: No. Let me just say -— let me just say —-

    AMY GOODMAN: But we want to give you a chance to represent your own book.

    MARTIN INDYK: Look, yeah. You know, that’s what I thought you were doing. Seriously, I hope your viewers and listeners will read the book and make up their own minds. I tried to give an honest accounting. It’s a self-critical book. And it’s a book in which my account of what happened is critical of -— deeply critical of the mistakes that we in the American peace team made. And — but I do think that there is enough blame to go around. The book is also deeply critical of Ehud Barak. And it tries to lay out, in as honest a way as possible, from somebody, yes, who had a catbird seat —- I was involved in all of those negotiations, intimately involved. And I’ve tried to account that -—

    AMY GOODMAN: What were those mistakes, Ambassador Indyk?

    MARTIN INDYK: I’ve tried to account that honestly. And what Norman Finkelstein has done is simply distort my argument and load it up with his usual paraphernalia of legal resolutions and so on.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well —-

    MARTIN INDYK: But if people want to understand just how difficult it is to make peace, then I hope that they will read for themselves, rather than accept his propaganda.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask what you think should happen right now. How does Barack Obama not repeat the mistakes of the past, as you outline them in Innocent Abroad?

    MARTIN INDYK: Thank you. I think that one fundamental lesson from both the Clinton approach, which was to try to transform the Middle East through peacemaking, and the Bush approach, which was essentially to try to transform the Middle East through war-making, regime change and democracy promotion, is that Barack Obama, while painting a vision of a peaceful and secure and normal region, needs to be very realistic and to level with the American people about what can be achieved.

    Both Clinton and Bush, different in so many respects, sought to transform the region, sought to make it over in America’s image. I think Barack Obama needs to have a more humble approach, a less arrogant approach, one that seeks to work with the region’s leaders and peoples to try to help them move towards a more peaceful world. The American role is indispensable. But we need to be wiser. We need to be more flexible. We need to understand that there are huge differences between us and them. And we need to pay a lot more attention to their culture, their values and their politics, rather than assume that they are like us. And I know that’s a very general proposition, but from that can come the getting of wisdom when it comes to the details of peacemaking.

    AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein -—

    MARTIN INDYK: They cannot achieve peace without us, but our role needs to be much wiser.

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to happen right now, Norman Finkelstein?

    NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think it’s fairly clear what needs to happen. Number one, the United States and Israel have to join the rest of the international community, have to abide by international law. Martin Indyk dismisses it as what he calls a moment ago these legalistic resolutions. I don’t think international law should be trivialized. I think it’s a serious issue. If Israel is in defiance of international law, it should be called into account, just like any other state in the world.

    And I agree on one point with Martin Indyk. Mr. Obama has to level with the American people. He has to be honest about what is the main obstacle to resolving the conflict. It’s not Palestinian rejectionism. It’s the refusal of Israel, backed by the United States government, to abide by international law, to abide by the opinion of the international community.

    And the main challenge for all of us as Americans is to see through the lies. And regrettably, those lies are again being propagated by Martin Indyk in his book with his pretense that it’s the Palestinians, and not Israel and the United States, which are the main obstacles to peace.”

    • Denis
      Denis
      July 22, 2013, 11:26 am

      Well, American, you pretty well bloated the blog with that Amy Goodman dump.

      The main point made by all that is not what an i-firster Indyk is but what an a-hole Goodman is. I can’t believe she ambushed Indyk they way she did. Obviously, Finklestein was given notice of what was happening so he could prepare, while Indyk, who was invited on the show to discuss his book, didn’t know what the hell was going on until he was mic’d up. A disgusting display of unethical journalism by Goodman and Gonzales.

      Man, I’ll bet Indyk was seething when the cameras went off, and I’ll bet she never gets the chance to interview him again.

    • just
      just
      July 22, 2013, 4:40 pm

      thanks for that, American. I’ll never forget that interchange. Finkelstein was magnificent. Indyk whined and lied, and there is no reason whatsoever to think that he’s changed at all.

      A leopard cannot change its spots, as they say. He’s more of a predator than a peacemaker.

  13. JustJessetr
    JustJessetr
    July 22, 2013, 7:02 am

    Except it didn’t happen that way.

  14. Denis
    Denis
    July 22, 2013, 11:51 am

    Yeah, I think you’re right MJ . . . it is no coincidence that EU started beating up on GoI and then BiBi started releasing prisoners and wanting to have a sit-down with the Palestinians. I think the part of the conversation you missed is where Kerry tells BiBi that if GoI makes major concessions on the West Bank, the 6th Fleet will unload on IRI.

    Here’s something I’ve never understood: Why does everyone refer to it as the 1967 line? By using the Six Day War as the reference point, one essentially erases 20 years of history. Why do we use the date the armistice was violated rather than the date it was established as the reference point? This convention is universal, but I don’t know why.

    It was the 1949 Armistice that established the “Armistice Demarcation Line,” aka “Green Line.” It seems that using the “correct” term, “1949 Armistice Line,” one emphasizes the vital point that the GoI annexations of Golan (1981) and E. Jerusalem (1980), and the settlements, and the Wall are all part of one freaking illegal, post-armistice usurpation of Palestinian land.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 25, 2013, 9:55 pm

      Here’s something I’ve never understood: Why does everyone refer to it as the 1967 line?

      By 1967 Ben Gurion had long since unilaterally declared the armistice agreements null and void. He had the IDF occupy the DMZs and declared Israeli sovereignty over them. The Syrians had occupied isolated pockets of territory that had been allocated to the Jewish state in the region of Lake Kinneret. But Israel was occupying even more captured territory that had been allocated for the Arab one.

      So the Palestinians aren’t necessarily talking about the unmodified 1949 Armistice Lines, including the belligerent claims of the Syrians, the status of the seven disputed Lebanese villages, & etc. when they refer to the 4 June 1967 borders.

  15. AlGhorear
    AlGhorear
    July 22, 2013, 1:59 pm

    @American. Thanks for posting the Indyk/Finkelstein exchange on Democracy now. How fun to to see a liar and hasbarist like Indyk taken down by Finkelstein’s firm grasp of facts. Reading it made my day.

  16. eGuard
    eGuard
    July 22, 2013, 3:42 pm

    +972 magazine also pointed out, that while talking in the US, the Palestinians cannot go the The Hague. Also any sound at the annual UN meeting is prevented.

    http://972mag.com/the-cost-of-kerrys-breakthrough-part-2/76197/

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      July 25, 2013, 9:26 pm

      +972 magazine also pointed out, that while talking in the US, the Palestinians cannot go the The Hague.

      But the Israelis can go on building settlements.

      Given how little Kerry is offering, why would the Palestinians give up so much for so little?

  17. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 23, 2013, 7:31 am

    @ American
    Thanks for sharing.

    Indyk comes across as a whiner, bold liar, and prickly prick, actually a pretty juvenile man. He’s obviously use to being tossed soft balls by US media and government people.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      July 23, 2013, 9:16 am

      Yes,

      Indyk is an insufferable prima donna who considers himself an untouchable and maintains a vulgar sense of entitlement.

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