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The peace process meets Einstein’s definition of insanity, says Josh Ruebner

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Indyk Kerry
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority began Monday night. Above, Secretary of State John Kerry announcing that Martin Indyk would be America’s representative at the talks.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The peace process has begun again. On Monday night, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Washington, D.C. for a Ramadan iftar dinner, and on Tuesday talks are set to continue. The next round of talks, if they happen, will reportedly be in the Middle East.

The path forward on peace talks was cleared after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to release a number of long-serving Palestinian prisoners as a way to coax the Palestinian Authority to get back to the table. Reports indicate that Israel will also soon issue building tenders for housing units in some of the major settlement blocs, including the mega-settlement of Ariel.

The Israeli negotiating team will be represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Isaac Molho, an envoy to Netanyahu. The PA team will be represented by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

For more on the peace talks, journalist Lizzy Ratner and I spoke to Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the author of the forthcoming book, Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace. Ruebner talked with us over the weekend on the WBAI radio show Beyond the Pale. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Alex Kane: Let’s start with the basics. Explain what’s set to happen and whether this is significant–the announcement of peace talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority negotiators. Are these just talks about talks, or will substantive issues be aired?

Josh Ruebner: These are actually just talks about talks. So what’s set to happen is that on Tuesday, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to convene in Washington, D.C. to talk about establishing an agreement to actually get into negotiations. So it really is talking about talking, and not so much substantive issues of negotiations at this point.

Lizzy Ratner: And, what are they going to be talking about talking about, or do I even add another layer of talking about there. What are some of the hurdles to bringing them to actually having negotiations?

JR: So the major outstanding issues at this point to get back to negotiations appear to be three: whether Israel will agree to negotiate on the basis of it returning to its pre-1967 armistice line, so that’s number one; number two, the scope of any freeze in Israeli colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as negotiations progress; and number three, the scope of any prisoner release of political prisoners who Israel has been holding in jail, in some cases many years, even predating the Oslo peace process. So those are the three major sticking points, and I think it remains to be seen whether the negotiators will be able to fudge some kind of compromise on these issues that will allow them to get back into actual negotiations. I actually don’t hold out much prospect of hope for that at this point.

AK: And the fact that John Kerry has been the man who has brought these two sides together proves that the American role in the peace process is once again paramount. What’s your take on the American role in all this, and where does this current round of talks fit in with the Obama administration’s prior efforts on Israel/Palestine?

JR: Sadly, the Obama administration is repeating the same mistakes and the same failed strategies that it tried to employ during its first term to broker Israeli/Palestinian peace. So what we’re seeing is in all likelihood getting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table in the absence of a complete Israeli freeze on the colonization of Palestinian land. And that was what really torpedoed the Obama administration’s efforts during its first term. At the outset of the Obama presidency, the Obama administration was very clear: Israeli colonization of Palestinian land had to stop in order to resume negotiations. And that was, I think, a correct strategy. But unfortunately, after 6 months of pressing this point, Obama really caved in before pressure from the Israel lobby and then reversed course and said, “well, let’s just get back to negotiations whether or not there’s an actual freeze on Israeli colonization on Palestinian land.”

And given that history of what happened in the first term–and given the ideological underpinnings of the current Israeli government–any so-called settlement freeze, or colonization freeze, would be cosmetic, and in name only. There’s no way that Israel is going to agree to stop its colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in fact, the government just announced plans for a major, major rail infrastructure project in the West Bank, which really casts doubt on whether Israel intends to relinquish any West Bank land in any foreseeable negotiation.

LR: I want to actually rewind for a second. Because as you’ve been talking I realized that there’s, of course, a ton of precedent–not just precedent within the Obama administration, but peace process precedent. People always talk about the peace process, let’s get back to the table, let’s get these negotiations going again, this is the solution, the salvation, the end of the conflict lies here. But of course the peace process, in some way, has been dragging on for decades, on and off. And so, I’m wondering if you could look back in time and talk to us a little bit about the history of the peace process. Has it been all that some people crack it up to be? Has it actually led to substantive changes on the ground for Israelis and Palestinians? Or is this something like a red herring, something that’s nice to talk about and yearn for, but really historically doesn’t bring that much to the table?

JR: It’s a great question, and one that is, I think, very multifaceted to try to answer. So this September will mark the 20th anniversary of the Oslo peace accords, which were negotiated in secret between Israel and the PLO in 1993, and signed on the White House lawn that September. That inaugurated a U.S.-led negotiation process, even though the U.S. played a very, very minor role in the actual signing of this first agreement. And the problem throughout these past two decades, has been that the United States has acted, in the words of Aaron David Miller, who was a former peace process player and a very high-ranking one at that, that the United States functions as “Israel’s lawyers.”

And if you look at the published memoirs of people like Dennis Ross, who has been a key peace process participant for the last two decades, if you look at what was revealed through WikiLeaks and through the Palestine Papers, which was thousands of documents from inside the Palestinian negotiating team that were leaked to Al Jazeera a couple of years ago, what you’ll find is a very coherent and very straightforward strategy that the United States has pursued regardless of who is the president of the United States. And that is to work with Israel, to try to mold proposals that are to Israel’s benefit, and then to try to ram these proposals down the throat of the Palestinians, and to blame them when they don’t accept them, when they don’t even come close to meeting standards of international law, human rights, and come nowhere close to fulfilling Palestinian self-determination.

AK: You mentioned the role of Aaron David Miller, and Dennis Ross, and Dennis Ross in particular has been a key player in all of these negotiations. And he’s very much a pillar of the Jewish establishment and the Israel lobby–he was a top official in what’s called the Jewish People Policy Institute. He was the American representative, which tells you a lot about where the United States lies in this whole thing.

Now we have another top, former government official that’s going to be the American point man for the peace process. And his name is Martin Indyk. He is a former official at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and AIPAC. What do you make of that? What is the impact of that?

JR: It’s definitely a step backwards for the Obama administration. When the Obama administration came to office in 2009, they appointed former Senate majority leader George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East peace. And that was widely seen as revolutionary within the circle of analysts who look at “peace process” issues, because Mitchell has been the only key figure involved in the “peace process” for the last two decades who doesn’t come from that kind of a background, like Indyk, like Ross, like Aaron David Miller, who are very much part and parcel of the Israel lobby–and who, when they’re not in office, then shuttle back to pro-Israel think tanks. So it was seen as very revolutionary, and in fact the Israel lobby came out very strongly against Mitchell, saying, “we don’t want someone who’s even handed. Even handed is bad. We need to be pro-Israel.”

So the fact that Mitchell was seen as unencumbered with this ideological baggage of belonging to these pro-Israel lobbying institutions was seen as a negative in their eyes. So the fact that Obama would consider appointing Indyk to head up this “peace process” in the second term, is really, really a huge step backwards. And you know, I’ll say even though Mitchell was considered to be more even-handed in his approach, actually again, if you look at the Palestine Papers, look at WikiLeaks, and this is something I detail in my book coming up, you’ll see how Mitchell did the exact same thing as a lot of the other pro-Israel peace process officials, and that is twist the arms of the Palestinians into accepting Israeli proposals.

So if Obama thinks that Martin Indyk could do a better job where George Mitchell couldn’t, he’s sadly mistaken, and he’s sadly mistaken if he believes that he can keep appointing individuals from these very pro-Israel ideological perspectives to somehow bring about a just and lasting peace. It’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked in the past, it won’t work in the future. And it really brings to mind Einstein’s definition of insanity. The United States keeps doing the exact same thing over and over again, and somehow expects that it’s going to lead to a different result, and it’s not. It’s only been leading to more Israeli colonization of Palestinian land, which many people would argue is really the point of having a “peace process”–it seems as if Israelis and Palestinians are negotiating towards a peace agreement, that takes a lot of pressure off of Israel, and allows them to continue colonization.

LR: So I want to actually switch focus for one second to players outside the United States, but I do feel the need to make a full disclosure statement here, which is that: I’m cousins with Aaron David Miller, and of course we love each other dearly as family, and I admire him enormously, even though we don’t always see eye to eye politically. But I do feel like I need to say to the audience that I have a conflict of interest there. So we are family, and care about each other immensely, even if we have political differences. So, on that note, I want to look to the European Union for a second, because the United States, while it is the superpower, is not the only player in the universe.

The European Union came out with new guidelines recently that prohibited the union from funding settlement entities. What’s your take on these guidelines, and how do you think they might impact the peace process, or at least sort of the dynamic within Israel/Palestine.

JR: I think the EU’s move is extremely significant, and in fact it’s the first time that key players in the peace process have imposed actual sanctions on Israel for continuing to colonize Palestinian land. These are governmental sanctions, make no mistake about it.

And so the fact that the EU is imposing these sanctions is really going to cause widespread ramifications in Israeli society and in Israeli institutions, and it really strengthens the global campaign and movement that’s Palestinian civil society-led for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. And this, I think, is much more significant, has much more of an impact than any potential talks about talks in Washington, D.C., and I think part of the reason why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to send negotiators to D.C. to talk about restarting talks was exactly to do what I mentioned before, which is to take the pressure off Israel, to sort of counter these emerging European sanctions, to say “why are you sanctioning us? We’re sitting down and talking to try and bring about peace with the Palestinians”–all the while Israel continues its colonization of Palestinian land.

AK: We only time for one more question. The peace process is often seen as the only way to solve the conflict. But your organization has been involved in the BDS movement. Could you talk about the BDS movement’s role and whether you think it’s a better shot at solving the conflict, or imposing costs on Israeli violations, than the so-called peace process?

JR: The call for boycott, divestment and sanctions was issued by a broad spectrum of Palestinian civil society–more than 170 organizations representing Palestinians in the occupied territories, within Israel, and within Palestinian refugee communities. And they came together unanimously, and they said, “we need global civil society to impose campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel” until it ends its occupation of Palestinian territories seized in 1967; grants equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel; and allows for the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ right of return–those Palestinians who were driven into exile from their homes in 1948 and their descendants upon the establishment of the state of Israel.

And since that call in 2005, these global campaigns have had enormous successes. Companies like Veolia, for example, the French multinational that deals in transit and environmental services, lost billions of dollars in contracts in Europe because of its involvement in various Israeli colonization efforts. And those types of campaigns are spreading to the United States. We’re seeing growing successes on college campuses, within financial institutions like TIAA-CREF, and it’s very much a replication the strategy that was used to dismantle apartheid in South Africa, and I think it will have similar successes in terms of Israel/Palestine as well.
 

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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31 Responses

  1. MRW
    MRW
    July 29, 2013, 7:41 pm

    It’s all just a cynical excuse to eat, or dine, and drink well in DC at the govt expense.

  2. ckg
    ckg
    July 29, 2013, 7:53 pm

    Or the peace process is like Sisyphus’s punishment, with the boulder rolling downhill to run down Palestinians.

  3. ritzl
    ritzl
    July 29, 2013, 8:24 pm

    It’s unfair of me to raise/ask this. Maybe even asshole-ishly counterproductive given you all’s tremendous dedication to Palestinian justice.

    Given LR’s disclosure and her (you all’s) experience with Goldstone’s walk-back, when it comes to family v. Palestinian justice, which comes first? (Goldstone chose family over principle, in my, maybe simplistic, interpretation.)

    LR: So I want to actually switch focus for one second to players outside the United States, but I do feel the need to make a full disclosure statement here, which is that: I’m cousins with Aaron David Miller, and of course we love each other dearly as family, and I admire him enormously, even though we don’t always see eye to eye politically. But I do feel like I need to say to the audience that I have a conflict of interest there. So we are family, and care about each other immensely, even if we have political differences.

    Again, it’s tremendously unfair for me, an anonymous, random commenter to ask, but do family relations in her family center/condition themselves more on Miller’s PoV or hers? How does she resolve this conflict of interest? Would she or Miller risk a break in family to pursue principle? If it came to that. Maybe it’s better to ask if Miller would risk a family break, if it came to that, and why would he not (my assumption)?

    I think this is one of the major issues this site struggles mightily with. It’s not clear, to me, a non-Jew, what the answer is. I know what the answer would be/has been in my own family (disappointing, though not irreconcilable, break). The Hasbara is that strong outside the Jewish network.

    Just posing the question. Something to think about. No response necessary.

    Great interview. Thanks.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 30, 2013, 7:32 am

      Again, it’s tremendously unfair for me, an anonymous, random commenter to ask, but do family relations in her family center/condition themselves more on Miller’s PoV or hers?

      It really doesn’t matter, since she has pointed out the conflict and is only a journalist.

      A better question is how the Livni’s handle their conflicting interests. The article mentions a grandiose railway plan that the Defense Ministry just approved to connect the West Bank settlements. The plan includes 473 kilometers of rail with 30 stations on 11 lines and dozens of bridges and tunnels and completely ignores the proposed political borders. It was completed without consulting the Palestinians at all. So while MK Livni is negotiating with the Palestinians over the status of the territory, her brother Eric, is the Survey Staff Officer responsible for the plan. He is also a member of the Supreme Planning Council in Judea and Samaria. http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.537737

      • HarryLaw
        HarryLaw
        July 30, 2013, 8:43 am

        Interesting legal opinion on the proposed railway in the West Bank from Al-Haq here..http://www.alhaq.org/images/stories/PDF/2012/Al-Haq_-_legal_brief_on_Pizzarotti_SpA_-_08_July_2013.pdf

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        July 30, 2013, 9:18 pm

        Thanks for posting this. In particular, the conclusion:
        “there are substantial grounds on which to determine that Pizzarotti & C. S.p.A. (The railway line constructor-E.) could be held responsible both as principal perpetrator and as aider and abettor in acts that can amount to serious violations of international law.”

      • Xpat
        Xpat
        July 30, 2013, 12:50 pm

        One of the quotes in the article explains the grand scope of the railway project thus:
        “This is what reality on the ground requires.”
        “Reality on the ground” is a catchphrase of settlers. I.e. let’s build facts on the ground. That is the strongest response to Palestinian demands.

        I’m curious to learn more about what Israel told the PA that made them completely reject cooperation. I guess, at the least, it was the implicit acceptance of the normalization of Israeli settlements.
        Odd how the PA is holding out for the 2 state solution while Israel is barreling ahead with 1 (Jewish) state.

        P.S. just fyi, Tzippi Livni’s brother who is building the Israeli West Bank railways is Eli.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 30, 2013, 3:11 pm

        P.S. just fyi, Tzippi Livni’s brother who is building the Israeli West Bank railways is Eli.

        Thanks for the correction. I was not paying close enough attention.

  4. just
    just
    July 29, 2013, 11:22 pm

    Mr. Magoo Indyk.

    If peace happens as a result of these “talks about talks”, I will be happily surprised and flabbergasted.

    (thanks Alex and Josh and Lizzy)

  5. southernobserver
    southernobserver
    July 29, 2013, 11:29 pm

    This _not_ insanity. The endless, unproductive negotiations and attempts to force the Palestinians to accept even greater losses, and to forfeit the chance their state might be functional is clearly the desired outcome. From the point of view of the Israel this has allowed them to maximise territorial and resource theft.

    I strongly believe that the Istratine plan is sooner or later to turn area A and most of area B into gaza. The ‘temporary wall’ will become their self declared border. The Jordan valley will be confirmed as ‘temporary’ security zone, and then annexed, either at the time. Every productive structure within what is left will be bombed flat if there are _any_ gestures of resistance. The starving refugees will be allowed to be fed by the EU but not to earn a living.

    After all it worked perfectly for Gaza, and the UN did nothing.

  6. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    July 30, 2013, 12:17 am

    I seem to remember that Dennis Ross was brought in to supervise George Mitchell’s negotiating strategy and that his interference contributed to Mitchell’s decision to resign.

  7. calm
    calm
    July 30, 2013, 1:55 am

    I thought this was a pretty good read:

    Is Kerry’s Middle East diplomacy a smokescreen for another war?
    By Abdel Bari Atwan
    July 20, 2013
    http://www.bariatwan.com/english/?p=1870

    History provides plenty of evidence to suggest that flurries of American ‘peace talk’ activity are generally accompanied by a war in the region. The aim of the exercise is to readjust the image of the US on the international stage. Bellicosity is offset by the quest for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, brokered, of course, by the Americans.

    Thus, under George Bush Sr, the Madrid Conference came just months after the coalition invaded Iraq in 1991. George W. Bush took it one step further, telling startled Palestinian ministers that God himself had told him first to invade Afghanistan in 2001, then “go end the tyranny in Iraq” (2003) and then, “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East”.

    It is a logical conclusion that Kerry’s intensive diplomacy is intended to counteract preparations for a war in Syria, or Iran, or both.

  8. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    July 30, 2013, 3:57 am

    Watch Finkelstein taking down Indyk in this interview.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH_bcbJ2K_M

    If PA had any decency they wouldnt engage in this pro-israel charade.

  9. Tuyzentfloot
    Tuyzentfloot
    July 30, 2013, 4:16 am

    The title is catchy but not very insightful. There’s nothing crazy about what the US is doing. The peace process has the same value it always had, it buys time. It’s a better situation for the US to be in than no process at all. It’s better than nothing. The insanity would be on the part of the press and the public who see it as more than a charade. It becomes especially weird when the Israelis are blunt enough to insist that the peace process should not in any way slow down the colonization, and when this only results in mild confusion.

  10. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    July 30, 2013, 5:24 am

    JR ” So the major outstanding issues at this point to get back to negotiations appear to be three: whether Israel will agree to negotiate on the basis of it returning to its pre-1967 armistice line, so that’s number one; number two, the scope of any freeze in Israeli colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as negotiations progress” and three political prisoners, the talks are underway and will not be stopped for many years, if the US/Israel have their way, the PA have capitulated in exchange for the release of a few prisoners and vague promises of investment, the idea that the PA could pull the plug now after all the fanfare is ludicrous. The headline is correct, unfortunately the insanity is not on the part of the US/Israel, after all they get to keep colonizing without acknowledging the 67 borders and both have the pressure of ‘having to do something’ lifted, with the added bonus of having got past September [the UN, Agencies, ICC and ICJ].

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 30, 2013, 8:44 pm

      after all they get to keep colonizing without acknowledging the 67 borders and both have the pressure of ‘having to do something’ lifted, with the added bonus of having got past September [the UN, Agencies, ICC and ICJ].

      All I’ve seen is an agreement not to take unilateral actions in the UN. But observer entities and non-member states cannot introduce resolutions in the General Assembly requesting an Advisory Opinion from the ICJ. That has always been done on behalf of Palestine by the members of the OIC or League of Arab States on a multilateral basis. Palestine has a guaranteed majority in the General Assembly, not Obama or Netanyahu.

      The Security Council and the Quartet had just published the Road Map when the General Assembly went into emergency session to request the last advisory opinion. The written statement of the USA was largely devoted to the argument that the Court should have refused to hear the case, because it might disrupt the US brokered peace talks.

  11. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 30, 2013, 5:39 am

    A family-owned business that employs only family members on a permanent basis limits itself, and, as well, the quality and/or quantity of its service and/or product?

  12. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 30, 2013, 6:11 am

    Yossi Beilin, a key initiator of the Oslo process principles, said recently that talks should last a year, proceed under intense American scrutiny – and stay inside the Beltway, far from the Middle East. I don’t think Kerry got the memo, because that’s not the plan now.

  13. Hostage
    Hostage
    July 30, 2013, 7:17 am

    And it really brings to mind Einstein’s definition of insanity.

    And the fact that Schrödinger’s cat really couldn’t be both alive and dead inside the sealed box, regardless of any doubts entertained by an outside observer. In this case, once you open the box, the subject of good-faith negotiations or honest brokers can only be pronounced graveyard dead.

    We are confronted by the absurdity of the proposition that the government of Israel, which cannot even consent to a building slowdown or delay of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory without triggering regime change and new elections, must be allowed to construct even more units during the negotiations. This despite the fact, that once they are constructed, they cannot be removed without the consent of the Israeli government, which can only be obtained through negotiations and national referendums.

    The next round of talks, if they happen, will reportedly be in the Middle East.

    If we’ve learned anything about camels and Zionists, then we know this sound bite deserved a follow-up question about all of those similar temporary undertakings that have turned into permanent Jewish outposts that eventually get utilities, roads, railway stations, and security walls:

    “If Secretary Kerry, whose efforts we support, were to pitch a tent halfway between here and Ramallah — that’s 15 minutes away driving time — I’m in it, I’m in the tent. And I’m committed to stay in the tent and negotiate for as long as it takes to work out a solution of peace and security between us and the Palestinians.”

    — Netanyahu quoted in a recent Washington Post interview http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.531307

  14. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    July 30, 2013, 7:31 am

    Does this mean that the PA has given up the demand for a settlement freeze as a precondition for substantive talks and now it’s a matter of a freeze gradually introduced “as negotiations progress”? That seems to me a recipe for Israeli blackmail — the longer you delay in accepting our terms, the more land we’ll take as we wait for you to give in.

    Or if the Americans get fed up with the impasse, they can throw up their hands in despair and abandon the charade. The Palestinians can then again be blamed for their intransigence and the Israelis will have shown yet again that “there is no partner for peace.”

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      July 30, 2013, 8:45 am

      This article says the Palestinian National Authority, as presently constituted, is not a representative body, hence it cannot legally negotiate anything. It also argues that the Israelis are coming to the talks because the BDS movement, eight years old, is growing as more and more people, in the West especially, are realizing the real history of Zionism from WW1, through Balfour, WW2, the founding of the colonial settler state in ’48, right up to the present: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/29/the-boycott-of-israel-eight-years-in/

      And it took 30 years of BDS to get rid of the apartheid S African regime.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 30, 2013, 8:34 pm

        This article says the Palestinian National Authority, as presently constituted, is not a representative body, hence it cannot legally negotiate anything.

        They are just like the Israelis. Any proposed settlement will be the subject of a referendum. Statehood is a legal status conferred on a political entity through political recognition by other existing states. Elections are not essential to statehood per se. When the validity of Israel’s first election was called into question due to ethnic cleansing of the Arab voters, Prof. Yehuda Blum responded by pointing-out that many UN member states only hold sham elections, if they bother to hold elections at all.

  15. housedoc
    housedoc
    July 30, 2013, 8:35 am

    two interesting commentaries (total 606 words including links and identification of authors)

    Commentary by Mohammad Ayoub, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Michigan State University.

    Why is it then that US Secretary of State John Kerry is so eager to push both parties into another set of negotiations that are highly likely to be not only unproductive but counterproductive, by fuelling Palestinian anger by their failure and thus bringing us a step closer to the inevitable third intifada? The answer is simple. The United States needs Israel and the Palestinian Authority to start negotiations for the sake of negotiations well before the UN General Assembly convenes in September so that it can be spared another major embarrassment on the issue of Palestinian statehood when the General Assembly convenes. If Kerry can demonstrate that an American-sponsored peace process is underway he can forestall criticism both of Israel and of the United States in the General Assembly for lack of progress toward Palestinian statehood. The primary reason for the Kerry initiative is to deflect international criticism of the United States for its failure to stop Israeli colonisation of the West Bank which is rendering Palestinian statehood impossible. It has become increasingly clear to seasoned observers of the Middle East that Washington’s inability to make a dent in Israel’s settlement policy is not only a question of the tail wagging the dog; it demonstrates that on the Palestine issue the dog and the tail have switched roles. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/07/2013728103426476823.html

    Commentary by Col. Pat Lang, retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence … serving officer and then member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. … trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,”

    A retired career ambassador with experience in the ME chided me recently for incessant pessimism. He specifically mentioned Kerry’s current attack on this “windmill.” I told him that it was understandable that policy people like him should insist on hoping that someday money would grow on trees or that there would be a chicken in every pot, but I also told him that as a long experienced intelligence person I was not inclined by habit to do other than describe present reality or probable futures.
    IMO, the Natanyahu government does not intend to allow the creation of a Palestinian state that would have the attributes of an independent country, i.e., armed forces, borders that it controls, unfettered economic development, control of its own government finances, currency, contiguous territory free of the occupation of foreign (Israeli) troops, control of its own air space, and an independent foreign policy. Shall I continue? I do not blame the Israelis for this. They know what they are. This is a religio-nationalist settler state. They are less and less abashed about saying this. Michael Oren was very firm on television this week in insisting that Jews are an ethnic people, not a religious group and that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish ethnic group. I applaud his honesty, but Israel remains a strange ally for the United States, a country in which the central government is suing Texas for supposedly seeking to favor one ethnic group over others.
    What the Israelis are willing to “give,” the Palestinians will not accept. That is what Israel expects. The Palestinians know this but have been strong-armed into the Washington circus.
    John Kerry’s heart’s desire rests beyond his reach.

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/07/what-does-kerry-think-he-is-doing.html

  16. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    July 30, 2013, 8:59 am

    Mind you, I don’t think that definition of insanity had anything to do with Einstein.

  17. Taxi
    Taxi
    July 30, 2013, 9:28 am

    Poor Abbas. History will not look kindly upon him when zionism is abolished from the holy land by force, and not by force of reason.

  18. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 30, 2013, 9:53 am

    How can the PA negotiate peace terms for the Palestinian people when there’s no PLO or Gaza representatives at the table? Isn’t the PLO the officially recognized sole representative of all the Palestinian people by most of the world’s states?

    Didn’t the US and Israel designate the PLO as a terrorist agency back in the day? Who elected Abbas? Isn’t the PA (PNA) an interim administrative agency, with originally a five year life? Did the Palestinian people vote to extend its life? HAMAS was elected in a well-monitored vote, wasn’t it? Does the US/Israel declaration of it as a terrorist agency make that vote null and void? Didn’t HAMAS prevent a coup on itself that was supported by the US and Israel? I hope somebody can clear this up.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      July 30, 2013, 8:22 pm

      How can the PA negotiate peace terms for the Palestinian people when there’s no PLO or Gaza representatives at the table?

      The fact is that Dr Saeb Erekat is a member of PLO Executive Committee and that organ has been serving as the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine ever since the 1988 Algiers UDI.

      There are no PA representatives, since it ceased to exist as such months ago, after the UN vote. At the time, Abbas was the President of the PLO Executive, the President of the Palestinian Authority, and the President of the State of Palestine. He issued a Presidential decree redesignating the PA as the “Government of the State of Palestine”. See Abbas changes name of Palestinian Authority to ‘State of Palestine’: Under new decree, all stamps, signs, and official letterheads will be changed to bear the title. http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-changes-name-of-palestinian-authority-to-state-of-palestine/

  19. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    July 30, 2013, 4:11 pm

    Problem with Einsteins definition of insanity is that Einstein never said it. He did not mention insanity, what he was talking about is how normal people when stuck on a problem often end up going in circles, using the same approaches and ending up failing to solve problem in the same way. I think he was referring to himself in how he succeeded is solving some difficult problems by breaking out of the cycle of failure.

    The phrase ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’ was first recorded in 1981 in a Narcotics Anonymous handbook.

  20. Talkback
    Talkback
    July 30, 2013, 7:50 pm

    Why does Ruebner say that it’s insanity and not intention?

    • southernobserver
      southernobserver
      July 30, 2013, 8:36 pm

      this is the central point. negotiation, not resolution is clearly the Zionist desired outcome, not a mistake. If they actually wanted peace they would never have invaded the west bank in the first place, or would have long since settled during one of the previous negotiations.

      The key evidence other than 45 years of history is the Allon plan for creeping annexation.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 31, 2013, 11:25 am

        Exactly. So does Ruebner use the word “insanity” with intention or does his accusation meet’s Einsteins definition of it?

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