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Five reasons the breakdown of peace talks is a good thing

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 68 Comments
(Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

Haaretz reports that John Kerry and the Obama administration are livid over Mahmoud Abbas’s move to reconcile with Hamas and Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to walk away from negotiations for the time being. While it’s not yet clear the talks will permanently break down, the trend is in that direction. Rather than view these events as a setback for a peaceful resolution in Israel/Palestine, there are several reasons why this turn of events should be understood as a positive step forward.

1. Palestinian unity is necessary for a peace agreement

This round of negotiations was doomed by continuing Israeli settlement expansion, indicating its lack of commitment to the process, and Israel’s refusal to abide by its agreement to release a fourth round of Palestinian prisoners. Still, the last nail in the coffin was the Palestinian reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas which led Israel to walk away from the talks completely even though the agreement only calls to begin discussions on forming a unity Palestinian government. There is still a long way go before Palestinian reconciliation is said to be complete, and although there are obvious reasons to be cynical about the deal the fact remains that without a unified Palestinian voice in negotiations there is no conceivable way they can be successful.

Whereas the PLO long stood as “the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” today it is an ineffectual body having ceded much of its prominent position to the Palestinian Authority, a corrupt quasi-government that represents very few of the Palestinian collective. Although this reconciliation deal is still far from the all encompassing voice the PLO represented it could be a start in the right direction. For starters, it has the potential of bringing Gaza into the process. Hamas, and by extension the status of the Gaza Strip, has been excluded from the political peace-making process for the past seven years.  An E.U. spokesperson said the reconciliation deal is “an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution.” While a solution still seems a way off, Palestinian unity is definitely a prerequisite for any lasting negotiations with Israel.

2. No deal is better than a bad deal

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For months John Kerry had touted he was on the verge of brokering a framework agreement that would signal movement in the talks. So far, that framework has not been released. Details that have leaked look like this according to Thomas Friedman:

The “Kerry Plan,” likely to be unveiled soon, is expected to call for an end to the conflict and all claims, following a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (based on the 1967 lines), with unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Palestinians for them with Israeli territory. It will call for the Palestinians to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel proper.

and this according to U.S. negotiator Martin Indyk:

Among the elements under consideration, a participant in the call said, is a plan to compensate descendants of Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries after the State of Israel was created in 1948. That could give Israelis more of a motive to support a new Palestinian state.

The official, Martin S. Indyk, the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told the Jewish leaders that if the framework were to be accepted by both sides, the peace talks could be extended beyond the nine-month time frame set last summer by Secretary of State John Kerry. The new goal, he said, would be to sign a treaty by the end of 2014.

The framework, Mr. Indyk said, will not deal specifically with the political status of Jerusalem, which is claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians.

…the framework foresees the creation of a security zone along the Jordan River that would be fortified with high-tech fences, electronic sensors and unmanned drones, to protect Israel from attacks.

Even with the slight differences between these accounts it’s clear that this framework is far from offering a workable resolution to the conflict, and if anything calls for the near complete capitulation of Palestinian aspirations. This was noted by a wide range of commentators, including several liberal Zionists. If the goal of peace negotiations is to resolve the conflict, and not just strong arm a parade of interim agreements, then this effort must be scrapped and refocused on the root causes and major issues of the conflict.

3. As the two-state solution fails again there is an opening for alternatives

For years we have heard that “everyone knows the solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and yet we are no closer to the two-state solution today then we were 20 years ago when the Oslo Accords were signed. In fact, we are much further away. With each mounting failure, more cracks appear in the edifice of the peace process consensus and now is no different. More and more discussion is beginning to move beyond the accepted wisdom of the solution “everyone knows” and search for alternatives that truly meet the requirements of a just and lasting resolution to the conflict.

The main beneficiary of this moment will of course be the call for a single democratic state in Israel/Palestine. Although it remains a nascent idea with little political support at this time, recent polls show it may find a very receptive audience in the U.S. if and when the two-state paradigm finally collapses. Even inside the Washington beltway the consensus is loosening up, and others are floating new proposals for what happens after John Kerry fails. Regardless of what a final resolution looks like on the ground, the BDS movement, which offers the closest thing to a political consensus among Palestinians right now, has offered the criteria any just resolution will have to meet. This criteria should be a starting point to charting the way forward.

4. Another U.S.-led failure is an opportunity to internationalize the effort

The United States has taken the sole lead on the peace process since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and its failure is in part due to this. It is widely acknowledged at this point that the United States is far from “an honest broker” and even a U.S. negotiator, Aaron David Miller, famously said the U.S. acted as “Israel’s lawyer” during the Oslo negotiations. As Rashid Khalidi writes in his book Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East:

Again and again, the three patterns previously identified prevailed: there was no real pressure on the United States from the oil-rich Arab Gulf states, far from it; there was an exaggerated attention to domestically driven political concerns as these were ably articulated by the Israel lobby; and in spite of occasional sympathetic noises from policymakers, at the end of the day there was little or no concern for the rights of the Palestinians. This meant that while Israel usually got what it wanted, a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict between the two peoples was certainly not the result.

There are alternatives. The Quartet (including United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia) was one idea to expand the effort to facilitate a solution, but it simply became a vehicle for Tony Blair’s crony capitalism. The repeated and ongoing failure by these actors should lead to a search for new auspices to convene this process. Perhaps the Quartet can be reformed to offer real leadership or maybe the U.N. can just take over the process. The Palestinians have discussed taking the issue to new international fora they now have access to following the U.N. statehood vote last year. Or maybe just if the US was removed from the mix there would be enough air in the room to move forward. The collapse of talks should be yet another indication to the international community that a new model is needed.

5. Time to even the playing field

There are certain facets of the Israel-Palestinian conflict the are immovable. For example, the military balance of forces will always reside heavily in Israel’s favor, and most likely Israel will retain the military and diplomatic support of the United States until the very end. Still, there are other arenas in which Palestinians enjoy a strong advantage, and increasingly so.

Public opinion, both internationally and in the United States, has been surprisingly malleable in recent years when it comes to Israel/Palestine, and it’s clear that Israel’s defenders are increasingly on the defensive. Of course the BDS movement continues to grow and has received attention at the highest reaches of the Israeli government. With the breakdown of talks international pressure will continue to build on Israel. If fact, referring to the possibility of an E.U boycott of Israeli goods, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has openly stated that it is essential to continue the pretense of negotiations to deflect this growing pressure. Even in the United States pro-Israel organizations are devoting millions of dollars to fight the grassroots BDS movement in an effort to quash any notion of accountably for Israeli intransigence and expansionism. And yet the equation remains simple: the more Israel refuses to end the conflict, the larger the BDS movement will grow. The more Israel deepens the occupation, the louder the calls for accountability will be.

This grassroots effort is slow going and, similar to social movements before, it will take years to build the political power to impact the halls of government. Still, the longer Israel avoids a resolution to the conflict, the more time that is given to this process and more time there is for people to understand the root causes of this conflict and understand the just solution.

(Thanks to Allison Deger and Alex Kane for useful feedback)

adamhorowitz
About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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68 Responses

  1. NormanF
    NormanF
    April 25, 2014, 2:48 pm

    The root cause of the conflict of course, is the Palestinian Arab refusal to come to terms with the legitimacy of Zionism and a Jewish State.

    Israel will keep on getting stronger as the Palestinian Arabs grow weaker and the latter are doomed by their own leaders to keep wandering in circles for another generation.

    Time is on Israel’s side – it did everything it could to achieve peace and has acquired the national unity necessary to prevail in what seems sure to be an on-going conflict that appears destined to last a very long time.

    • Sumud
      Sumud
      April 25, 2014, 3:51 pm

      I find it hard to believe a person could be so disconnected from reality as to write the things you do.

      If you told me you were Norman Finkelstein doing parody – I would believe you.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        April 26, 2014, 1:13 am

        you may find what normF write is removed “from reality” but that is because you are on the insulated far left fringe and have no clue about any ‘reality’ other then your obsession with BDS and destroying Zionism. Here on earth amongst the people that span the center-left/center right (you know-the 90% ) in the US or Israel (and who knows whats with the EU as they are a sinking ship as well)
        Only deluded revisionists try to turn the very well documented Arab attempt through many wars to wipe out the ‘Zionist Entity’ and turn everything upside down so as to claim that it all was a clever plan of the Jews. {cue up your ‘plan dalit’ tapes}
        The bulk of the world does not deny that the Arabs tried to destroy the Jews and wipe out Israel. Nor do they claim that Israel is innocent of any crimes or policy mistakes made during years of occupation. Now they what Israel to lay down and give up the sovereignty they won through organization, money, honor, loyalty and blood-the same traits that Israel’s enemies claim to possess in vast quantities as well. But they want Israel do do this while convincing the world that the Jews in Israel arent really giving up anything. Its all going to be a bi-national multicultural democracy based on all the other experienced Arab regimes in the neigborhood.
        And the question is not wether Israel PREFERS to sustain the occupation as it does not. The question is-until the Arab nations and Palestinian people recognize that Zionism is the core of the Jewish state of Israel and NO AMOUNT of law-fare, semantics and games is going to ‘trick’ the Jews into giving up their sovereignty. When the Palestinians accept a proposal that does not lead to the eventual destruction of the Zionist State-the world will see an Israel who is will to make a lonf lasting deal. But make no mistake that it can reluctantly or not reluctantly sustain itself for a very long time under the present situation. The world has MANY more destructive and potentially threatening global conflicts and issues to hyper-focus on a piece of land the size of New Jersey. The ‘bds’ is having a bit of a high moment for now but is essentially failing on most of its major petitions. BDS claims ‘defeats’ as ‘victories’ so it gets confusing.

        When bds changes its by-laws-you may accuse normF of living in a “disconnected” world but until then-=I think he knows exactly what world he lives in

      • amigo
        amigo
        April 26, 2014, 10:59 am

        “When bds changes its by-laws-you may accuse normF of living in a “disconnected” world but until then-=I think he knows exactly what world he lives in” dubakr

        Firstly, post those bye laws and tell us exactly which ones need need changing.

        Secondly, why does Mayhem stay in his world if it is about to be run over by Islamist fanatics.Or do you mean ,his supremacist racist murderous zionist entity led by “ALI BIBI and his forty thieves” is going to come crumbling down around his ears.

        Really , he writes nonsense and your response is just more of the same.

        1S 1P 1V .BDS.

        Palsrael will be built on the ruins of Zionism and non too soon.

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        April 26, 2014, 11:23 am

        Again lies and delusions you only proved out point for us. And I like the hypocrisy of stating we want israel to roll over when it’s thugs like you making that demand of the Palestinians. The revisionism is you and yours

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        April 26, 2014, 11:28 am

        Name one instance israel did anything for peace name one legitimate realistic thing israel had done for peace

      • American
        American
        April 26, 2014, 12:34 pm

        ”….Israel to lay down and give up the sovereignty they won through organization, money, honor, loyalty and blood-the same…”Dabakr

        Their organization, but other people’s money,and other people’s blood in addition …but ‘honor’?
        There is no one in the universe, not even the zio bought politicians, who believe Isr or the zionist have any honor, ‘honorable ‘is a word that would never be used to describe them.

        Definition of Honor; personal integrity, strong moral character or strength,
        Webster’s Dictionary defines “honor’ as: “…official dignity, – a keen sense of right and wrong – adherence to actions or principles considered right – integrity – to keep one’s word …….”

        Of the honor among Sioux Indian it has been written by those who lived with them “….. honesty was an absolute, and lying was sure to bring the direst consequences. The straight stem of the pipe a man smoked represented the need to speak straightly .. so that it might never be said of him that he spoke with two tongues ……” (The Mystic Warriors of the Plains, pg. 69)

        Honor has its origin in a Greek word meaning “valuable.” The Greek word for “without honor” literally means “no value.”

        The word of a zionist has no value to anyone.

      • Sumud
        Sumud
        April 27, 2014, 1:01 pm

        you may find what normF write is removed “from reality” but that is because you are on the insulated far left fringe and have no clue about any ‘reality’ other then your obsession with BDS and destroying Zionism.

        Wrong my friend.

        In most countries around the world Israel is now held in extremely low esteem, among the most unpopular in the world, and falling:

        Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran came out worst in terms of how they are viewed globally.

        It didn’t used to be that way, but when you are an apartheid state in violation of more UN resolutions than any other in the world, maintaining the world’s longest military occupation in modern times – a brutal one at that, and have created the world’s largest refugee population and refuse to take responsibility for any of it – all the while screaming about what a civilised place you are – well obviously pretty much everyone has had enough.

        BDS asks only that Israel confirm to international laws that it agreed to when Israel asked to join the UN.

        Nothing extreme or fringe about that pal – which is why BDS keeps building.

        You don’t need to believe me, just listen to various Israeli politicians who have said that the country can’t survive being an apartheid state.

        Norman says “Time is on Israel’s side” and you jump to his defence, so you too are disconnected from reality.

        It’s certainly no skin off my nose if you don’t want to confront reality, so be my guest. Just don’t ever say nobody told you, when the shit hits the fan.

    • jenin
      jenin
      April 25, 2014, 4:03 pm

      yes, that makes sense NormanF. The fault lies with the people who were driven from their homes and turned into refugees to make way for the Jewish state, and then forced to live under a brutal military occupation for over half a century now. Not with the country that is one of the strongest military powers in the world.

      I have stopped wondering how those like you believe the things you believe. I now know it’s a combination of: ignorance (having no knowledge of the facts); dishonesty (lying about the facts) and moral bankruptcy(thinking that the rights of the Palestinians are irrelevant)

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        April 26, 2014, 10:15 am

        Racist at the core

    • amigo
      amigo
      April 25, 2014, 4:13 pm

      “Time is on Israel’s side – it did everything it could to achieve peace ” nf

      norman, this is not a subject for levity.Take your twisted humor elsewhere.

      And btw, time is running out for Israel.Are you high on zio cool aid or just brainwashed.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      April 25, 2014, 4:47 pm

      “The root cause of the conflict of course, is the Palestinian Arab refusal to come to terms with the legitimacy of Zionism and a Jewish State.”

      Nonsense. Neither of those thing is the least bit legitimate. The first is a run-of-the-mill supremacist ideology, no different than any of the others like Nazism, white supremacy, American “Manifest Destiny”, or Apartheid, save for some specifics and the identity of the Master Race/Chosen People/Carriers of the “White Man’s burden.” The latter is a symptom of it and will remain so until it to is tossed into the wastebasket of history.

      “Israel will keep on getting stronger as the Palestinian Arabs grow weaker”

      Yeah, but history has a way of demonstrating that boasts like this about racist states like Israel (two that come to mind is the boast “Thousand Year Reich” and “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”)

      “[Israel] did everything it could to achieve peace”

      Nonsense. It could have accepted the Arab Peace Initiative and made an acceptable offer concerning the Right of Return and it would have peace today. But Israel doesn’t want peace; it wants to get away with their brutality and criminality.

    • eGuard
      eGuard
      April 25, 2014, 5:09 pm

      NormanF, you forgot that when HasbaraCentral mails you to go to internet and oppose whatever they tell you to oppose, you are supposed to not literally copypaste their talking points.

      Hasbara talking points are intended to make you start thinking and from there create your own fantasy logic.

    • Felixio
      Felixio
      April 25, 2014, 7:09 pm

      Norman,
      It is unbelievable that after more than sixty years of real facts, you come up with such a statement, please try a little harder to get real info, it’ll do you no harm,

    • Kay24
      Kay24
      April 25, 2014, 8:35 pm

      To think that there are folks who are even paid, to make some disconnected comments, totally ignoring land grabs, illegal settlements, and a brutal occupation, and blaming the victim, is unbelievable. From the response here, I would call it a lame effort.

    • pjdude
      pjdude
      April 25, 2014, 10:35 pm

      You’re delusional. Israel did nothing to achieve peace all it does is issue demands. You want peace israel had to make major concessions to have real lasting peace. Screwing a side over doesn’t work. Hitler got his chance at genocide because the allies treated Germany the way you want israel to treat the palestinians

    • talknic
      talknic
      April 26, 2014, 2:07 am

      @ NormanF “The root cause of the conflict of course, is the Palestinian Arab refusal to come to terms with the legitimacy of Zionism and a Jewish State”

      Nothing to do with Israeli military forces being in non-Israeli territory for the last 65 years? Of course not, that would spoil your fairytale

      “Israel will keep on getting stronger as the Palestinian Arabs grow weaker and the latter are doomed by their own leaders to keep wandering in circles for another generation.”

      I’m sure Hitler had similar delusions

      “Time is on Israel’s side”

      Time is a concept, it doesn’t take sides.

      ” it did everything it could to achieve peace”

      Continuing to breach International Law and the UN Charter is not doing anything for peace pal.

      “what seems sure to be an on-going conflict that appears destined to last a very long time”

      Could end immediately. Israel could stop dining on bullsh*t, making demands that have no legal basis and withdraw from ALL non-Israeli territories for once. It has never been tried!

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      April 26, 2014, 10:06 am

      Norman is loud and wrong.

      • john h
        john h
        April 26, 2014, 10:06 pm

        Indeed. Loud and so wrong for but a moment of madness. It has passed, and his silence since then to the truth others present, is deafening.

  2. Rational Zionist
    Rational Zionist
    April 25, 2014, 2:56 pm

    Adam, this is the first article that I can honestly say I agree with. I never saw a peace deal working without an answer for Gaza. Having said that, I must admit that I am skeptical that the Fatah-Hamas accord will be successful. And then there is still the PIJ to address.
    Let’s hope that something positive comes from this move.

    • ritzl
      ritzl
      April 25, 2014, 4:38 pm

      Yes, RZ. And then after the PIJ gets “addressed,” there’s that whole “Israel” thing to address. If only ISR would/could change their ways we could have peace tomorrow. #sarcasm

      PIJ or AAMB are reactionary small issues made into causal big issues and repeated endlessly as such.

  3. DaveS
    DaveS
    April 25, 2014, 3:03 pm

    Thanks Adam for that excellent analysis. I think you’re right on all points. Most people of common sense predicted at the outset that these talks would fail, and to look at the situation optimistically, it may be better that they proceeded in the first place for the reasons you mentioned.

  4. libra
    libra
    April 25, 2014, 5:06 pm

    A very cogent analysis by Adam. These five points make a good set of guidelines for the future.

    On point 4, I hope the lesson for the Palestinians is to use external agencies like the UN when and where it make sense but not to end up relying on their leadership in any ‘process’- all can be corrupted, not just the US or the disgraceful TB.

  5. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer
    April 25, 2014, 5:19 pm

    I wish I could share your optimism but I don’t. I am hopeful for a peaceful and mutually agreeable end to the situation but that hope fades with each passing day.

    The reality to me is that Israel is a nuclear armed state and to confront it militarily would do more harm to humanity than good. I don’t believe Israel wants peace and the desire for it on the other side is questionable for some groups.

    I truly grieve for the victims on both sides.

    I hope you are right. The I/P issue is one that has bothered me for many decades. For many of them I was on the side of Israel. For the last 15-20 years that support has shifted for me as the reality became more apparent to me.

    The only measure I see working is BDS. I have personally boycotted Israeli products longer than the BDS campaign has existed. And yes I do boycott other countries. Not always as a statement against their politics but sometimes in support of my own people and economy.

    I hope I am wrong but I am losing hope. I really am. Maybe it’s a bad day.

    • pjdude
      pjdude
      April 25, 2014, 10:40 pm

      I agree with you about the military action. I still think it’s going to come down to military intervention. I think it’s a bad idea. It terrifies me. But I don’t think israel is going to behave civilized with out getting knocked on its a$$.

    • brenda
      brenda
      April 26, 2014, 9:13 am

      oldgeezer, there are a couple of things in play to bolster hope.

      #1 regime change in Israel — the breakdown in the peace talks is very likely to lead to new elections. Israel is not some lockstep hegemonic entity. There is plenty of political opposition to the Netanyahu policies, plenty influential Israeli politicians do see a peace agreement with Palestine as being a favorable thing for Israel.

      If you are an American looking for some good news about US foreign policy, you could say this is a major achievement on our part — regime change for a good end for once….

      … uh, I had a couple of other points to make about what the American mission accomplished but I forgot what I wanted to say, getting on myself y’know…

  6. tree
    tree
    April 25, 2014, 6:02 pm

    Needs a good proofreading:

    …and not just strong arm a parade a interim agreements…

    …it may find a very reception audience in the U.S….

    Otherwise, great analysis.

  7. ritzl
    ritzl
    April 25, 2014, 7:09 pm

    Agree this is very thoughtful analysis. But are you saying that it opens doors to different approaches to a two-state solution? I’m not being rhetorical or contentious, but what is the good thing in that?

    If Palestinians collectively decide that two-states is what they want, then it would be a good thing, but the demographics are changing on that outlook.

    One generation of Palestinians has been lost in that pursuit. Is there some compelling phoenix of an idea arising from this current failure that would suggest that another generation of Palestinians won’t be lost as well? That would suggest TO another generation of Palestinians that THEY won’t be lost as well? Maybe there is.

    It seems that there two crossing timelines in play here: 1) How long will it take?; and, 2) How long will Palestine wait? Where they cross has to be known (better than it is now) before this can be described as good or even hopeful, from a 2SS perspective, imvho.

    A while back NickJOCW (iirc) posted a story about his British officer training where he was presented with an impossible-by-design objective. He said people just kept trying to achieve, but the real object of the exercise was to observe when and for whom realism entered into the battlefield decision-making process. It was a great insight.

    Aren’t Palestinians now in the middle of Nick’s training quandry?

    Thanks for the insights. Peace.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      April 26, 2014, 10:14 am

      Ritzl do you know anything about the land that allegedly would be swapped for the large illegal settlements that Israel does not want to give up? And do you know anything about water under those illegal settlements that Israel is demanding they be able to keep….access etc

      • Stephen Shenfield
        Stephen Shenfield
        April 26, 2014, 12:04 pm

        Kathleen asks about “the land that allegedly would be swapped for the large illegal settlements that Israel does not want to give up.” I have no inside info, but it’s a fair bet, with Lieberman back as foreign minister, that the Israeli side has been trying to foist the Triangle onto the Palestinian “state” and get rid of the Palestinian citizens living there. What I wonder if whether the PA side has made any specific counterproposals, assuming they accept the principle of a territorial swap. For instance, to expand the Gaza Strip to encompass more of the territory assigned to a Palestinian state in the 1947 partition plan?

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        April 26, 2014, 9:57 pm

        In the 47 partition plan why did the Palestinians get such a small piece of the coastline? Such a small piece.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 27, 2014, 12:07 am

        In the 47 partition plan why did the Palestinians get such a small piece of the coastline? Such a small piece.

        Because the ports were supposed to be jointly managed and operated for the benefit of everyone – and from the outset, everyone enjoyed the right of transit throughout all of Palestine:

        B. STEPS PREPARATORY TO INDEPENDENCE . . .
        The Constitutions of the States shall embody Chapters 1 and 2 of the Declaration provided for in section C below and include, inter alia, provisions for: … Guaranteeing to all persons equal and non-discriminatory rights in civil, political, economic and religious matters and the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion, language, speech and publication, education, assembly and association;

        Preserving freedom of transit and visit for all residents and citizens of the other State in Palestine and the City of Jerusalem, subject to considerations of national security, provided that each State shall control residence within its borders.

        Part D of “The Plan for the Future Government of Palestine” governed “ECONOMIC UNION AND TRANSIT”. It made membership in the Economic Union mandatory. If you’ll recall, the preamble of the Palestine Mandate gave “full powers of administration to the British”. Well, the Joint Economic Board was delegated “all powers of organization and administration necessary to fulfil its functions” as follows:

        D. ECONOMIC UNION AND TRANSIT

        The Provisional Council of Government of each State shall enter into an undertaking with respect to Economic Union and Transit. This undertaking shall be drafted by the Commission provided for in section B, paragraph 1, utilizing to the greatest possible extent the advice and cooperation of representative organizations and bodies from each of the proposed States. It shall contain provisions to establish the Economic Union of Palestine and provide for other matters of common interest. If by 1 April 1948 the Provisional Councils of Government have not entered into the undertaking, the undertaking shall be put into force by the Commission.

        The Economic Union of Palestine

        The objectives of the Economic Union of Palestine shall be:

        A customs union;

        A joint currency system providing for a single foreign exchange rate;

        Operation in the common interest on a non-discriminatory basis of railways inter-State highways; postal, telephone and telegraphic services and ports and airports involved in international trade and commerce;

        Joint economic development, especially in respect of irrigation, land reclamation and soil conservation;

        Access for both States and for the City of Jerusalem on a non-discriminatory basis to water and power facilities.

        There shall be established a Joint Economic Board, which shall consist of three representatives of each of the two States and three foreign members appointed by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The foreign members shall be appointed in the first instance for a term of three years; they shall serve as individuals and not as representatives of States.

        The functions of the Joint Economic Board shall be to implement either directly or by delegation the measures necessary to realize the objectives of the Economic Union. It shall have all powers of organization and administration necessary to fulfil its functions.

        http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/res181.htm

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        April 26, 2014, 1:17 pm

        I don’t know anything more about those issues than anyone else here does, Kathleen. Probably much less than most.

        My view, simplistic or not, is that those issues worsen daily, from the Palestinian PoV. More settlements/settlers. Less water. Where are the lines going to be drawn in another 5, 10, or 20 years?

        I don’t know if that answers your questions…

  8. irishmoses
    irishmoses
    April 25, 2014, 8:14 pm

    Notice how NormanF’s outrageous comment appeared almost immediately after the posting of the thread article. As the first thread comment, and as intended, it highjacked the thread and started a flurry of well-intentioned but futile responses that buried the themes of the thread article.

    It would be useful if the MW thread monitors were given the authority to squelch such screed at the get go. It is trolling pure and simple and intended not for discussion but to incite. NormanF didn’t hang around to engage in dialogue (does he ever?).

    Many, if not most MW thread articles, like the above, are well-written, thought provoking, and worthy of rational dialogue and debate. The screed of trollers like NormanF, which is clearly intended to incite and inhibit rational dialogue, needs to be banned.

    Enough already.

    • john h
      john h
      April 26, 2014, 10:25 pm

      Yes, more than enough already. Obvious trollers should be banned, or their troll posts like that one, deleted as soon as detected.

      I am a moderator on another blog, and I would have removed that one.

  9. Mayhem
    Mayhem
    April 26, 2014, 2:14 am

    Time to even the playing field

    This is the one factor that Adam had mentioned at which I take umbrage, because this is a partisan, unscrupulous point of view that is looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as though it is some kind of football match that the Palestinians keep losing.
    Somehow he reckons that it would all be ‘fairer’ if the Palestinians had more opportunities to put pressure on Israel to even up the contest.
    The sad point is that Israel has to maintain its position of strength in order to prevent the state from being destroyed.
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously observed during the Yom Kippur War that, “the Arabs can fight, and lose, and return to fight another day. Israel can only lose once.”
    And as an aside in deference to irishmoses I know from my experience that NormanF has probably tried some follow-up posts but they would have been blocked. As an ‘Israel-firster’ there is only so much that you permitted to say on MW.

    • talknic
      talknic
      April 26, 2014, 3:08 am

      @ Mayhem “Somehow he reckons that it would all be ‘fairer’ if the Palestinians had more opportunities to put pressure on Israel to even up the contest”

      Quite rightly. The US UNSC veto vote protects the little rogue state from the legal consequences of its illegal actions. As long as it holds and there is no actual legal reason it should, the Law is prevented from having effect and the law doesn’t rule in Israel’s favour.

      “The sad point is that Israel has to maintain its position of strength in order to prevent the state from being destroyed”

      Nonsense. How would adhering to the Law and UN Charter and keeping to ones own territory endanger Israel?

      ” I know from my experience that NormanF has probably tried some follow-up posts but they would have been blocked. As an ‘Israel-firster’ there is only so much that you permitted to say on MW”

      Yes indeed. Abuse, racism and Nakba denial are prohibited. If bigotry, lies and bullsh*t were banned you’d have nothing to say at all.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      April 26, 2014, 4:24 am

      ”Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously observed during the Yom Kippur War that, “the Arabs can fight, and lose, and return to fight another day. Israel can only lose once.”

      Let’s agree, for the sake of argument, that the above is true.

      If it is indeed true, then surely you can see that Israel is ultimately doomed? If one defeat is enough to destroy the state, then surely, at some point, the state is going to be destroyed?”The Arabs” may be divided and in disarray right now, but they will not always be so. Some day, sooner or later, a rival of Israel’s – be it Iran or another state – is going to get a nuclear bomb. The servile shiekhs who run the wealthy Gulf states, and by extension the entire Arab world, aren’t always going to be around.

      Israel, for its part, showed us in the July war that its much-hyped army isn’t quite as skillful or courageous as decades of propaganda would have us believe. The ‘mighty’ IDF is really little more than an apartheid style colonial police force. For all its chest-thumping, Israel hasn’t won a war for over 40 years, and even then, it was against third-world military powers.

      So in other words, if you are saying that Israel needs to maintain overwhelming military force in order to survive, you are effectively saying that Israel is doomed.

  10. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    April 26, 2014, 3:47 am

    Breakdown? Please soon will abbas agree to more talks.

  11. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    April 26, 2014, 8:31 am

    Haha what did I tell you?

    News today read: “Palestinian president says still interested in peace talks with Israel”

    • annie
      annie
      April 26, 2014, 10:58 pm

      as i recall abbas said he would continue talks with israel while it was being reported he would sign documents to be joining UN bodies. he has not quit the talks, at least i don’t think it’s ever been reported he has. the “cave” would be not going thru w/hamas reconciliation.

      • Justpassingby
        Justpassingby
        April 27, 2014, 5:04 am

        Well then it wasnt any breakdown in talks, you cant trust that abbas would do anything to change the situation. tragic but true.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 27, 2014, 2:04 pm

        Well then it wasnt any breakdown in talks, you cant trust that abbas would do anything to change the situation. tragic but true.

        The Israelis refused any pre-conditions to holding the talks, including abiding by the terms of international law or previous agreements. So the United States used letters of assurance that imposed side deals about going to the UN and the prisoner releases. You can’t break a side agreement again once its already been broken by one of the two parties. Abbas was no longer bound by the terms of the side agreement after Israel refused to release the prisoners. He can continue to participate in further talks, but he has listed a number or pre-conditions and has no intention of withdrawing from the 15 treaties Palestine signed-onto.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        April 27, 2014, 3:19 pm

        Thanks Hostage. Great explanation. Useful.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        April 27, 2014, 3:18 pm

        @jpb- I think that what Abbas is doing to change the situation is to stay open to talks. That allows/enables people like me to post comments like this (Larsen) attached to typically abysmal “reporting” on the situation:

        http://www.pbs.org/newshour/episode/thursday-april-24-2014/

        (I’m not sure why I bother anymore, but that report was particularly and blatantly one-sided.)

        My comment there is characteristically breathless on my part, but Abbas is eviscerating the exclusively Israeli blame-narrative by not categorically walking away (like Israel is doing). Glaring constructive/tactical/useful contrast, coming at a time when there is so much focus on this issue.

  12. brenda
    brenda
    April 26, 2014, 9:24 am

    As much as I believe that a binational state is a good thing, probably the best possible outcome, I think the end of the occupation is what is needed right now if not sooner. These people have suffered long enough — re-read Alex Kanes account of life in the Jenin refugee camp. The two-state-solution is something at hand, something do-able, something that will bring relief even if not perfect justice to Palestine, and something that might eventually (long after all of us are dead, not just the old geezers) lead to a binational state in the Middle East populated by Jews and Arabs peacefully living together and doing very well for itself in the world.

  13. ramzijaber
    ramzijaber
    April 26, 2014, 9:27 am

    Good points MW.

    peace. TALKS. peace. PROCESS. but. NO. PEACE.

    Zionist colonization of Palestine is now over 100 years. The only “progress” forward has been more of us (Palestinians) are killed and more of our land is stolen.

    Now the extreme lunatic right zionists are the “moderates” in the centre.

    The only just and feasible path forward, is 1S1P1V – one state, one person, one vote.

    This is what’s happening next.

    • libra
      libra
      April 26, 2014, 3:27 pm

      Good to hear you voice again, Ramzi.

      • ramzijaber
        ramzijaber
        April 26, 2014, 6:07 pm

        Thank you libra, that’s so nice of you.

  14. LeaNder
    LeaNder
    April 26, 2014, 10:03 am

    Great analysis. For whatever reason I hesitated yesterday to read it.

    But as to the first link, the article by Haaretz’ Barak Ravid, at the very start this puzzled me:

    It included the investment of billion of dollars in projects and infrastructure by giant multinational corporations, who were enlisted to lay down the foundations of a future Palestinian state.

    Lay down the foundations of a future Palestinian State?

    Till the link: “Tony Blair’s crony capitalism”, that is. I guess I missed that article by Max. But thanks for reminding us of it. Another important piece of the puzzle with a longer history it seems.

    Off topic:
    Great to see others share my “hesitation towards” the “leverage buyouters” of this world. I once looked into such a story over here. Maybe one day I will finish this mental excursion to the final 1€ deal that brought the failed takeover into a surprising business account in Frankfurt … before the former public company–, in a rather sensitive field, I would like to add–was bought back by the state.

    Isn’t Blair the best evidence that the Europeans ultimately aren’t that much better? But then again, Britain is only semi-European economically and in this context quite possibly closer to the US than the EU. But what do I know. The above player I looked into not only in this specific context was very British too.

  15. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    April 26, 2014, 10:04 am

    “And yet the equation remains simple: the more Israel refuses to end the conflict, the larger the BDS movement will grow. The more Israel deepens the occupation, the louder the calls for accountability will be.”

    Contact your Reps…let them know the shift is taking place. Bring up cutting U.S. aid to Israel. Let them know we are out here. Great place to order materials to hand out where ever you go. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/materials.html

  16. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    April 26, 2014, 10:12 am

    This unity effort is so positive. Abbas played the game for awhile and is now taking important stands and making moves. His actions say “enough of this song and dance” The illegal settlements keep expanding and we are drawing a line. ENOUGH is what these actions are saying.

    How fucking absurd no mention of compensation for Palestinians who have had land and homes stolen. No compensation at all. And do we hear a mention of Israel recognizing Palestine as a state for Palestinians? Do the Palestinians want to an essentially racist state like Israel or would this essentially be a reaction to the new demand of Israel’s “recognize us as a state for Jews”

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      April 27, 2014, 8:23 am

      @ Kathleen
      Yes. Compensation for Jews who fled (or willingly ran?) to Israel from Arab countries. No reciprocity for Nakba refugees.

      Do we assume Indyk had the green light from Kerry to break the silence on details of the Kerry framework?

  17. Sycamores
    Sycamores
    April 26, 2014, 10:21 am

    Palestinian unity is necessary for a peace agreement

    should a modifier be added here like

    Palestinian unity is necessary for a lasting peace agreement.

    if my memory serves me right Northern Ireland peace agreement did not have complete acceptance by all paramilitaries and political parties involved at the start of talks. but there was enough people on both sides that didn’t leave that stop them, there was to much to lose. the people on the street had enough of the continous violence and fear. it took time for all parties to come to an agreement. unity is important but near impossible to achieved at the beginning of any talks.

    is Israeli unity necessary for a lasting peace agreement?

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      April 27, 2014, 12:15 am

      Palestinian unity is necessary for a peace agreement

      should a modifier be added here like

      Palestinian unity is necessary for a lasting peace agreement.

      Not really since Palestinian unity is necessary for the conclusion of a peace agreement. The US and Israel both recognize Hamas as the de facto government of the Gaza Strip, which is an integral part of the State of Palestine according to the Oslo Accords, the Quartet Road Map terms of reference, and the UN Security Council (see resolution 1860).

      • Naftush
        Naftush
        April 27, 2014, 3:59 am

        Nowhere in the Oslo Accords, the Quartet Road Map terms of reference, and Resolution 1860 is a State of Palestine referred to. Resolution 1860 segues back to 242, which refers to nothing Palestinian.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      April 27, 2014, 2:45 pm

      An earlier unity Palestinian government endorsed the 2002 Saudi peace plan. This fact gets too little attention, in my judgment.

      Re: Northern Ireland, one remembers that George Mitchell did a fine job, and he might have done well with Israel/Palestine. But Dennis Ross would not stand for it.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      April 27, 2014, 2:53 pm

      Sycameors – – deals do indeed need to be made in stages, to succeed. Sometimes.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 27, 2014, 3:41 pm

        Sycameors – – deals do indeed need to be made in stages, to succeed. Sometimes.

        The blockade is an act of war against the territory of the State of Palestine. So, Israel cannot conclude a final peace agreement that ends all claims, while it still maintains its right to blockade the Gaza Strip. Full stop.

  18. iResistDe4iAm
    iResistDe4iAm
    April 26, 2014, 11:18 am

    From a Road Map to a One-Way Street

    All roads on the “Road Map for Peace” leading to “Peace Process” have been bombed or bulldozed, blocked by Jewish-only colonies and freeways, dead-ended by sieges and impenetrable walls, or choked by endless checkpoints leaving only a single war-ravaged one-way street.

    Everyone will soon know where that one-way street leads.

  19. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    April 26, 2014, 2:17 pm

    You need to do an update, abbas agree to more talks,

    that ppl here is fooled by abbas is tragic..

  20. James Canning
    James Canning
    April 26, 2014, 5:14 pm

    Bravo. A unity government is essential (Hamas-Fatah). EU endores the deal while the US very stupidly attacks it.

  21. Hostage
    Hostage
    April 26, 2014, 7:44 pm

    2. No deal is better than a bad deal . . . 3. As the two-state solution fails again there is an opening for alternatives

    Ramallah – Al-Quds.com – Member of the Palestinian negotiations team, Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, stated on Wednesday that the ongoing negotiations with the Israeli side tend to fail, and it will not be extended for one day after its expiration on April 29, and we are heading towards the “one State”.

    Eshtayyeh said during his participation in the “Palestine and international law” conference, organized by the Bar Association of the city of Jericho yesterday, that the negotiating process will close on 29th of April, negotiations will not be extended by one day, negotiations will end with failure, then we will say goodbye to the two-State solution with the continuation of imposing political status quo and Israeli settlement.” — See Eshtayyeh: negotiations will fail; we should correct the mistake by approaching international institutions – http://en.alquds.com/en/stories/45

  22. KarlRKaiser
    KarlRKaiser
    April 27, 2014, 1:55 am

    We in the U.S. have always understood the foolishness of binding together religion and state power. Our nation was founded to PREVENT such a fiasco.

    When a state intended for the exclusive empowerment of only ONE religion or ethnicity (like a “Jewish state”) has to be built on land already occupied by non-“chosen” indigenous people, the entire affair becomes morally wrong.

    Jews do not need a “Jewish state” to be safe. They live safely all around the world. If Jews REALLY want to be safe they would move to Brooklyn or Boca Raton, not Israel.

    The “Jewish state” is about racial purity and god-chosen tribal “destiny”–two principles which should be abhorrent in the modern era, and are slowly becoming so, thanks to Israel’s example.

    • German Lefty
      German Lefty
      April 27, 2014, 5:20 pm

      We in the U.S. have always understood the foolishness of binding together religion and state power.
      And that’s why you have god-bothering money and pledge allegiance to “one Nation under God”.

      Our nation was founded to PREVENT such a fiasco.
      The USA was founded in the same way as Israel was founded, i.e. by settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people.

      In general, I agree with your views. However, using the USA as a good example doesn’t work. Also, I object to the phrase “we in the U.S.” because US citizens are not a homogeneous group. There are a lot of douchebags in the USA, e.g. Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. The USA is famous for its Christian fundies.

  23. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 27, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Obama selected Ross, then Indyk; how can a guy with the track record of either be selected to be special envoy to both sides, representing the US? Didn’t these appointments clearly flag US would remain Israel’s lawyer? I think the plan all along was to bribe the PA to give Israel what it wants via trying to sell the PA “a new economic boom for Palestinians.”
    http://mtv.com.lb/en/News/330194

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      April 27, 2014, 4:48 pm

      Dennis Ross pretty much admits that his connections to rich and powerful Jews forced Obama to bring him on board. Sadly.

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