In an op-ed in the New York Times today, longtime US peace-processor Dennis Ross calls on the world to “Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass” for their refusal to accept three supposed peace deals.Ross hints at punishment for the Palestinians:
It is time to make it costly for them to focus on symbols rather than substance.
As if the occupation has been a pleasant experience for Palestinians, and the arrival of Zionist settlers 100 years ago a blessing.
Ross, who has been described as Israel’s “advocate” and Israel’s lawyer when he led American peace negotiations, praises three supposed offers by Israel in 2000, 2008 and 2014:
In each case, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either “no” or no response. They determined that the cost of saying “yes,” or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high.
But in 2000 and 2008 the Palestinians would have had to give up large portions of territory east of the ’67 lines to Israel, blocs where Israeli colonists live. As for 2014, John Kerry didn’t even get around to a deal. Then Israel slaughtered more than 500 children in Gaza.
Ross’s argument borders on racism when he belittles Palestinian political culture:
Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal
But all people have a right to resist occupation, and colonialism is supposed to be a thing of the past. In fact Palestinians have made the greatest compromise, agreeing to accept a state on less than 1/4 of the land, in 1988, a deal Israel has never been able to follow through on, in no small measure because of the tender offices of Ross, who presumed to negotiate as a fair third party.
Donald Johnson says, I was going to blow up at Ross’s column today, but the readers at the NYT did a superb job tearing him apart. Even the NYT “picks” included a number of good responses (though I think they consistently avoid picking the guy who consistently ranks near the top of the reader lists–Mark Thomason). The pro-Ross pieces are weak at best, and go downhill from there.
Mark Thomason writes, in the top readers’ pick:
Mr. Ross ought to have grasped by now that the Palestinians are not going to accept one-sided offers worked out between the Israelis and their American lawyers of everything Israel wants, leftovers for Palestine unless Israel wants more.
They are doing this precisely because they cannot negotiate with people who think like Ross. It is useless to talk with them. The Peace Process was a fraud, and anyway the Israeli leadership under Netanyahu openly campaigned against it and everything wrought in Oslo.
Force them to talk? Ross means force them to accept Israeli terms as a diktat.
That hasn’t worked for decades, and it ought to be clear by now it won’t ever work. Actually, it seems likely from the moving of goalposts that it was never meant to work, just used to cover the making of facts on the ground.
It is disgusting that guys like Ross now define peace as automatically including settlement building. Anywhere the Israelis “expect” to keep is theirs, and peace means accepting that.
More readers’ picks; Fadia echoes that idea:
The title should be “Stop Giving Israelis a Pass”. The Palestinians have been negotiating in good faith for decades and all they got is more occupation and illegal settlements. The Palestinians have already offered Israel a very generous deal, they want a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is 22% of historic Palestine and less than half of the land given to them by the UN partition. The world must hold Israel accountable for it’s ongoing violations and the U.S must stop supporting Israel’s crimes against the occupied, oppressed and horribly abused Palestinians.
The Palestinians are living in an Israeli controlled ghetto. All their goods, supplies, energy, and even water is under the control of Israel.
They have had their land confiscated and taken by settlers encouraged by the Israeli government. There are five million of them living in exile, they are not even allowed to visit with their own relatives, they can not get passports or visas
abo in Paris:
This editorial is nonsense. The international community is clear on what a just peace would like like: pre-67 land returned to Palestine, recognition of Israel, some kind or right-of-return or compensation paid to Palestinian refugees. Israel has staked out a position so far away from this peace that compromise means there would be no justice.
It’s astonishing to me that (presumably) intelligent writers can keep adding their voices to the bleating chorus describing Palestinian actions at the UN, or pursuit of ICC membership, as “one-sided” or “unilateral.” The hypocrisy of this position almost defies comment, as the entire Israel/Palestine conflict consists of unilateral Israeli actions. Maintaining a brutal, humiliating military occupation is a unilateral action. Building illegal settlements is a unilateral action. Erecting an illegal separation wall is a unilateral action. Having recourse to international institutions is neither one-sided nor unilateral – it’s an option that every national group should have, free from persecution or retribution. Especially so in the case of a party as powerless and abused as Palestine.
When you have nothing–and that nothing gets smaller and smaller as Israel gobbles up your remaining, but still occupied, territory, it takes a lot of “chutzpah” to ask Palestinians to give something for peace with Israel.