Last week David Friedman, the US Ambassador to Israel, gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post saying that Palestinian violence has stymied the peace process. Israeli settlements are no obstacle to peace, he said; and there’s an “alleged occupation.”
At the same time, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu went to the West Bank to say that Israel would be there “forever.” And he released a video lecture, blaming the Palestinians for not extolling “champions of peace,” but honoring terrorists.
Share this video if you think children should be taught to love and respect, not to hate and kill. pic.twitter.com/sp5LyIk1NQ
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) September 3, 2017
Netanyahu was also able to recruit the UN’s Secretary General in the Palestinian incitement talk. When Antonio Guterres met Netanyahu last week, the prime minister launched into the U.N. for having an “absurd obsession” with Israel; and Guterres, on his back foot, echoed the Prime Minister:
I’ve been expressing my opposition for instance to the settlement activity but clearly the combination of terrorism, violence and incitement and the understanding of the difficulties created by the separation between the West Bank and Gaza.
The press is going along with this farce, talking up the latest possibilities of the peace process.
Haaretz reports that Donald Trump will meet with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the UN General Assembly meetings in two weeks to push his “planned peace initiative.” But make no mistake, nothing will happen:
Though [Trump envoys Jared] Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt didn’t give Abbas a clear timetable for unveiling the peace initiative, they said it might happen before the end of the year, the officials added.
“The Americans said they need more time to draft something and asked Abu Mazen not to make international moves like joining additional UN agencies or launching proceedings at the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” one said, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “Abu Mazen acceded to this request in the hope that during the coming months, the administration really will present a plan or a position that could constitute a real basis for restarting the diplomatic process.”
The New York Times article on the talks is headlined, “For US Mideast Peace Negotiators, Keeping the Palestinians Involved Is a Victory,” but reporter Mark Landler is compelled to admit that there’s really nothing doing:
Mr. Greenblatt declined to say whether he had presented a plan or whether he had given the Palestinians any comfort on the two-state solution, which Mr. Trump threw into doubt last February when he said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state” formulations.
Other officials made it clear the United States did not deviate from Mr. Trump’s statement, which has frustrated Palestinian officials, who say that unless the White House reaffirms the goal of a Palestinian state, he will not be a credible peacemaker.
Landler notes that the delegation to Israel and Palestine last week included deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, one of whose qualifications is that she is not Jewish. The imbalance of the American side is so pronounced, even the Times is counting Jews:
An Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who speaks some Arabic, Ms. Powell could help mitigate the perception that the Trump team is stocked with staunchly pro-Israel figures like Mr. Kushner, Mr. Greenblatt, and David M. Friedman, the ambassador to Israel – all of whom are orthodox Jews.
Former negotiator Aaron David Miller– whose family hosted David Ben-Gurion when he was a boy, a qualification for his long service in the peace process– writes in USA Today that the U.S. won’t achieve anything by being so responsive to Israel:
Only three Americans — two secretaries of State (James Baker and Henry Kissinger) and one president (Jimmy Carter) — achieved breakthroughs in this conflict, and all had run-ins with both Arabs and Israelis…. The Trump team has a very high sensitivity toward Israel and its concerns. But the U.S. can only be an effective broker or facilitator if it is considered independent and credible….
The Trump administration ought to borrow Baker’s tactic of blaming and shaming any party that doesn’t cooperate with the U.S. This game won’t get you to the ultimate deal but it will allow its pursuit to continue.
Blaming and shaming is not all that distant from Amira Hass’s plea in Haaretz for European governments to sanction Israel, for destroying its Palestinian projects in the West Bank. Israeli society will be lost without such measures.
You must take real actions. Yes, open and declared sanctions that have a path to becoming more severe. Painful sanctions. This may be the last chance to remove the average Israeli, including business people, tourists, judges, scholars, farmers and foreign soccer consumers from their indifference and criminal complacency.
Stop being afraid of Israeli emotional blackmail. Israel trades in the memory of our families murdered in Europe in order to speed up the expulsion of the Palestinians from the bulk of West Bank territory to the enclaves of the Palestinian Authority.
Hass is a great writer, in the very difficult position of standing up for Palestinian human rights in Israel. It is dangerous for an Israeli to call out to the world for not only Sanctions, but Boycott and Divestment, too. Sanctions are the actions of governments; but who can depend on governments to do anything right now? As the David Friedman and Guterres follies show, activists must take measures of their own to support Palestinians. That’s why BDS has burgeoned.
Thanks to Allison Deger.