Media Analysis

Peace process was never intended to give Palestinians a state — true confessions from Council on Foreign Relations

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Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations has an article at Foreign Policy saying that the U.S. should phase out aid to Israel and “end the special relationship” because the peace process has attained its real objective: Israel is established as a secure country with a standard of living rivaling the UK and France, and no real military threat.

The piece is shocking because it strips the mask from the peace process, saying just what Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah said decades ago, it was intended to fail, never producing Palestinian sovereignty.

Cook says the U.S.’s “core interest” in the Middle East was always Israel’s “security,” so the peace process needed to spin its wheels forever.

U.S. policymakers have long believed that a two-state solution was the best way to ensure Israel’s security, and U.S. presidents from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to Donald Trump himself have repeatedly pursued that goal. But the mostly unacknowledged fact about the two-state impasse—and perhaps the reason Washington hasn’t summoned the political will to overcome it—is that it has helped the United States achieve one [of] its core interests in the region: helping to ensure Israeli security….

The “tragedy” for Palestinians is that they trusted the U.S. and “misread” core U.S. interests, Cook explains; but now they have to live forever in Bantustans.

Palestinians "misread" core U.S. interests and thought they included Palestinian sovereignty, but the real interest was Israeli security, and that's why the peace process has been stalemated forever and done nothing but consign Palestinians to Bantustans, Steven A. Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations says.
Steven A. Cook

The tragedy in all this is the permanent dispossession of the Palestinians, who will no doubt be outraged at Washington’s washing its hands of the conflict, sealing their fate to live forever under the boot of the IDF or shoved into Bantustans. They would be justified in their anger. They have also misread core U.S. interests in the Middle East, which really are not concerned with the Palestinians, who, against all evidence, trusted the United States.

The next time anyone talks about Arabs not really meaning what they say or conducting foreign policy like a soukh, remind them that Even a Council on Foreign Relations pundit says the U.S. lied to Palestinians for 25 years of false promises.

The obvious question that arises is Why destroying Palestinian human rights is a core U.S. interest– indeed, why Zionism is a core U.S. interest — and yes the extent to which this reflects the power of the Israel lobby in our politics. For a generation we have had White House mediators who were labeled “Israel’s lawyer,” or who told synagogue audiences “We need to be advocates for Israel,” or who went right from their postings in the Obama White House to Israel advocacy jobs (both Dan Shapiro and Tamara Cofman Wittes).

None of these jokers ever had any real interest in giving Palestinians any sovereignty.

And how much of the instability of Israel’s neighbors has also served that “core” interest? Israel is sitting pretty, Cook says, because “Iraq and Syria are in a shambles.” Lebanon is crumbling.

We should be grateful to Cook for saying that the point of the peace process was to fail; and that failure was all for Israel’s interest.

The Israel Policy Forum issued a similar insight when Netanyahu began threatening to annex the West Bank last year.

To [annex] will exacerbate partisan divisions on Israel in the United States, ultimately erode Israel’s security, give an unnecessary and clear victory to the BDS movement, and upend decades of carefully calibrated policy on Israel.

“[D]ecades of carefully calibrated policy on Israel” means that Zionists liberal or otherwise give lip service to a Palestinian state but ultimately have no problem with the occupation because the status quo is good for Israel– It is a wealthy democracy-for-Jews– and apartheid for Palestinians is tragic but not worth losing sleep over.

And when a real effort arises to make Israel pay a price for its human rights violations, liberal Zionists will jump to label BDS as antisemitic.

Thanks to Scott Roth.

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“Cook says the U.S.’s “core interest” in the Middle East was always Israel’s “security,” so the peace process needed to spin its wheels forever.” There can be no doubt of this claim. I don’t find it even mildly surprising. Otherwise how did the US allow Israel to engage in the 1967 War in the first place, clearly a war of conquest? Even to accepting Israel’s savage attack at the time on an American intelligence ship,… Read more »

CONT’D… It’s a little like the way imperial Britain employed groups like the fierce Gurkhas to help hold its interests. America’s power establishment is not sentimental about such matters as ancient Israel or a people’s suffering in Europe, not in the least, as it is easy to demonstrate from history. Indeed, the American establishment long was among the most openly anti-Semitic groups in America. The power establishment cares about empire and control in the world,… Read more »

“Yosef Weitz* believed that the success of the Zionist enterprise necessitated the removal of the Arab population from Palestine. During and after the war, he was involved in deporting Arabs from territories conquered by the IDF, preventing refugees from returning, and forcibly transferring Arabs within the state.” – Tome Segev, Israeli historian

– page 36, “Apartheid is A Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation” by Mats Svensson


Surely Steven Cook is quite right to say the US should stop proving the huge subsidy to living standards in Israel. Absurd, when millions of Americans live in poverty.

To quote Nahum Goldman when he stepped down as president of the World Jewish Congress in 1977: “In 30 years, Israel has never presented the Arabs with a single peace plan. She has rejected every settlement plan devised by her friends and by her enemies. She has seemingly no other object than to preserve the status quo while adding territory piece by piece.” Professor Avi Shlaim, the renowned Israeli historian, as summarized by Ha’aretz (11… Read more »