Mideast Peace Negotiators Meet
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article said talks through last Thursday floundered. They’re close to collapse.
Breathing life into failure won’t work. It hasn’t for decades. It won’t now. Multiple rounds of futility defined past efforts.
Israel alone benefitted. Palestinians got nothing. Same old, same old persists this time. Einstein once called insanity “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Months of futility produced nothing. Nor will months more. Palestinians have no say.
They never did before. They don’t now. US and Israeli negotiators never fail to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Talks effectively died. Pretending otherwise won’t change things.
John Kerry said he’s rethinking America’s involvement. One-sided US support for Israel makes peace impossible.
Here we go again. Israeli, US and Palestinian negotiators agreed to meet on Sunday. Breathing new life into failure won’t succeed better this time.
Unconditional Palestinian surrender may follow. Don’t bet against it not happening. It did many times before.
Chances for real peace are zero. Believing otherwise defies reality. Washington and Israel deplore peace.
They prioritize violence and instability. They partner in crime. They share hegemonic ambitions. They don’t negotiate. They demand. They want Palestinians entirely denied.
In April 1949, early peace efforts began tentatively. They occurred under UN auspices. They did so in Lausanne, Switzerland. A three-tier settlement was proposed. It was dead on arrival. It included:
- diaspora Palestinians unconditional right of return;
- Jerusalem as an international city; and
- two-state solution equity on equal portions of land.
Under November 1947 UN Resolution 181, Jerusalem was declared an international city.
It remains so under a UN Trusteeship Council. It includes the entire city, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Christian holy sites.
Early peace efforts failed. Israel rejected terms out of hand. It kept 78% of historic Palestine.
It let Jordan annex the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Egypt controlled Gaza. Israeli/Palestinian talks collapsed.
June 1967 Six Day War followed. Israel seized remaining portions of Palestinian land.
Effort to revive peace talks went nowhere. Israel rejected PLO officials as legitimate partners.
Yasser Arafat’s November 13, 1974 first ever General Assembly appearance didn’t help. He addressed member states, saying:
“The difference between the revolutionary and the terrorist lies in the reason for which each fights.”
“Whoever stands by a just cause and fights for liberation from invaders and colonists cannot be called a terrorist.”
“Those who wage war to occupy, colonize and oppress other people are the terrorists.”
“The PLO dreams and hopes for one democratic state where Christian, Jew and Muslim live in justice, equality, fraternity and progress.”
“I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
It was a watershed moment. America and Israel were practically alone. They opposed Arafat’s appearance. They spurned Palestinian self-determination.
Most UN members supported it. They do now. In November 1975, then US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs, Harold H. Saunders, testified before House Middle East Foreign Affairs Subcommittee members, saying:
“In many ways, the Palestinian dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the heart of that conflict.”
“The Palestinians are a political factor. (Their) legitimate interests must be taken into account in the negotiating of an Arab-Israeli peace.”
In November 1988, Arafat proclaimed an independent Palestinian state. It remains one. He renounced terrorism. He accepted Security Council Resolution 242.
It called for ending conflict. It included Israel withdrawing its armed forces from occupied territories.
Tel Aviv rejected doing so. It still does now. It wants its rights alone respected. It wants Palestinians entirely denied.
In 1988, Arafat urged convening an international peace conference. In mid-December, talks convened in Tunis. They achieved nothing. They collapsed.
Three days of late October/early November 1991 Madrid negotiations followed. They were held to breathe life into a peace process.
Abbas is a longstanding Israeli collaborator. So is chief negotiator Saeb Erekat. They sold out long ago. They did so for benefits derived.
They surrendered in Madrid. They did so unconditionally. Betrayal followed in subsequent talks. Oslo was a monumental failure.
The late Edward Said called it a Palestinian Versailles. Unconditional surrender explained it. Issues mattering most weren’t resolved.
Israel got everything it wanted. Palestinian officials got to be Israel’s enforcer. Ordinary Palestinians lost out entirely.
Things are much worse today than then. Subsequent one-way peace talks furthered Israel’s agenda.
In September 1995, Oslo II divided West Bank areas into three parts. They include Areas A, B and C plus a fourth for Greater Jerusalem.
Area A is under Palestinian control. It’s for internal security, public order and civil affairs.
Area B under Palestinian control covers 450 West Bank towns and villages. Israel retains overriding authority for settlements and activities relating to them.
It has sole Area C control. Included are valued water and other resources. Overall, Israel controls around 60% of Palestinian land. Stealing it adds more dunums daily.
Territory controlled includes expanding settlements, by-pass roads, the Apartheid Wall, military areas, no-go zones, nature reserves, Jews only commercial areas, hundreds of checkpoints and barriers, gas-rich offshore waters, and areas richest in other Palestinian resources.
Palestinians are excluded from their own land. They’re denied their own resources.
In September 1999, Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum duplicity followed. It implemented Oslo II and other post-Oslo I agreements. They included:
(1) a 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations favoring Israel;
(2) a Cairo Agreement on Gaza and Jericho Area the same year;
(3) the 1994 Washington Declaration and Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities between both parties; and
(4) the 1995 Protocol on Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities.
Both sides agreed to resume final status talks. Resolving them never followed. They’re as distant as ever. Israel concedes nothing.
Discussions included other peace issues. They related to Israeli troop redeployments, land transfers, safe passage openings between Gaza and the West Bank, a Gaza seaport, prisoner releases, security related issues, normal civilian life activities, international donor aid, and a timetable for final status talks on toughest issues delayed as long as possible.
In July 2000, Bill Clinton, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat met. Impossible demands were made.
Barak insisted Arafat sign a “final agreement” “end of conflict” declaration. He wanted Palestinians relinquishing all legal claims to land rightfully theirs Israel wanted.
He offered nothing in return. No written offer was presented. No documents. No maps.
Just Israel’s demand to divide West Bank territory into four isolated cantons under Palestinian administration. Israeli controlled areas and expanding settlements surrounded them.
They included Jericho, southern territory to Abus Dis, northern Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm areas, and southern Ramallah and other land.
Gaza was left in limbo. In mid-2006, siege followed. Israel’s 2000 offer was made to be refused. It was one-way. It was duplicitous.
Arafat justifiably rejected it. He was pilloried maliciously for doing it. In July 2001, Taba talks avoided discussing final status issues. Failure followed.
Bush’s “roadmap for peace” mocked fairness. It proved Palestine has no peace partner. It didn’t earlier. It didn’t then. It doesn’t now.
Annapolis combined travesty and tragedy. It was perhaps the first time a legitimate government was excluded.
Talks were doomed before beginning. How can one side negotiate in good faith without a willing partner? Negotiations were orchestrated to fail. Nothing new was introduced.
Talks were stillborn. They ended with joint statements from all parties. Nothing was resolved. Peace remained a convenient illusion.
It’s more distant now than then. Prospects are no better now than earlier. Fairy tales are more believable than thinking so.
Israel is all take. So is Washington. They’re no give. They’re hardline. They want Palestinians marginalized. They want them exploited. They want them entirely denied.
Assuming otherwise is fantasy. It’s living in a dream world. You have to be asleep to believe what doesn’t exist now and never did before.
Palestinians are entirely on their own. Breathing life into failure once more won’t work better than earlier.
Apparently it doesn’t matter. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to meet again on Sunday. US envoy Martin Indyk will join them.
He’s a former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. He was Clinton’s US ambassador to Israel. He’s a Brookings vice president and foreign policy director.
He’s currently Obama’s Israeli/Palestinian talks special envoy. He’s no honest broker. He never was. He mocks fairness. He’s lopsidedly unfair. He one-sidedly favors Israel. He disdains Palestinian rights.
Expect talks this time to fare no better than previous ones last Thursday. They ended with both sides swapping bitter recriminations.
Negotiators voiced threats. Israel promised harsh sanctions. Palestinians have no negotiating power. Potted plants might as well represent them.
Abbas rejects Israeli demands to withdraw applications he made to join 15 UN bodies and treaties. He plans joining more, he said.
It doesn’t matter. He never tried holding Israel accountable. He ignores levers available to do so.
Expect nothing different this time. Expect failure punctuating last ditch efforts. Expect Palestinian suffering continuing.
Expect worse than ever ahead. Expect stepped up Israeli repression. Perhaps expect more war.
For sure expect Palestinians blamed for Israel’s crimes. Expect liberation remaining distant. Perhaps some day. Not now.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
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