Israel and the peace delusion
By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
In just over two two months’ time, on 13 September, it will be 20 years since the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, shook hands with the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, sealing the Oslo Accords and kicking off the so-called Middle East “peace process”.
Two decades on, what has been achieved?
Certainly not statehood – the Palestinians are farther now from having a state of their own than they have ever been.
But there have been lots of talks and additional, interim agreements, including Oslo II 1995, Wye Plantation Memorandum 1998, Sharm El-Sheikh Memorandum 1999 and the Annapolis Conference declaration 2007. None of these has achieved an iota of progress for the Palestinians, nor were they meant to, at least as far as Israel is concerned.
For Israel, the purpose is twofold: to outsource the occupation to the Palestinian Authority (PA) – in effect, a quisling administration – and thereby make it economically bearable, and to buy time until all the West Bank is absorbed into Jewish colonies.
Creating facts on the ground
Thus, while the world’s attention and efforts have been focused on starting, restarting and prolonging endless, futile talks between the PA and Israel, Israel has been busy creating facts on the ground: East Jerusalem has been disconnected from its natural hinterland by Jewish settlements and the Apartheid Wall, and the number of Jewish colonizers in the West Bank has grown from 222,000 on the eve of the Oslo Agreements to 550,000 in 2010, and doubtless lots more in the past three years.
Still, the talks, the time wasting, the buying of time for Israel to complete the crime of the occupation, continue.
On 30 June US Secretary of State John Kerry completed yet a new round of shuttle diplomacy, achieved nothing but remained “optimisic”, promising to return to the region soon for yet more talks.
…literally while Kerry was indulging his optimistic day dreams Israel was putting the finishing touches to plans to provide incentives for buyers of nearly 1,000 new homes in illegally annexed East Jerusalem.
The reasons for his optimism? The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said he might release some Palestinian prisoners and might restrain – not stop – the construction of Jewish colonies and discuss the 1967 borders, but “without any promise to withdraw to those lines”.
In the meantime, literally while Kerry was indulging his optimistic day dreams Israel was putting the finishing touches to plans to provide incentives for buyers of nearly 1,000 new homes in illegally annexed East Jerusalem. According to Agence France Presse, the plan will offer prospective Jewish colonizers a huge discount on 930 new homes to be built in Har Homa, in East Jerusalem’s southern outskirts, lowering the price of each new home by 100,000 shekels (27,500 US dollars or 21,000 euros).
“This is Netanyahu’s response to everything Kerry said, to his ideas and to all his efforts,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP, noting that the news emerged “before Kerry wraps up his tour”.
“We on the Palestinian side tried every possible effort to help Kerry succeed, but it is obvious today… that Netanyahu is putting 930 obstacles in front of Secretary Kerry’s efforts,” he said.
“Netanyahu alone is responsible for ruining Kerry’s efforts and trying to abort his mission and destroying the two-state solution which is supported by the entire international community,” he added.
Netanyahu is only the tip of the iceberg
But even if Netanyahu exits the political arena, as he is bound to sooner or later, this will not alter Israel’s insatiable appetite for stealing Palestinian land, for the policy of land theft has been consistently pursued by all Israeli governments, left and right.
Besides, the mood in Netanyahu’s Likud party is unambiguously in favour of more land theft and uncompromisingly for the denial of Palestinian statehood. According to another AFP report on 30 June, Likud hardliners “were poised to seize key positions in the party’s governing institutions… in a move likely to curb any concessions vis-a-vis the Palestinians”. Increasingly prominent among those hardliners is Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon, who in an interview with AP issued a thinly-veiled threat to Netanyahu, warning that he has no problem with his party leader, but only so long as he does not make peace with the Palestinians.
It is clear that there can be no just and lasting peace in the Middle East as long as the military balance between Israel and those whose land and rights it has usurped is as lopsided as it has been since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.
Ultimately, it is only brute force that counts – it is the only language Israel understands.