Is it too late for peace in Israel/Palestine?
By Alan Hart
Before I offer my own answer here’s a quick review of how things are and look like going.
- President Obama is not going to use the leverage he has to cause or try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians.
In the past I entertained some hope that in the last year of his second term he would do so, and there was quite a good reason for a small degree of optimism on my part. It was in what President Jimmy Carter once said to me. He explained that any president has only two windows of opportunity to take on the Zionist lobby and its stooges (I prefer to call them traitor-agents) in Congress.
The first window is the first nine months of his first term because after that the fundraising for the mid-term elections gets underway. (In his first nine months Obama tried and failed to get a settlement freeze).
The second window is the last year of his second term if he has one (President Carter didn’t).
Because Obama has nothing to lose personally (except perhaps his life), I think it’s not impossible that he would like to confront the Zionist lobby and those who do its bidding in Congress, but he knows that doing so would almost certainly have disastrous consequences for some Democrats who are seeking election or re-election to Congress. So he won’t.
- There is no reason to believe that Obama’s successor or any future president will ever have the freedom and the will to put America’s own best interests first and do whatever is necessary to try to oblige Israel to make peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.
That said, there could be a scenario for hope if the rules were changed to take big money out of the electioneering process – to prevent wealthy supporters of Israel-right-or-wrong buying those seeking election or re-election to Congress.
But that’s most unlikely to happen. President Kennedy tried several times to introduce legislation to prevent wealthy donors buying chunks of what passes for democracy in America, but on each occasion he was blocked. (The notion that America is a democracy in more than name is as ridiculous as Zionism’s assertion that Israel has always lived in danger of annihilation.)
- Those who believe that France, Britain, Germany and other European powers will one day get totally fed up with America’s refusal to call and hold Zionism to account and use the leverage they have to try to oblige Israel to be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept are guilty of wishful thinking.
On the matter of confronting the Zionist monster or not the European powers will only follow America’s lead.
- The regimes of a corrupt, authoritarian and repressive Arab order will never confront Zionism in any meaningful way and/or use the leverage they have to try to cause America to do so.
- The occupied and oppressed Palestinians have no credible leadership.
As Abdalhadi Alijla noted in a recent article for openDemocracy, “Most of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians have no trust in Fatah, Hamas and the PA [Palestine Authority] in general.”
His article, headlined “Peace: a meaningless concept”, opened with this line: “‘Peace’ now has no meaning and has been discredited as both a concept and a word.” He added: “Since Netanyahu came to power in 1996, peace has become a nauseating word.”
- The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gathering momentum, and that in part is a manifestation of the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism which is being provoked by the Zionist state’s policies and actions. But without the endorsement and participation of governments, BDS is most unlikely to be a game changer.
Taking account of what I have summarised above, and that Israel is stealing more and more Arab land and water and demolishing more and more Arab homes, my answer to my headline question – Is it too late for peace in Israel/Palestine? – is yes. I mean that as things are and look like going it is too late for peace based on justice for the Palestinians and security for all.
In my view, there’s a very strong case for saying that it’s actually been too late since November 1967 when the American-dominated UN Security Council surrendered to Zionism with Resolution 242. Because the Six Days War in June of that year was a war of Israeli aggression not self-defence, 242 ought to have required Israel to withdraw from the newly occupied Arab territories without conditions; and it ought to have put Israel on notice that it would be isolated and have sanctions imposed on it if it settled the new Arab land it had grabbed.
Though 242 did pay lip-service to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, it left Israel totally free to determine how much, if any, of the newly occupied Arab territory it would withdraw from. In other words, this infamous resolution, which didn’t even mention the Palestinians by name, put Zionism into the driving seat for any future negotiations.
As things are and look like going, the reality on the ground in Palestine that became Israel, and the complicity by default of all the major powers (and the Arab regimes) in Israel’s ongoing colonisation, mean that the occupied and oppressed Palestinians have two options if their resistance is not be crushed at some point by a final Zionist ethnic cleansing.
One is to abandon their struggle for justice and either accept crumbs from Zionism’s table in the shape of Bantustans on 30-40 per cent of the West Bank which they could call a state if they wished, or pack their bags and leave to start new lives elsewhere.
The other is to seek to change the dynamics of the conflict by insisting that the PA be dissolved with full responsibility and complete accountability for the occupation handed back to Israel.
As I have suggested in previous posts, this would impose significant security, financial and political burdens on Israel. Its leaders would respond with ever more brutal repression which would cause the global tide of anti-Israelism to rise higher and higher.
And that just could be enough at some point to cause the governments of the major powers (including the one in Washington DC) to say to each other behind closed doors something like this: “It’s not in any of our interests to let this conflict continue to fester because it is helping to fuel sympathy and support for violent Arab and other Muslim extremism in all its manifestations. We must now use the leverage we have to try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.”
It is, of course, possible that even if the dynamics of the conflict could be changed in this way, Israel’s nuclear-armed leaders would tell the whole world to go to hell. But we will not know for certain how Israel would respond to real international pressure unless it is applied.
As Thomas Friedman noted recently in the New York Times, Avigdor Lieberman, the former Israeli Foreign Minister and would-be prime minister, is one Israeli leader who is firmly on the record with the statement that he doesn’t care what the world thinks about Israel’s policies and actions.
Last December at the Brookings Saban Forum on the Middle East he was asked a provocative question by the Atlantic magazine’s Jeff Goldberg.
“Things are shifting radically not only in non-Jewish America but in Jewish America as it concerns Israel and its reputation. My question is: (A) Do you care? (B) What are you going to do about it? And (C) how important is it to you?
“To speak frankly, I don’t care.”
Israel, he went on to say, lived in a dangerous neighbourhood and, to ram home his main point, he added this:
“I don’t really care what American Jews and non-Jews think about Israel.”
What I am saying in conclusion comes down to this. If the occupied and oppressed Palestinians insisted on the dissolution of the PA and handing back to Israel full responsibility and complete accountability for the occupation, the answer to my headline question might not be yes.