Israeli/Palestinian Peace Talks Flounder
by Stephen Lendman
Last July, sham talks began. They were dead on arrival. They continue. They’ll do so through an agreed on April 29 cutoff.
Perhaps they’ll go on weeks or months longer. Futility defines them. It bears repeating what earlier articles stressed.
Israel and Washington don’t negotiate. They demand. They’re all take and no give. They want unconditional Palestinian surrender.
They want business as usual continued. They want what no responsible Palestinian negotiators would accept.
Whether they’ll get it remains to be seen. It happened so many times before. It may again. Israel doesn’t take no for an answer easily.
Nor does Washington. Rogue states operate this way. They demand obedience. Denying them assures trouble. Israel assured retaliation.
On April 4, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) headlined “Israel Punishes PA for Filing Requests to Join International Organizations,” saying:
Netanyahu “decided” to do so. He’ll impose various “measures and restrictions.” Twenty-six political prisoners scheduled for release will stay imprisoned for starters.
Other punitive actions will follow. Netanyahu told Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and General Yoav Mordechai “to prepare a list of all possible measures.”
One suspends Palestine’s Wataniya wireless provider. It operates in the West Bank. Permission to do so in Gaza will be denied. Implementing 3G cellular technology in PA-assigned areas is frozen.
So are Area C promotion master plans. Other punitive measures will be announced later. Financial aid may be suspended.
Increased repression is likely. Expect more arrests. Perhaps some PA officials will be targeted. Hardball is official Israeli policy. State terror reflects it.
Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea and Samaria Major General Yoav Mordechai now heads contacts between PA officials and Israel until further notice.
On April 4, The New York Times headlined “Kerry Says US to Review Its Approach to Mideast Talks,” saying:
He’s reevaluating “whether it was worth continuing its effort in light of the inability of Israel and Palestinian negotiators to make progress.”
It’s “reality check time,” he said. “There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward.”
“We intend to evaluate. Both sides say they want to continue. Neither party has said they have called it off. But we are not going to sit there indefinitely. It is not an open-ended effort.”
He left unexplained what’s most important. One-sided talks offer Palestinians nothing. Accepting them assures continued militarized occupation harshness.
It lets Israel steal more land. It lets them control Palestinian air, water, borders and resources. It prevents diaspora Palestinians from returning.
It gives Israel sole right to Jerusalem. It keeps Gazans entirely left out. It assures war, not peace.
On April 4, Israel National News headlined “Officials Say Kerry About to Abandon Peace Talks,” saying:
“Sources close to (him), including senior White House staff, say (he) may throw in the towel on peace talks in the very near future.”
An unnamed US official said “(a) point will come where he has to go out and own the failure.”
For now, he needs to “lower the volume and see how things unfold. If he goes too far, there’s the risk of looking desperate.”
On Thursday, Kerry said there’s little more he can do to save talks. “You can facilitate, you can push, you can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions to compromise.”
Compromise isn’t in Israel’s vocabulary. Nor Washington’s. Kerry didn’t explain. He said talks faced a “critical moment.”
He was blindsided by Abbas applying for membership in 15 UN bodies and treaties, he added.
Retired Israeli General Michael Herzog serves as consultant to talks. He ludicrously said Abbas doing so “pushed us into a deep crisis.”
In other words, he wants Palestinians denied legitimate rights. They’re entitled to join all world bodies and treaties. They’re obligated to do so to govern responsibly.
Israel wants things its way. It wants Palestinians entirely denied. It’s always been this way. It’s no different now.
Kerry shares blame with Netanyahu. They didn’t surprise. They conspired against Palestinians.
They want them subjugated. They want them exploited. They want them repressed. They want decades of denial continued.
On April 3, The Times of Israel headlined “No formal declarations, but both sides indicate talks over,” saying:
They “irretrievably collapsed.” Abbas was disingenuously quoted saying:
“I would rather become a martyr” than rescind applications to join 15 UN bodies and treaties. His future doesn’t include martyrdom.
Palestinians presented new demands. They include:
(1) Israel saying in writing it recognizes Palestinian borders within 1967 lines with East Jerusalem its exclusive capital.
(2) Releasing Palestinian political prisoners former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to free. They include Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat and Fuad Shweiki among others.
(3) Lifting Gaza’s siege and implementing a border-crossing agreement.
(4) Returning exiles deported during Bethlehem’s 2002 siege.
(5) Stopping East Jerusalem settlement construction entirely, as well as opening the city’s closed institutions.
(6) Letting 15,000 Palestinians reunite with their families.
(7) Staying entirely out of Palestinian controlled areas, as well as granting PA part control of Area C.
Omitted was demanding Israel’s occupation entirely end. It’s illegal. Maintaining it means war, not peace.
Other key demands weren’t stated. They include the right of return, as well as full Palestinian control over their resources, air, borders and offshore waters.
They include rich gas reserves. They’re estimated at about 1.4 trillion cubic feet. Potentially much more. They’re worth at least $4 billion. Maybe billions more.
They’re too valuable to sacrifice. They belong to Palestine, not Israel. Revenue derived can assure financial independence.
It can generously fund government services. It can provide vital social benefits. It can operate in ways impossible now. It can create a model socially just society. Everyone in it can benefit.
Washington and Israel obstruct granting Palestinians what they deserve. So does illegitimate Palestinian president Abbas.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. He’s a longtime Israeli collaborator. He sold out at Oslo. The late Edward Said called it a Palestinian Versailles.
Abbas serves as Israel’s enforcer. His presidential term expired in January 2009. He refuses to call new elections. He betrays his people disgracefully. He’s done it for many years.
It’s too late to change him now. It’s high time he’s replaced. Palestinians deserve legitimate leaders representing them, not Israel.
Getting them requires replacing virtually all PA officials. They’ve been around too long. They govern irresponsibly.
They’ve done nothing for their people. They’re on the wrong side of history. They benefitted greatly for betrayal.
Saeb Erekat is chief Palestinian negotiator. He part of the problem. He’s no solution. He denied involvement in the above listed demands. They’re not part of his negotiating position, he said.
He should have made them and more a precondition for holding talks. He should have done it before starting them.
Former Palestinian co-negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh wants borders within 1967 lines prioritized. He wants it settled before considering other issues.
“If we had the issue of borders settled, we would have wrapped up several major sticking points, mainly settlements…and security arrangements,” he said.
“Each side would have known where his border lay, and we would have gone on to negotiate about Jerusalem and water, but Netanyahu and his government began raising difficulties and obstacles.”
“What’s important to (him) is to preserve his coalition and not to reach an agreement.”
Erekat long ago lost credibility. He can’t be trusted. Al Jazeera’s 2011 released Palestine Papers exposed him.
Hundreds of internal documents showed his willingness to concede all East Jerusalem settlements to Israel except one.
He compromised disgracefully on diaspora Palestinians right of return. He suggested abandoning it except for token amounts.
He agreed unconditionally to key Israeli demands. He betrayed his people in the process. Abbas operates the same way. Edward Said called him “Israel’s sheriff.”
He and Erekat took part in all peace talks since Madrid Conference attempts to restart them in 1991. As chief PA negotiator, Erekat agreed to unprecedented compromises on the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites.
He ignored the rights of his own people. He’s mindless about their needs. He’s no different now than earlier.
When confronted about earlier duplicity, he lied. Doing so is the last refuge of a scoundrel caught red-handed. At time same time, he ignores daily violence Israel commits against Palestinians.
The latest occurred overnight Thursday. Israel again bombed Gaza. Its warplanes targeted 10 sites.
At least two injuries were reported. Gaza’s health ministry said one was a 1-year old child. Israel deliberately targets civilians.
It lies calling them terrorists. IDF spokesman Peter Lerner said Israel “will retaliate, reciprocate and when required initiate the use of force in order to protect (Israeli) civilians from unlawful terrorist actions.”
Palestinians are victims. They’re not “terrorists.” Israeli aggression targets them ruthlessly. It’s ongoing multiple times daily. It occurs in various forms.
Near Ofer detention center in Ramallah, Israeli security forces attacked Palestinians. They did so during Friday prayers.
Palestinians protested against Israel’s refusal to release 26 agreed on prisoners. Thirteen injuries were reported. Five suffered rubber-coated steel bullet wounds. A tear gas canister fired at close range struck a journalist in the head.
Settlers slashed tires of 40 Palestinian vehicles in Galilee. Israeli security forces did nothing to stop them.
Hundreds of settlers raided Joseph’s Tomb east of Nablus. Soldiers protected them. Clashes erupted. Heavy gunfire was heard. Witnesses blamed Israel.
Kerry’s “reality check” ignores what’s most important. Palestinians face daily Israeli state terrorism. Peace is a convenient illusion. Violence is part of daily life.
Israel bears full responsibility. Conditions are worse now than earlier. Netanyahu is Israel’s worst ever leader.
He exceeds Sharonian evil. Achieving peace while he’s prime minister is impossible. How much longer the charade continues remains to be seen. Palestinians are on their own for justice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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