Duplicitous Mideast Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Peace isn’t in Israel’s or Washington’s vocabulary. Talks with Palestinians date from the mid-1970s. Multiple rounds were dead on arrival. Hypocrisy defined them.
They’re the most outrageous scam in modern diplomatic history. This time is no different. Washington is hardline. It negotiates one-way. Longstanding Israeli policy is unchanged.
It claims an unassailable right to settle anywhere in the land of the Bible. Peace talks are a useful fiction.
Current Defense Minister/former Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said earlier they’re used “to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people.”
Past and current Israeli officials call occupation permanent. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983 – 1984 and 1986 – 1992) once said he wanted to drag out peace talks for a decade while vastly expanding settlements.
From Oslo (1993) through today, settler population more than tripled. It went from around 200,000 to about 650,000.
Numbers increase daily. Construction is unabated. Daily crimes against humanity prevent peace.
It’s been stillborn for around 40 years. It’s more so than ever under Netanyahu. Daily events explain.
On April 2, Israeli soldiers invaded Bil’in. Operations continued for two days. Dozens of Palestinian homes were broken into violently.
They were searched. They were ransacked. Residents panicked. Children were terrified. They were traumatized.
Bil’in residents are in the forefront of Apartheid Wall resistance. They number around 1,800. Israel stole over 60% of their land.
They hold weekly protests. They do so courageously. They’re targeted for fighting for justice. Israel violently attacks them for doing so.
On April 2 and 3, The Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements said five groups of around 12 soldier each invaded.
They’ve done it many times before. They target other towns and villages throughout the West Bank. They do it multiple times daily.
They’ve done it every day throughout months of sham peace talks. Doing so reveals Israel’s real agenda.
It reflects militarized occupation ruthlessness. Peace is a non-starter. It’s a convenient illusion.
State terrorism is official Israeli policy. It’s worse than ever under Netanyahu.
He wants Palestinians denied all rights. He wants Jews alone afforded them. Business as usual persists.
Months of talks accomplished nothing. On April 3, Maan News headlined “Heated Jerusalem peace talks end in impasse.”
They lasted nine hours. US Special Envoy Martin Indyk, Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, as well as PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian intelligence head Majid Faraj participated.
Unnamed sources called discussions a “fierce political battle.” Erekat said “we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.”
Israeli negotiators responded as expected. Threats were made. “(E)ndless” sanctions would be imposed, they said. They called them unprecedented.
Financial aid would be cut off. Indyk duplicitously stressed Israel’s security. No threats whatever exist. He lied claiming otherwise.
Faraj said Palestinians were there to discuss “political, not security” issues. They want assurances about East Jerusalem as their exclusive capital.
They want border issues resolved. They other major ones handled equitably. They want what Israel fundamentally opposes.
Borders are fundamental. Clear definitions are key. Israel won’t discuss them. It wants them expanded at Palestine’s expense.
It wants Palestinian land stolen. Annexation is planned. It controls around 60% of West Bank territory already.
It wants East and West Jerusalem exclusively. It wants control over air, water, and resource rights. It wants Palestinians having virtually no say over their own land.
It wants what no legitimate Palestinian negotiators would accept. Erekat perhaps made a hollow threat. If things escalate, he said, Palestinians will prosecute Israel in the World Court. Or its officials in the International Criminal Court.
John Kerry appealed to Netanyahu and Abbas to take the “lead.” Do it to save the peace process, he said. How can what doesn’t exist be salvaged? Kerry didn’t explain.
He discussed Ukraine with EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Late Wednesday, he arrived in Algeria. He did so for regional security talks. His participation was criticized.
Three opposition Islamist parties comprise the Green Algeria Alliance. They warned against “American exploitation” of Algeria.
It’s ongoing ahead of scheduled April 17 presidential elections. Incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika took office in April 1999.
He’s Algeria’s longest serving president. He seeks reelection. If successful, he’ll serve another five years.
In April 2009, he won with over 90% of the vote. Several opposition parties boycotted the vote. They claimed “a tsunami of massive fraud.” Perhaps again this time.
From Algeria, Kerry pressured peace talk negotiators long distance, saying:
“You can facilitate. You can push. You can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises.”
“The leaders have to lead and they have to be able to see a moment when it’s there.”
None existed before. For sure not now. Washington and Israel don’t compromise. They warn. They threaten.
They bully others to comply. They offer nothing in return. Palestinians are worse off today than ever. Multiple rounds of peace talks lost more rights.
Kerry lied saying failure would be “trag(ic)” for both sides to miss out “get(ing) to those real issues that are the differences of the final status agreement.”
So-called “real issues” have been unresolved for decades. Expect nothing different this time.
Late Wednesday, Kerry spoke to Netanyahu and Abbas from Algeria. He did so with talks on the brink of collapse.
Agreement was reached to keep talking through April 29. It’s the final date agreed on earlier.
What happens next remains to be seen. For sure no conflict resolution. Palestine remains occupied. Militarized harshness persist.
Israel steals more Palestinian land daily. Besieged Gazans continue to be suffocated.
On March 28, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted four Palestinian related resolutions. Members voted 46 – 1. Washington alone expressed opposition.
Observing international law was stressed. This year’s resolutions improved on earlier ones.
During discussions, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) submitted a written statement.
It called on HRC members not to tolerate Israel’s culture of impunity. It urged addressing its violations seriously. It called doing so a matter of urgency.
On March 27, HRC members adopted Israel’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It was held on October 29, 2013.
It was rescheduled from January 2013. It was because Israel refused to engage in its review process. It wants its crimes buried.
It gets away with murder. It does so with impunity. It remains unaccountable. It gets undeserved concessions. US and EU allies assure them.
They partner with Israel. They’re involved in each other’s crimes. Victors’ justice prevails. Victims alone are punished.
Accountability is nowhere in sight. Best efforts to change things go nowhere. Business as usual persists.
Last November, Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned in disgust. Doing so was in response to “increasing settlement building and the absence of any hope of achieving results,” he said.
Israel bears full “responsib(ility) for the failure of negotiations,” he added. On Wednesday, he said Palestinians will continue talks until April 29.
If failure continues, joining 63 international organizations will follow, including the International Criminal Court. Negotiations throughout April will focus solely on borders.
He challenged Israel to present a map based on 1967 lines. He criticized Netanyahu’s duplicity.
PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo warned against meaningless Israeli gestures.
“We can’t return to the empty routine, a search for a framework for talks – this empty routine which is negotiating about negotiating,” he said.
“The Palestinian leadership…wants the political process to continue. But we want a real political process, without tricks,” he added.
Israeli chief negotiator Livni lied saying “(w)e repeat and pledge that we will continue to fight for peace and stand like a fortified wall against the extremists, in the government as well, who are attempting to pass extreme legislation.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev duplicitously said “(t)he time has come to stop being the go-to sucker of the Middle East.”
“I call on the prime minister and Minister Livni to end the entire negotiation process so long as Abbas doesn’t withdraw his request from the United Nations, and unilaterally implement the many measures Israel has in order to convince the Palestinian leadership that it doesn’t pay for them to fight us in the international arena.”
In other words, Ze’ev demands unconditional Palestinian surrender. So do Netanyahu, other majority Israeli hardliners, and their negotiators bargaining one-way.
All take! No give! No compromises! How Israel always negotiates. It wants its demands alone accepted.
It wants Palestinians entirely denied. It’s been this way for nearly 47 years. Nothing is different now.
Talks went nowhere for months. Failure defines them. Claims otherwise don’t wash. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli obstructionism.
Israel irresponsibly called Palestine justifiably joining world bodies and treaties a “major breach” of trust.
Abbas should have done it years ago. Whether he’ll use world organizations advantageously is another matter entirely.
It takes a great leap of faith to think so. He never did before. His entire tenure reflects lost opportunities. It reflected betrayal. Don’t expect this time to be different.
A Final Comment
On April 3, a disappointing Haaretz editorial headlined “As Kerry falters, where is Netanyahu leading.”
It claimed he “threw a spanner” into negotiations by demanding Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Israel’s entire approach reflects “spanner” duplicity. Nothing respecting Palestinian rights is included. Israeli ones alone matter.
Haaretz editors didn’t explain. They pretended otherwise. They falsely claimed Netanyahu committed himself to a two-state solution.
Achieving one demands including all land within 1967 borders. It’s 22% of historic Palestine.
Palestinians agreed to sacrifice the other 78%. They’ll do it in return for having their fundamental rights respected.
They want full sovereignty over West Bank and East Jerusalem territory. It’s their land. It’s their right. It doesn’t belong to Israel.
Ending militarized occupation is fundamental. So are fixed borders and other important rights too important to sacrifice.
Netanyahu is committed solely to Israel. He spurns Palestinian rights. He wants them entirely denied. He’s uncompromisingly hardline. Haaretz editors didn’t explain.
They ludicrously claimed talks hit stalemate “without American mediation.”
Nonsense! Washington is the problem. It’s not the solution. It’s been this way since Harry Truman became the first world leader to recognize the new Israeli state in May 1948.
It’s been all downhill since. It’s worse than ever now. Kerry one-sidedly favors Israel.
He gives Palestinian rights short shrift. He ignores them altogether. He’s Israel’s man in Washington.
As long as he and so-called US negotiators are involved, talks will go nowhere. Israeli rights alone will be served.
Palestinians will be entirely denied like always. This time is different in one respect only. It’s worse than ever.
Combined US/Israeli heavy-handed tactics threaten Palestinians. They bully them to agree to what no responsible negotiators would accept.
They demand unconditional surrender. They demand Palestinians sacrifice all rights. Peace talks teeter on collapse.
Haaretz editors are partly right. They hold Netanyahu responsible. He shares it with Kerry.
Expect no meaningful change going forward. It takes a giant leap of faith to believe otherwise.
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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