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Palestine and Israel - No Road and No Map


Anyone watching the dismal state of Israeli-Palestinian relations must be dismayed by the non-results of the May 9 meeting of the quartet overseeing the implementation of the Road map for Middle East peace. The roadmap was supposed to proved defined milestones that would be implemented under the supervision of the quartet, and would lead to a peace settlement. The deadline for creation of a Palestinian state has come and gone. There is no state. The deadline for reform of Palestinian security services has come and gone. The "security services" are a macabre joke. The deadline for dismantling Israeli illegal outposts in the West Bank has come and gone. The outposts are mostly still there, though there is yet another plan to map them and we are promised action, "real soon."

Negotiations for final status, called for in the roadmap, are not in sight. On the contrary, the Hamas government of the Palestinians insist that they will never negotiate a peace treaty with Israel. In Israel, there is a government that pays lip service to negotiations, secure in the knowledge that the Hamas will never negotiate. Therefore, it is clear that there is no road and no map. The management of the Israeli-Palestinian problem has gone off the road a long time ago and is in the process of falling off a cliff. The stop at the bottom will be painful. The quartet envoy, James Wolfensohn, quit in disgust and frustration.

The meeting decided to do nothing about any of these issues. You know that a person or organization is in trouble when they simply refuse to face reality and deal with problems. The only issue really dealt with by the quartet, according to their communique, was the worsening economic economic and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. This is due to international and Israeli sanctions against the Hamas government. However, even in this matter, it is not clear what the quartet really decided and what will come of it:

Recalling its commitment of January 30 that it is mindful of the needs of the Palestinian people, the Quartet expressed its willingness to endorse a temporary international mechanism that is limited in scope and duration, operates with full transparency and accountability, and ensures direct delivery of assistance to the Palestinian people. If these criteria can be met, the operation of the temporary international mechanism should begin as soon as possible and be reviewed after three months to determine whether it should continue. The Quartet welcomed the offer of the European Union to develop and propose such a mechanism. It invites other donors and international organizations to consider participation in such a mechanism. It urged Israel in parallel to take steps to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. The Quartet reiterates that the Palestinian Authority government must fulfill its responsibilities with respect to basic human needs, including health services, as well as for proper fiscal management and provision of services.

Does this mean that:

1-A mechanism for distributing the money without supporting the Hamas will really be found or

2-The Quartet will meet again in a month or two and announce that they could not find such a mechanism or

3-The money will be distributed through some mechanism, and will find its way to the coffers of the Hamas, who will use it to hire more thugs and buy more weapons? The Quartet will meet and congratulate itself on a job well done in providing humanitarian aid.

The first option is not likely. There is no real way to know if money for salaries is used to pay teachers and doctors and nurses and street cleaners, if it was used to pay actual police, or if it was used to bankroll "security forces" that are in reality terrorist militias.

A hypothetical mechanism is proposed to deal with a situation that is real and urgent. Time will tell what will become of this hypothetical mechanism, but the record of the Quartet is not good. The problem is not that they side too much with the Palestinians or the Israelis, but rather the problem is that they don't do anything at all. The economic situation of the Palestinians, for which they offer only a non-solution, is only a part of the looming disaster, and it is incidental to the responsibility that the Quartet undertook.

As is usually the course for outsiders meddling in the Middle East, they make declarations and they force states and groups to endorse those declarations, but then they do nothing whatever to implement their "plans." Who will follow such leadership, and what nation or people in the Middle East can be expected to commit themselves to such plans? Evidently, in the face of disaster, the quartet can do nothing better than to shrink into denial and confabulate about the nonexistent peace process.

Ami Isseroff

Click here for text of Quartet statement.

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000458.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 8 comments

I am a frustrated,hard-working, God-fearing American. I believe in Peace for all humanity. I am disheartened by all that I see and hear from the Middle East. I pray for understanding and I try to do my best to study. I vote. I am aware of Americans who don't care, or despair of the sorry state of world affairs. Often I believe that Americans write big checks to make problems go away, without ever trying to understand what the situation actually needs. However, I do not believe you can lead a horse to water and make it drink. The Quartet and the American leaders over the years are not the people solely responsible for this current situation. Clumsy but caring, my leaders have tried to make the situation better. If blame is to be given, I'll take it. Because all of us "outsiders" have done more to support the Rule of Law, free and fair elections, and humanitarian assistance than any of the obstinate, violent, religious zealots in that part of the World. If it wasn't for the innocent human beings, I would vote my leaders into office to pull all assistance (legal, financial, and military) from both the Israelis and Palestinians. Ami Isseroff, you should not criticize the few people that care more than the people of that region! Respectfully - Thank You for your views.

Posted by Tony @ 05/12/2006 05:51 AM CST

Tony, by giving massive aid to one side over the past 39 years, the USA has probably done more to perpetuate the conflict than any other nation. Without that security blanket I suspect Israel would have treated the search for a political solution with considerably more seriousness.

There are different theories about why America feels it appropriate to give more aid to Israel than to any other country, but disinterested altruism is not one of them. The idea that America's leaders are "clumsy but caring" is almost touching, but after Vietnam, Central America and now Iraq, it seems a little naive.

Posted by Spike @ 05/12/2006 11:36 AM CST

Had the international community not forwarded vast sums of money to the Palestinians, and permitted them to run one of the world's largest criminal organisations, and fostered the idea that a small group of expatriate Palestinians could determine the future of Palestine, we might equally have peace as if the US had not provided aid to Israel. I recall the USSR using the conflict as an extension of the Cold War.
I do believe that from 1948 Israel was fairly consistent in seeking peace with the Palestinians and other states - that is the basis of 242 isn't it? I also note that from 1948 until very recently it was the policy of the Palestinians that Israel should be eradicated and the Jews driven out. The recent electionof Hamas suggests that they have in fact not shifted from this genocidal policy.
Perhaps now is the time that the entire world should step away from the conflict and allow the two sides to find some solution by themselves. If the Palestinians want to engage in existential conflict then they have to live with the consequences. If they want something else then they must somehow persuade the Israelis to join them. They are after all free agents, able to choose their destiny for themselves. We didn't have much sympathy for the Germans who voted for the Nazis, why then should we have much sympathy for the Palestinians who voted for Hamas?

Posted by R. Davies @ 05/12/2006 12:13 PM CST

"I do believe that from 1948 Israel was fairly consistent in seeking peace with the Palestinians and other states"

This would be a different Israel, presumably, from the one that conspired with Britain and France to invade Egypt in 1956, and to blow up American post offices in the Lavon Affair, and that "pre-emptively" attacked Egypt & Jordan in 1967? Check out the timeline which Mid-East Web has so thoughtfully provided.

As you know full well, aid to the Palestinians has been a drop in the ocean compared to the colossal sums the US has lavished on Israel (and by extension Egypt). And the "small group of expatriate Palestinians" were elected by the Palestinian people as soon as they were allowed to vote, despite Israeli attempts to foster alternatives.

If by "very recently" you mean the mid-1970's I suppose the PLO did change its policy recently, however as that organisation only existed in an autonomous form from the late 60's, for 3/4 of its existence it has been in favour of a 2-state solution, a proposal the Israelis failed to entertain until the Oslo accords, and barely even then. In addition, whatever its progamme, the PLO has never been within a million miles of being in a position to destroy Israel, so the "existential threat" is something of a red herring.

Your suggestion that the whole world "step away from the conflict" is interesting, but somehow I don't think you include the US stopping its aid to Israel. Or restarting its aid to the PA. Interference in support of Israel is apparently not interference, but something else.

Finally, the Germans were not occupied by a massively superior force for 40 years, harassed daily at checkpoints, massacred, dispossessed and systematically discriminated against. Apparently while comparing the Israeli Right with the Nazis is proof of anti-semitism, comparing Arabs with Nazis is not proof of anti-Arab racism?

Posted by Spike @ 05/12/2006 07:32 PM CST

From my recollection in the 1950's Egypt sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction to use against Israel and planned for war. Again in the 1960's the Arab League led by the Egyptians planned for war, but the Israelis struck first and very decisively. Prior to 1967 Israel was not regarded by the world as being a significant military power in comparison with its neighbours. The Six Day War changed that.
As for the "PLO" agreeing to a 2 state solution back in the '70's, my only response is that Arafat said many things to many people. But even having signed up to Oslo, it did not prevent him from stating to the Arab League (?) Kuwait that his action concorded with that of Hudabiyah and in fact he did not recognise Israel's right to exist. Palestinian institutions still do not consistently recognise Israel's right to exist.

As for the terrible occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. I visited there in the late 70's and during the 80's, and I have to say that compared with Northern Ireland it was positively paid back, and the IDF presence wasn't significant. Compared with my experiences of NI, the IDF soldiers I saw seemed to have little contact withe average Palestinian and they with the IDF. They certainly weren't intimidated by them. In fact the IDF struck me as being astonishingly laid back. As far as I am aware the changes came with the intifadeh.

I think that the interest groups who claim to support one side or the other, but use the conflict for their own national, institutional or personal objectives should get out of it and allow the people of both sides to find a mutual settlement.

In reference to the Germans I would point out to you that after WW1 both Saarland and for a time the Ruhr Gebiet were in fact occupied and subject to some brutal handling by the occupying troops. This was a sore point for the Nazis, and why re-occupation in 1936 of the Saarland by German Forces was such a big political event

Hamas is a political organisation that has combined the Koran and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion into an agenda that explicitly calls for genocide, and the imposition of Sharia across the territory that composed the Palestinian Mandate. The Protocols of Zion is a book banned in the EU due to its racist nature. There are other nation groups that have been occupied, but few seek to genocide. Even the Irish nationalists after hundreds of years of conflict and oppression have never sought to murder all English people, and they might have more justification.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 05/15/2006 10:27 PM CST

This is a test to ensure that comments are working porperly

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 05/16/2006 12:23 AM CST

Test for Search fix

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 05/16/2006 12:43 AM CST

Testing preview II

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 05/16/2006 12:57 AM CST

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