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What makes Barack Obama and his peace initiative fail?


Throughout the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and especially during the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process," both Israel and the Arab side have been engaged in a carefully designed "peace war," the object of which is to make peace impossible while creating the appearance that their side wants peace, while the other side is an obstacle to peace (see What makes Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives fail?). The Americans and Europeans, lured by the tantalizing prospect of peace in the Middle East, have allowed themselves to fall into successive traps that complicate the issue, and allow the sides to use the mediators to extract money as well as support for their claims, in order to bolster their own positions and continue the conflict. The fate of the Obama peace initiative is no exception.

The latest gallant and doomed foray of the Americans came in the form of a demand for a settlement freeze, suggested by repeated Palestinian protests at Israeli settlement construction. The Palestinians announced that they would not continue negotiations unless there was such a settlement freeze. Notwithstanding the fact that Palestinians had been content to negotiate with the Olmert administration while settlement building had continued apace, this demand in itself was, on the face of it reasonable, since Palestinians had insisted that there was no point in negotiating while Israel continued to build settlements deep in Palestinian territory.

The Arab states and the Palestinians perceived that the United States under the Bush administration was partial to Israel in mediating the conflict. In order to regain prestige in the Arab and Muslim world, the United States found it necessary to demonstrate impartiality by confronting Israel publicly, in a way that may gain admiration and support in the Arab world, but which almost guarantees that there can be no possible Israeli acquiescence in US demands.

The Arabs are known for their pride and independence, but Israelis have some of those qualities too, as do all peoples. The US presented its demands for a settlement freeze in a public, confrontational way that would curry favor with the Arab side, but was bound to be a perfect domestic issue for Israeli right wing foes of the peace process. The latter were quite happy to circle the wagons to protect what suddenly became a national consensus. The stand of the Israeli government garnered support from the major opposition parties, Kadima and Labor, because those parties had no other politically viable choice. Only the tiny Meretz party objected. Their protest, of course, was not understood, and will only serve to make the tiny Meretz party even tinier.

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians had maneuvered well. The Israelis, by building settlement units in the West bank, have more than doubled the Jewish population there since 1993, making it increasingly difficult to contemplate moving large blocs of settlements. The Israelis agreed to remove some illegal outposts and to implement a freeze on building new homes in the West Bank in the Road Map for peace "except for natural growth" - but then they stretched the envelope of that agreement by building way beyond the requirements of "natural growth" and encroaching increasingly on Arab territories. As for the illegal outposts, it seems that in balance, not one was ever permanently removed, though some dramatic shows of removal were staged.

The ostensibly legitimate Palestinian demand was intentionally designed to be impossible to satisfy. Stopping all building of any kind permanently would mean that Israel dooms all its communities beyond the green line. Not only isolated settlements like Yizhar and Tapuah and the settlement inside Hebron, and not only large towns like Ariel and Maaleh Edumim, but also the four settlements of the original Gush Etzion, kibbutzim which Arab attackers ethnically cleansed in 1948, as well as the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem, likewise ethnically cleansed in 1948, as well as the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem, built on no-man's - land, and the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, isolated by the Jordanian conquests in 1948, not to mention the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Nobody would want to live in communities that are permanently denied the right to expand, except perhaps in societies that have absolutely zero population growth. Even in such societies, old buildings are replaced by new ones, and new roads and other improvements are made from time to time.

There is no way that Israel could satisfy a demand for a complete settlement freeze including Jerusalem without in effect, surrendering all Jewish national rights in East Jerusalem in advance, as well as all territorial rights in the West Bank. Since that is what the Palestinians want, there is no compromise agreement that will ever satisfy the Palestinians. The Americans and Israelis may reach a compromise, but it will probably never satisfy the Palestinians. The Americans blundered on into the trap, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that Jerusalem is no different from any West Bank settlement. Jerusalem was certain to be an issue from the start, and that was the intention of the Palestinians. Jerusalem is an issue in its own right, but no issue ever exists in isolation, and one issue or demand can always be used to "score points" regarding a different issue or "right."

The Israelis contributed to the impasse by approving a plan to build a hotel in East Jerusalem. On the one hand, the Shepherd hotel and its grounds have been Israeli property for a long time. On the other hand, they are located in Sheikh Jarrah, an Arab neighborhood that according to the (Bill) Clinton bridging proposals of 2000 would have been part of an Arab Palestinian state.

Suppose that some way could be found to resolve the settlement freeze dispute that was satisfactory to everyone, or at least to the Palestinians? Would this be a giant step forward in resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict? It is not likely. The Palestinians do not have a united government, and if they ever achieved unity, they would necessarily have a government that rejected the principles of the peace process, which the Hamas movement does not recognize. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, as well as Hamas, all insist on the impossible to fulfill demand of "right" of return for Palestinian refugees. None of them would be willing to recognize Israel as a state of the Jewish people. The settlement freeze issue was convenient for the Netanyahu government, which has built a consensus around Jerusalem. However, the intent of the policies it pursues seems to be to protect the settlements in Yizhar and Hebron and Tapuach, not just Jerusalem.

The Israelis and Palestinians have created the "perfect puzzle." It is insoluble because it is intended by design to be incapable of resolution. Of course, the issue could be resolved with good will and common sense on both sides, but if there were good will and common sense on both sides, there would not have been any conflict in the first place.

Ami Isseroff

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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/00000771.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: 3 comments

It is true — peace through disingenuous negotiations cannot be achieved. So an alternative must be undertaken independent of nonexistant "good-will" and "common-sense"; one of action by the only party that has any ability to force change where change has intentionally been thwarted:

1: The United States must put in place an immediate moratorium on military and financial support for the State of Israel. 2: The United States must immediately recognize an independent Palestinian State at pre-1967 borders. 3: The United States must request/sponsor the immediate seating in the General Assembly of a Palestinian delegation. 4: The United States and all members of the UN Security Council must, even-handedly, require all parties to immediately observe all applicable treaties and UN resolutions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with appropriate sanctions, both positive and negative, attached to enforce such observance. 5. When the State of Israel recognizes the independent State of Palestine and the State of Palestine recognizes the State of Israel and, with the assistance of the United Nations, both states normalize and regulate their mutual and other borders in accordance with all applicable UN mandates and international treaties appropriate US economic and military support for the State of Israel resumes and appropriate US economic and military support for the State of Palestine begins.

There is a lot of unpacking of details and hard work implied in these steps but with this as a clear and understandable statement of US objectives change and a foundation for peace can be achieved.

Posted by Paul @ 07/30/2009 12:10 AM CST

NO PALESTINIAN STATE – No land concessions R4.

Imagine that the various people who settled in the United States for the past 300 years decided one day that they one to parcel the United States into an independent State just for them, would the American public go for it. The Answer is absolutely NO.

The situation in Israel today is no different. The Arabs there are not Palestinians, there is no such Arab nation as Palestine or Palestinian people.

Europeans countries today are consisting of numerous people from other countries. Would the Europeans people cede part of their country to set up another State in their midst. The answer is absolutely NO.

All the Arabs in Israel and surrounding areas are from the various Arab nations, such as Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and other Arab nations.

Prominent PLO Arab says there are no 'Palestinians' and no "Palestine"

PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein admitted in a March 31, 1977 interview with a Dutch newspaper Trouw.

"The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism. "

The Qur'an 17:104 - states the land belongs to the Jewish people

If the historic documents, comments written by eyewitnesses and declarations by the most authoritative Arab scholars are still not enough, let us quote the most important source for Muslim Arabs:
"And thereafter we [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd'.".
YUSUFALI: And We said thereafter to the Children of Israel, "Dwell securely in the land (of promise)": but when the second of the warnings came to pass, We gathered you together in a mingled crowd.
PICKTHAL: And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations.
SHAKIR: And We said to the Israelites after him: Dwell in the land: and when the promise of the next life shall come to pass, we will bring you both together in judgment.
- Qur'an 17:104 -
Any sincere Muslim must recognize the Land they call "Palestine" as the Jewish Homeland, according to the book considered by Muslims to be the most sacred word and Allah's ultimate revelation.

Sequence of historical events, agreements and a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel totaling approximately 45,000 square miles, as mandated by the League of Nations in July of 1922. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I - Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan - agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel. (You might as well break apart Syria which was mandated at the same time).

Jay Draiman.

20 Years of Research Reveals Jerusalem Belongs to Jews

(IsraelNN.com) Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the legal status of Jerusalem, has concluded: "Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law.".

Gauthier has written a doctoral dissertation on the topic of Jerusalem and its legal history, based on international treaties and resolutions of the past 90 years. The dissertation runs some 1,300 pages, with 3,000 footnotes. Gauthier had to present his thesis to a world-famous Jewish historian and two leading international lawyers - the Jewish one of whom has represented the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions.

Gauthier's main point, as summarized by Israpundit editor Ted Belman, is that a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I - Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan - agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel.

We must unleash the wrath of G-D against the enemies of Israel and those collaborating with the enemy.

Posted by jay draiman @ 12/15/2009 05:40 AM CST

The U.S. involvement is a waste of time, Israel is split into two groups of people the conservative (hawkish) & the liberal (Doves). Neither side when in power has ever been able to sign a peace agreement, because the people are split down the middle, with both sides having extreme elements.

Anyone, with 1/2 a brain knows you can't make anybody (and especially a country) do anything it doesn't want to do. So I have no ideal, why we continue to waste American resources dealing with this. If it wasn't for the fact that the Jewish (Israelie) & Jewish (American) lobbyist weren't throwing money & prostituting the U.S. Congress & President, we would have washed our hands of this nutcase of a situation a longtime ago.

I would love to see peace, but it has to come from the people and no amount of nutcase arguing with the pro-Israeli groups is going to change anything. There is an old joke I was told by one of my jewish friends, "Ask any two Israeli's about the conflict and you will get Three opinions".... That is just an indication of how screwed up the situation is.

I love both countries and their people, but I know enough to know that no amount of crap from the U.S. is going to make a darn difference, there has never been peace with a Democrat or Republican president, so I don't want to hear about crap one way or the other.

Posted by James @ 07/19/2010 07:30 AM CST

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