Abbas and Arab League On Verge of Pulling Plug on Peace Talks
Thanks to the Netanyahu government’s finger-in-the-eye announcement of 1,600 new housing units to be built in occupied East Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas told a hastily convened emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo that he was prepared to ditch the Israeli-Palestinian “proximity” peace talks even before they begin. Sheera Frenkel writes in the Times of London:
Fresh attempts to revive peace talks in the Middle East were on the verge of collapse last night as the Palestinians threatened to pull out before the negotiations began.
At an emergency meeting of the Arab League in Cairo Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, announced that he would boycott the US-mediated talks because of Israel’s refusal to halt construction on the occupied territories.
Frankly, I don’t even know why Joe Biden didn’t turn right around and come home after he learned this news. What else do you have to talk to talk about when your own client state gives you the finger like that? Frenkel also notes that the U.S. didn’t even tell Israel to cancel the construction. It merely denounced it. While Biden’s statement was unusually blunt, it was more of the same. There have been U.S. condemnations of such announcements going back decades. They build, we condemn. They act, we talk. If just once we ACTED, instead of talked the Israelis’ jaw would drop in disbelief.
It appears, with this president, at least at this time, there’s almost no likelihood of any such revolutionary changes in the offing regarding our relationship with Israel. Just more of the same. Bibi and the lobby have won temporarily. But what they don’t realize is that events will not allow them to enjoy this victory. There will be another war. It may be in Gaza or Lebanon or Teheran. And whatever advantage Israel enjoys will slowly erode. Time, despite the Israeli right’s belief, is not on Israel’s side in this.
If Abbas, not known for this, has any balls perhaps he will call Israel’s bluff and stay home. That would call for some heavy-lifting from George Mitchell to get this locomotive back on track. He would have to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Perhaps he will get Bibi to delay the new construction for a time until after the talks begin. Abbas could save face and yet continue being little more than the puppet he is by returning to the table. It still would amount to very little. The only thing Israel could do to really change the tone and allow peace talks to begin and proceed is a full settlement freeze. And that’s not in the offing. So Abbas, Bibi and Obama will fiddle while the conflict burns.
And lest anyone linger under the misimpression that this 1,600 is it, Haaretz tells us of government plans to build a total of 50,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem. This ain’t goin’ away any time soon, folks. So if Obama & Co. think they can finesse this, they’ve got another thing coming.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Palestinians snub peace talks because of Israeli homes expansion (guardian.co.uk)
8 thoughts on “Abbas and Arab League On Verge of Pulling Plug on Peace Talks – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
50,000 new homes around Jerusalem beyond the Green Line? This must convince anyone who still thought that East Jerusalem would be the capital of a future Palestinian state that it is simply never going to happen.
What will happen though? With settlement expansion continuing also elsewhere in the West Bank, with all the restrictions on movements of Palestinians anywhere near these settlements, with absolutely no sovereignty in Area C of the West Bank (ca 60 % of it) etc – all that will be left for Palestinians to exist in are the major towns and a few number of villages near them in much less than 40 % of the West Bank but with a US government funded Palestinians-only road network (such as the new road being built around the Gush Etzion settlement block) connecting them. And the grim Gaza Strip of course.
What would we do if that was to be our future? Can anyone think of similar examples elsewhere in world (eg I don't know much about South Africa but they didn't have segregated road networks, did they)? Does anyone have an idea what term would best describe this severe physical and political confinement?
Oh – and I forgot to mention the industrial zones – existing and planned – inside the West Bank run by Israeli and international companies that are taking advantage of the 'competative' Palestinian labour force.
Netanyahu does not believe what every rational politician in the world believes, that Israel cannot survive long-term as an imposed single state.
He doesn't believe that there is any emergency, and that there is a great deal of risk internally of moderating.
It is very unlikely that the vast majority of the Israeli or American public will adopt the radical view of Israel as oppressor only, rather than in conflict. But, it is possible to appeal to the majority of Israeli and American public opinion to advocate for peace and for legal individual rights.
I read the BDS demands yesterday, and there is an interpretation that is perfectly reasonable to me.
1. End the occupation of the West Bank (in the context of a comprehensive peace)
2. Grant equal rights to all Israeli citizens (and one would assume to minorities in Palestine as well)
3. Grant right of return and citizenship to all that were dispossessed of land and/or homes from 1948 Israel, and allow all their day in court to address specific land and other title claims.
Each of those is doable without risking the Zionist nature of Israel.
It can only be considered vanity why Israel doesn't proceed on that. Of course, when those claims are presented in the vague terms that they often are, allowing misconceptions about what they mean ("occupation of any part of hoped Palestine". "Elimination of all not-for-profit assistance or recruiting of Jewish immigration. "Right of return to Israel of any that call themselves Palestinian, wherever they've lived their whole lives or where their families lived."
Vague vs clear is the difference between a mass and compelling movement and a fringe and angry one.
On the one hand, staying away from the negotiations after such an obviously intentional provocation would probably be the dignified thing to do. On the other hand, it's of course exactly that reaction which Netanyahu (who most definitely knew about this and likely approved of the timing personally) tries to provoke. Essentially it's the "giving terrorists what they want" dilemma.
What Abbas should do in my opinion, instead of just cancelling the talks: Denounce Netanyahu as the liar he is. Openly, viciously ridicule Biden for his toadying up to Israel. Make it absolutely clear that the US is about as far from being a mediator as it is from the Ile St Paul – as far as possible on this planet. Don't be shy on insulting, biting sarcasm and condescension. And then, after you're done, announce your continued willingness to engage in proximity talks.
Play Netanyahu's game. Slap them in the face, then insist you're ready for negotiations. The worst thing that can happen is that *they* cancel the talks.
Oh, sure. Is it also your opinion that Abbas is his own man, and can talk truth to power? Who do you think pays Abbas to keep his mouth shut and do Israel's bidding? Israel and the U.S.! And if you think Biden is upset, you can't tell a bad actor from a good one. He's on the same stage with Obama, participating in the same play: "F**k the Arabs."
No, I realize the above won't happen. I merely voiced what *should* happen.
I never said I thought Biden was upset, though he might have been. But certainly not upset about Palestinians being pushed from their land, neither about Israel torpedoing the chances for a two-state solution. Upset about how he might look like a sucker – at best.
Abbas would never denounce anybody; he has no credibility in Palestine, anyway. He deserves to be ignored. What is truly disgusting here is that the US, "honest broker" that it claims to be, is supporting the bantustanization of the West Bank by building those Palestinian-only roads. What liars on all sides!
Well, in the end VP Biden didn't turn around what so ever, instead he gave a public speech at Tel Aviv University that played right into Netanyahu's hands. I've covered the talk here – http://www.sababiblog.com/2010/03/biden-follows-s… – since it seemed that majority of the both the Israeli and International press gave Biden far too favorable reviews.