I would call Bibi’s and Yvet’s latest quasi peace initiative an act of political theater, except that it does an injustice to real drama, which may move humanity to powerful action. This plan announced by Bibi today is more like performing anesthesia on a corpse (the peace process, that is).
Israel’s leader dredged up a second-hand peace plan he’d previously trotted out when he thought Bougie Herzog was going to be his dance partner in forming a new government. He and Bougie jointly announced with great fanfare they were responding positively to a supposed peace feeler put out by Egypt’s military junta leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The new Israeli political Bobbsey Twins were to travel to Egypt to open the door to this new peace initiative with an immediate trip to Egypt. Except a funny thing happened on the way to Cairo: the Labor Party’s rank and file MKs revolted against Bougie’s rank attempt to aggrandize himself with the foreign ministry portfolio at their expense. Herzog had to flee the ball before he could try on the golden slipper Bibi offered him and before he turned into a political pumpkin.
Unfazed, Bibi turned to a new Cinderella, Avigdor Lieberman, to be his new dance partner at the ball. Apparently, despite his rather large oafish feet, Yvet’s fit the glass slipper perfectly. But the two had a problem: the new government Bibi formed was even more right-wing than the last one. Lieberman, has a rank reputation as a Palestine-hater and Arabophobe. He even once threatened to bomb the Aswan Dam if Hosni Mubarak didn’t play nice with Israel.
Despite past history, Bibi’s friend in Cairo was willing to let bygones by bygones. Al-Sisi reportedly continues to hold the olive branch out for the new Bobbsey Twins. All they have to do is endorse the 2002 Arab peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia and the Arab League. It called for a two-state solution and return to 1967 borders in return for mutual recognition.
Here’s what Bibi the Weasel had to say about it:
“I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbours, as the Arab Peace Initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” he said.
“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states’ revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” he added.
Do tell me, dear reader, what any of this gibberish means. So the Arab plan contains “positive elements” and Israel is willing to negotiate with the Arabs using it as some sort of basis. The goal of all this is two states, supposedly. But just what has Bibi said or offered? Precisely nothing.
Nor does al-Sisi expect Bibi to offer anything because he cares about the Palestinians as little as Bibi does. In fact, the very idea of these two jackals deciding the fate of Palestine is a joke too dark to utter.
So if this gesture is as empty as it appears, what’s its real purpose? To discover that you have to go back to the formation of the new Israeli government. The government that preceded it was widely labelled the most right-wing in Israeli history. The current one is even more rightward-leaning. So how best to offer the world a show of moderation without expending any real political capital? Embrace the will ‘o wisp offered by al-Sisi.
The Egyptian doesn’t mean what he said. Bibi doesn’t mean what he said. But for the price of a few empty speeches, all of them come out smelling, if not like a rose, then at least like a cheap carnation (which doesn’t have much smell at all).
To show how empty this gesture is, Naftali Bennett, leader of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party, the third-largest grouping in the government, immediately dismissed the chance there could be any Palestinian state on his watch. If Bennett pulls his eight Knesset seats from the governing coalition, it will fall unless Bib can replace them with another willing victim. So there will be no Palestinian state. I was going to say, “until this government falls.” But the chance of there ever being a Palestinian state are next to nil unless and until the international community steps in and forces the issue (and that may mean never) at the rate things are going.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.