Abbas and Netanyahu Begin Final Status Negotiations. Beware!
Imagine, if you will, a reporter, representing some mainstream news organization in the Washington Press Corps, standing up in the press conference convened at the end of any day during the new round of Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” and asking: “Mr. President, if we presume that negotiations on a peace agreement will begin immediately following the successful completion of these final status negotiations, which Secretary Clinton has stated could be completed within a year, what would you anticipate would occur first – the completion of a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, perhaps as soon as the end of your term as President, or the complete annihilation of the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories?”
This, of course, is fantasy (because Helen Thomas has retired). But, its a comforting notion that helps to keep hope alive for some change in the status quo in this country: ownership of the White House and Congress by the Israel Lobby (FN1) and a mainstream news media that refuses to admit this fact to the public. (FN2)
The reality that Palestinians face in these “negotiations” is quite bleak, while we Americans live our lives largely ignorant of the extent to which we blindly, immorally and illegally support the government of Israel (GOI) as we continue to deliver to the GOI, without hesitation, $3 billion in military aid from American taxpayers each year (FN3), thereby sponsoring the criminal conduct of the GOI (and making ourselves complicit in these crimes, as well).
This stark reality for Palestinians is best expressed by one of the brave leaders of non-violent protest in the West Bank – Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh – a Palestinian who, somehow, continues to lead the resistance to the occupation (of the occupied Palestinian territories by the GOI – FN4) and the Apartheid regime, which forces Palestinians into Bantustans behind an illegal Apartheid wall as it is being built on Palestinian land (FN5), and the ongoing Judaisation of East Jerusalem by the GOI (FN6), etc., etc., while Americans continue to fund the GOI and, on occasion, sponsor “peace talks” (adding the ultimate insult to the injuries).
Dr. Qumsiyeh very aptly states it this way: “Direct talks will lead to more erosion of Palestinian rights, especially when conducted in Israeli-occupied Washington, between Abbas, whose mandate as president of the Palestinian Bantustan in the West Bank expired last January, and Mr. Netanyahu, a known terrorist and war criminal leading the most extreme right-wing government in the history of the apartheid state of Israel.”
He continues his critique of the “peace talks” by saying, “Israel [is] thrilled with the notion of direct negotiations without interference or ‘preconditions’ between the occupier and the occupied. (FN7) After all … Israel holds all the power and all the cards and it can dictate what it wants in ‘direct, bilateral negotiations.’ The simple question is: How TO GET A MODICUM OF Palestinian rights since the quartet [the group that sponsored the Bush administration’s Road Map peace plan – U.S., E.U., Russia and the U.N.] even backed down on the simple demand of ‘suspending settlement activities’ while negotiations go on (itself a retreat from the Road Map, which requires dismantling all that was built [Jewish settlements] illegally since 2002)?” (FN8)
But, the most critical question posed by Dr. Qumsiyeh on this subject of the current “peace talks” might be this one: “If we accept the notion that Netanyahu is restricted by his political coalition from even this small gesture of a suspension of illegal colonial activities (FN9), then why would we expect that he will be able to offer anything bigger -- like dismantling settlements, or sharing Jerusalem, or allowing refugees to reclaim their land?” (FN10)
This last question by Dr. Qumsiyeh is the final red flag that should lead us all to the realization that the purpose for these final status negotiations seems be to force the Palestinians to finally capitulate – as a conquered people – and surrender their hope for anything resembling a South African type of resolution (one state, one government, with essentially equal rights for all citizens) and agree to accept as their fate such terms as:
Relinquishing their universally recognized right to return to the homes and property from which they were forced as a result of hostilities (in 1948 and 1967) (FN11);
Relinquishing any hope that East Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state (FN12);
Relinquishing any hope that Palestinians will ever be free from domination by the state of Israel (FN13).
Such an outcome in these final status negotiations will inevitably lead to endless violence between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, because the injustices that began with the ethnic cleansing of Jewish territory and mass dispossession of Palestinians of their homes and property in 1947-8, which was repeated on a somewhat smaller scale in 1967 and have continued ever since, will be “locked in” and will remain unresolved. But, also, the effects of this kind of outcome, with Palestinians being strong-armed into signing up for something far less than what they are entitled according to international law, would likely ripple outward throughout the region and beyond – providing recruitment material to religious extremist organizations which already have convincing evidence that the West and its allies are engaged in a Holy War against Islam. (FN14)
Now, the potential outcomes to the final status negotiations that are listed above are certainly cause for grave concern, but if that other outcome, as submitted by our fantasy reporter, should also become a reality – the annihilation of the Palestinian population by the GOI – that, ladies and gentlemen, could lead to a regional conflict that will likely change the fantasy into a global nightmare.
There is already a program of slow genocide up and running in Gaza (FN15). And, now, the GOI has a new tool – Israeli Military Order 1650 -- that will enable them to deport Palestinians in the West Bank by the thousands to Gaza, if they chose to do so, and place more and more Palestinians in this “open air prison” and subject them to the deadly conditions there, as well (which increasingly resembles Auschwitz as time passes – considering the assault by Israeli air, ground and naval forces on Gaza from December, 2008 to January, 2009 – see “Goldstone report”).
Please help prevent this potential tragedy – that could have such enormous global consequences – by taking action (FN16).
1. Mearsheimer, John (Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago), and Walt, Stephen (Professor of International Relations, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University), “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” August, 2007.
2. See the extensive evidence gathered by the organization If Americans Knew (Media Analysis tab) http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/
3. See: Berrigan, Frida, “Israel and the United States: Up in Arms,” Foreign Policy in Focus, 14Jan09 http://www.fpif.org/articles/israel_and_the_united_states_up_in_arms Also, see: The Report of the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (“Goldstone Report”), Executive Summary (first 38 pages of the report), as an example of the crimes being committed by the GOI that you and I (U.S. citizens) are funding with our tax dollars -- http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32057
4. See the original document which identifies the military presence of the GOI as “occupation” -- U.N. Security Council Resolution 242: http://www.un.org/documents/sc/res/1967/scres67.htm
5. See: “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” International Court of Justice, The Hague http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&case=131&k=5a
6. See: B’Tselem (an Israeli Jewish human rights organization) website http://www.btselem.org/english/Jerusalem/
7. See: “Israel says it will still build in Jerusalem,” Reuters, 26Mar2010 http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE62P012.htm
8. See Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East, Phase I, Civil Society (second bullet) http://www.bitterlemons.org/docs/roadmap3.html ; Also, see this Haaretz article from Oct ’06 which describes the Israeli scandal regarding official records being altered to hide the extent of settlement construction at that time: http://www.haaretz.com/news/settlements-grow-on-arab-land-despite-promises-made-to-u-s-1.203258
9. See this Haaretz article for background on the GOI’s position on settlement construction: “Netanyahu: I never promised to extend West Bank settlement construction freeze” http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/netanyahu-i-never-promised-to-extend-west-bank-settlement-construction-freeze-1.310937 ; Also, see FN7 re: GOI policy on settlement construction in East Jerusalem (Note: some background, for those who want it … East Jerusalem, in the context of a two-state solution to the conflict, is regarded as the future capital of the yet-to-be-realized Palestinian state, thus any building of Jewish settlements in E. Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace (and an illegal act per the Geneva Conventions, since this is militarily-occupied territory) ).
10. These three issues are the most contentious issues being disputed by Palestinians and Israelis in this conflict – other than borders.
11. As Dr. Qumsiyeh warned: If Obama/Clinton/Mitchell have been unable to cajole the GOI to just halt all construction in the settlements (and they never even attempted to halt the evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem), how can anyone possibly believe that the GOI will make any of the much more painful (politically suicidal) concessions on issues like borders, right of return of refugees, and sharing Jerusalem? Also, see (re: right of return for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property) U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/C758572B78D1CD0085256BCF0077E51A ; and U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (see FN4, above). Another consideration is the “regional dimension of the refugee issue,” as proposed by the Chatham House who also recommends “that early acknowledgement of the regional dimension of the refugee issue can open the way to creative thinking about the whole refugee question and thence a regional solution to the conflict. Hitherto, the perception has prevailed, within the peace process, that refugees must either settle in place or exercise the Right of Return to an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Little thought has been given to the possibility that an end to conflict could facilitate the free movement of people, including erstwhile refugees, within the region, such that they may hold citizenship in one state, residency in another, and conduct business in a third.” (From: “The Regional Dimension of the Palestinian Refugee Issue” http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/research/middle_east/current_projects/palestinian_refugees/minster_lovell3/ ). Many parties express concerns regarding the inherent nature of the U.S. as being incapable of facilitating “peace talks” due to the bias associated with the power of the Israel Lobby and, therefore, anticipate with dread that any peace process under the auspices of the U.S. will not result in a just resolution of this most critical of the final status issues – the refugee issue.
12. See B’Tselem website (see FN6, above)
13. There is widespread concern, again, due to the power of the Israel Lobby in the U.S. and the U.S. being the party facilitating the “peace talks,” that any agreement on this issue under these conditions will result in a less than optimal solution to the issues of borders and existing settlements in the OPT that will unfairly favor Israeli interests and “lock in” the illegal (contrary to the Geneva Conventions and the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding the Apartheid Wall) facts on the ground that have been created by the GOI. In the past two decades, the GOI has taken advantage of the “peace process” dragging on and on and accomplishing nothing other than buying time for the GOI to construct massive Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, which effectively give the GOI control of a majority of the precious water resources and arable land in Palestine-Israel – leaving Palestinians dependent on the state of Israel for their economic prosperity and leaving them confined to Bantustans in Gaza and the West Bank and, perhaps, cutoff by Jewish settlements (which are being built to encircle Jerusalem) from their capital of East Jerusalem.
14. As just one example, see: “The Iraq Effect: War Has Increased Terrorism Sevenfold Worldwide” http://www.truth-out.org/article/the-iraq-effect-war-has-increased-terrorism-sevenfold-worldwide
15. See: Ilan Pappe (an Israeli Jew) “Genocide In Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing In The West Bank” http://www.countercurrents.org/pappe280108.htm
16. Go to “Coalition for UN Commission” on Facebook and “like” the post with the same title as this article on your Facebook account. Support the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation by joining the Campaign as an individual or organization: http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=64 and/or by taking action and supporting their “protest” of these “peace talks”: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/action/negotiations and/or by joining their continuing action to end the $3 billion/year military aid to Israel: http://aidtoisrael.org/modinput4.php?modin=114 and/or by joining the One Nation mobilization (on 2Oct2010, opposing war and advocating the reallocation of Iraq/Afghanistan funding to investments here in America, such as building a green economy) -- http://www.onenationforpeace.org/
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Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada