Over before it gets started? (Israel-Palestine)

It’s looking more and more like John Kerry’s announcement Friday of a new round of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians may have been premature. Over the weekend it became clear that what Secretary Kerry announced was not that there will be new talks, but that both sides had expressed an interest in possibly talking about having new talks. As far as Israel-Palestine is concerned, until the parties have physically been seated at the negotiating table there’s no real reason to think that they’re going to start talking again, no matter how close those talks might seem. The Guardian reports:

Moves towards a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were mired in rumours, rebuttals, criticism and confusion on Sunday in an indication of the political and diplomatic swamp facing key negotiators and their mediator, the US secretary of state, John Kerry.

What’s causing the talks to break down already? Read on for the details.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who makes Benjamin Netanyahu seem like the unholy love child of MLK and Gandhi (TRIVIA: which prominent Israeli politician hinted, during the 2009 Gaza “War,” that Israel should nuke Gaza?), has already made it clear that he believes there is “no solution” to the Israel-Palestine conflict and that Israel should focus on managing the conflict rather than ending it. This guy is Israel’s foreign minister, not some fringe nutcase shouting on a street-corner, and his prominence in Netanyahu’s coalition (without the backing of Lieberman’s hard-right Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Netanyahu’s Likud-led government would fall) means that, if Lieberman says there can’t be a negotiated end to the conflict, there won’t be a negotiated end to the conflict. Israel’s economics minister, Naftali Bennett, who heads another radical right-wing party upon whose support Netanyahu depends, is refusing to support a freeze on new theft of West Bank land settlement-building, something those silly Palestinians keep insisting on as a precursor to new talks. Israel’s tourism minister, Uzi Landau, has compared Israel’s 1967 borders, which Israel seemed OK with back in 1966, to Auschwitz. So you know they’ve carefully considered the pros and cons of new talks and a negotiated peace. For the Palestinian side, per The Guardian, it’s exceedingly unlikely that they would agree to move ahead on talks without a clear understanding that the 1967 borders would be the framework for negotiations, and it seems doubtful they’ll get that assurance.

Netanyahu, hysterically, while coddling nuts like the three clowns I just mentioned, made it clear that he’s entering talks with “integrity and frankness in the hope that this process will be handled responsibly, in a serious and purposeful manner.” What makes this hysterical is that he’s hoping/warning that the Palestinians (and, to a lesser extent, the Americans and Europeans) will “handle” talks “responsibly, in a serious and purposeful manner,” when his own collection of crazies have already shot any possibility of that happening straight to hell.

Juan Cole is Shrill and Unserious …

… US Secretary of State John Kerry’s quixotic quest to restart talks is both a welcome distraction and an unwelcome threat for the Likud. It is welcome, because without a fictional “peace process,” the massive Israeli theft of Palestinian land and resources is nakedly exposed to the world. It is a threat, because there is always a danger that the negotiations may have some successes, requiring actual Israeli concessions of practical import, which is definitely not what the Likud wants.

The right wing Israeli project of slowly annexing the West Bank and starving out the Palestinians in Gaza involves a great deal of future-blindness and magical thinking. They seem to imagine that the Palestinians at some point will abruptly vanish into thin air, like an illusionist’s rabbit. After decades of carefully hiding from themselves their acts of butchery and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians in 1948, and then more decades of denying that there are any such things as Palestinians, the Israeli Right appears to have half-convinced itself that there isn’t really a problem with their Drang nach Osten.

Apparently far right wing Israelis live in such a cocoon that they can’t understand how extreme a statement such as ’1967 borders are Auschwitz’ sounds to normal people. Really? Letting the Palestinians have a decent life is comparable to gassing innocent Jews? Trivializing Auschwitz like this is the real crime, and ratcheting up the rhetoric so that any concession to political reality is equated to genocide, is an offense against common sense. And, you will never ever hear mainstream American news programs report or quote Landau’s absurd and deeply offensive pronouncement.

… and offers this extraordinarily Shrill map:

west bank map

Yeah, the problem here is definitely that the Palestinians haven’t been serious enough.


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