Classifieds | Archives | Jobs | About TGT | Contact | Subscribe
Last updated 4 minutes ago
Printer Friendly Version | TGT@Twitter | RSS Feed |
Israel pushing peace beyond reach
By Musa Keilani September 19, 2010
 Print    Send to Friend

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that  the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are committed and serious about making peace, which is "within reach." Well, that might indeed be the case. But Israel is pushing it "beyond reach" by showing every indication that it would not meet the minimum requirements for peace — recognition and respect for the rights of the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not fooling anyone when he says he backs the two-state solution. We know that he wants peace, but on his own terms that would come nowhere near the rights of the Palestinians and that would make a mockery of the very concept of two states in Palestine.

It is not as much as the crisis over continued settlement building is haunting the resumed peace talks. It is our awareness that Israel would not budge from its position during the negotiations and that the US mediator would not have any leeway to pressure it  that is bothering us.

No one doubts Clinton when she says that Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "are serious about this effort. They are committed. They have begun to grapple with the hard but necessary questions."

But the problem is the answers to the questions are equally hard and elusive.

We know that the Palestinians will have to accept that Israel will not dismantle the large settlements in the occupied West Bank. They will have to agree to a compromise that would involve some territorial exchange.

Netanyahu has indeed agreed to discuss the thorny issues of Jerusalem and refugees. But that agreement is deceptive.

Netanyahu wants Abbas to accept, among other things, a demilitarised state whose shape Israel will decide (mostly in the form of a truncated West Bank) and to recognise Israel as a Jewish state. This would mean that the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 conflict will not have any right to return to their ancestral homeland from where they fled or were forcibly evicted.

Netanyahu wants Abbas to accept that the proposed Palestinian identity would not have Arab East Jerusalem as its capital. These are two key hurdles in the way to a fair and just peace agreement because Abbas could not sign away the rights of the Palestinian refugees and Arab East Jerusalem. But these two issues could be seen only in the context of the negotiations.

The split in the Palestinian ranks as represented by the Hamas control of the Gaza Strip makes the negotiations meaningless since the coastal enclave has to be part and parcel of the territory that should make up the sought-for state of Palestine.

Furthermore, Abbas could not claim to speak for the Palestinians who elected Hamas into power with 76 per cent of the vote in the last legislative elections.

Obviously, the approach — misguided as it is — here is that if Abbas and Netanyahu produce an agreement, then Hamas could be persuaded to accept it. Hamas leaders have given off-and-on signals that they would accept a Palestinian state within the borders that existed before the 1967 war. But Abbas is in position to produce such an agreement, given Israel's rejection.

Netanyahu has his own political considerations. His hard-line coalition partners would balk at any compromise and could bring down the government. So, what is the solution?

In Netanyahu's view, the Palestinians should be pressured into accepting his version of a solution and declare that the conflict has come to an end. Never mind that Abbas does not have the support of a majority of the Palestinians, whether inside or outside Palestine. And that would mean that regardless of whether Abbas declares that the conflict has ended once and for all, the Palestinian problem will continue for generations to come.

At the same time, it is also true that an agreement worked out by a hard-liner like Netanyahu has any chance of survival because he would have the support of a majority of Israelis, from his own camp as well as other groups which advocate peace.

At this juncture, the US-mediated process is the only movement and we could only hope that it would somehow produce a fair and just agreement although it seems highly unlikely.

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Post a comment
Advertise | Copyright