“The Palestine Papers”: Israel, Palestine, and bad negotiators

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations

The negotiations for a peaceful settlement (and a Palestinian state), the so-called Road Map to peace, and the status of the US as a good-faith mediator have been struck a potentially mortal blow over the weekend. Moreover, the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), which is the principal representative entity for the Palestinian people, has been revealed as a sham group of self-interested puppets.

The Israeli-Palestinian negotiating table, with Tzipi Livni at left

The event precipitating all of this was the release of secret negotiation documents that revealed that the Palestinian leadership has been just giving away everything important to the Palestinian people in exchange for a position of power at the head of the emerging state. Some of those important things include Palestinian land currently occupied by illegal Israeli settlements; major sections of East Jerusalem, which legally belongs to the Palestinians, and any regard for the right for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, or some meaningful reparation for their dispossession. None of these things are disputed at the level of international law, since each of them are guaranteed under the Geneva Convention, and furthermore get voted on in an overwhelming majority (like 167-2) every few years at the European Union. So one could say that they are a matter of near-unanimous international consensus.

The problem is simply that Israel has refused to comply with international law, the Geneva Convention, and international consensus, and that the United States has refused to cooperate in enforcing this law. Without the US’s cooperation, there is hardly any way to put the sort of pressure on Israel that would produce compliance with international law or the Geneva Accords. So Israel continues to get away with an illegal situation. Oddly enough, even the US has officially agreed with the UN resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory, as it did after the 1967 war. The problem is, with Holocaust guilt on one hand, and on the other an effective pro-zionist political lobby in the US pressuring administrations to keep their hands off the issue, there has been no one to push Israel to comply with the international consensus.

Left with a free reign, Israel has continually made things worse. In a typical example, Tzipi Livni, one of the chief negotiators (and the foreign minister) for the Israelis, recently said, as reported by the British Guardian, that:

“Israel takes more land [so] that the Palestinian state will be impossible . . . the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that is impossible, we already have the land and we cannot create the state”. She conceded that it had been “the policy of the government for a really long time”.

It has been evident for some time that the Israeli tactic has been to keep a policy of military occupation even while publicly declaring a rhetoric

Unemployment in Israel and Palestine

of peace. This is to their advantage, at least in the minds of the Zionist right, since it allows them to keep all the cards in their hand, declaring peace on one hand while actually slowly invading Palestinian lands and keeping the Palestinians themselves defenseless (the inequality of power it total; Israel has nuclear bombs, submarines, a world-class air force, a navy, and receives billions in military equipment from the US every year, while Palestinians don’t have a single naval vessel, a single anti-aircraft gun, a single nuclear bomb, a single helicopter, or a single plane, and live on a per capita gdp of $1,000 (while Israel’s is around $30,000)).

US military aid to Israel per day (8.2 million dollars)

All this time, the US has been publicly advocating “a peaceful solution,” while behind the scenes doing  everything to advocate Israeli exceptionalism, making possible Israel’s continued refusal to comply with the international consensus and the Geneva Accords.

If the United States were at all serious about a peaceful solution, it would refuse foreign aid to Israel for just one single year (did you know that US citizens spend more per capita on Israelis than on there own citizens?), and this would instantly produce dramatic results. If you US did this, it might be accused by the Israeli political right of being antisemitic, but then so would the Geneva Convention itself, as well as the High Court of the EU and the entire international consensus, making the claim rather laughable at best.

What has emerged over the current leaks of negotiation documents is that the team representing the Palestinian people are merely puppets, giving away anything and everything for a role of power in the state that is supposed to emerge at the other end of these negotiations. In essence, they are like puppet dictators, placing foreign interests, in this case the demands of Israeli right and the US administration, over the interests of the Palestinians themselves. These pseudo-leaders are from the PLO, which has a long history of being made up of corrupt, self-interested puppets, while the real leaders of the Palestinians are marginalized, assassinated, and placed on terrorist blacklists.

We should recall that the negotiating team currently representing the Palestinians, namely Fatah and the PLO, are not the natural, democratic leadership of the Palestinians themselves. Rather, they are puppets hand-picked by the US and Israel precisely because they will give away the legal demands of the Palestinians during the negotiation for Palestinian statehood. The democratically elected leadership is actually Hamas, which won huge victories in an internationally-observed and approved election in 2006.

But since there results were not what the US nor Israel had hoped for, since they were the “wrong winners,” they were merely declared by the US-Israeli partnership to be “terrorists,” which is beginning to look like a convenient term we just applied when it arbitrarily fits the designs of the powerful. After being declared terrorists, they were arrested, these newly elected officials, by Israel, while their enemy faction, Fatah, was secretly armed and funded and instructed to overthrow them. Unfortunately for the US and Israel, Hamas, with tons of popular support among the people, actually won the clashes and threw Hamas totally out of the Gaza strip. Since then, Fatah, now only in the West Bank, has been recognized as the official representatives of the Palestinians, even though there is no legitimacy to this and even though they lost the election.

This brings us to the current situation. These Fatah and PLO leaders have probably just lost all possible legitimacy with the Palestinians themselves, who believe very strongly in their legally-recognized right to the territory of pre-1967 Palestine, to at least all of East Jerusalem, to state sovereignty, and to the right of refugee return or equivalent compensation. See the lucid explanation of the situation by Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi below:

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