Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Posted in Israel, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Dan on May 22, 2010

Now that the Obama administration has finally gotten Israeli-Palestinian peace talks going after a year and a half of stalemate (a plan that could quickly fall apart in a day’s time if something drastic like…uh hum….more settlement building is approved), analysts from around the world are starting to ask if the meetings can produce anything worthwhile.

The short answer is no.  If anyone thinks that a magic formula for peace is going to be struck through shuttle diplomacy- jargon for indirect “proximity talks”- than you will be sadly mistaken.

The good news is that both sides have agreed to address key issues of the conflict instead of arguing about useless formalities.  Issues like settlements on occupied Palestinian land, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, borders, and security will apparently be the focus (although I’m not so sure how this could possibly be discussed without negotiating face-to-face).

Yet even with this supposed “diplomatic breakthrough” now in the works (to be fair, it is a welcomed change from the last 18 months), this development is still a step backwards from what have traditionally been direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, the Oslo Accords of 1993, and the Camp David Summit of 2000 all involved the active participation of key political players.  But now in 2010, the international community is forced to resort to an impersonal method for resolving the same-old disputes that have destroyed Mideast peacemaking for six decades in the making.

I hate to the be the bearer of bad news, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not exactly a trustworthy and constructive partner, and his religious coalition is the sort of government that you would expect to find in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

And then there was this revelation that I had about a day or two ago.

In the past, I’ve expressed a sense of urgency about Netanyahu’s government and my hope that he would someday smarten up and drop the extreme right-wing members of his coalition…especially if he wants to keep his job amid a frustratingly slow moving peace process. Doing so would not only pave the way for a new governing coalition with a much more centrist and pragmatic partner, but would also severely weaken Netanyahu’s dependence on pro-settler Jewish groups.

While I still support the idea of the Israeli P.M. dumping his more radical allies in the government, I’m now starting to question whether this move would actually change things.

Don’t get me wrong here; a more moderate government would be a fine contrast from the current administration in Israel (most of whom are all too eager to sabotage peace talks before they even start). Likewise, a more centric-oriented coalition would be a great parallel to the P.A.’s moderate leadership under Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. The chances for a successful Israeli-Palestinian dialogue- perhaps leading to direct negotiations- would improve quite significantly at the executive level.

But what about the bigger picture…that of the Israeli electorate? Poll after poll in Israel has consistently confirmed the Israeli public’s endorsement of the current status-quo. And why not? The Israeli economy is one of the best in the world, security has been tight, and the suicide-bombings that used to terrorize Israeli cities on a daily-basis are now virtually nonexistent.

Surely the Israelis want peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians. Each Israeli Government has been trying to accomplish this goal since the state’s creation in 1948. But at the same time, Israelis don’t want to jeopardize or risk destroying the type of peaceful environment that they have been accustomed too over the last three years.

Talk about caught between a rock and a hard place.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of the Economist*


10 Responses

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  1. AbrahamSon said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:20 am

    The talks and negotiations will continue until the rogue state of Israel gulps the last inch of Palestine.

    Yes, direct and indirect talks and negotiations and conferences and meetings and visits and speeches and all that nonsense will continue until the Zionists take over all Palestine from the river to the sea. Then, all this phoney baloney stuff will not work.

    If the Zionists wanted to return even the least rights to the Palestinians then they could have done that a very long time ago and relieved themselves and others. But their strategy is to control all Palestine and the Arab region. The negotiations direct or indirect are a farcical soap opera for the Palestinian people to watch and endure with blood and agony and the players are plenty and the director is AIPAC.

  2. omar Ibrahim said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:21 am

    This round will go down as another failure and all concerned parties, especially the USA, know that.
    The question is : why did/does the USA, with each successive President, insists that negotiations that it knows full well are bound to fail, should be attempted??
    The probable answers would range from :
    a- to demonstrate Israeli intransigence to the American public thus preparing him to accept whatever the USA will attempt to impose? (highly unlikely)
    OR
    b-give Israel more time, while the international community is lulled into silence, to go ahead with whatever it has been doing in lands confiscation, settlement constructions , WEST BANK fragmentation etc until there will emerge a new set of “faits accomplis” unchallengeable by American and European consent?
    In this particular round which was initiated in an atmosphere of unprecedented public Israeli defiance of American will and meek USA retreat a superficial outlook could indicate the preponderance of (a) over (b).
    That pseudo rationale is what the USA used to “convince” the PA to participate despite unmitigated Israeli rejection of USA and PA earlier objections and preconditions, respectively.
    A better understanding and fuller appreciation of the INTERNAL constraints laid on the USA policies by Israel will make “scenario” (b) the more likely one.
    The USA, presumably, put a time limit for ALL negotiations, both direct and indirect, of TWO YEARS.
    BY THEN President Obama will be seeking a second term and that certainly is NOT the right time for him to flex any American muscle!

  3. outerlimits said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:23 am

    @ DePetris,

    Speaking of rocks and hard places, the death of a 16 year old Palestinian on Thursday in the West Bank might be a case in point. The waste of such a young life is tragic and can be expected to harden attitudes on both sides, the subsequent loss of further lives being seen as almost a direct consequence.

    A question that arises is this. What would it have taken to stop that boy throwing those rocks in the first place? Equally, what would have prevented those shots then being fired and adding yet another name to an already long list of such victims?

    Proximity talks?
    Mission statements?
    Peace proposals?
    Road maps?
    Conferences?
    Memoranda?
    Summits?
    Resolutions?
    Agreements?

    I’m afraid such considerations are far too distant to deter those acting in the heat of the moment. And neither will they sway others whose actions may be of colder and more calcuated intention.

    So, what will it take?

    Will it take this?

    http://yorketowers.blogspot.com

    If nothing else, this does bring the whole matter to a very definite conclusion and, perhaps, only the results of such an arrangement can produce the stability and time needed for real peace to take hold.

  4. Froy" said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:24 am

    DePetris, you are completely right. Ordinary Israelis don’t want any change in the status quo, they don’t even care about what happens in the Territories. Their lives are plentiful, the economy is better than ever, the occupation is not affecting their lives in any negative way, so why change?

    The conclusion is clear: until Israel and its people don’t start paying a price for occupation, they won’t have any incentive to end it. That is why the BDS campaign is so important to bring down this new apartheid of our times. Even if it undeservedly punishes innocent people, only then they will start to consider that the unjust oppression of the Palestinian people must end, and they will demand so to their government.

    • tzatz said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:25 am

      “Ordinary Israelis don’t want any change in the status quo”

      THIS IS A LIE … and worse is a ‘MYTH’ …

      The Israeli electorate has CONSISTENTLY been polled at 70% wanting a PEACE AGREEMENT …

      While the ‘PALESTINIANS’ have consistently been polled as wanting ‘resistance’ NOT AN AGREEMENT.

  5. Dan said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:26 am

    omar Ibrahim has put the facts on the table:

    “However it is certain that these “negotiations” will fail for the expected Israeli/USA proffered terms that even a Abbass CAN NOT possibly nor DARE accept.”

    If we analyze his statement … it takes ones breath away

    That is … the expected terms are those that were on offer in 2000 … made in December 2000 specifically … the Clinton Parameters … these included 94% of the WB & Gaza … with offsets inside present day Israel to give the ‘Palestinians’ ‘their share’ of the land … there will be NO BETTER OFFER. Some sort of accomodation for the Arabs re. Jerusalem AND a demilitarized Palestine.

    But the real eye-opener is that Abbas “CAN NOT possibly nor DARE accept” …

    OTHERWISE HE’LL BE KILLED BY THE ‘RESISTANCE’ … OR SOME JIHADI

    This is why these little chats are important … something is always revealed ‘in between the lines’ … meaning is being conveyed … it’s just not the meaning that was INTENDED!

    The Palestinians are unimportant.

    It’s the Arab/Muslim world that needs to sign off on a Peace Agreement … the Palestinian signature is useless … the Arab League … Saudi Arabia et al MUST GIVE THEIR STAMP OF APPROVAL … Abbas & Company have no power …

    The Israelis won’t end the conflict with the Palestinians UNTIL there’s a Peace Deal with the Arab/Muslim world …

    • omar Ibrahim said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:27 am

      tzatz
      -Do you really believe that Netanyahu/Liberman will “proffer”the Clinton terms ?
      -Re the Clinton terms were it really “Some sort of accomodation for the Arabs re. Jerusalem …. “?
      Let us have some political opinions from you instead of the usual tirades.

      • tzatz said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:28 am

        My opinion omar Ibrahim is … you don’t offer any terms … you are a Arab/Muslim maximalist … you lost and you’re in the diaspora …

        Welcome to the real world … my parents lost everything and started over too. No compensation … $5 in the pocket at the start and on they went … creating a new life for themselves

        The Arab/Muslim world has propagated the ‘refugee issue’ for some 62 Years. You think you’re tired of hearing about the holocaust? Don’t get me started on the Naqba.

        My beliefs come out in my ‘tirades’ … I believe each and every one.

        The solution is there … it’s on the table … the Clinton Parameters … were accepted by the Israeli Cabinet … will Netanyahu agree to them? … Unlike Hamas … which has no regard for previous deals agreed to between the parties (BTW the Clinton Parameters are not binding on the parties SINCE the Arabs/Arafat did not agree) but they will be the ‘model’ of what the Israelis will sign off on.

        It’s clear that the Israelis CANNOT rule the Palestinians … they don’t want the problem and don’t want the job but while they’re ON THE JOB it will be done professionally. The Israelis have no further claim on the WB or Gaza … the Clinton Parameters and the separation wall will suffice.

        I do business with Arabs & Muslims and have for over 20 years … I don’t mind their company and I love their food but ON POLITICS … it’s impossible … there’s no common ground …

        WE NEED SEPARATE STATES FOR 2 PEOPLES

        That’s the solution that works … ISRAEL IS NOT LOOKING FOR MORE ROOM … THEY ARE AND WILL REMAIN A TINY STATE … SIGNIFICANT … ONLY IN ITS ABILITY TO ‘HIT WAY ABOVE IT’S SIZE’ (that’s a baseball reference!)

        Israel will never stretch beyond its current borders … they’re stuck … the Arab/Muslim world will have to get used to it or die trying. So far I don’t see peace emanating from the Arab/Muslim world … but change is constant in this world so … we shall see …

  6. FernandoTorresIsGod said, on May 22, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Netanyahu will be forced into an accommodation with Kadima.

    That coalition will be squeezed by the Obama administration to make peace. That peace will include, in its terms, Palestinian sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem.

    There will be violence, but the peaceable parties of both sides will be forced to hold the line, marginalising the violent.

    And Obama will have a massive boost for his second term. Yes, he can

  7. Patty said, on June 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    The problem started a long time ago. Until each of us realizes that G is with each that is alive, from the first til the last, and that all that are born have a part to play. G is here now and always. Everyday we are given, we have the oppurtunity to do what is right and just.
    Ignorance breeds violence. What a battle – but know – G doesn’t need temples or religions – he is complete and gives faith to all those who believe.


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