The US plan makes a viable Palestinian state untenable. By Jonathan Cook. The National [UAE], December 17, 2013. Also at Jonathan-Cook.net.
Al-Monitor’s money wasted on Zionist myths. By Jonathan Cook. Jonathan-Cook.net, November 6, 2013.
What Future for Israel? By Nathan Thrall. NJBR, July 24, 2013. From the New York Review of Books, August 15, 2013.
A Talmudic Precedent for a Just Solution to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict. By Charles H. Manekin (as Jerry Haber). The Magnes Zionist, August 8, 2007.
recent days, US and European diplomats have been engaged in a frenzy of
activity on the Israeli-Palestinian front, before they settle down for the
usual two-week Christmas hibernation.
of urgency looms because Washington is supposed to unveil next month its
so-called “framework proposal” for the creation of a Palestinian state, in a
last desperate effort to break the logjam in negotiations. For this reason, the
outlines of the US vision of an agreement are finally coming into focus. And,
as many expected, the picture looks bleak for the Palestinians.
Kerry, the US secretary of state, who has invested much of his personal
standing in a successful outcome, has grown increasingly forthright that an
agreement hinges on satisfying Israel’s security concerns, however inflated.
a speech to the Saban Forum in Washington this month, Mr Kerry said President
Barack Obama’s highest priority was Israel’s “ability to defend itself, by
itself”. Shortly afterwards, Mr Kerry headed back to the region to show Israeli
and Palestinian officials what he meant.
Abbas, the Palestinian president, was reportedly incensed by the US proposal.
In recent days PA spokesmen have accused Mr Kerry of “appeasement” and of
failing to be “a neutral mediator”.
criticism looks more than justified. Under cover of a vision for peace, the US
secretary of state is offering an Israeli security plan at the expense of
meaningful Palestinian statehood.
not entirely surprising given that the plan was drafted by John Allen, a
general formerly in command of US forces in Afghanistan, who has spent months
quietly liaising with Israeli counterparts.
main sticking point is the Jordan Valley, an area that was expected to comprise
nearly a quarter of a future Palestinian state.
Allen has indulged an Israeli demand that it be allowed to continue a long-term
“military presence” in the Jordan Valley, with a reassessment by the US in
10-15 years’ time.
a retreat from Washington’s earlier commitment at the Annapolis talks of 2007
that no Israeli soldiers would be stationed in the West Bank following an
agreement. Security guarantees were to be provided instead by Nato troops,
under US command.
proposal should be a deal-breaker. The valley is a vital resource for the
Palestinians, one they have been effectively stripped of for decades by
Israel’s exaggerated “security needs”.
Jordan Valley offers the only land border in the West Bank that would be
potentially under Palestinian control. It is one of the few remaining
undeveloped areas, making it a possible site to which hundreds of thousands of
Palestinian refugees could return. And its lands are fertile and warm all year
round, making it highly productive and a likely engine for the Palestinian
to Gen Allen’s plan, Israel’s security also requires that Palestinian security
forces be only lightly armed, that it has control over the airspace and all
borders and the US to install spying technology – euphemistically called “early
warning systems” – throughout the West Bank.
other words, the US vision of a Palestinian state looks remarkably like the
model Israel has already implemented in Gaza.
need only listen to the words of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,
from a decade ago to understand his role in this new plan.
Mr Netanyahu spoke to a group of settlers in the West Bank at a meeting that
was secretly filmed. There he boasted that during his earlier premiership, in
the late 1990s, he had halted the peace plan of that time, the Oslo Accords,
through what he termed a “trick”.
foiled a Palestinian state’s creation by agreeing to limited withdrawals from
Palestinian land while insisting on the retention of the most significant
areas, especially the Jordan Valley, by classifying them as a “specified
Netanyahu told the settlers: “America is something that can be easily moved.
Moved to the right direction.” Those words now seem prophetic.
rejecting the US plan, Mr Abbas appears to have the backing of his people. A
poll published this week showed only 19 per cent believed the talks would lead
to an agreement.
given the essential conflict between Israel’s “security” requirements and the
Palestinian demand for statehood, how does Mr Kerry intend to proceed?
too is becoming clear. The task of making Israel and the Palestinians play ball
is being subcontracted to the European Union. That makes sense because, as the
main subsidiser of the occupation, the Europeans have major financial leverage
over both parties.
this month the EU brandished its stick. It warned that it would stop financing
Mr Abbas’ Palestinian Authority if no agreement had been reached by the end of
widely seen as a threat directed towards Mr Abbas, whose political power base
depends on EU money paying tens of thousands of PA workers each month, it was
equally aimed at Mr Netanyahu. Were the PA to be wound up, the huge costs of
running the occupation would again fall to Israel.
European member states have also warned Israel that should it carry on building
settlements in the coming months, they will officially blame it for the talks’
Monday, Europe unsheathed its carrot. It is offering both Israel and the
Palestinians a major aid package and an upgrade in economic relations to the
EU, conferring on them a status of “special privileged partnership”. This would
reportedly bring each side huge trading and security benefits.
vigorous the EU’s arm-twisting, the reality is that the Palestinian leadership
is being cajoled into an agreement that would destroy any hopes of a viable
Abbas is said to have viewed the US plan as “worse than bad”. His agreement to
it would be worse than disastrous.
fading importance of the pre-1967 borders means a breaking with illusions and a
return to the true nature of the conflict: a struggle between two ethnic groups
between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The peaceful arrangements
they have so far discussed have all fallen short of both the full sovereignty
Palestinians desire and the hard ethnic separation the Israeli center and left
seek. As Susser writes:
Palestinian state that the Israelis were willing to endorse was never a fully
sovereign and independent member of the family of nations, but an emasculated,
demilitarized, and supervised entity, with Israeli control of its airspace and
possibly of its borders too, and some element of Israeli and/or foreign
was as true for Netanyahu as for Olmert, Barak, Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin, who a
month before his assassination told the Knesset that the Palestinians would
have “less than a state.”
. . . .
renewed talks break down, Israelis may begin asking themselves whether the time
has come to abandon hopes of a full peace in order to achieve—perhaps through
cease-fires or further unilateral withdrawals—a partial separation. They would
thereby create something more than one state but less than two, which is, in
fact, all that was ever on offer.
lived in Israel for over thirty years, and to this day, I know of virtually no
Israeli within the so-called national consensus who favors a genuine two-state
solution. Don’t believe what Benny Morris, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Tom Segev,
Amos Oz, Shimon Peres, or any of the so-called Israeli “moderates” or
“leftists” tell you. They are all in favor of a one-state/one-“state” solution,
where the former is a powerful state with an independent economy, foreign
affairs, and military, and the other is a “state-minus,” in which the
Palestinians are allowed a certain degree of autonomy provided that they don’t
pose a threat to the first state. Even the much-vaunted Geneva Initiative
perpetuates inequities when it proposes that a Palestinian state be left
without a modern Palestinian defence force, without making a similar demand of
Israel – even though one hundred years of Zionism teaches us that the
Palestinians have much more to fear from the Zionists than vice-versa. Only one
side has ever actually wiped the other’s country off the map – and it wasn’t
the Palestinian side.
we should go back to the Mishnah. An imposed solution of an equal division of
territory, with neither side giving up its narrative or its most cherished
beliefs, and with neither side coming out with more hegemony than the other –
that is the ethical archimedian point from which we should begin to examine the