Although it looks as though Obama’s tactic of bribing Israel to freeze settlements (a package that apparently includes a number of advanced fighter jets, diplomatic protection in the UN, a guarantee not to ask for another freeze and America’s collective sense of dignity and self-respect) might actually
bring the two sides back to the negotiating table. Though, if both sides agree to the continuation of talks, hasn’t Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu shown the world clearly enough that he is not interested in peace? Personally, I have very little faith in these talks and have a hard time imaging a two-state solution that would be accepted by both sides. Apparently, though, I am not alone as there has been a flurry of efforts to resurrect the two-state process many here in Palestine see as a dead-end.
The American Jewish Lobby group J-Street recently released a statement calling for the renewed talks to focus intensively on borders and, if all else fails, for the US President to present a peace plan to both sides. Given the inability of the two sides to find common ground, it is reasonable to expect that the ‘unbiased broker’ of the negotiations to step in and present a plan to break the deadlock. Yet, Obama has been very hesitant to do so, maintaining the claim that peace must be organic and must not be forced. If there was a time to present an American plan, though, this is it. From J-Street:
However, the time has come for the United States to put forward a proposal to establish a border and security arrangements. With a border established, there will be no further need to negotiate over settlement construction. Both Israel and the Palestinians will be able to build where they please within their borders and not beyond… Even if there is a new 90-day moratorium, it will pass quickly, and the Administration and the parties cannot afford to reach day 89 and suddenly find yet another impasse and crisis.
So, could it be possible that for Christmas, Obama will be gift-wrapping a potential peace plan for Israel and Palestine? I suppose, but I find it more likely that the ideological/religious hawk-nuts in Israel’s government will inevitably find something in Obama’s plan that threaten’s the state’s ‘security.’
[tweetmeme] Secondly, we have Yuval Rabin, the son of the Yitzhak Rabin – the Israeli PM who negotiated the Oslo Accords (yes those Oslo Accords that gave Palestinians control of 17% of their land) – offering an alternative to the Arab Peace Initiative (API) of 2002. A brief reminder: the API was presented in 2002 by the Saudi Government and envisioned an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 lines in exchange for complete peace and normalization with the entire Muslim world (!). Needless to say it was rejected on, what else, security concerns.
Rabin the Second offers a plan that imagines the following agreements in exchange for normalization of relations:
1. A viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and one-on-one land swaps 2. Jerusalem as the home of two capitals and special arrangements in the holy basin 3. An agreed solution for the refugees inside the Palestinian state (with symbolic exceptions) 4. Mutual recognition of the genuine national identities of the two states as the outcome of negotiations and not as a prerequisite 5. Reiteration of the principles underlying Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence regarding civic equality for its Arab citizens 6. Long-term security arrangements with international components.
MJ Rosenberg over at TPM notes that the Rabin name is very polarizing in Israel, as the extremists on the right celebrate the man who assassinated the former PM, while leftists view the name as a symbol of the peace movement. Rosenberg also points out that Rabin is a very private individual and “[h]e must think things are pretty bad to jump into the ring now.” In any event the plan looks pretty good; now it just needs some muscle behind it (hello Mr. President?).
Despite the calls to save the two-state solution, it still seems as though political deadlocks and status quo will reign supreme at the end of the day, leading perhaps inevitably to a one-state apartheid (ahem, well, more officially than now) state and maybe civil war. If open apartheid or civil war is the alternative, why can’t peace talks succeed? Richard Falk points to some very fatal flaws in the current talks, eliminating all the potential for a peace agreement. According to Falk, the reasons why the current peace talks will be ineffective are:
- Too much American influence and bias
- Complete exclusion of international law
- Completely exclusion of debate about Zionism and Colonialism
- Inequality of final solution land swaps
Personally, I find the first and second points to be far more important than the last two. Of course, I think that there should be a more honest and open debate about the extreme similarities between Zionism and Colonialism, but I think that this is something that cannot be undertaken now (if the goal is a two-state solution) as it would only make the Israelis more defensive and less prone to compromise. Similarly, trading valuable and important land around Jerusalem in exchange for useless desert in the Negev (number 4) is unacceptable, but should not be the breaking point for negotiations.
Israel must be pressured to make a deal. Currently, the government seems too involved in the Zionist dream of Eretz Israel to bother with peace talks. Unfortunately, Republicans and Democrats in the US are competing with each other to prove who supports Israel the most. While Republicans are selling out America for a foreign country, Democrats hold the majority of the Jewish vote. It seems, for the foreseeable future, the US will be unable to pressure Israel towards peace, regardless of who is in charge.
The idea of a two state solution might be dead, as an increasing number of Palestinians view the Israeli government’s insincerity and the US government’s complete bias as a path to continued occupation. Unfortunately, those who favor a two state solution (a group which should include everyone who cares about Israel’s Jewishness) are beginning to realize what the territorial ambitions of successive Israeli governments have done (hint: its dead now). It is a shame that those same people are only trying to resuscitate the dying two state solution now.
Photo from Walt