Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Washington talk-talk

The US-facilitated Israeli-Palestinian 'peace talks', now commencing in Washington, will succeed in failure. Here's ten good reasons why.

The successful failure will be the result Israel wants and America expects. Israel will have been seen to exercise its 'peace-seeking' duties in having come to the table. And America can, in standard noble pretence, say that it has provided the table.

Netanyahu will fly home proclaiming that he's done his best in agreeing to negotiate, but was unable to meet the Palestinians' 'unreasonable demands'. Obama can say that he's given it his 'best shot'.

The better shot, of course, would be to remove the $3 billion America gifts annually to Israel. But this detail, we can be reasonably sure, will feature nowhere in the political discussion or on the media's radar.

With no obvious prospect of Israel conceding a single settler dwelling in the West Bank or an inch of East Jerusalem, the talks will amount to the grandest ever posture in the long charade called the 'peace process'.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas will have come to the summit as Obama's and Netanyahu's pawn, helping to highlight Washington's and Tel Aviv's 'sound intentions', while knowing that he has no effective mandate and can't deliver the inevitable impossible 'offer' that Netanyahu will put.

The rational reality of a non-event summit, leading to a status quo outcome, is well understood by Gideon Levy, who reminds us of the "endless masquerade", Netanyahu's ever-deceitful manoeuvring, Obama's unwillingness to act decisively and Abass's non-permission to negotiate while the democratically-elected Hamas is barred from the room.

But the post-Washington scenario is not entirely bleak. As Ramallah-based lawyer Diana Buttu notes, the expected outcome of the talks will bring an end not just to these contrived negotiations but the contrived ideology of negotiations:

"The major concern is that we all know that this is going to fail. It doesn't require anyone with any particular knowledge or foresight to realize that these talks are going to fail. The real question is what is going to come afterwards, and here is where I'm most concerned. For the past 17 years, the PLO, and in particular, Fatah, has had one strategy and only one strategy: negotiations, negotiations, negotiations.

And they have had only one strategy as regards to themselves, and that is survival. We are now at a stage where we are seeing that this is going to be -- and I really hope that it is -- the final blow to the logic and the ideology of negotiations, that people somehow have to negotiate their freedom."

So, where does the Palestinian cause go from here? The stage-management and, what will be conveniently termed, 'collapse' of the talks is intended to encourage ever-greater resignation amongst Palestinians and their international supporters.

Some in Israel will hope that weary and subjugated Palestinians will effectively give up, despairing over the seeming impossibility of a resolution or improvement in their miserable lives.

With the last intifada crushed and much of its movement killed or imprisoned, Israel will bank on there being little appetite for a third wave of mass resistance. More sweetener money will likely be sent into the West Bank to quell dissent. Gaza will remain under stringent lock-down.

But this won't solve or nullify the problem for Israel. Netanyahu will have returned from Washington satisfied that another Oslo-type inconvenience has been circumvented. More time will have been stalled. Yet, he and unflinching others will also know that, with the two-state solution finally dead - it was never seriously alive - the momentum for an 'unthinkable' one state agenda will advance.

Despite a well-prepared hasbara effort to blame the Palestinians for the 'collapse', the focus on Israel's apartheid policies will intensify. Realising the futility of two states, and increased international acceptance of that reality, there may be a further, more organised, mobilisation of Arab Palestinians inside Israel demanding civil and political rights. And that collective pressure for human equality will further erode the fiction of Israel's 'democratic' state.

Which all keeps us attuned to the actual task of Palestinian resistance and the real peace process in play: the effort being conducted slowly, daily, patiently, locally and internationally to bring an end to the occupation and Israel's apartheid state.

And here, beyond the sham of Washington, a more realistic, even optimistic, picture can be discerned.

Deeply worrying for Israel, in particular, is the highly impressive growth and impact, in just five years, of the BDS movement.

While most Israel-leaning Americans oppose any outright boycott, there also appears to be growing objections in the US to Israel's occupation, and those companies involved in the West Bank settlements.

Reacting to this international civil and ethical concern, more countries may well follow the example of Norway and begin divesting in major Israeli companies.

The campaign for Palestinian justice will not just 'return', post-Washington, to some plodding renewal of the struggle. That struggle will have been going on throughout this non-event summit, calmly advanced by those who were never deceived by the talks charade or diverted from the real task in the first place.



Kebz said...

I see Obama has condemned the 'senseless slaughter' of four Israeli settlers by Hamas fighters. This is in marked contrast to his total silence when some 1400 men, women and children were being slaughtered by Israel in Gaza. Silly me, I forgot; they were only Palestinians. With referees like these, who needs enemies? If only Abbas and his gang of unelected vegetables had the guts to stand up to Obama and tell him to stick his 'aid' where the sun doesn't shine.

John Hilley said...

Thanks Kebz.

All killing and suffering achieve nothing of human worth.

But it's beholden on real humanitarians to seek true understanding of why such "senseless" acts occur.

We can look at the symptoms, or we can look at the causes.

The real wickedness of the elite - the oppressor and its sponsors - lies in their calculated readiness to look and proclaim only on the symptoms, issuing selective condemnations as though they had no part in, no responsibility for, the primary injustice, the causes, that prompts such acts.

Thus, such killings, rare as they are, get headline coverage while Palestinians are murdered every day without a word from Obama or our mainstream media.

This action is a consequence of the deliberate exclusion of Hamas and other Palestinian groupings from any serious peace talks - which these aren't - and the particular collaborationist agenda of Abbas.

As any serious observer can see, all interested parties must be able to sit at the table.

A large part of the problem, however, is the deception of the 'table', a prop which Israel constantly uses, assisted by the US, to posture, stall and repeatedly vacate having pretended to put something substantial on it.

This is the deceptive "ideology of negotiations" that Diana Buttu speaks of; a false-promise narrative intended to divide and divert Palestinians.

As she asserts, their fundamental rights are not up for negotiation.