Israel-Palestine conflict: peace in Obama’s time?
Alexander Cockburn: There are two scenarios that could bring a just peace in 2011. They are both long shots...
Can anything be more dismal than prospects for any decent resolution of the Israel/Palestine issue? Seemingly not. The hopes of 2009, at the dawn of Obama’s presidency, are dead. Washington has now given up all efforts to restart the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks and has wearily begun a new round of mediated talks instead.
Across the past two months Obama raised the bar for presidential acts of craven ass-kissing towards Israel. In mid-November he was offering the Israelis $3 billion to pretend for 90 days that they'd stopped settlement construction. The Israelis would be paid $33 million per day for every day they agree to back the lie he was suggesting.
There has been no limit to the servility of Washington to Tel Aviv. On July 8 the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz revealed that the Obama Administration was plannng to start transferring nuclear fuel to Israel in order to build up Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile. In other words, amid an unrelenting campaign against Iran - the WikiLeaks files reveal it to be the United States’ prime diplomatic obsession – for enriching uranium and planning to make a nuclear bomb, Washington is flouting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by aiding Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
Israel refuses to sign the NPT — indeed, to this day refuses to concede it has nuclear weapons at all — thus making it ineligible to buy uranium on the world market. Yet US intelligence agencies commonly reckon Israel has anywhere from 100 to 200 nuclear missiles. Article 1 of the NPT explicitly forbids supplying nuclear material to a non-signatory country, which in the case of Israel makes the US in violation of the NPT.
While the Obama administration totters from one concession to the next, on Wednesday Israeli settlers announced they are building new housing at a religious school on the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem - the part of the city claimed by the Palestinians.
It’s long been obvious to all but the most fervent apologists for Israel that no Israeli government has ever entertained the slightest intention of yielding control of Palestine/Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, and that this posture renders impossible any just and workable solution based on Palestinian claims to self-determination.
As the respected Israeli activist Jeff Halper, head of the Jerusalem-based Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, puts it in the current CounterPunch newsletter, “We are at a dead-end of a dead process. Israel will never end its occupation voluntarily; the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians is what it has in mind.
“The international community will not exert enough pressure on Israel to realise even a two-state solution, which leaves Israel on 78 per cent of historic Palestine, with no right of return for refugees; given the veto power over any political process enjoyed by the American Congress, locked into an unshakable bipartisan ‘pro-Israel’ position, the international community cannot exert that required pressure.”
Yet Halper says that against all the odds, “I’m optimistic that 2011 will witness a game-changing ‘break’ that will create a new set of circumstances in which a just peace is possible.”
The jolt can take one of two forms.
The first is already being discussed: a unilateral declaration by the Palestinian Authority of a state based on the 1949 armistice lines (the 1967 “Green Line”), which then applies for membership in the UN. This would force the hand of the international community.
A new, or reaffirmed Palestinian declaration of independence within those boundaries would be a unilateral act but one done in agreement with the member states of the UN, who have accepted the 1949/1967 borders as the basis of a solution. It conforms as well to Bush’s ‘Road Map’ peace initiative led by the US itself.
Alas, the Palestinian Authority has leaders incapable of any such bold initiative. Indeed, on December 15 Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said such a move would not bring a state closer.
A second scenario envisages that the Palestinian Authority will soon either resign or collapse, throwing the occupation back on the lap of Israel. As Halper describes it, “The end or fall of the PA would create an intolerable and unsustainable situation. Israel would be forced to retake by force all the Occupied Territories, and, not willing to allow Hamas to step into the vacuum, would have to do so violently, perhaps even invading Gaza again and assuming permanent control.
“Having to support four million impoverished Palestinians with no economic infrastructure whatsoever would be an impossible burden (and, hopefully, the donor community would not enable the re-occupation by stepping in to prevent a humanitarian crisis, as it does today). Such a move on the part of Israel would also inflame the Muslim world and generate massive protests worldwide, again forcing the hand of the international community.”
In other words, Israel’s obduracy will finally unlock the impasse. This seems a long shot? Indeed it is – but what alternatives are there? 2010 has been the year when the phrase “peace process” has been definitively exposed as the fraud it always was. There’s nowhere to go but up. ·
Comments are now closed on this article