Monday, March 23, 2009

Unpleasant truths about the peace process

This two part analysis really hurts, as truth often does. It should not be an occasion for gloating by right wing Zionists, but an occasion for thought. Granted that the peace process is all process and no peace, what other options are there? Is it up to Israel or to  the US to say "OK guys, let's get serious?" And if we say it, or the US says it, will it do any good? Can the Palestinians say in return, likewise, "Let's get serious?"
Failure of Israeli-Palestinian talks due in large part to Western dishonesty

Moshe Elad
Published:  03.21.09, 16:24 / Israel Opinion
Part 1 of analysis
As a new government prepares to take office in Israel, and on the verge of a new Western campaign for realizing the notion of a "two-state solution," it would be proper to look into the adoption of new negotiations patterns that may be able to end the dead-end.

In their current format, the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been fully exhausted, mostly as result of the absence of frankness and openness, as well as the unsuccessful attempts to circumvent the truth behind the difficulties. For example, there are several misguided terms that must be removed from the peace process lexicon.

Enjoying the 'process' too much
The first one is the statement that "the most important thing is that we're talking." For years, the United States and international Quartet have viewed the "peace process" as an achievement in and of itself while pressing to continue with it.
 There are quite a few people on both sides who truly fell in love with this futile "process." No doubt, it serves to neutralize pressures on the West on the part of Arab states while curbing pressures within "moderate" Arab states on the part of pro-Islamic elements.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians enjoy their attachment to the "process" in the form of monetary rewards, prisoner releases, and the various concessions offered on occasion. Israel is forced into a futile and pointless "process" in its current format, and it mostly finds itself on the side that gives and pays.
Israel should enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, but only after several pre-conditions are met, one of them being that the "process" is not the essence.

No negotiation without representation
The second statement that raises question marks over the honesty and frankness of the negotiators is that "Mahmoud Abbas represents the Palestinian people."
 Indeed, he represents the Palestinians just as much as the Persian Shah represented the Iranians in the wake of the Khomeini revolution. The Shah was indeed convenient for the West, but the Iranian people held different views.
Again, the West is looking for the convenient option, while we, as its submissive slaves, accept the "moderate suit-wearing leader" as the ultimate dialogue partner.
 Why does the West believe that Israel can trust a Palestinian leader who does not at all control his own people and who does not at all represent them? After all, signing an agreement with him would be problematic to begin with. Why not put Abbas' level of control to the test, and only after that view him as a legitimate dialogue partner?

Being honest about issues
The third statement borders on a failure to tell the truth: "The sides are discussing the issue of the right of return." Come on. The Palestinians never compromised on their major demand to bring back the refugees to the Land of Israel, including the areas within the "Green Line."
 By doing so, they have neutralized any possibility of a genuine peace process and prevented any chance of ending the conflict and reaching a historic compromise.
Any attempt to elicit a message of compromise or flexibility from the Palestinians on the subject is always undertaken on Israel's initiative, and the Palestinian side always denies it quickly.
Those deeply familiar with the status of and part played by the "right of return" within the Palestinian heritage realizes that no Palestinian human being would dare make any concessions on the matter, so why be deceptive and make false statements?
Therefore, the West, which fears that the "process" will end right at its outset, guided both sides to postpone discussions on the issue of the "right of return" to the end, and meanwhile both sides can amuse themselves in dealing with easier matters such as Jerusalem, the future of the settlements, and the borders…however, on those issues too, no substantive agreement has been reached thus far.
Europe, US urging Israel to embark on failed moves as part of 'peace process'
Moshe Elad
Published:  03.22.09, 11:19 / Israel Opinion
Part 2 of analysis
Recently, we have been hearing a demand to "bring Hamas into the political framework." Unsurprisingly, we were told that Hamas is about to comply with Fatah's request to join a Palestinian national unity government.

If President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the international Quartet indeed desire a real peace process, they must refresh the framework of the negotiations so that the notion of "talks not at any price" would be no less important that falling in love with a futile process. Presenting conditions for talks would point to seriousness and practicality.
For that reason, when it comes to the main hardcore issue, the "right of return," discussions on the subject must be undertaken at the start of the process, even before Israel makes the first concession. The West must remove the "return mask" from the Palestinians' face and force them to compromise on this issue (something that has not happened to this day) as a pre-condition for any further moves.

Western representatives should also look into the implications of signing a future agreement with Abbas, as the West may be greatly embarrassed to discover that Abbas may leave to a safe house in exile hours after signing a peace treaty.

The West must also be honest with itself in respect to Hamas' genuine intentions. The Palestinians taught us that not everyone who is interested in peace is able to also take the responsibility of implementing it. Meanwhile, Europe showed us how to postpone the addition of backward and unprepared states to the European Union, yet it forces us to accept such state as a partner for peace dialogue.
Elsewhere, the United States, which has failed in "taming Iraq" as result of a patronizing and anachronistic approach, is urging us to move quickly in order to fail similarly. And all of this is taking place under the guise of the "peace process."

Colonel (res.) Moshe Elad served as the head of the security coordination mechanism with the Palestinian Authority in the Oslo Accord period. Today he is a lecturer at the Western Galilee Academic College

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