[News] Palestine - The show goes on...and on

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 17 16:43:27 EDT 2007

The show goes on ... and on
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, Oct 17, 2007


The "Middle East Peace Process" is like one of those big budget 
Broadway extravaganzas; they go on for years, but with each revival 
the cast changes. What may seem like a tired production to some 
nevertheless manages to remain fresh to the gullible throngs willing 
to hand over the price of admission.

Unlike a few hours of theatrical escapism, however, the producers of 
the Middle East Peace Process hope that the audience will actually 
believe that what they are viewing on stage, whether performed in 
Madrid, Oslo, London, Washington or Sharm al-Sheikh is real-life and 
even has the potential to end the conflict caused by a century of 
western-supported Zionist colonization in Palestine.

In the latest revival, Condoleezza Rice plays the US secretary of 
state determined to bring the long-running conflict to a close with 
skillful diplomacy designed to put in place a "process" eventually 
leading to a two-state solution. George Bush, tired of being typecast 
as a warmonger, tries on the role of lame-duck president who spent 
years enabling Israeli colonization, but who, with an eye on his 
legacy, is now committed to peacefully ending the conflict once and for all.

Other key actors include Mahmoud Abbas, a colorless quisling whose 
only power base is the American and Israeli guns that keep him 
installed in his Ramallah Green Zone -- filling in for the late 
Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestinians, and Ehud Olmert, 
understudy to Ariel Sharon who left the stage unexpectedly.

Special guest star Tony Blair, who just completed a long and 
controversial run as prime minister of a marginal European power, 
hopes that by joining the peace process cast as "Quartet special 
envoy" he can breathe life into a flagging career.

Once in a while, reality bursts on to the stage to disrupt the show 
-- and that has happened again just as the producers are getting 
ready to take it on tour to Annapolis, where President Bush plans to 
hold a meeting of key leaders some time this autumn.

Last week, just after Abbas's representatives met with Israeli 
counterparts to try to hammer out a "declaration of principles" to 
unveil at the Annapolis meeting, the Israeli army announced the 
expropriation of almost 300 acres of Palestinian land near occupied 
East Jerusalem for the purpose of expanding the already massive 
Jewish-only settlements which bisect the West Bank and render a 
contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Since the peace process 
began in 1993, Israel has confiscated an area equivalent to the size 
of Washington, DC, for the construction of Jewish-only colonies fully 
confident that none of the actors on stage will lift a finger to stop it.

Rice feigns frustration: "Frankly it is time for the establishment of 
a Palestinian state," she said at a press conference with Abbas. "We 
frankly have better things to do than invite people [to the Annapolis 
meeting] for a photo op." Yet she will be lucky if she even gets 
that. Already the meeting date is likely to be pushed back, not only 
because of accelerated Israeli colonization, but because despite the 
spin there is no fundamental agreement between the Israelis and 
Palestinians on the details of what a two-state solution would look 
like. As I have argued elsewhere and in my book, One Country, peace 
through partition is an unachievable fantasy.

What's more, none of the players has the credibility or strength to 
negotiate on behalf of those whom they purport to represent. Abbas 
and his unelected cronies are seen by many Palestinians as petty 
collaborators determined to do all they can to retain their place at 
the master's table. Despite an overwhelming desire among Palestinians 
for unity, Abbas, blackmailed and bribed by the EU and US, refuses to 
talk to Hamas to heal the rifts caused by the efforts of Fatah 
militias armed and supported by Israel and the US to overturn the 
results of the January 2006 election won by Hamas. There can be no 
serious peace talks without Hamas on board.

Olmert, who is fending off multiple criminal corruption probes, heads 
a coalition that depends for its majority on Jewish racists who 
cannot countenance peace and equality with Palestinians under any 
circumstances. Last week, Tony Blair met with one of those coalition 
leaders, deputy prime minister Avigdor Lieberman who heads the 
proto-fascist Israel Beitenu party. According to Haaretz, Lieberman 
told Blair that any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "has 
to include Israel's Arab citizens as well, when the basis for an 
agreement should be a land swap and a population transfer." In other 
words, there can be no peace without the expulsion of over one 
million Palestinian citizens of Israel. Lieberman has repeatedly 
promised to bring down the government if Olmert even discusses "core 
issues" at Annapolis such as borders, settlements and the rights of 
Palestinian refugees expelled by Israel.

Haaretz did not record Blair's reaction to this renewed call for 
ethnic cleansing from a senior Israeli official. (How would Blair 
have reacted if Ian Paisley had publicly declared that there could be 
no peace in Northern Ireland without the expulsion of all Catholics 
from the Six Counties so that Protestant supremacy could be 
perpetuated?) But it is a measure of how bankrupt the process is that 
EU and US officials meet willingly with avowed ethnic cleansers of 
Lieberman's caliber (presumably on the basis that he is elected) and 
yet refuse to deal with Hamas, the democratically-elected 
representatives of Palestinians under occupation. Hamas leaders have 
repeatedly offered Israel a long-term ceasefire and negotiations 
exactly on the Northern Ireland model that led to the Belfast 
Agreement of which Blair is so proud.

Blair is apparently unable to understand that what ended the conflict 
in Northern Ireland was not his charm, but the acceptance by all 
parties of the fundamental principle of equality among all people 
regardless of ethno-religious identity and the progressive reform of 
state institutions, like the police, that had been nothing more than 
sectarian militias in official uniforms, just as the Israeli police 
and army that steal land for Jews are nothing more than thuggish 
sectarian militias with uniforms.

In Palestine-Israel, this means abrogating all laws in Israel that 
systematically privilege Jews and harm non-Jewish citizens, ending 
Israel's military tyranny in the Occupied Territories, and allowing 
refugees to return home. Nothing like that will be on the agenda in 
Annapolis which is why the effort will fail.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of 
<http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/store/548.shtml>One Country: A 
Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan 
Books, 2006).

This commentary was originally published by The Guardian's Comment is 
Free and is republished with the author's permission.

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