Saturday, November 9

Peace Talks between Israelis and Palestinians

Iran is talking with two voices. One voice to placate the US Obama administration with the "Ruhani moderate tactic" and the other voice to negate Israel's right to exist. Hardly surprising! Netanyahu uses the same tactics' support for a two-state solution to placate the US, while creating a situation on the ground that ensures this will never occur. The Netanyahu government continues to build settlements on Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in 1967. This is the very antithesis of a two-state solution. Even John Kerry, the US Secretary of State has made this clear to Israel in no uncertain terms.

However, on the issue of Iran, Netanyahu is correct. The US and its European partners seem to be adopting a policy of appeasement of Iran in the Geneva talks. A feeling of deja vu, maybe? In 1938 prior to the World War 2. Neville Chamberlain the PM of England at the time, negotiated with Adolf Hitler to prevent the outbreak of war. Human rights abuses in Nazi Germany against Jews, Gypsies and ethnic cleansing policies of the evil Nazis were overlooked. We all know the results of that! History has a cruel way of repeating itself. Iran is no paragon of virtue and, even though the negotiations with Iran have failed so far, the Russians under Putin towing the US behind will pressure the signing of an agreement which will be Iran's gain and the free world's loss as Iran has no intention of ceasing to produce uranium for the bomb. Why does Iran need nuclear energy when they have so much oil and also the expense involved while the country is crippled economically? Apart from that, Israel has every right to fear Iran developing nuclear capability. Iran wishes to "destroy the Zionist Regime". Nothing has changed in Iran! Iran is still under the rule of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and what he says is law. They are allies of Hezbollah and Bashar al Assad. Europe and the US fiddle in Geneva with them while the Middle East burns! If Iran adopted a different attitude towards Israel and recognized its right to exist while opposing the occupation then the situation would be different.

Also the chief Palestinian negotiator is the proverbial "resigner". Over the years of negotiations since the Oslo Agreements Dr Saeb Erakat has "resigned" numerous times over the same issues of disagreement and when he plays the brinkmanship game he somehow withdraws his resignation. Nothing has really changed. If anything, the two-state solution is.becoming less credible as the expansions of illegal settlements in the West Bank increases.

Facts on the ground have caused the two-state solution to become a dream or an idea that will never occur. Netanyahu knows that it will not happen, despite his verbal support for a two-state solution.

The Israelis and Palestinians are negotiating hot air under US auspices but both sides know that it is a futile exercise in polemics. The talks will drag on for the designated 9 month period and then what? The predicted break up of the talks will occur because Israel does not really have the desire to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a tragedy for both sides as each side has its own claims and counter-claims which are so incompatible towards reaching a just and permanent solution.

What is characteristic about these negotiations is the total secrecy and the atmosphere under which the negotiations are being conducted. Most of us are in complete darkness as to its progress (or lack of it). It seems as if John Kerry has put a lot of eggs in the basket of the two sides to prevent a breakdown. One thing is for certain, there are no breakthroughs nor will there be in the near future. It is a polemic exercise to satisfy the ego of the Obama Administration. Occasionally there are mini-leaks of lack of progress but the show must go on until the nine-month deadline is reached come what may. Tzippi Livni, the Israeli negotiator, has her hands tied. Netanyahu has his right wing Bayit Hayehudi with Naftali Bennett at the helm to placate, including the right wing settlers in the occupied territories. Every time there is any minuscule sign of progress in talks, the right wing scream "Gewald!" and threaten to bolt the government. A greater exercise in futility in these negotiations is unimaginable.

Every time the going gets tough for Israel and news of illegal increased settlement activity gets to the press, Netanyahu resorts back to the Iranian nuclear threat as a digression and the importance of increased sanctions against Iran. While the Supreme Leader of Iran Khamanei as mentioned earlier wishes to see Israel annihilated, Netanyahu is not achieving anything by pandering to his right wing partners, who are not willing to support any form of peace treaty with the Palestinians. Surely this is a "Catch 22" situation for Israel which shows no signs of changing.

Netanyahu has scored  a "victory" by the acquittal of his right wing partner, Avigdor Lieberman, the ex-Foreign Minister soon to be reinstated as Foreign Minister once more, as the three judges in his bribery and corruption case ruled that he is innocent after an investigation of 17 years including a number of hearings in stuffy smoke-filled interrogation rooms, Israel-style, by the police investigators. This is another smack for the peace negotiations. Lieberman is an uncompromising right-winger who shoots straight from the hip and as foreign minister he has done a lot of damage to Israel's image in the world. He will be a severe obstacle to any form of compromise with the Palestinians. He will continue to damage Israel's image even further in the future.

There are strong doubts, despite Lieberman's acquittal,  to his innocence. He had one of the best criminal lawyers, Dr J. Weinroth defending him. He is one of the country’s best-known lawyers, having represented Israel’s Presidents and Prime Ministers. Market surveys in the Israeli press, and surveys among the country’s lawyers, have consistently placed Dr. Jacob Weinroth as the lawyer most people would like to be represented by in any litigation. Dr. Jacob Weinroth is an expert in criminal, corporate law, and dispute resolution in Israel. It is the same old story. The more money one has the more justice one can buy, this is especially true in Israel, where a public figure, who is essential for the ruling government coalition, has possibly done a deal with the state prosecution team where files that could incriminate Lieberman were conveniently omitted from evidence that could have resulted on a different judgement on Lieberman.

It seems that if a public figure such as Avigdor Lieberman, essential to the Netanyahu Government, who has a number of criminal suspicions against him, it is prudent to pronounce him innocent because possible  witnesses in the Foreign Affairs Office have no doubts that the long knives will come out which could cost them their jobs. They probably had a gut feeling that Lieberman would return to be their boss. Straw companies of which Lieberman had interests were swiftly signed off to other family members leaving him as pure as driven snow. Something is rotten in the court system of the State of Israel. The irony of it all is that the Minister of Police is in Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu Party. Lieberman is very powerful and Bibi Netanyahu will be saddled with him as Foreign Minister because of his innocence, not because of his misdemeanors, as the judges who acquitted him, had pointed out.

These developments will make negotiations with the Palestinians even more complex as if it is not complex enough. The Lieberman-Bennett-Feiglin axis will be a severe stumbling block to a peace agreement let alone a two-state solution.


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