Tuesday, April 8

The Illegal Settlement Enterprise and Peace Negotiations Collapse

English: Mahmoud Abbas
English: Mahmoud Abbas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Knesset committee has approved $51 million allocation to WZO (World Zionist Organization) settlement projects. Freedom of Information Law does not apply to the settlement division. This must give course of concern to the taxpayer. Whenever there is lack of transparency and unaccountability which is not covered by Freedom of Information Law then our eyebrows ought to be raised to the heavens with a big question mark.(Freedom of Information Law  5758 -1998)

How the money will be divided will be partly transparent. We shall not know how much goes to the West Bank Settlement projects. This explains the acceleration of building settlements in areas designated for the theoretical establishment of the Palestine State thus making the reality of two states for two peoples even more remote.

The way that the taxpayer's money for these illegal settlement projects in the West Bank will remain clandestine. When Netanyahu pays lip service to the two-state solution, we cannot take him at his word as the reality on the ground is the opposite.

Israel is no less credible than their Palestinian partners in the stalled peace talks. Both sides are seeking an opportunity to blame the other for the breakdown of the John Kerry mediated talks. Both parties are not carrying out the wishes of their respective peoples for a peace agreement, each for their own partisan reasons. Kerry is on record blaming Israel for the failure of the talks.

The demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish State is insipid and childish. This has never been a condition for other countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Therefore it cannot be seen as a threat to the status quo of Israel.

The talks have reached a stalemate as expected. Even John Kerry, like his predecessors, is fatigued and frustrated. The blame game is on the cards and the tilt is not in Israel's failure for two main reasons which are:

  1. The continuation of building settlements in the occupied West Bank.
  2. Israel had not carried out its promise of the fourth phase of freeing Palestinian prisoners.

The peace talks have collapsed and John Kerry has given up. This really comes as no surprise. Both sides are to blame. However, it seems that both sides are not putting in enough effort to avoid the collapse. Israel had refused to free the fourth round of prisoners as they had promised and at the same time the illegal settler-oriented Minister of Housing, Uri Ariel,  decided that the time was right to announce the building of another 700 housing units in disputed areas. Mahmoud Abbas has decided to take the whole matter to the UN as well as demanding membership of 15 UN agencies, as if Palestine is a fully fledged member of the UN. If Tzippi Livni blames the Housing Minister for responsibility of the talks collapsing then we must take her seriously. Perhaps it is not a bad idea if the Palestinians take the issue to the UN. It could jolt the talks back on track even though the chance is slim.

The collapse of the peace negotiations between the parties is because of futility. The talks were doomed from the start. However, it is not easy to blame either side equally as each side has its extremists, who are against a peace deal being signed.

There is a big question mark as to whether a peace treaty would have been signed had Israel agreed to the freeing of prisoners and the freezing of settlements. This scenario had occurred so often in the past with the players backing down from signing an agreement. This latest round of negotiations has reached the same old deadlock. The extremists in the Palestinian camp as well as extremists in the Israeli Government coalition are the two parties that determined the failure of the Kerry-mediated talks.

Israel would not be able to sign a peace agreement nor would the Palestinians. It is not because Uncle Sam is watching, but rather Hamas on the Palestinian side and Bennett and Company on the Israeli side. Netanyahu would like the talks to continue indefinitely. He will never agree to give up the West Bank, hence the continuous building of settlements. By continuing with talks “until the Messiah comes", Netanyahu safeguards his coalition. If he signs an agreement with the Palestinians, the right wing factions in his coalition will leave. On the Palestinian side, if Mahmoud Abbas signs an agreement with Israel, he will be viewed as a traitor by the hardliners, including Hamas. Paradoxically the negotiation charade, if it did not breakdown, would continue deadlocked indefinitely achieving nothing but photo opportunities. The whole peace negotiation process is an exercise in polemics to satisfy Uncle Sam. This has been going on since the moribund Oslo Agreements and it will continue after a period of negotiation cessation. Maybe a new US star negotiator will arise in the future to replace Kerry after the next US Presidential Elections.

At the same time, deadlock and stalemate is the name of the game. There is no imaginative leadership on either side willing to make the necessary concessions to achieve an end to this cruel, festering conflict.

John Kerry stated: "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot force him to drink".

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