Much of the world may not have conceded the point yet, but it is fairly obvious that there will be no more “peace negotiations” between Israel and the PA/PLO.
The keynote address by Hillary Clinton for the Saban Forum on Friday night, vaunted as “a very formal set of remarks,” was basically an unremarkable reiteration of what was already understood about the US position — and about which I have already written.
You can see her full remarks (and a video) here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/12/152664.htm
Essentially, she speaks of the need to have a final resolution of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs via that “two-state” solution. She says that neither side has “yet made the difficult decisions that peace requires.” And so to facilitate matters the US will be “moving forward with refocused goals and expectations” by having serious discussions with each side on the core issues: “borders and security; settlements, water and refugees; and on Jerusalem itself.”
She makes it clear that “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel’s future itself.”
She also states that “We continue to support the vision of the Arab Peace Initiative,” which she refers to as “a vision of a better future for all the people of the Middle East,” and which I call a horror. (If Israel will go back to the ’67 lines and take in refugees, it essentially says, then we’ll be friends — at least until we push Israel out of existence.)
“The parties,” says Clinton, “have indicated that they want the United States to continue its efforts.” More on this below — as it is not quite the case.
“And in the days ahead, our discussions with both sides will be substantive two-way conversations with an eye toward making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement. The United States will not be a passive participant. We will push the parties to lay out their positions on the core issues without delay and with real specificity. We will work to narrow the gaps asking the tough questions and expecting substantive answers. And in the context of our private conversations with the parties, we will offer our own ideas and bridging proposals when appropriate.
“We enter this phase with clear expectations of both parties. Their seriousness about achieving an agreement will be measured by their engagement on these core issues.”
Palestinian Arab officials responded to this talk by saying that they will decide in coming days whether to return to indirect negotiations, as proposed by Clinton. This position was clear even before she spoke — they have to consult with the Egyptians, the Arab League, etc. etc. That stance makes Clinton’s statement — that “both sides decided together to pursue a framework agreement that would establish the fundamental compromises on all permanent status issues and pave the way for a final peace treaty” — more than a bit bewildering.
Khaled Abut Toameh reports that:
“The Palestinians expressed anger over the weekend with the Obama administration for failing to persuade Israel to renew a moratorium on settlement construction.
“They said it was unacceptable that the only superpower in the world would declare its failure to put pressure on its major ally – Israel.
“The Palestinians also said they would continue to stick to UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which calls for the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes inside Israel, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official and adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, declared.
“Commenting on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech over the weekend on the Middle East peace process, Abed Rabbo said she did not bring anything new. ‘This is a repeat of previous American positions,’ he said.
“He accused the US administration of avoiding playing an effective role by holding Israel and the Palestinians equally responsible for the current stalemate.
“Abed Rabbo added that the Palestinian leadership was studying all ‘alternatives’ to determine its strategy for dealing with the next phase.
“Without the help of the US and without pressure to ‘end the occupation,’ the peace process would continue to evolve in a vicious cycle, he said.
“The peace talks wouldn’t be serious unless there was a clear US position that stated that the purpose of the negotiations was to end occupation completely and establish an independent Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders, Abed Rabbo said.
“…Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA’s Al- Hayat al-Jadida newspaper, also accused Clinton of trying to sell the Palestinians ‘old merchandise.’
“…The time has come for us to stop surrendering to American deception. The Americans are colluding with Israel’s settlement policy, which will inevitably lead to bloodshed and war.”
A truly promising beginning for the new US venture, is it not?
From the Israeli side, there is relief that Clinton says:
“The United States and the international community cannot impose a solution…And even if we could, we would not, because it is only a negotiated agreement between the parties that will be sustainable. The parties themselves have to want it.”
If the US government holds fast to this position, we will be all right.
The following statement is attributed by various sources to Shimon Peres (and I thank Jeff D. for calling my attention to it):
“If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact – not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”
This, my friends, is an excellent description of the situation in which we find ourselves with regard to our conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. It is time for Israel to recalibrate foreign/diplomatic policy, which has been so focused on efforts to “solve” this conflict, while in fact there is no solution. It’s time to start thinking seriously, and out of the box, about how to cope with a reality that is not going to go away.
On this note, I recommend JINSA Report # 1045, “End the ‘Peace Process’ and Move On”:
“…the problem isn’t getting the world to recognize ‘Palestine’ – it’s been trying since 1947 to midwife a Palestinian Arab state. The problem remains as it always has been: the Arab states refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and without that, the Palestinians can’t do it.
“If the Administration is inclined to continue the dance, it would be well advised to put its energy into the righting the historic wrong done to Israel at its birth in 1948 – the attack on its independence by the Arab states and their continuing refusal to meet the terms of UN Resolution 242 that entitle Israel to “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
“The Palestinians can catch up whenever they choose.”
“The Good News Corner”
The interminable drought has ended.
The nation is now in the grip of its first intense winter storm. Not all pleasant, by any means — with the Haifa port closed, flooding, and power out in several places. But oh, so necessary. In the north, rain has been so intense that, according to one meteorologist cited by Arutz Sheva, it “makes up for the last two months in three days .”
Strangely, here in Jerusalem, except for a few sprinkles, we’ve had only very heavy skies and strong wind. But it may yet come tomorrow.
Snow is falling on Mount Hermon in the Golan and may move to the northern Galil.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.