After a 7 year break, the peace talks between the Palestinians (and other Arab states) and Israel, resume. Resume? I’m not sure they ever started. We label the talks with fancy names (Partition, Oslo, Camp David Summit, Road Map, Taba, Sharm El Sheikh.. and now Annapolis) and convince ourselves that we will achieve peace for the Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel has demanded since its creation that the Arabs recognize its Apartheid-like existence. When the Arabs finally succumbed and recognized Israel, the latter made more demands and placed conditions on any peace talks while insisting that the Arabs must not come to the talks with any conditional peace offering. Strange, don’t you think?
A simple chronology of the Middle East “peace process” shows that the only beneficiary of such process is Israel. Although this chronology does not take us as far back as 1948, we will discuss this span of time as reported by Reuters, to show that Israel’s intentions are anything but peace! My comments follow some points.
- March 26, 1979 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign peace treaty to end 30 years of war. Benefit to Egypt? None.
- Dec 1987 – First Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, starts.
- Sept 13, 1993 – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin trade historic handshake at Bill Clinton’s White House, sealing Oslo Accords outline for limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Benefit to Palestinians? None.
- July 1, 1994 – Arafat ends years in exile and returns to Gaza Strip to create the first Palestinian Authority. Note: it’s authority and NOT State!
- Oct 26, 1994 – Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan sign peace treaty ending 46 years of war. Benefit to Jordan? None.
- Nov 4, 1995 – Rabin assassinated by ultra-nationalist Jew. Note: It’s ultra-nationalist Jew, not Terrorist Jewish group for example!
- July 25, 2000 – Camp David peace summit, brokered by Clinton, breaks down after two weeks of talks between Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Whatever happened to the 1993 meeting?
- Sept 28, 2000 – Second Palestinian Intifada erupts after Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, visits Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, revered by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif.
- Jan 21, 2001 – In last-ditch effort to reach peace with the Palestinians before February Israeli election, Barak launches talks at Egyptian Red Sea resort of Taba. Talks end without deal and Labour’s Barak loses election to right-winger Sharon.
- April 30, 2003 – “Road map” for peace drafted by Quartet — United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.
- Nov 11, 2004 – Arafat dies in Paris. Mahmoud Abbas takes over as head of Palestine Liberation Organisation. He later becomes Palestinian president after landslide election.
- Feb 8, 2005 – Sharon and Abbas declare ceasefire at summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
- Sept 12, 2005 – Israel completes pullout of troops and settlers from Gaza Strip after 38 years of occupation.
- Jan 4, 2006 – Sharon suffers stroke and Ehud Olmert succeeds the comatose leader, later winning parliamentary election.
- Jan 25, 2006 – Islamist Hamas wins parliamentary election, prompting Western sanctions and factional fighting with Abbas’s Fatah, even after March 2007 formation of unity government. Democracy not welcomed here!
- June 14, 2007 – Hamas beats Fatah in Gaza fighting. Abbas dismisses Hamas premier and names Fatah-backed administration.
- July 16, 2007 – U.S. President George W. Bush calls for Middle East peace conference bringing together Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states. Expected to be around November.
- Nov 27, 2007 – Bush to host Abbas, Olmert and Arab leaders at Annapolis, Maryland, to relaunch negotiations in hope of securing peace deal before he steps down in Jan. 2009. Bush claiming his place in History books?
GEORGE BUSH is not likely to be remembered by history as the saviour of the Middle East. He botched Iraq, dropped his democratic “freedom agenda” when the Arabs started voting for the wrong people, and has spent most of his two terms more or less ignoring Palestine.
Doubts, Skepticism prevail…
Please come, we promise nothing will happen…Economist.com
That may sound like a wild claim to make of an event already shrouded in defeatism. This is a party nobody is thrilled to have been asked to. Ehud Olmert is going because an Israeli prime minister cannot leave an invitation from the White House to curl in the in-tray. Mahmoud Abbas is going because after losing the Gaza Strip to Hamas he must show that he is still president of Palestine, if only in the eyes of the great powers. Not even the hosts seem excited. Condoleezza Rice, America’s secretary of state, is a genuine if late convert to the idea that America can budge things in Palestine. But the rest of the administration appears to see Annapolis as a way to roll out the customary pieties on Palestine and so make it easier for America to line up its Arab friends against Iran.
“I am not persuaded yet that they have grasped the seriousness and the amount of work that is required to do what they say they want to do — to reach an agreement on the core issues by the end of the Bush administration.” Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank in Washington and a former U.S. peace mediator.
“Neither has the support at home or the control of his government to do something extremely serious,” said Jon Alterman of the CSIS think tank in Washington.
“There is, I think, considerable doubt remaining about whether the administration is prepared to take on the heavy lifting … to make this work,” said Bruce Riedel, an analyst at the Brookings Institution.
In his speech at Annapolis, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal raised some doubt about U.S. determination, noting Washington had committed to try to settle the conflict “within a specific time frame and we shall hold them to that.”
As Bush proudly beamed behind them, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shook hands on Tuesday over an agreement to immediately begin their first formal peace negotiations in seven years.
Seven years? Why seven? In Seven years there will be another Israeli Prime Minister who will most likely reject this deal and another “name” will be issued for a new round of “peace talks.” Meanwhile, Israel continues its colonial expansion in building more settlements and renaming annexed Palestinian lands.
Talks on such issues — borders, settlements, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees — are to begin December 12 and any agreement would require compromises that will be painful for both sides. Interestingly though, the Israelis flatly reject the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.
Interestingly, tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors and their heirs “are still struggling” to receive compensation or the return of looted property from Germany! While Jews and their heirs are allowed to seek compensation, a similar demand by Palestinian refugees, to be compensated – at the very least – is rejected by the Israelis.
Over the past half-century, Germany has spent an estimated $100 billion, adjusted for inflation, to compensate Jews and other victims of Nazism. Now it is dealing with a new wave of property claims filed in the early 1990s after the collapse of the communist East German government, which had generally refused to compensate Jewish losses from the Third Reich.
And the conclusion is?
As reported in the Economist, three years ago Mr Bush said in a public letter to Ariel Sharon that it would be unrealistic to expect Israel to evacuate all the dense settlement blocks it has planted in the West Bank! But since most settlers live close to the old border, he can now tell Israel that it cannot keep more than a few percentage points—say 5% or so—of the West Bank, and that it must offer the Palestinians land from its own side in compensation. On refugees, Mr Bush “should” say, as Bill Clinton did, that their right to “return” should be exercised in the new Palestine and not in pre-1967 Israel!
Amazing conclusion by the Economist: “that is a bitter pill but it is the logic of a peace based on partition. And Israel too must accept a bitter potion: Jerusalem, the beating heart of both peoples, will have to be the capital of both.
In other words, Jerusalem must be shared, Palestinians lose more land and Israel “gives” a little of the stolen land (pre 1967 war) back to the Palestinians?
And so we wait… for seven more years!