Thursday, September 2, 2010

Middle East Kabuki

There's another round of Middle East peace talks under way. If you aren't already skeptical of talks that feature Benjamin Netanyahu on one side and Mahmoud Abbas on the other, with Barack Obama mediating, then consider this extraordinary statement from University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer in an interview on Al Jazeera today:

These talks are not going to lead to a permanent agreement. This is basically a charade. And in fact the peace process has become a charade.

The main obstacle, but certainly not the only obstacle to a peace agreement, is the fact that the Netanyahu government has no interest whatsoever in giving the Palestinians a viable state of their own. Of course the Palestinians understand that.

The Israelis are benefitting [from the talks] mainly because it provides very good cover for them to continue the occupation and the colonisation of the West Bank and to keep the Palestinians in Gaza in a giant open-air prison.

When the Netanyahu government first came to office it made the fundamental mistake of thinking that it did not have to pretend that it was really interested in peace, that it could just colonise the occupied territories without saying that it was genuinely interested in creating a Palestinian state.

But the Netanyahu government has learned that you have to engage in this charade to allow you to continue to colonise the occupied territories.

Reaction to Middle East peace talks

With continued unqualified support from the United States, there doesn't seem to be much reason for Israel to compromise with its neighbors and allow the creation of a Palestinian state. As he mentioned later in the interview I saw today on Al Jazeera TV, Israel effectively controls Gaza, and has far more control of the West Bank than any other entity could manage. Gaza is about the size of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has about as many people. It would barely qualify as an old-style city-state on its own, and the West Bank, the other part of a notional Palestinian state, is separated from Gaza by Israel. It's hard to imagine these two bits of territory being a viable country, even in the best of circumstances.

What was extraordinary about this was that I've never heard an American expert put this quite so baldly before. For the last few years, I've been thinking this is the most likely outcome. A Palestinian state would depend on Israel's good behavior for its security anyway. You probably can't name many countries that are physically separated by another country that is hostile to them. The only one I can think of, Pakistan, didn't last long.

So, why are the talks going on? Here's what I think the participants get out of it:

  • Obama gets to look like a statesman.
  • Netanyahu gets to look like he's interested in peace
  • Abbas continues to get foreign aid.

I really don't think there's more to it than that. I'd love to be proved wrong.


Expat said...

The lies that established the blight that is Israel now have the great grandchildren of lies running about in broad daylight.

There cannot be the beginnings of legitimacy for the Zionist horror on earth until that original condition, the right to self-determination, is met.

Accept no substitute.

Cujo359 said...

It's been a tragedy that occurred because of an earlier tragedy, which has made it hard to argue with in America.

Dana Hunter said...

My sentiments on this can be summed up by a Google search for "orly owl".

Peace, my arse.

Cujo359 said...

It gets harder to imagine such a thing with each passing year.