Sociable

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Act in a Sad and Sick Comedy

On the face of it, it appears that these guys (Hillary and Bibi and their staffs) do not have anything to do with their time. The “negotiations” between the Israelis and the Americans, designed to convince the Israelis to stop building in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, have reached a critical point. After weeks of jockeying and a seven hour marathon between Hilary and Bibi, the Israelis are supposed to respond to a package of goodies that they will receive if they are so kind and generous to agree to a three month freeze on settlements. If Bibi and his buddies condescend to stop building on Palestinian land, they will receive advanced fighter-bombers and sophisticated weaponry, diplomatic vetoes (when required) and backing in international forums, and even the right to never hear the word freeze again until hell freezes over. These people have lost all sense of decency and go about their protracted negotiations on the fate of the Palestinians as if their combinations and consultations do not concern the Palestinians. Moreover, the Israelis were quick to announce that this US-Israeli deal does not require Palestinian approval.

You would have be a political illiterate to not understand that the US is trying to buy off Bibi by sacrificing Palestinian rights and paying him with Palestinian concessions. Now this was to be expected by all, including most Palestinians. For some indecipherable reason, this Palestinian “leadership” thought that by ingratiating itself with Washington, they could hope for a modicum of fairness. How naïve.

The Americans think that renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will improve their image in the region. Indeed, everyone harbors their own set of illusions to get through the day. Logically, the U.S. should be pressuring both sides. But it does not want to put any real pressure on Israel because Israel is an important ally in the schemes for an attack on Iran. It may be that we have come to the point that it is really hard to pressure Israel because a weakened US administration has become completely scared out of its wits by the ugly AIPAC-Tea Party coalition. So what do you do? You make Palestinian concessions to Netanyahu’s annexationist government.

The Israelis claim that the deal excludes Jerusalem. The Palestinians say that this means that the freeze is non-starter. The only possible conclusion is that Hillary and Bibi believe that they will drag Abbas to the table or that they intend to lay the blame for a new failure to resume talks on Palestinian stubbornness.

This most recent expression of the US-Israeli love fest has reached a new level of perversity. This sliding scale of highly priced ‘freeze-time’ is particularly grotesque. The US, the world’s strongest and uncontested super power, buys ‘freeze time’, measured in days, from Israel in a transaction similar to many a shady bit of business. Give me 100 days of freeze-time and I will give you 20 F-35’s and a bunch of other murderous stuff and I promise never to ask for any more freeze-time and to organize full immunity from all charges and condemnation in all international forums. One can only wonder what would be the price of, say, six months of freeze time. Most curious is the object of Washington’s passion for this rare commodity called ‘freeze time.’ Both Obama and Clinton have recently stated very clearly that construction in the OPT is illegal, and this is still the official US position. Israel cannot “sell” willingness to desist from building in the OPT, because they have no such right. It seems that this is a clear case of the US
buying stolen goods.

Hillary and Bibi worked a bit on wrapping up this new bargain. As part of the deal, the US will do all sorts of things that it does anyhow like arming Israel, pressuring Iran, covering Israel’s “rear” in the UN and the International Atomic Energy Commision. Does anyone believe that US follow-through on this “package” of goodies for Israel depends on Israeli agreement to a three month construction freeze?

There does appear to be a single element of importance in all this yada, yada, yada. This is the proposal to concentrate on the delineation of the borders between Israel and Palestine. Some “brilliant” people figured out that if the borders are clearly marked, then everybody will agree as to where Israel can or cannot build. So the US is talking about the border issue being the main one and the most urgent. But this is just another case of the US maintaining the status-quo while promoting the illusion that some real negotiations are feasible. In fact, the Palestinians and the Israelis are still miles apart on this issue. Israel wants borders based on its annexations and settlements in the entire West Bank, including Jerusalem. No legitimate Palestinian representatives could agree. The US, in a desperate search for new subterfuges, touts the idea that a different, new agenda centering on the territorial issue will jump start the talks. But nobody really believes this. It is like suggesting that changing the language of the discussion will help to overcome or bypass the basic issues in dispute.

Palestinians Are Up a Blind Alley

It seems that the Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas is laboring under a serious misconception of the ME role of the United States and its ability to make a major contribution to Israeli-Palestinian peace. The US has little or no success in the successful solution of international conflicts. It does, however, have a lot of success, in subverting national and local leaderships. This is done by substituting material assistance (money), and military cooperation (police and special troops) for clear cut, principled political and diplomatic support. As time goes by, national and local leaderships comfort themselves by arguing that there is a lack of any other major power alternatives. The claim is that the U.S. is no better or worse than the other players of the international diplomatic game. The assistance supposedly designed to develop the struggle for real independence, turns out to be valuable in order to repel internal opposition. Meanwhile, the local leadership looses prestige and fractures as it becomes clear that it has “painted itself into a corner.” The connections with the US have become the only option. Even with partial autonomy, bills must be paid as if you are a full fledged sovereign country, even if you could not dream of a sovereign fund.

The most consistent supporters of the Palestinian cause cannot ignore the dangerous dependency of the Palestinian Authority on the United States. It is not only the fact that the US will not or cannot act as an “honest broker” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under the pretext of including the Arab world in the negotiations for peace, the Palestinian Authority has requested backing by the Arab states. These turn out to be the narrowing group of pro-US moderates, presently engaged in intensive maneuvering to join the US-Israeli axis of aggression against Iran. Egypt is the major operator in this context. Their diplomats are also involved in suggesting modifications undercutting the Palestinian positions in the negotiations. With friends like these, who needs enemies?



The World’s Worst Play

The extreme right elements in Bibi’s coalition, spearheaded by the settlers, are on the warpath. Bibi’s internal enemies sense blood and are out to prove that Netanyahu is no real leader. A possible agreement for a three months freeze is portrayed as the end of Zionism and the betrayal of its goals. Everyone knows that you can tell Obama where to go, but Bibi reveals his fatal weakness when he has to tell the Hussein Obamites not to mess with Israel.

The US two-faced policy cannot do anything about Israeli lack of consideration for US sensitivities (including those in the entire Arab world) because the first sacred objective is to arm this country to the teeth and to reiterate US commitment to Israeli security. After demonstrating that these bedrock commitments are the cornerstone of US policy and that US support is absolute and unconditional, is it any surprise that a legion of cheap politicos can convince the public that the US can be easily rebuffed if Israel stands pat. The local cynics are not wrong when they argue that US diplomacy might attempt to simulate an occasional bark, but there is no way to hide the fact that there is no real bite. I guess that this is a comedy, but a sad and ugly one.