[THS] Alexander Cockburn: Israel/Palestine issue
The Harder Stuff in news and commentary
ths at psalience.org
Sun Dec 19 11:25:05 CET 2010
Nowhere to Go But Up
By Alexander Cockburn
Can anything be more dismal than prospects for any decent resolution of the
Israel/Palestine issue? Seemingly not. The hopes of January, 2009, at the dawn of
Obama's presidency, are dead. Washington has now given up all efforts to restart the
direct Israeli-Palestinian talks and has wearily begun a new round of mediated talks
Across the past two months Obama inscribed one solid achievement in history's
ledger, where all said the feat would be impossible. He actually raised the bar for
Presidential acts of craven ass-kissing towards Israel. In mid-November he was
offering the Israelis $3 billion to pretend for 90 days that they'd stopped settlement
construction. The Israelis would be paid $33 million per day for every day they agree
to back the lie he is suggesting.
There has been no limit to the servility of Washington to Tel Aviv. On July 8 the Israeli
newspaper Ha'aretz revealed that the Obama Administration was planning to start
transferring nuclear fuel to Israel in order to build up Tel Aviv's nuclear stockpile. In
other words, amid an unrelenting campaign against Iran -- the Wikileaks files reveal
it to be the US' prime diplomatic obsession for enriching uranium and planning to
make a nuclear bomb, Washington is flouting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT) by aiding Israel's nuclear weapons program.
Israel refuses to sign the NPTindeed, to this day won't concede it has nuclear
weapons at allthus making it ineligible to buy uranium on the world market. US
intelligence agencies commonly reckon Israel has anywhere from 100 to 200 nuclear
missiles. Article I of the NPT explicitly forbids supplying nuclear material to a non-
signatory country, which in the case of Israel makes the U.S. in violation of the NPT.
While the Obama administration totters from one concession to the next, last
Wednesday Israeli settlers announced they are building new housing at a religious
school on the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem -- the part of the city claimed by the
It's long been obvious to all but the most fervent apologists for Israel that all Israeli
governments have never entertained the slightest intention of yielding control of
Palestine/Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, and that this unyielding
posture renders impossible any just and workable solution based on Palestinian claims
As the respected Israeli activist Jeff Halper, head of the Jerusalem-based Israeli
Committee Against House Demolitions puts it in our last CounterPunch newsletter, #
20, , "we are at a dead-end of a dead process. Israel will never end its occupation
voluntarily; the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians is what it has in mind.
The international community will not exert enough pressure on Israel to realize even
a two-state solution, which leaves Israel on 78 per cent of historic Palestine, with no
right of return for refugees; given the veto power over any political process enjoyed
by the American Congress, locked into an unshakable bipartisan "pro-Israel" position,
the international community cannot exert that required pressure."
Yet Halper says that against all the odds "I'm optimistic that 2011 will witness a
game-changing `break' that will create a new set of circumstances in which a just
peace is possible." The jolt can take one of two forms, the first is already being
discussed: a unilateral declaration by the Palestinian Authority of a state based on the
1949 armistice lines (the 1967 "Green Line"), which then applies for membership in
the U.N. This would force the hand of the international community. A new, or
reaffirmed Palestinian declaration of independence within those boundaries would be
a unilateral act but rather one done in agreement with the member states of the
U.N., who have accepted the 1949/1967 borders as the basis of a solution. It
conforms as well to Bush's "Road Map"peace initiative led by the U.S.A. itself.
But alas, the Palestinian Authority has leaders incapable of any such bold initiative.
Indeed, on December 15 Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said such a move
would not bring a state closer.
But a second scenario envisages that the Palestinian Authority will soon either resign
or collapse, throwing the occupation back on the lap of Israel. As Halper describes it,
"The end or fall of the PA would create an intolerable and unsustainable situation.
Israel would be forced to retake by force all the Occupied Territories, and, not willing
to allow Hamas to step into the vacuum, would have to do so violently, perhaps even
invading Gaza again and assuming permanent control. Having to support four million
impoverished Palestinians with no economic infrastructure whatsoever would be an
impossible burden (and, hopefully, the donor community would not enable the re-
occupation by stepping in to prevent a humanitarian crisis, as it does today). Such a
move on the part of Israel would also inflame the Muslim world and generate massive
protests worldwide, again forcing the hand of the international community."
In other words, Israel's obduracy will finally unlock the impasse. This seems a long
shot? Indeed it is but what alternatives are there? 2010 has been the year when
the phrase "peace process" have been definitively exposed as the fraud it always
was. There's nowhere to go but up.
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