July 20, 2013

Here we go again, another round of Mideast peace talk kabuki.

A process in which Washington, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization hold intense talks over holding talks, a ritual as stylized as the traditional Japanese dance. In the end, it’s the same empty, cynical ritual, year after year.

This past week, US Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading the dance in the latest attempt to restart peace talks between Israel and the Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO. As of this writing, the talks appear off. But they may be on again just as quickly. It depends on how much Washington offers its feuding clients, Israel and the PLO.

Watching this annual charade is both painful and exhausting. It makes cynics of the most idealistic hopers for Mideast peace.

Israel holds all the cards, and knows it. Jewish settlements, roads, and security walls are roaring ahead, relentlessly gobbling up the occupied West Bank, Golan and their water resources. West Bank Palestinians are being crammed into future native Bantustans patterned after South Africa’s apartheid-era reservations for blacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vows there will be no Palestinian state, appears to have an impregnable hold on power. Israel’s economy is doing very well, thanks in part to billions in US economic and military aid, privileged access to the US market, and exports of arms and electronics. Israel’s high tech and medical industries are among the world’s leaders. New gas and oil finds between Israel and Cyprus may make Israel an energy exporter within a decade.

The United States has eliminated any possible Arab military challenge to Israel’s absolute military domination of the Mideast by destroying Iraq as a functioning state and then fueling Syria’s civil war. Egypt, once Israel’s leading foe, has been bought off by American money.

Israel has finished deploying an indestructible triad of nuclear forces based on missiles, aircraft and, most lately, submarines that can fire cruise or, possibly, ballistic missiles, all targeted by Israeli and US satellite networks. This means that Israel can survive any nuclear attack and retaliate in kind against attackers. Israel’s Mideast nuclear monopoly remains secure.

Equally important, Israel, through its American supporters, effectively guides much of America’s Mideast policy. Almost 50% of Republican voters are now rural born-again Christian Zionist for whom Israel is an essential part of their Biblical prophecy of the return of the Messiah.

President Barack Obama’s feeble efforts to press Israel into real peace negotiations with the Palestinians were quickly squashed by the pro-Israel lobby and its partisans in Congress. Netanyahu probably exerts more influence over the US Congress than President Obama.

Moreover, Israel is “negotiating” with a PLO that has become a sock puppet for the US and Israel after its former leader, Yasser Arafat, was very likely assassinated to make way for the compliant Mahmoud Abbas. The PLO is run and financed by the US and Israel, its security forces trained and directed by CIA, its intelligence agency an arm of Israel’s Mossad. Its elected rival, Hamas, remains jailed in Gaza.

Yet even this is not enough. Netanyahu now demands the Arabs recognized Israel as a “Jewish state,” knowing this is unacceptable. Twenty percent of Israel’s population is Christian and Muslim.

Tragically, Israel right wing parties have spurned the sensible 2002 peace offer led by Saudi Arabia. The plan calls for a withdrawal to 1967 borders, with some minor rectifications for large Jewish settlement blocs, full peace and recognition between Israel and 57 Muslim nations, and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis – meaning some token repatriation of refugees and compensation for Jews who fled the Arab world.

This is clearly the best solution. But it is rejected by Israel’s Likud Party and other rightists because they refuse to define Israel’s borders. As the late Israeli Moishe Dayan stated, it is up to god, not man, to determine Israel’s future growth. Israel’s right wingers have long looked with desire upon Lebanon and parts of Syria. Baghdad once had a large Jewish population.

Why sacrifice all this for the sake of little Palestinian rump state that will anyway become an Israeli protectorate? Just keep talking about talks while the bulldozers roar ahead.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

This post is in: Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Mideast, Palestine, USA


  1. George Rizk says:

    Tom Friedman of the NY Times, and others have been floating the idea that the Middle East boarders have been artificially drawn by the BAD colonial powers? So, they need to be redrawn by Mr. Friedman, and his friends-the neocons?

    If I would give this crazy idea any credit, I would interpret the. Chaos in the Middle East that is actively being cheered by Israel as “per-planned”?

    If such is a valid discussion, would it be more appropriate to discuss it publicly here in the US, as well as in the Middle East? Having rumors that the US is plotting to redraw the borders of all these countries does not sit well with its population, which feels being manipulated by foreign powers.

    Again, thanks Eric for clear insights.

  2. Interesting that this sudden attempt at talks falls on the EU’s strong declaration about Israel’s settlement program.

    As Eric said… just more smoke and mirrors…

  3. Mike Smith says:

    The path to peace has to begin with the removal of the United States from any negotiation, or participation in any process.
    How can they claim to be honest peace brokers when it is very apparent they have taken sides since day one.
    Here is how it could happen…
    Russia and China ( as well as any other party that can afford to ) pledges to match the US dollar for dollar. The US sends a grant, military aid, whatever… the same amount goes to the Palestinians… with exactly the same preconditions. If Israel buys arms, so can the PLO. The existence of the Palestinian further will be guaranteed by the same powers. If Israel decides to crush Palestine… then Russia and China by treaty are obligated to crush Israel. The more the US involves itself, the more Russia and China send. Until sanity comes back into play and both sides get sent nothing until they find a working solution themselves, or the US goes broke and becomes irrelevant ( I hope that comes myself )

  4. After reading Mr. Margolis’ insightful column,I had to ask myself….haven’t we been through this a dozen times before.The only real chance of any peace talks and the halting of expansionism and bulldozing,died when Israel held it’s elections recently and Israelis failed to oust this war monger Netanyahu.He is a full blown Zionist and Israelis as well as Palestinians will continue to live in war like conditions where innocent people will be murdered from both sides.

    America should concentrate on fixing itself with Detroit declaring bankruptcy last week and who knows how many other major American cities are on that same path.A once proud and productive country,America is turning into a third world country because of needless recent wars that accomplishment nothing….except effectively bankrupt America and the real winner was Israel.Netanyahu is purposely scuttling these “peace talks”.

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