Likudniks’ rejection of conceding its occupation of Palestine confirms reports in the Israeli media that this week’s meetings between regional authorities are “ceremonial and not substantive”.

31 Aug 2010 | InfoShop News

The mainstream media as a whole is unified in marking this weeks meetings between representatives of the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) as a “restart” of “peace talks”, but the most contentious issue of Israel’s settlement expansion into the Occupied Palestinian Territories is completely rejected by Israel’s ruling party, Likud.

A ten-month “partial settlement freeze” expires September 26 and “a senior cabinet minister told Reuters on Sunday” that “Israel will postpone any decision on whether to extend a partial freeze on settlement construction until after the September 2 start of peace talks in Washington”.

A leader of the Zionist settler movement was also in Washington to lobby Washington “leaders” to support expanding the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in D.C. to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today before a Wednesday dinner with President Barack Obama and P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, Sheera Frenkel reported today at McClatchy:

Danny Dayan, settler leader and member of the Yesha settler council in Israel, was meeting Jewish and congressional leaders in Washington to try to convince them of the importance of expanding Israel’s settlements. Palestinians see the settlements as a key impediment to the peace talks, as they’re built on land earmarked for a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu froze settlement expansion 10 months ago to allow indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to proceed. Now that the United States has convinced both parties to move to direct negotiations, experts are pointing at the settlements as a ticking time bomb, one that could end the newest efforts at peace talks before they get off the ground.

Abbas has said that he won’t proceed with talks if Israel resumes settlement construction. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat put it more starkly, saying that if Israel “issued one building tender after September 26, we will consider the talks over.”


Much of Netanyahu’s largely right wing-coalition supports Dayan, however, and has made it clear that they aren’t interests in the sort of complete freeze the Palestinians seek.

Speaking to members of his Likud Party before he departed for Washington, Netanyahu sought to relieve their fears, telling them, “I am not naive.”

Writing in the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot, Shimon Shiffer said that Netanyahu was leaving for the United States “fully aware that his partners in the government are not prepared to accede to the Palestinians’ demand that the construction freeze be extended.”

Reports in Yediot Ahronot and another Hebrew daily, Maariv, concluded that the “prevailing assessment” was that the summit in Washington would be “ceremonial and not substantive.”

Weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “rejected a Palestinian demand that direct negotiations be based on a statement by the Quartet confirming its position that the future Palestinian state will be based on the 1967 borders” when he met with the U.S. envoy to the region, George Mitchell, Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid reported at the Israel daily Ha’aretz.

Because borders are the inherent core conflict between an occupying power and representatives of the occupied, P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas said, Avi Issacharoff reported at Ha’aretz with the Associated Press (A.P.), “Israel will be held accountable for the failure of the talks if settlement construction should continue.”

“The negotiations need to bring about serious action that will be able to bring liberation from the occupation and independence,” he said, adding that Israel’s claim of “security concerns” is “not an excuse to expand settlements and steal land”.

“I want to clarify our stance on settlements, and their illegal status,” Mr. Abbas continued. “I have to say honestly and clearly that we notified all sides, including the American administration, before we agreed to conduct these talks, that Israel alone will bear the blame for the failure of the negotiations if the settlement construction continues in any way on any Palestinian land captured since 1967.”

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 was unanimously passed in November 1967 declared territories occupied by the Israeli government after the launch of that year’s Six Day War between Israel and a coalition led by Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Israel has not only continued its occupations of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights since, but has expanded its occupation in the form of settlements, blockades and checkpoint-laden partitions of the lands.

A misconception is that the P.A.’s preconditions are stubborn acts of rejectionism. Such claims are ignorant of the enormous concessions Palestinians have accepted after decades of Israeli aggression, Professor Stephen Walt noted yesterday at his Foreign Policy blog:

Fatah has already recognized Israel’s existence and has surrendered any claims to 78 percent of original Mandate Palestine; all they are bargaining over now is the share they will get of the remaining 22 percent. Moreover, that 22 percent is already dotted with Israeli settlements (containing about 500,000 people), and carved up by settler-only bypass roads, checkpoints, fences, and walls. And even if they were to get an independent state on all of that remaining 22 percent (which isn’t likely) they will probably have to agree to some significant constraints on Palestinian sovereignty and they are going to have to compromise in some fashion on the issue of the “right of return.” The obvious point is that when you’ve got next to nothing, you’ve got very little left to give up, no matter how hard Uncle Sam twists your arm. At this point, the main concessions have to come from Israel, simply because it is the occupying power whose presence in the West Bank and whose physical control over Gaza makes a Palestinian state impossible. Some readers may think this characterization is unfair, but the issue isn’t so much one of “fairness” as one of simple practicality. How do you possibly create “two states for two peoples” if Israel doesn’t withdraw from virtually all of the West Bank?

Sick jokes in the form of human action like Alan Dershowitz treating the issue of stealing people’s homes by brute force as petty rejectionism is excessively vulgar, especially when the primary issue a racist foreign government occupying land. It’s a conscientious ignorance of the primary issues: borders, self-determination and even security.

It’s also counter-intuitive to Israelis’ claimed security concerns on day when Hamas claimed responsibility for the heinous slaughter of four settlers in Hebron and about 3,000 people celebrated the attack in Gaza. “Some 500 ultranationalist Jewish settlers live in heavily fortified enclaves in the city amid more than 100,000 Palestinians,” Mark Lavie added in his A.P. report.

This dehumanization of Zionist settlers is minimal relative to the powerful institutional Zionist dehumanization of Arabs, who always come with ramped up Israeli military presence and abuse of local Palestinians after the settlers occupy stolen land, is a nasty reaction to the long past of aggression from Tel Aviv—most recently, the brutal Operation Cast Lead—that accompanies the continued ‘arbitrary demolitions’ of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, which Human Rights Watch recently found has reached a “new peak”, and the humanitarian crisis forced by the blockade of Gaza.

“As B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, reported last month, Israeli settlements now control 42% of the West Bank,” The Electronic Intifada editor and co-founder Ali Abunimah wrote yesterday in an op-ed at the Los Angeles Times. “Virtually all of the Jordan Valley is off limits to Palestinians as Israel tightens its grip under the cover of a “peace process” that perpetually goes nowhere. In July alone, Israel demolished 141 homes and buildings belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank, the highest number since 2005, according to Human Rights Watch.”

He later added: “As Palestinian American entrepreneur Sam Bahour wrote recently in The Hill, only an end to Israel’s U.S.-subsidized occupation can unleash the economic potential in Palestine.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the excessively amoral and honest former national security adviser in the Carter Administration, described two approaches to diplomacy—specifically with Iran—that can be applied universally to very powerful factions:

  1. Design the negotiations to fail and blame the other party for not making concessions to coercive demands and labeling them with catch phrases like “terrorist entity”; or
  2. “Engage” the other party in a manner where at least “the possibility of consensual agreement” can “emerge”.

Unfortunately, superpowers and their clients are too vain and abusive to consider the second approach. The Likudnik approach to settlements in the West Bank are a prime example to prove that this week’s “peace talks” are indeed simply “ceremonial and not substantive”.

  1. […] ruling party of the State of Israel lobbied for U.S. congressional consent for settlement expansion at the same time so-called “peace […]

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