If Israel is serious about peace it would have extended the settlement construction moratorium. Instead it coldly snipped the brake cables on this haggling train wreck leaving it up to everyone else to prevent the derailment, while it sniggers all the way to the digger. 

Perhaps it is time to really consider that Israel does not want peace with the Palestinians, and once again the world is being toyed with. After all Prime Minister Netanyahu has already been caught out once boasting of destroying the Oslo accords with his own hands.

As President Obama sought broad support from the United Nations for his Middle-East peace plan, he won huge applause when he said plainly that by making this current peace effort work, next year’s UN AGM would welcome an “independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel”.

No-one from the Israeli delegation was in the chamber to hear their country’s greatest single benefactor in terms of money, arms and deflections of international hostility.

It was a Jewish holiday, but surely someone could have turned up for the relatively short speech, just to make sure when the cameras panned those in attendance it didn’t look like Israel had boycotted Obama, and the leadership had a first hand account.

There were no ‘holiday’ signs on the empty seats and it looked bad. More strangely, Prime Minister Netanyahu didn’t even come to the UN this year, despite the platform it would have given him from which to show the world he is serious this time. Perhaps the other coincidence – that of the meeting taking place as the partial moratorium on settlement construction ended – was more of a reason to stay away.  He certainly avoided any face to face pleas and then condemnation of world leaders for his refusal to extend the construction moratorium in the interests of keeping the peace talks going.

It is difficult to imagine what he would have said in defence of his actions had he taken his turn with the talkie-stick.

It is little wonder Israel has an image problem, but perhaps scarier still is Sarkozy’s decision to inject himself into the play as the potential broker-in-chief. Sarko sure has an eye for the main stage.

Basically the world is sick and tired of the seemingly endless rounds of peace talks and negotiations, walk-outs and disasters that constitute the train wreck of Middle East Peace. But the costs of the status quo remaining as such are too high. A moral world can not walk away from poverty, humiliation and despair of Palestinians, nor the relatively limited risk of danger for some Jews within rocket range of Gaza.

However Time magazine recently took a closer look at a growing phenomenon beginning to surface in academic and popular media – that life is pretty good for most Israelis, many of whom are feeling prosperous and steadily disengaged from the whole peace process.  Tel Aviv is buzzing financially, its famous café lifestyle is picture-postcard stuff, the beaches are great, real estate prices are up, and Palestinians are seen as more of a nuisance than strategic threat.

Couple this with the Jews only suburbs – often built on appropriated Palestinian land but not available to Arab tenants – and the Jews-only highways which facilitate direct routes to and from the West Bank, while a ‘security’ fence shutters out Palestinian life and it all begs the question of why bother tipping up a fairly acceptable status-quo.

Netanyahu has tremendous pressure from his right-wing coalition, which features prominently politicians who have been as extreme as calling for all Palestinians to be driven from the Jewish state.  Many, including Netanyahu, are on record declaring they will never tolerate division of Jerusalem. That sets an automatic precondition on any talks, as the Palestinians have called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of their eventual sovereign state.

Of course Palestinians having a sovereign state is also a no-no from Netanyahu’s point of view because he insists they can’t be militarized and must be controlled by Israel’s defence forces - not that that fits the definition of ‘sovereign’ acceptable to other nations, including Israel.

And the list goes on…and the pressure Netanyahu is under grows as he knows his coalition could easily implode, particularly if the ultra-Zionists are backed by a mood on the street that prefers to get on with its new domestic reality, warts and all.

Palestinian President Abbas is also under great pressure now settlement construction has resumed. Not massive construction at this stage it is true, but the deliberate flaunting of the issue by settlers bussed in for celebrations beneath blue and white balloons and amidst huge earthmoving machinery when the ‘freeze’ expired, makes Abbas’ job nigh on impossible.

To his credit he did not storm off on the stroke of midnight, but he now needs to consult with the Arab League to find a credible formula for explaining to Palestinians and Arabs in general that talks can continue despite Israelis eating up the very land that is under negotiation.

It is such land that is at the core of this boondoggle and that is why the settlements issue is so touchy.

Walking out of the talks will not solve anything, but if talks are again a tool for keeping everything ticking along and so allowing more and more land to be grabbed, eventually there will be nothing left to talk about. The ‘facts on the ground’ will be that the greater landmass of Israel can no longer be rationally divided into two states. Two viable states that is. Not a very rich one with water, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, exports and all the rest, that ‘suffers’ an impoverished neighbouring cot case.

By refusing to extend the settlement moratorium, which was incomplete anyway, Netanyahu has sucked the oxygen out of the peace-talks, and made an incredibly perilous process even more so.

It is no secret he doesn’t like Obama – and the feelings are likely mutual – but Obama is not the disaster for Israel he is so consistently painted by hardline Jewish Zionists and their American Christian Zionist counterparts..

Obama is the first American president to get off his tush at the beginning of his term so he can have a fair chance of achieving peace that is more than a band-aid hastily applied during the dying days of an administration, only to fall off in short order. Sure he’s already got his Nobel, so he’s trying to earn it. Politically he too has much on the line.

It remains to be hoped that Netanyahu actually wants peace because that is not the impression he is again giving to the world through actions...not just words.

He has categorically failed his one tangible but also highly symbolic opportunity. There will be few opportunities, if any, remaining if he does not play his part in dragging this round of talks out of the danger zone.   

Comments (5)

by Kyle Matthews on September 29, 2010
Kyle Matthews

The king of Jordan was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week, talking about the peace talks and this upcoming settlement freeze deadline. He thought it would be a disaster if they didn't extend the deadline. He also gave every appearance of being intelligent, informed, reasonable, flexible, and concerned about all the players in the issue (or I've been completely fooled).

Shame that Netanyahu doesn't appear to be displaying all those traits.

by Che Nua on September 30, 2010
Che Nua

It's almost like we have become desensitised to the possibility of justly resolving the history & human tragedy of the Palestinians.  The same thing is happening with Tibet

Can't PM John 'The White Obama' Key show any moral leadership on behalf of NZ toward the Israel problem?

by Mr Magoo on September 30, 2010
Mr Magoo

Of course they want peace? You would have to be anti-semetic to suggest otherwise! The peace that exists once all your foes have been exterminated.

Sound stupid? I would ask: what about this conflict is not?

There are many forms of murder and oppression in the world. Most of them less clear cut than what has gone on during this conflict. (from both sides)

And shame on any who have supported its continuation in any way. Such things are an embarrassment for the whole species.

PS: Do I get bonus points for alluding to an anti-semantic stance from anyone who is not pro-Israel?

by Ahmed on December 15, 2010

Israel continues to master the art of double talk. It wants to continue with construction while peace talks continue. I guess they think the talks are about something other than what land will be given to Palestine to build homes on.

This nation continues to insult human intelligence maybe that is why so much of the backlash. You have their leaders walking out on world leaders and other times not even showing up due to Jewish holidays, how lovely and fitting.

Israel might as well change its flag to the middle finger with a picture of the globe around it. Besides I am not sure why any one believes in two state solutions. How can you have a two state when Israel today has 80% of the land where Palestinians’ have 20% and shrinking?

Israelis solution is to kill them 1000-1 ratio and use their media monopoly to control the perception that a controlled holocaust is not happening in Palestine. They still can't kill them at fast enough rate to bring their criminals from their host nations. This is rogue nation that does as it pleases and the US tax payers support them. So I guess it will end one day, either with nuclear winter or being dismantled like apartheid South Africa.

One thing is certain this will end badly for millions if not billions of people around the globe. Our forefathers warned us. Don’t bring a puppy home if you don’t know how big it will get. It’s exactly what happened.

by on September 26, 2011
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