As I sit and read the announcements from today’s first discussions from Annapolis, all I can see is another dismal failure for peace and another year long “negotiation” process that like Oslo, Camp David, the ‘road map’ all lead to the same place. That place, as so clearly denoted by the late Tanya Rinehart, is nowhere.
Today the leaders – Omert and Abbas – “have agreed to re-start negotiations to reach a comprehensive peace deal by the end of 2008.” Bush it was noted in the article “did not stay for the rest of the conference, leaving Annapolis as soon as the speeches were over.” He too is obviously quite happy with the status quo in Israel’s favour.
In the past, the Israelis have quite willingly agreed to negotiations, going even further at times as with the Gaza “withdrawal” as another smokescreen to continue with their settlement policy of both expanding existing settlements, allowing more illegal outposts, declaring more and more of Palestinian lands as military areas, and continuing with their house demolitions, roadblocks and detention of the Palestinian people. Nothing has changed, still going nowhere.
Bush is quoted a saying, "The time is right because a battle is under way for the future of the Middle East - and we must not cede victory to the extremists." This statement indicates that regardless of what is occurring with the negotiations, which is very little but buying more time for the Israelis, more war is inevitable, either ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as the majority of observers are saying more and more positively, soon to include Iran in the mess. If the war on terror is still ongoing, it is obvious that the Palestinians can only be losers in the process, either by having to be subjugated by their own coterie of leaders, or by having a mini civil war between the Hamas-Fatah factions, or more broadly, as is often the case at the higher political level, simply being used as rhetorical fodder while the same old game continues, or at worst having the war on terror deteriorate through attacks on Iran such that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine can be force fed and hurried up.
As for the ethnic comment, Bush also said, “"the United States will keep its commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people." So why is it that a theocratic non-democratic state is encouraged for Israel, but a similar theocratic non-democratic state in Iran – that does not have nearly the nuclear capacity as Israel – is such a big problem? Perhaps because it is modelled more on what has become of the United States, a near theocratic state where democracy is being eroded in small but rapidly encroaching increments?
Abbas’ claim that there is “overwhelming Palestinian and Israeli public opinion in support of Annapolis” makes him a believer in his own rhetoric and the Western media rhetoric that does not reflect the alternative and foreign news media that the Palestinians at least are fully ‘underwhelmed’ by the negotiating process. The Palestinian street do not seem to be fooled by the process, having seen it fail on an ongoing basis, as their territory becomes smaller and more segmented with each passing day.
For his part, Olmert provided the same familiar Israeli line, “"We want peace. We demand an end to terror, incitement and hatred. We are willing to make a painful compromise, rife with risks, in order to realise these aspirations." Echoes of Israeli leaders who have walked this path before him come through clearly. If their would truly be “an end to terror, incitement and hatred” the Israelis would pull out of occupied Palestine, remove the wall, and allow Jerusalem to become the global centre for the three religions that have much of their history centred in the city.
What the actual outcome of all this is of course an unknown, but my best guess is – not much. Israel is where it has liked to be over the past several decades, allowing itself to be perceived as the victim of terror while at the same time occupying and terrorizing the citizens of Palestine. While negotiations drag on, while more land is settled, while the brutality of the occupation continues, the Palestinians lose, Israel wins.
Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.