Op-ed: In different universe, ‘peace process’ could well be the stuff of macabre comedy
Obama, after the “pragmatic” Palestinians have repudiated any idea of “historic compromise,” any recognition of Jewish national sovereignty: “…so far the talks are moving forward in a constructive way…”
You couldn’t make this stuff up!
In a different universe the recent events regarding the rekindling of the “peace process” could well be the stuff of a macabre comedy, couched and conveyed in deliberately overstated caricature.
But sadly in this universe they portend tragedy.
It has been an almost inconceivable spectacle, beginning with the Israeli prime minister traveling to Washington to express his resolve and commitment to implement a policy that he has repeatedly repudiated – and ridiculed – for over a decade and a half.
Even more astonishing is the fact that he did so not because his earlier criticism was proven unfounded in any way, but despite the fact that it was proven well founded in every way; not because his previous warnings that the policy would herald disaster were proven wrong but despite the fact that they were proven right.
Yet the absurdity does not end here. In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of Middle East politics things get “curiouser and curiouser.”
No less astounding than Netanyahu’s acquiescence to discuss the implementation of the very policy he correctly predicted would fail, is the identity of the “partner” with whom he assented to do so. The Palestinian negotiation team is led by Mahmoud Abbas, someone who has neither the formal legality (since his terms of office has expired) nor the political legitimacy (since his authority in not recognized by a sizeable segment of the electorate) to do so.
And then enter Hamas. With an impeccable sense of timing, Abbas’ radical adversaries carried out two brutal terror attacks on Israelis, dramatically demonstrating that the man Netanyahu has incongruously deemed “my-partner-in-peace” cannot control events in the areas he purports to administer- underscoring both the impotence of the Palestinian “partner” and pointlessness of negotiating with him.
For what would be the value of an agreements reached if there is no guarantee that the Palestinian signatories will be any position to honor or enforce them, even assuming they desire to do so?
Abbas wants to shape Israel
And just to drive home the absurdity and futility of the entire exercise, after explicitly rejecting Netanyahu’s call for a “historic compromise,” Abbas pronounced categorically that “we won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” as to do so would “block any chance of Palestinian refugees from returning to their original homes inside Israel.” This was reiterated the very next day by senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath, who declared that “The Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” since this “would…prevent Palestinian refugees, who left their homes and villages a number of decades ago, from being granted the right to return to them.”
So not only do the Palestinian leaders openly admit that they will never recognize the Jews’ right to political sovereignty in the Israel, but by obdurately insisting on the “right of return,” they make it quite clear that the only agreement acceptable to them is one that would make the maintenance of such political sovereignty untenable .
Now one might well ask: If Netanyahu is not recognized by his Palestinian interlocutors as representing the Jewish nation-state, precisely in what capacity is he participating in the “process”? But an even more troubling conundrum arises: In what capacity is Abbas doing so? For it seems that he has adopted a trans-national – or at least a trans-frontier – posture, speaking not only for the people he foresees living under the sovereignty of the envisioned Palestinian state, but also for those who he foresees will not!
Indeed, Abbas’ demands are not restricted to shaping the future state of Palestine, its character, the extent of its boundaries and the composition of its population (i.e. Judenrein with all the Jewish “settlements” evacuated and all the Jewish settlers expelled.) His demands extend to shaping the character of the State of Israel and to what the composition of its population should be (which à la Abbas is to include millions of non-Jewish Palestinian “refugees.”)
In short, the “president” of a yet-to-be-established state – whose term of office has expired and whose legitimacy is contested by a significant portion of those he purports to represent – lays down, as a categorical demand, that for any agreement to be reached literally millions of people from third-party countries must be admitted as citizens – not into the sovereign territory of putative state over which he supposedly will have authority but into the sovereign territory of another state.
Like I said: You couldn’t make this stuff up!
Why help faltering, anti-Israel president?
But perhaps the most macabre aspect of this preposterous tragic-comic spectacle is that it the only conceivable reason for Israel to participate in it at all, is to mollify a floundering US Administration desperate for some indication – any indication – of success to boost its flagging popularity
Now had this been an Administration that had wide spread support across the US, there might have been some justification in reluctantly acquiescing to its behest. Alternatively, had this been an Administration which was favorably disposed towards Israel there might have been some argument for lending it support in a time of distress. But neither of these is true.
On the one hand, the approval rates for the Obama Administration have been dropping like a lead balloon with public support evaporating with each passing week. On the other hand, the Obama Administration been described as arguably “the most anti-Israel Administration in the modern history of the state of Israel.”
So what conceivable political rationale is there in Netanyahu embracing a policy that rewards the White House’s hostility and hubris and accommodates Israel’s humiliation? What is possible political wisdom is there in providing the deeply unpopular incumbent Administration anything that might make it “look good”; anything that could give it any electoral advantage over the far more Israel-friendly Republican Party – especially as the crucial mid-term elections approach?
And if anyone thought that matter could not get any more farcical, they would be wrong. For just recently, Obama issued his latest exhortation for Netanyahu to make another gesture and extend the soon-to-expire building freeze. His reasoning: After the “pragmatic” Palestinians have repudiated any idea of making an “historic compromise” and any recognition of Jewish national sovereignty 60 years after Israel’s establishment, was:
“…so far the talks are moving forward in a constructive way, it makes sense to extend that moratorium so long as the talks are moving in a constructive way.”
You couldn’t make this stuff up! Or have I said that before?