The Israeli-Palestinian 'Peace-Process' Joke in Annapolis (Uri Avnery in CounterPunch)

The Annapolis conference is a joke. Though not in the least funny.

Like quite a lot of political initiatives, this one too, according to all the indications, started more or less by accident. George Bush was due to make a speech. He was looking for a theme that would give it some substance. Something that would divert attention away from his fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan. Something simple, optimistic, easy to swallow…

So Bush voiced the idea: a "meeting" for the promotion of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Without any preceding strategic planning, any careful preparations, anything much at all.

That’s why Bush did not go into any details: no clear aim, no agenda, no location, no date, no list of invitees. Just an ethereal meeting. This fact by itself testifies to the lack of seriousness of the entire enterprise….

This could, therefore, become a great, almost historic conference, if all these hopes were something more than pipedreams. None of them has any substance. For one simple reason: no one of the three partners has any capital at his disposal.

Bush is bankrupt. In order to succeed at Annapolis, he would have to exert intense pressure on Israel, to compel it to take the necessary steps: agree to the establishment of a real Palestinian state, give up East Jerusalem, restore the Green Line border (with some small swaps of territory), find an agreed-upon compromise formula for the refugee issue.

But Bush is quite unable to exert the slightest pressure on Israel, even if he wanted to. In the US, the election season has already begun, and the two big parties are bulwarks standing in the way of any pressure on Israel. The Jewish and Evangelistic lobbies, together with the neo-cons, will not allow one critical word about Israel to be uttered unpunished.

Olmert is in an even weaker position. His coalition still survives only because there is no alternative in the present Knesset. It includes elements that in any other country would be called fascist (For historical reasons, Israelis don’t like to use this term). He is prevented by his partners from making any compromise, however tiny – even if he wanted to reach an agreement.

This week, the Knesset adopted a bill that requires a two-thirds majority for any change of the borders of Greater Jerusalem. This means that Olmert cannot even give up one of the outlying Palestinian villages that were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967. He is also prevented from even approaching the ‘core issues" of the conflict.

Mahmoud Abbas cannot move away from the conditions laid down by Yasser Arafat (the 3rd anniversary of whose death was commemorated this week). If he strays from the straight and narrow, he will fall. He has already lost the Gaza Strip, and can lose the West Bank, too. On the other side, if he threatens violence, he will lose all he has got: the favor of Bush and the cooperation of the Israeli security forces.

The three poker players are going to sit down together, pretending to start the game, while none of them has a cent to put on the table….

Not one of the three leaders is still dreaming of an achievement. All they hope for now is to minimize the damage – but how to get out of a situation like this?

As usual, our side is the most creative at this task. After all, we are experts in building roadblocks, walls and fences. This week, an obstacle larger then the Great Wall of China appeared.

Ehud Olmert demanded that, before any negotiations, the Palestinians "recognize Israel as a Jewish state". He was followed by his coalition partner, the ultra-right Avigdor Liberman, who proposed staying away from Annapolis altogether if the Palestinians do not fulfill this demand in advance.

Let’s examine this condition for a moment:

The Palestinians are not required to recognize the state of Israel. After all, they have already done so in the Oslo agreement – in spite of the fact that Israel has yet to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own based on the Green Line borders.

No, the government of Israel demands much more: the Palestinians must now recognize Israel as a "Jewish state".

Does the USA demand to be recognized as a "Christian" or "Anglo-Saxon state"? Did Stalin demand that the US recognize the Soviet Union as a "Communist state"? Does Poland demand to be recognized as a "Catholic state", or Pakistan as an "Islamic state"? Is there any precedent at all for a state to demand the recognition of its domestic regime?

The demand is ridiculous per se. But this can easily be shown by analysis ad absurdum.

What is a "Jewish state"? That has never been spelled out….

WHEN THE leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine were about to sign the Declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, the document was not ready. Sitting in front of the cameras and history, they had to sign on an empty page. I am afraid that something like that will happen in Annapolis.

And then all of them will head back to their respective homes, heaving a heartfelt sigh of relief.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is o a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

The Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace-Process’ Joke in Annapolis (Uri Avnery in CounterPunch)

Why Israel Has No "Right to Exist" as a Jewish State

So let us boldly ask: What exactly is entailed by the requirement to recognise Israel as a Jewish state? What do we recognise and support when we purchase a delightful avocado or a date from Israel or when we invite Israel to take part in an international football event? What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What precisely is that Jewish state whose status as such would be once and for all legitimised by such a two-state solution?…

Why Israel Has No "Right to Exist" as a Jewish State (By OREN BEN-DOR in CounterPunch)

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, rejected on Monday the government’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

view with Israel Radio, Erekat said that "no state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity."…

PLO chief negotiator: Palestinians will not accept Israel as ‘Jewish state’ (Haaretz)


4 thoughts on “The Israeli-Palestinian 'Peace-Process' Joke in Annapolis (Uri Avnery in CounterPunch)

  1. Goed dat hier eens op wordt gewezen: "Ehud Olmert demanded that, before any negotiations, the Palestinians "recognize Israel as a Jewish state". He was followed by his coalition partner, the ultra-right Avigdor Liberman, who proposed staying away from Annapolis altogether if the Palestinians do not fulfill this demand in advance.."
    Die eis lijkt in de ogen van gehersenspoelde mensen gewoon maar is dat absoluut niet, omdat erkenning van de joodse staat betekent dat de claim die fundamentalistische joden (en Zionisme is fundamentalisme) leggen op ‘het door God aan de joden gegeven land’ wordt erkend.
    Wanneer God de joden het land gegeven heeft mogen de slachtoffers van Israelisch geweld zich niet zien als ‘slachtoffer’.
    God wil dat jullie vertrekken, zo luidt de gedachtengang, en dan mag je alleen maar in het stof kruipen en "DANK U WEL GOD" zeggen.
    Merkwaardig is natuurlijk wel dat het van oorsprong atheistische Zionisme ‘God’ er pas veel later bij heeft gehaald (na de verdrijving van de Palestijnen en de vestiging van de staat), zodat je je kunt afvragen in hoeverre het geloof een soort truc is, een konijn dat alleen maar daarom uit de deftige hoge hoed wordt gehaald om er een voordeeltje mee te kunnen behalen.
    De verbinding die joodse zionisten in Amerika aangaan met extreem-rechtse christenen geeft wat dat betreft ook te denken.
    Met socialisme en anarchisme (belangrijkste stromingen binnen het oorspronkelijke zionisme) heeft het allemaal weinig te maken. Dat is een waarheid als een koe.

  2. The Myth of Middle East Peace – Decpetion as Truth (By WILLIAM A. COOK in CounterPunch)"A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel; for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God." Jeremiah 2:21
    This week the forces of good will assemble in the city of Ann, the Queen who presided over her colonies, an apt gesture as the Israeli colonialist state meets to consider the fate of its Palestine colony, the one carefully preserved behind its apartheid wall of infamy, to attempt once again the fraud perpetrated on the American people and the United Nations that Israel is sincere in wanting peace. The moguls that control our press and TV channels sing the praises of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli Knesset as custodians of peace seeking to bring justice to the war weary peoples of Palestine. Thus are sown the seeds of discord that will reap the whirlwind of bitter disappointment, followed by the weeping and gnashing of teeth by these perpetrators of deceit.
    How can any serious person consider the probability of peace in Palestine when the Olmert government includes the racist party of Avigdor Lieberman who advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from their land, and has, in effect, achieved a "Targeted assassination" of the summit before the invitations went out (Ha’aretz, Yossi Verter, "Assassinating Annapolis," 15/11/07)? How can any serious person consider the probability of peace when the broker of record is the United States, the erstwhile Godfather of the Neo-con Zionists that control both Israel and the multitude of AIPACs that own our Congress? And even now, as the world waits with baited breathe the possibility of peace, the racist government of Olmert cuts off electricity to the already decimated people of Gaza because he does not accede to international law but only to his own.
    In brutally blunt terms, the peace process overseen by Condoleeza Rice is a joke. The United States is not an honest broker. It has colluded with the Olmert government to negate the democratically elected government of Palestine, and then, in all brazen chutzpas, has engaged a previously discarded politician, Ahmud Abbas, as a straw man to circumvent the duly elected government. In this process our government and that of Israel has decimated the Palestinian people making their lives a living hell, and they have done it in full contravention of international law that prohibits collective punishment and demands of the occupier that they care for the people under their control. Concurrent with these deplorable actions, the "broker," the fair and balanced broker, has not only continued its normal welfare to the state of Israel in the form of 5 billion in aid, but has doubled that this year while adding an additional 15 billion over the next ten years. How can the world blind itself to the hypocrisy of these actions?
    But the picture painted above does not reveal the real reason why peace is impossible in Palestine. The real reason is imbedded in the reality of Zionism and the forces that now control and have controlled the rise of the Israeli state from the very beginning. It is that story that must be told for in it resides the curse of Jeremiah condemning the Jews who have "perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God."…

  3. And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher’s arguments against the peace process ( )?

  4. Alex: I think Obadiah Shoher’s arguments reflect the Jewish-Zionist views which limit Olmert’s options for seeking a just and viable peace.Peace process doesn’t lead to peace. Concessions to Arabs and imploring for peace only provoke them for the last-ditch fighting. That correlation is clear at least since the Oslo accords.
    Peace process cannot lead to peace. If history is any lesson, peace is only achieved through crushing defeat of one’s enemy.
    Peace process is highly unusual. Every other nation destroyed whatever aborigines happened to live on the land that nation chose to build a state….

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