The Palestine-Israel conflict is no pesky regional skirmish. This century-long battle over territory threatens to draw the entire global community into its bowels if it is not dealt with soon, and the only way out of the current paralysis is to kill the “peace process” once and for all.
There is no other way to end our dependence on the “process” – hoping that another tweak here or there might be the one to produce a breakthrough. No it won’t, and we need to destroy this addiction in order to think straight for a change.
Some realities to consider:
Nineteen years of a drawn out “peace process” has seen the establishment and institutionalization of a “peace industry” so gargantuan and far-reaching that it makes the United Nations look like a nimble start-up operation.
From Madrid to Oslo to Annapolis to the Quartet, we are hampered by agreements, roadmaps and conditions that create a thicket of red tape and limit our maneuverability. Layer upon layer of superficial “process” obscures the path forward. Which is why we are standing quite still.
Playing Games with Peace
Even the participants are fake. The Palestinian “Authority” – well – has none. We squeezed out the elected body and inserted our own players. When we throw eve-of-peace-talks ceremonies at the White House, we invite Egypt and Jordan, who have absolutely nothing of substance to contribute. And we studiously ignore all the parties that count – Hamas and Syria are fundamentally unavoidable in any settlement.
Welcome to the Middle East Peace Game – in which we get to choose the players, make up the rules and set the time table.
Excluded from The Game is anything remotely resembling an actual solution, or any meaningful negotiation around the contentious core issues. We don’t want this game to end. Like NATO and the other Cold War games we set up – we are not sure exactly how to dismantle them and have long since forgotten the end goal. The goal, it seems, is to simply stay in “play.”
So here we are at the start of 2011, entering the 20th year of the “Peace Process.” The reality of establishing two states died years before the idea did – just around the time we realized that Israel had used the peace process to sneak in half a million Jewish settlers into the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, thereby ending the land-for-peace basis of any lasting agreement.
Bad Assumptions = Bad Results
Established by the Oslo Agreement to allow Palestinians to begin a process of self-governance, the Palestinian Authority (PA) instead turned out to be a nifty way to remove Israeli troops from the daily grind of confrontation, whilst quite brilliantly allowing Palestinians to administer their own occupation.
And we threw money at our handpicked Palestinian leadership – creating graft, corruption and a sense of entitlement the likes of which has not been seen since the CEO of Halliburton became Vice President of the United States. In the process, we cordoned off the “opposition” into a hellhole called Gaza, and sought to destroy them by punishing an entire civilian population.
So focused were we on establishing players and rules, not for one honest second did we drill down on the core issues required to resolve this most divisive conflict. These were: 1) determining the borders of Palestine and Israel; 2) determining the status of East Jerusalem 3) determining the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees; 4) determination of sovereignty issues – water and air space rights; security…
The Peace Process Industry instead created a thousand other issues to be addressed first: who is in charge of guarding the grove of olive trees below that hill, around the corner from Abol Abed’s house? Who is going to ride in the second car when the PA president visits a town in Sector C? Who is going to collect taxes from the Palestinian worker building a gazebo for a Jewish settler family in illegally confiscated land? And other such numbing minutae. (more…)
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