Now that full-scale building has resumed in the West Bank, and land in East Jerusalem housing 30 Palestinian families has been handed over to Jewish settlers by the State of Israel, the “peace process” hangs in a delicate balance. Yet the very nature of such a process was created as tenuous by definition.
The Palestinian Authority has taken a stand against popular Palestinian sentiment to continue with talks despite continued land evictions, settler violence, and state terror. Now they are being set up for humiliation. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the United Nations yesterday, calling for an interim peace process that would “take a few decades” and involve a population transfer of Arab Israelis to Palestinian Authority control. These statements were not even contradicted by the Prime Minister’s office, and private sources say Netanyahu does not even necessarily disagree with such a proposal. Now Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama are standing like fools on stage with their hands out, while Israel brushes by as if they do not even exist.
The emotional problems are first and foremost the utter lack of confidence between the sides and issues such as Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People and refugees. Under these conditions, we should focus on coming up with a long-term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades. We need to raise an entire new generation that will have mutual trust and will not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages.
With this statement, Lieberman says plainly that the world must wait for a tamer, more passive Palestinian generation to emerge before a peace agreement can be worked out. Citing “emotional problems” (that sounds quite like a man shouting “hysteria!” at an enraged woman), he fails to bring up any mention of Jewish extremism – such as the celebrations marking the end of the building freeze attended by thousands in the West Bank – and whether it presents an obstacle to peace.
As for an “exchange of populated territories”, what he means is jettisoning most of the 1.4 million Palestinian citizens in Israel to become the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, without their say in the matter. In exchange for this process, which would be ridding Israel of what they call a “demographic time-bomb”, Israel would be keeping hold of their Jewish settler population in the West Bank that currently carves up the land into a hellish archipelago – and, one assumes, the military presence there to “protect” the settlers. Win-win.
We can tell who the powerful party is by noticing who sets the rules, who keeps watch over the “emotional” landscape of the peace process. Even Barack Obama, who tried his hand to halt the Israelis from resuming full-scale settlement and colonization of the West Bank, faces humiliation at the hands of the Israeli leaders who take two billion dollars a year in aid with one hand while slapping him with the other.
Unfortunately, the Palestinians are simply window dressing – like the humiliation of Joe Biden earlier in the year when he visited Israel, the real story is about the Israeli right flexing its muscles publicly while America watches, unable to stop them or even speak up in a meaningful way. Meanwhile, the Palestinians continue to be forced off their land, continue to be imprisoned, and even their Israeli-passport-holding brothers and sisters are suddenly pale as their government – to whom they pay taxes and to whom they entrust the education of their children – talks about expelling them without even consulting them first.
The Palestinians are stuck with peace talks. They understand that the way the narrative is written, they will be laid with the guilt if the peace process fails. If they simply show up, try and put on a smile and extend a hand, the Israelis will slap it away and heap shame on their heads until they can’t stand it anymore. Yet, the alternative is nearly unthinkable as anti-PA activists continue to be imprisoned and tortured, as the PA continues to stifle protests against the peace process, etc. All for a sweet slice of foreign money and a world of humiliating defeats.