Laden and the United States are both engaged in the very same game.
While both of them could not care less about the Palestinians, they
both do their best to convince the (Arab) world that they couldn’t
care more. Bin Laden might have tried to attack the US even if there
was a fair peace in Palestine I agree with Ross about that
but he would have found considerably less support if this had been
the case. Bin Laden would have been even less attractive to the
Arabs and Muslims if the unimaginable sums of petrodollars streaming
from Middle Eastern oil-wells had found their way back to the inhabitants
of the region, not just to a couple of “royal” families and to the
American weapon industry. In fact, if this had been the case, Bin
Laden himself might not have gained access to so much wealth in
the first place. After all, Bin Laden is a product of a US-inspired
economic model that enriches the few and impoverishes the rest.
One Term, Two Meanings
Laden uses the Palestinian plight for his own cause, but the United
States is doing the very same thing. Since justice and fairness
play no role in American foreign policy, the support of many on
the Palestinian street for Bin Laden is all but understandable.
If the Palestinians had been quiet and loyal supporters of the US,
no one would have given a damn about them at all. Their very reservedness,
as well as the solidarity of Arabs in many countries of the Middle
East with the Palestinian cause, makes the US court them. On the
eve of a new American peace initiative, the question is what this
courtship is worth.
Ross correctly points out, we have a precedent. After the Gulf War,
to “reward” the Arabs for their support, the United States organised
the Madrid Conference to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict, which
now counts as the opening stage of the Middle East Peace Process.
term “Peace Process,” however, has two meanings. Most people believe
it means “a process that should lead to peace, and the sooner the
better.” This is nice, but it is not what Israel and the United
States mean by this term. Their definition would be rather: “a process
that defers a just peace, and the longer the better.” Yosef Ben
Aharon, Israel’s chief negotiator in the Syrian channel following
the Madrid Conference, openly admitted that in meetings with the
Syrian colleagues he used to sing out loud and to drum on the table
in order not to hear them. Did the United States mind? Not at all,
as long as the facade of a "peace process” could be upheld.
same holds for the Oslo Process, another indirect offspring of the
Madrid Conference. The Oslo agreements “deferred all the essential
issues to the final status agreement,” as American and Israeli officials
use to put it. In fact, those “essential issues” are synonymous
to the Occupation, including the fate of the Israeli settlements
and the question of borders. Deferring them simply meant perpetuating
the Occupation till the “final status.” Daniela Weiss, a prominent
leader of the extremist settlers’ movement, says that PM Rabin told
her openly from the very beginning that there would never be a final
status agreement. And though the final status agreement should have
been concluded by 1998, Rabin’s self-fulfilling prophecy in other
words: Israel’s premeditated intention still holds. So does the
Israeli Occupation, in spite of the decade that passed since Madrid.
have every reason to believe that the new American peace plan has
been created with the same intention: gain time for another decade
of American-backed Israeli occupation, until the next international
crisis, when the next “peace initiative” will be solemnly launched.
That Are Unsurprising
love to see a crisis where there is none. It dramatises their reports.
The world was outraged by Sharon’s “We are Not Czechoslovakia” speech
and by its harsh rejection by President Bush (“unacceptable”). What
an unbridgeable crack in the intimate relations between the United
States and Israel! What a historic landmark! So irreversible was
the “crisis,” that it took less than 48 hours for both sides to
declare it that was over, forgiven and forgotten.
favourite journalistic term is “surprise”; many columnists seem
to have developed a selective memory in order to be “surprised”
again and again by quite unsurprising information. Thus, Bush’s
claim that his “vision” (?!) always included a Palestinian State
was perceived as both a “surprise” to, and a “crisis” with, Israel.
Columnists have willingly forgotten that just a few days before
Bush’s speech, PM Sharon himself said he wanted to give the Palestinians
“what no one had given them before,” namely a Palestinian state:
in fact, this was the top headline of Haaretz on the 24th
printable version of this article
was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and has grown up in Israel.
He has B.A. in Computer Science, M.A. in Comparative Literature
and he presently works on his PhD thesis. He lives in Tel-Aviv,
teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature in Tel-Aviv
University. He also works as literary translator (from German, English
and Dutch), and as a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth
Achronoth. His work has been published widely in Israel. His
column appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.
Cares About the Palestinians?
in the Streets
Ideology of Occupation
War – Really Imminent?
State of the Army, Part Two
Settlements, Killing Peace
State of the Army, Part 1
Left Sells Out Peace
That Are One
readiness to accept a Palestinian state was itself perceived as
a great “surprise,” until it had to be forgotten in favour of the
“surprise” when Bush reiterated it. If, however, columnists had
minded checking their archives, they would have been forced to give
up their surprise in view of a report published in Haaretz
on December 11th, 1998. Sharon was at the time Neyanyahu’s Foreign
Minister, and he was on a visit to the United States.
sources have told Ha'aretz that during his visit Sharon promoted
a formula under which a Palestinian state may be established only
in what are now Areas A and B of the West Bank. When the Wye process
is compete, Area A, under Palestinian control, and Area B, under
joint Israeli-Palestinian control, would account for a total of
42 percent of the West Bank, leaving Israel in control of 58 percent.
In return for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's agreement to this
formula, the United States would recognize the mini-state. Several
outstanding issues, such as Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, Jewish
settlements and final borders would all be indefinitely postponed
under the Sharon plan. (...) Israel would thus retain control of
the majority of the West Bank.”
date, again: 11th of December, 1998.
has so far been leaked about Bush’s expected peace initiative for
the Middle East is totally compatible with Sharon’s old plan. Bush
will probably offer the Palestinians what Sharon offers them: a
“state” on less than half of the West Bank, no more a state than
any Bantustan was under Apartheid; with core issues like borders
and settlements postponed in other words: the Israeli occupation
perpetuated indefinitely. This “peace offer” may seem stingy
compared with the 96% Barak purportedly offered, but in fact this
is one and the same offer, as Robert Fisk of the Independent
reality, Palestinian officials and American sources the latter
wisely avoiding Israeli condemnation by talking anonymously - have
pointed out that the figure of 96 per cent represented the percentage
of the land over which Israel was prepared to negotiate - not 96
per cent of the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip. Left out of the
equation was Arab east Jerusalem - illegally annexed by Israel
after the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six Day War - the huge belt of Jewish
settlements, including Male Adumim, around the city and a 10-mile
wide military buffer zone around the Palestinian territories. Along
with the obligation to lease back settlements - built illegally
under international law on Arab land - to Israel for 25 years,
the total Palestinian land from which Israel was prepared to withdraw
came to only around 46 per cent - a far cry from the 96 per cent
touted after Camp David.”
offer of 46% thus more or less equals Sharon’s offer of 42%: this
is the Israeli offer, and Bush’s ideas will be no different.
exactly like during the Gulf War, Bush’s expected plan for the Middle
East will be just an attempt to pacify the Arab rulers, or at best
the Arab masses, by false illusions until their support is no longer
necessary when the nice words, just like the imaginary crises
with Israel, will be thrown to the dustbin of history and the United
States will return to its traditional one-sidedness in favour of
Israel’s expansionism. Israeli-American rejectionism offers the
Palestinians just one peaceful option: surrender now, or join a
“peace process” and surrender later. It is as negotiable as Bush’s
ultimatum to the Taliban.
520 S. Murphy Ave., #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
contributions are now tax-deductible