The much-hyped Middle East peace talks are facing a dead end, with all parties standing rigid and unmoving in their positions. As the self-imposed partial freeze of settlement building expired on September 26, the building resumed, despite warnings and requests from the US establishment.
Although the peace talks were supposed to be held without preconditions, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Abbas, declared before the talks that Israel must freeze its settlement building for the peace process to be continued. Before leaving for the talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the supporters of his Likud party that they had nothing to worry about, saying, “You don’t need to worry. Nobody needs to teach me what it is to love Eretz Yisrael,” referring to the idea of an Israel stretching from the Mediterranean sea to the Jordan river including the whole of the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s love for Eretz Yisrael implies his unwillingness to accept the existence of Palestinians’ West Bank. If this is so, why should he dance to the tune of Mr. Obama? It is not clear whether Obama is in the pocket of Netanyahu or Netanyahu is in the pocket of Obama. However, the doubt appears to be cleared with a leaked video of Mr. Netanyahu.
A video was published on YouTube that shot Benjamin talking to a family, supposedly a victim of terrorist attack, in a West Bank settlement of Ofra. He asked to stop shooting preparing himself to tell something that cannot be shot. He seemed to have believed that the shooting was stopped and went on to say what he thought about the U.S. under Mr. Clinton, and the Oslo peace process. He said the then-US administration was radically pro-Palestinian and the US could easily be maneuvered, boasting of stopping implementation himself of the Oslo accord at the cost of giving away the Hebron city. He told the family that the Palestinians needed to be beaten repeatedly so that they believe that everything achieved was falling apart. This observation is put into practice through implementation of the inhuman Gaza Blockade.
He said he believed in his father, who quoted Netanyahu’s grandfather as saying that they could give 2 percent to prevent giving away 100 percent. The family appeared skeptical about the US help for which Netanyahu replied that the US foreign policy was easy to be put in right direction.
One can argue that the Hamas’ reading of the Israeli settler community on West Bank as Israel Reserved Force is justified after watching the video, though it cannot be taken as the view of all settlers. The Israeli people have to recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their own land.
The video was published on July 15, 2010, the text of it can be read here. The exchange in the video mirrors the present context of the direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
On September 10, President Obama told the media in Washington that he had conveyed to the Israeli Prime Minister that it would make sense to extend the moratorium. However, on September 12, Mr. Netanyahu told Tony Blair, the envoy of the quartet of the West Asia mediators,that the Palestinian demand for a halt to settlement construction activity in the occupied territories was not going to happen.
The Israel Prime Minister never appeared to be heeding the PA’s demands of recognizing pre-1967 war borders, giving up East Jerusalem as the capital of future Palestinian state and permanent freezing of settlement building, before and during the direct talks. Not only that, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, ruled out any more extension of the construction freeze, and he even predicted that the peace talks would fail. He was said to have told the Israeli military radio that peace with the Palestinians would not be not attainable in a year or even during the next generation. Another ally of Netanyahu in the government, Ovadia Yusuf, the leader of the Shas party, expressed the hope that God would strike President Abbas dead before the direct talks commenced.
Hamas, (considered a terrorist organization by the US) which is in control of the Gaza Strip, and which won the popular support of Palestinians in the 2006 elections, was not consulted for the peace talks. The group says it will not accept any deal achievable in direct talks. Though the talks have the backing of US allies Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, all important stakeholders in the region, Syria and Lebanon, which have serious territorial disputes with Israel, were not invited to the table by the Obama administration.
Therefore, with no representation from Hamas, Syria or Lebanon, the peace talks are doomed to failure. The states make their decisions according to their interests in the region. It is for the Palestinians and the Israelis to decide the fate of their future, depending not upon biblical writings and beliefs, but upon the historical facts. Otherwise, each of the regimes will be playing their games forever, keeping their stakes alive.