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The Phony Peace Process
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Any remaining illusion that the United States has ever been an honest broker in Israel-Palestine peace talks vanished yesterday. Al-Jazeera released a nearly 1700 document dump on the negotiations for a two state solution with a promise of more to come over the next few days. The US mainstream media has not exactly been all over the story, obviously engaging in their usual tactic of making it go away by ignoring it. But the facts are now out there, visible for everyone to see. The papers include background memos and reports of meetings and negotiating positions focused on the time period 2008-9. The Guardian describes the documents as a chronicle of “the slow death of the Middle East peace process.”

The Palestinians, it is now clear, offered far more both at Annapolis and at Taba than anyone not directly involved in the process believed at that time. They were willing to cede control over most of East Jerusalem as well as nearly all the ground on the West Bank on which the major Israeli settlements contiguous to Jerusalem were located. The major Muslim holy site the al-Aqsa mosque, Harm al’Sharif, would have been subject to what chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat described as a “creative” solution, possibly being placed under control of a special commission. Erekat described the concessions as creating the “largest Jerusalem in history” under Jewish control.

The Palestinian diaspora would have no right of return to their former homes in Israel and Israel even floated the idea of expelling its Arab citizens and resettling them on the West Bank. It was virtually a complete capitulation, the result of a powerless entity having to deal with a very powerful opponent totally supported by the world’s superpower. The Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni declared that the Palestinian concessions were not enough as the Palestinians had balked at conceding one major settlement Har Homa that blocked their access to their rump portion of Jerusalem from the West Bank. Livni wanted 100% and was supported in her obduracy by President George W. Bush and his staff.

The Palestinian people have rightly been shocked by the concessions being considered in their name, but it is a sign of the desperation of a national leadership that wants peace and stability at nearly any price as it watches continuing acquisitions of land and settlement building on the West Bank by the Israeli government.

If the Palestinian people believe they have been betrayed by their leadership that is something they will have to deal with themselves. But the American people have also been betrayed by a phony process that has dragged on for years at great cost to the taxpayer while inflicting terrible damage on the international standing of the United States. Israel continues to receive $7 million a day directly from the US Treasury plus much more in earmarks and tax deductible donations used to fund illegal settlements. Throw in the billions that have gone to Egypt and Jordan to keep the peace with Israel and the total costs to the United States have been staggering.

The unconscionable posturing and blank check granted to successive Israeli regimes by both Democratic and Republican US Administrations has effectively destroyed any conceivable peace process. The United States has an interest in encouraging a just settlement for the Palestinians and Israelis but it has instead frittered away its opportunity to serve as an arbiter of the situation by consistently throwing vast sums or money at the problem while simultaneously embracing Israeli “security” positions. Security is genuinely an issue, but it is the security of the American people, who are targeted by terrorists as a result of Washington’s embrace of Tel Aviv. American soldiers overseas are likewise the targets of militant groups who use the repression of the Palestinians as a recruiting tool and morale booster. Enough is enough. Israel is not part of the United States and the damage deriving from the relationship should be suggesting to everyone in congress and in the media that it is time for a change of course. US interests must come first and they demand a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is fair to both parties and that will not involve Washington any further in Middle Eastern imbroglios.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel/Palestine 
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  1. I agree completely. The notion of America acting as an honest broker in the never-ending “peace process” is a cruel joke. Our involvement, far from being critical, is actually an impediment to a lasting peace.

    It should be clear that Israel has no intention of bargaining in good faith, because they have no reason to do so. US foreign policy allows this to occur and it’s been going on for decades. Enough!

    It’s long past time to end our involvement in the Middle East. Let Israelis and Palestinians settle on their own terms, and let Israel accept the full responsibility for its actions.

  2. Andy says:

    Aside from Israel, Egypt and Jordan the US is spending a fortune in Iraq and Afghanistan. If it’s in order to secure our oil and whatever other perceived interests the US have in the region and our economy demands it then the citizens should know. What we’re told is that we’re fighting a war on terror and/or bringing democracy to the region.I’m for keeping the US terror free but we need to go about it in smarter and a more cost effective way .Since 9/11 things have been pretty safe here but I’m not sure that’s a result of a wise use of resources. I think more luck and we’ve often been wasteful. Iran is more of a power in the region than before 9/11. If one didn’t know better one might think Iran was behind our foreign policy. Enough to leave one scratching their head. If the US was energy independent it could leave the region to work out its own future, but voters here seem to recoil from a gas tax or even a tax on gas guzzlers, much less energy exploration off shore or spending on alternative sources. I remember when we went into Iraq pundits said that for getting rid of Saddam Hussein we’d get cheap oil to cover the cost as a spoil of war. Maybe I heard incorrectly but something to that effect and for certain it hasn’t happened. As for Israel/Palestine The US is not about to solve that mess nor should we continue to lose credibility by trying . It seems that we have neither the will nor the ability and to pretend otherwise isn’t fooling the Arabs or Israelis who seem to be taking the money and doing what they believe to be in their best interests.

  3. Well said, Mr. Giraldi. I couldn’t agree more.

  4. Sheldon says:

    One can only pray that Obama will have the guts to at least abstain on the Security Council resolution on the settlements. But I wouldn’t risk a dime to bet that he will.

  5. TomB says:

    Phil Giraldi concluded his comment by writing:

    “US interests must come first and they demand a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is fair to both parties and that will not involve Washington any further in Middle Eastern imbroglios.”

    I don’t suspect that there are many commentators out there today who is more deserving of credit for clarity of vision on this I/P issue than Mr. Giraldi, including Walt and Mearsheimer. Not that they aren’t great, but compared to them Phil was there … fustest, with the mostest, as someone once said, and people ought to keep an eye out for Phil’s invariably great pieces at which unfortunately aren’t reproduced here all the time.

    That said, and acknowledging further that the above line of his I have quoted may have been just a throwaway on his part, I can’t help saying that I think it contains a very great error. One that may have been at the very heart of the incredible issue of how in the world we can just sit there sinking ever deeper in this I/P muck decade after decade.

    In short I think that if there’s *anything* that can be done to extract us from that muck—and that’s not saying that there is, but speaking theoretically at least—it sure isn’t in seeing, as Phil wrote, that “our interests … demand a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is fair to both parties….”

    That is, no, I don’t think, we have no real vital national interest whatsoever there in either a fair or an unfair settlement to this I/P issue. No moreso than we have between which gang of horrors cuts off the most heads in the Ivory Coast and wins there.

    The problem with missing this, it seems to me, has been what has kept us in this I/P issue, because of course what it has meant is that the American people just keep getting suckered into being told to support these endless new “peace initiatives” that keep us in the muck. And that in turn has prevented the call from going out that no, we have no real vital national interest there and should just get the hell out, period, and not be supporting either side.

    True, even if that call to just get out started going out right now its chance for any immediate success would seem slim. But do these recent leaks illustrate anything better than that there’s simply no way—*no* way—that we can stay involved and suddenly turn into a real impartial mediator that can help achieve a durable agreement? Nuts, what these leaks reveal instead is that far more even that what was evident to everyone anyway that the U.S. was hopelessly slanted in Israel’s favor so much so that Israel could sit back and see *us* wanting deal more than it did, that we were up to our grubby necks in manipulating and indeed even bribing and blackmailing the Palestinians’ representatives into betraying their own people and signing onto some deal that would have the durability of a piece of paper mache. … Which thus would solve nothing in any long run and indeed because of our involvement in getting any such paper mache agreement would just throw us even deeper into the muck given the next inevitable explosion.

    I have no illusions that even a fairly-well supported domestic movement for us to just get the hell out would work any immediate panacea. (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it scared the hell out of the Israelis, and that couldn’t hurt.) But you have to start somewhere if indeed there is any hope of extricating us, and what’s the alternative? One more dive into the now decades-deep septic-tank that has been the history of all our allegedly “new” initiatives in senseless meddling over there?

    Moreover, what’s going to be our culpability when it turns out we weren’t really helping Israel at all, but instead merely helping one of its mere factions lead it into some catastrophe?

    Since there’s no chance of *any* success in us getting out of there any time soon the question then to me is what has the most chance of eventual success? Calling on the American people to demand of our political system that we get out, or calling once more on our political system to do what it manifestly cannot do and that is to “put pressure” on Israel to come to terms?

    Or, to put it another way (and shorn of any normative judgments), what eventually worked in motivating the U.S. public to get us extricated from Vietnam? The calls then for us to … just do something a bit different? Or to “Come Home America”?

    That this has been manifest all along seems to me clear, and what have these leaks shown if anything? That damn near no matter *what* terms Israel is conceded so long as it has us as its Big Brother it wants none of them. And why not? If any of us had an unshakably obedient, depthlessly-pocketed Big Brother why wouldn’t we go about not willing to give any terms to anyone, on anything?

    Offered “the biggest Jerusalem ever,” essentially offered the extinguishment of any Palestinian “right of return,” offered to be recognized as “a jewish state,” offered to allow it to expel some of its own arabs into some new Palestinian state, offered what seems 99.99% of its settlements … no, not enough, this leak confirms. Not even for what passes for its most liberal party now.

    With all due respect we need a movement in this country calling not for the U.S. to put any pressure on Israel, but instead to put pressure on neither side. And not only for our sake, even if that’s my only real concern, but for the sake of the Palestinians and the Israelis too since they are the ones that are going to have to live with the consequences of whatever ultimately happens over there.

  6. TomB is absolutely right. I got a bit carried away. Our real national interest is to have no involvement in the P/I conflict. Our only real interest is to disengage from it to stop the drain on our tax dollars and also to avoid its being used as a recruiting poster for those who seek to harm us.

  7. Art R. says:

    To see why U.S. foreign policy is so skewed to support Israeli/ zionist goals, click here for some videos from the 2009 AIPAC Policy Conference. Scroll down to watch the performance of possible 2012 GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence.

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