Article first published as West Asia Peace Talks are a Game for Netanyahu on Blogcritics.
The much-hyped Middle East peace talks have faced a dead end with all parties standing rigid at their positions without making any move. As the self-imposed partial freeze of settlement building has expired on September 26, the settlement 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 has declared before the talks that Israel must freeze its settlement building for the peace process to be continued. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told before leaving for talks, to the supporters of his Likud party that they had nothing to worry. “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 Mediterranean sea to the Jordan river including the whole of the West Bank. (‘Frontline’ fortnightly’s print edition – October 8, 2010)
Netanyahu’s love for Eretz Yisrael implies his unwillingness to the existence of Palestinians’ West Bank. If it 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 himself of stopping implementation of 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 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 sceptical 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 applied as views of all settlers. 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 which can be read here. The exchange in the video suits to the present context of the direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
On September 10, the U.S. President Obama told the media in Washington that he had conveyed the Israeli Prime Minister that it would make sense to extend the moratorium. However, Mr. Netanyahu told Tony Blair, the envoy of the quartet of the West Asia mediators, on September 12 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 heeding to 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 the peace with the Palestinians was not attainable in a year or during the next generation. Another ally of Netanyahu in the government Ovadia Yusuf, the leader of Shas party, expressed the hope that God would strike President Abbas dead before the direct talks commenced.
The Hamas, considered as terrorist organization by the US, which is in control of the Gaza Strip winning the popular support of Palestinians in 2006 elections, was not consulted for peace talks. The group says it will not accept any deal achievable in direct talks. Though the talks have backing of the US allies in the region Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, important stakeholders in the region, Syria and Lebanon, which have serious territorial disputes with Israel, were not considered by the Obama administration for inviting to the table.
Therefore, with no representations from Hamas, Syria and Lebanon the peace talks are doomed to failure. The states make their decisions according to their interests in the region. It is the Palestinians and the Israelis to decide the fate of their future, depending not upon the biblical writings and beliefs but upon the historical facts. Otherwise, the regimes will be playing their games forever, keeping their stakes alive.