The peace process


Rice’s Way: Restraint in Quest for Peace
New York Times, 2007-11-29

U.S. Withdraws Draft On Mideast at U.N.
Move Seen as Blow to U.S. Ambassador
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post, 2007-12-01 (Saturday)

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]


On Thursday evening,
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations,
had all but persuaded the U.N. Security Council
to adopt a resolution endorsing
the agreement Israelis and Palestinians struck in Annapolis this week
to work toward a political settlement before the end of 2008.

But Friday,
the Bush administration did an about-face,
abruptly withdrawing the text
Israeli diplomats reiterated
their decades-long opposition
to a U.N. role in Middle East negotiations.

The blunder,
an embarrassing footnote to President Bush‘s efforts on Middle East,
also represented a personal blow to Khalilzad,
who has generally won praise among foreign delegates here and in Washington
for putting a more collegial face on U.S. diplomacy at the United Nations
than did his more combative predecessor, John R. Bolton.

The incident raised the hackles of some State Department officials,
who said Khalilzad has a history of diplomatic freelancing
and that he had stumbled into his current predicament
by failing to adequately consult the Israelis
or his boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Khalilzad flew to Washington, where he met with Rice.

“It doesn’t look good. I agree with that,”
Khalilzad said in a telephone interview from Washington late Friday.

Khalilzad said
he had consulted “very closely” with Rice before presenting the draft resolution
and that
his staff had kept the Israeli mission fully informed of U.S. plans.
Khalilzad said that
Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
became “very upset”
when they saw a copy of the text Thursday night.

He said they had no problem with the language of the resolution
but that
they expressed concern “that
it would give the U.N. a role”
in the peace talks.

“Ultimately, we agreed with their judgment,” Khalilzad said.

The United States hosted representatives of 44 countries,
including Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,
at a peace conference this week in Annapolis.
The two leaders agreed
to try to conclude an agreement creating a Palestinian state
before the end of Bush’s tenure.
U.S. officials debated whether to follow up
by pressing the U.N. Security Council to memorialize the agreement
with a formal resolution or
an informal statement of support.

Khalilzad said a decision had been made to float the U.S. resolution
in a closed-door council session Thursday.
He told reporters after the meeting that
the draft had received a “very positive” reaction from the council’s members.
But after hearing initial reservations from the Israeli mission,
he said he would have to consult with Israeli and Palestinian officials overnight.

Abbas praised the effort, telling reporters in Tunis on Friday that
the U.S. draft was “among the signals about the U.S. seriousness”
in the Middle East peace effort.

But Israeli officials disagreed.
Dan Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations,
quickly distanced himself from the plan,
telling reporters Thursday evening
that he had not been fully briefed on the contents of the resolution.
“At the moment, I know very little about it,” he said.

Khalilzad’s deputy, Alejandro D. Wolff,
was given the thankless task of announcing the U.S. reversal
outside the Security Council chamber Friday afternoon.
Wolff said the United States had decided to withdraw the draft resolution,
because there was “some unease with the idea”
and that the focus should be on
“the potentially historic outcome that will emerge from the Annapolis process.”

The State Department concurred.
“You know, you take time to consider things,
and you take a look at all the positive effects that have come out of Annapolis,
and I’m not sure that we saw the need to add anything else,”
spokesman Sean McCormack said.


The United States has traditionally deferred
to Israel’s requests
to exclude the U.N. Security Council
from Middle East peace efforts.

It is highly unusual
for the United States to propose action in the council
without prior detailed discussions with the Israeli government.

Israeli officials said today that
they see no need for a U.N. role in the peace process.
“It’s not the proper venue,”
said Daniel Carmon, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations,
according to the Associated Press.
“We feel that the appreciation of Annapolis
has other means of being expressed than in a resolution.”

But the U.S. retreat disappointed other council members.
“We understand the reasons put forward by the United States”
for withdrawing the draft,
said Jean-Maurice Ripert, France’s ambassador.
“But we remain convinced that
the support of the international community
to the process initiated in Annapolis
remains indispensable.”

In the end,
the Security Council agreed to instruct its temporary president,
Marty Natalegawa of Indonesia,
to give a statement to reporters summarizing the meeting.
He said the council shares
“an overwhelming sense of welcome to what has happened in Annapolis,”
and sees
“the need to encourage the parties concerned
to follow diligently the joint understanding that was reached.”

Staff writer Glenn Kessler in Washington contributed to this report.

The Tumult and the Shouting Dies…
by Uri Avnery
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-04

The Anti-Iran Annapolis Conference
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-04

The Failure of Annapolis
by Stephen Zunes
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-05

Annapolis: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
bu Henry Siegman
Al Hayat, 2007-12-13

For another version of this article, see “Post-Annapolis Pitfalls,”
The Nation, 2007-12-31 (web posted 2007-12-13).

[Its conclusion.]

As to the freezing of settlements,
Peace Now and Israeli human rights groups
have documented how Olmert gets around this inconvenience by simply
attaching the names of old settlements to the new ones
and calling them extensions of existing settlements.

What is astonishing about these deceptions
is not only
their flagrancy and extraordinary bad faith, but
the silence of Bush, Rice, and Hadley

even after they declared
the U.S. would assume the role of “monitor and judge”
who would call the shots as he sees them, without fear or favor.
Their silence should tell Abbas,
and the Arab leaders who attended Annapolis at Bush’s urging,
all they need to know
about what to expect from America as the negotiations proceed.

It also exposes the fatuousness of the Quartet
and the innocence of those who lecture Palestinians
on the priority they need to assign to institution building.
We know what was the half-life
of the institutions Palestinians built that were successful.
Only their rubble remains,
and it should serve as a reminder of the futility of such efforts
in the absence of political understandings
that show some awareness of the Palestinians’ ongoing dispossession
and respect for their political rights.


Bush Outlines Mideast Peace Plan
New York Times, 2008-01-11

[Its beginning.]

President Bush outlined Thursday in the clearest terms so far
the shape of a two-state peace treaty he is hoping to broker between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of his term.

He called for
redrawing borders and
compensating Palestinians and their descendants for homes they left in
what is now Israel.

[“They left”??
See The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine for a more honest description.]


Middle East Reality Check
New York Times Op-Ed, 2009-03-09

[Its beginning; emphasis is added.]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grabbed headlines with an invitation to Iran to attend a conference on Afghanistan,
but the significant Middle Eastern news last week came from Britain.
It has “reconsidered” its position on Hezbollah and
will open a direct channel to the militant group in Lebanon.

Like Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has long been treated by the United States as a proscribed terrorist group. This narrow view has ignored the fact that both organizations are now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible.

Britain aligned itself with the U.S. position on Hezbollah, but has now seen its error. Bill Marston, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “Hezbollah is a political phenomenon and part and parcel of the national fabric in Lebanon. We have to admit this.”


Precisely the same thing could be said of Hamas in Gaza.
It is a political phenomenon, part of the national fabric there.

One difference is that Hezbollah is in the Lebanese national unity government, whereas Hamas won the free and fair January 2006 elections to the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority, only to discover Middle Eastern democracy is only democracy if it produces the right result.

The United States should follow the British example.
It should initiate diplomatic contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah.

The Obama administration should also look carefully at
how to reach moderate Hamas elements
and engineer a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

Talking to Hamas?
by Stephen M. Walt
ForeignPolicy.com, 2009-03-10

Roger Cohen offers another stellar column here,
on the need to start reaching out to moderate elements within Hamas,
with the aim of encouraging a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.
Need I add that this is the only realistic approach to take?



Don't fall for the direct-talk hype:
The 'peace process' is still going nowhere

By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-08-20

What a deal!
commentary by Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2010-11-14

What the hell is “promising” about
this offer that we have made to the Israelis?

1- We will give the Israelis a flock of F-35s
when the things are available.
Give is the right word here.
They never pay for anything they get from us
unless it is with money we give them.
The Saudis by contrast buy everything with hard currency.

2- We commit to voting as they direct in the Security Council for two years.
This includes vetoing
any attempt by the PA to declare Palestinian independence.

3- They may (perhaps) promise to suspend settlement construction in the West Bank for 90 days, but not in Jerusalem. No. No. Not in Jerusalem.

Tell me.
In what sense is the USA still an independent country?

Not one cent for tribute:
Obama's embarrassing gift to Israel

by Mark Perry
mideast.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-11-15

"a triumph of hope over experience." Kessler
commentary by Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2010-11-16

A modest proposal for the Middle East peace talks
By Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-11-16

All for Israel?
Even bribery, disloyalty, and keeping U.S. kids hungry?

by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2010-11-17


US Culpability in the Failure of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks
by Stephen Zunes
Antiwar.com, 2014-07-09

The murder of three Israeli youth by unknown Palestinians
and the less-publicized but equally tragic murder of three Palestinian youth by Israelis,
along with Israeli bombing of urban areas in Gaza
and the arrest and detention of hundreds of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces,
serves as a reminder that Israeli-Palestinian peace is still a long way off.

And the Obama administration deserves much of the blame
for the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

It had originally been hoped
that the United States would present a binding framework
along the lines of what
moderate Israeli and Palestinian political leaders had agreed to
in unofficial talks in Geneva in 2003:
  1. Israel would recognize a Palestinian state
    based roughly on the pre-1967 borders with mutual territorial swaps,
    which would leave the Palestinians with 22 percent of historic Palestine
    and allow Israel to keep the remaining 78 percent;
  2. the Palestinian state would be demilitarized
    and all irregular militias disarmed;
  3. illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory near the Israeli border –
    encompassing close to 80 percent of the settlers –
    would be incorporated into Israel while settlers in the more remote settlements
    would be required to return to Israel;
  4. there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel,
    but there would be international assistance
    in helping them resettle in the new Palestinian state; and
  5. some Israeli troops would remain along border crossings
    between the Palestinian state and its Arab neighbors,
    eventually to be replaced by international forces.

[That sounds awfully generous to Israel and unfair to the Palestinians to me
(The 1967 boundary had, I believe,
a smaller percentage of the territory under Israeli control.
I.e., the 1967 war really was a war of aggression,
contrary to the claims otherwise of the ADL.)
but that's just my opinion.]

The Palestinian government agreed to these terms. Israel rejected them.
Rather than make public this framework,
and thereby hope the Israeli public would pressure
its right-wing government to compromise,
the Obama administration instead insisted that
“both sides” had shown a lack of will to compromise.

[Zunes concentrates his fire, and ire, on the Obama administration.
On the other hand,
I strongly believe that practically all U.S. politicians are strongly influenced by
how the media portrays their actions, and the general world situation.
In particular, the Washington Post surely plays a large role, at least in Washington,
on how both politicians and the world situation are viewed.
Their editorial stance has been an absolute rejectionist one
when it comes to pressuring Israel to make compromises.
Their opposition to pressuring Israel surely, in my opinion,
has played a significant role in keeping the U.S. from pressuring Israel,
which in turn has enabled Israel to continually refuse to make reasonable compromises with the Palestinians,
which in turn has been the major cause of the current warfare between Israel and some Palestinians.
In other words, the Washington Post bears real responsibility
for the current bloodshed in Israel/Palestine.]

An interview with an anonymous U.S. official close to the peace talks in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, confirmed numerous other reports that the Palestinian side made major concessions while the Israeli side essentially refused to make any, generally refusing to talk about any substantive issues.

A host of Democratic and Republican former officials – including a former national security adviser, secretary of defense, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, trade representative, and undersecretary of state for political affairs – went on record arguing that the Obama administration would have to challenge the Israeli government’s hard line towards the Palestinians in order for the peace process to be successful. Unfortunately, the White House apparently had no interest in doing so.

Instead, Washington has focused on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to give in to U.S. and Israeli demands that he recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” While the Palestinian government, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the ruling Fatah party have all recognized the state of Israel for more than 20 years, the Obama administration has effectively moved the goalposts by declaring that recognizing the Israeli government, acknowledging its right to exist, and providing security guarantees is not enough, insisting that the Palestinians explicitly recognize the state of Israel’s ethno-religious identity as well.

No previous administration has put forward such a requirement. President Carter never made such demands on Egypt, nor did President Clinton require this of Jordan as a condition for their peace treaties with Israel. Abbas has said that Israel can identify itself however it wants, but – given that 20 percent of the Israeli population is ethnically Palestinian Arab – it would be politically impossible to agree to something that would acknowledge second-class status for other Palestinians.

[My thought on this matter, for what it is worth,
is that this issue should be resolved within the negotiating process,
not as a precondition for negotiations.
I can see absolutely no reason for making it a precondition.
Why should the Palestinians be required to give in to Israel's demands
before negotiations start,
without getting something in return?]


a broad bipartisan effort is growing in the Congress
to blame the failure of the peace talks exclusively on the Palestinians
and to force the administration to cut all ties with the Palestine Authority.

[What bullshit.
The Palestinian frustration at Israel's insistence on continued settlement growth
is entirely understandable and justified.]

Unless and until the Obama administration decides to end
its unconditional backing for Israel’s right-wing government
and instead support Israeli and Palestinian moderates,
there will be no hope for peace.

[Amen to that,
but the broader problem is not merely the current presidential administration,
whatever it is,
but the broader refusal in both Congress and the media
to see the need for the U.S. to pressure Israel to compromise.
And the only explanation I can see
for the breadth of that support for Israeli aggression
is the wealth, power, and influence of the American Jewish community.
Sure, some Christians are fervent Zionists too,
but the breadth of their influence is insufficient to explain
the breadth of the support for Israel's actions.

Placing the blame for the current unrest exclusively on the Palestinians
is a prescription for endless war with Muslims.]

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