Road to nowhere "“ the never ending 'peace talks'

Tony Greenstein examines a war by other means

It is difficult to find anyone who has a good word to say for the ‘peace talks’ currently going on between Palestinian ‘president’ Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed Abbas, the quisling leader of the Palestinians, whose mandate ran out earlier this year and who is only in office courtesy of the Israeli state and the United States, has openly admitted that he has no option but to take part in these talks.

For 40 years there has been a ‘peace process’ going on. In the early 1970s we had the Roger talks and Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy. Alexander Haig and various other secretaries of state have come and gone without an inch of Palestinian land being restored. Indeed during that time half a million Israeli settlers have occupied or confiscated some 40% of the land in the West Bank.

The only gain from the so-called peace process was the return of the Sinai desert to Egypt under president Sadat at the Camp David talks led by US president Jimmy Carter. This agreement to return the Sinai, which was never part of the land of milk and honey promised to God’s errant followers, enabled the US to base its Middle East policy on the Arab regimes of Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, as well as the Saudi ruling dynasty.

And the Egyptian state has been true to its word. Through thick and thin it has supported US imperialism in the region, for which it has been rewarded by the largest military aid programme after Israel itself. The Egyptian regime has faithfully maintained the blockade against Gaza, signing up to Israeli and US attempts to dislodge the elected Hamas regime through starving out the Palestinians. Throughout the war against Gaza in January 2009 Mubarak kept up his support for the Israeli attack, maintaining the blockade and preventing the Gaza freedom marchers and others from breaking the blockade. Just as the Israelis attacked the Mavi Marmara, so Egypt attacked previous convoys physically.

President Obama has opined that there can be a Palestinian state within one year - at a time when the Judification of Jerusalem is proceeding apace and the Israeli far-right is on the offensive. This is of course a pipe dream. Such a ‘state’ would not even be a South-African style bantustan. The only comparison is that of an Indian reservation, a place where settlers could come and gawp at the indigenous population.

But even the hideous monstrosity of a mini statelet is highly unlikely to happen for the simple reason that politically it would be untenable. No Palestinian leader could maintain power in such a state without repeated Israeli armed intervention. No Israeli government would voluntarily accept not going back into the territory to assassinate whoever takes its fancy. So the chances of these talks leading to any more success than previous ‘road maps’, Annapolis etc, are highly unlikely.

And as if to make it clear who is boss, Netanyahu has announced that the moratorium on settlement building, which never applied to Jerusalem and in practice was only honoured in the breach, is to end. Having been told by Abbas repeatedly that he would pull out of the talks if this happened, we now find out that he is going to consult with the Arab leaders. This reminds me of the Palestinian general strike of 1936. The Arab higher committee under the feudal leadership of the mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammed Amin al-Husseini (later a minor war criminal), looked to the Arab leader to help them call off the strike. And of course they appealed to him in the name of ‘Arab unity’ to do just that.

So today that miserable pathetic creature called Abbas, and his Palestinian American thugs who imprison and torture Palestinian activists courtesy of Israel, hesitates to pull out of the ‘peace talks’ because he knows that he will not be thrown a bone in reply. Instead he looks for salvation to the very Arab regimes who have betrayed the Palestinian and Arab masses from the beginning.  The reality is that the Palestinian authority under Abbas is merely a sub-contractor for the Israeli state, as was always envisaged under the Oslo accords.

What is more interesting is what lies behind this process. Even Israel’s far-right accepts that an immediate transfer of the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank to Jordan - their preferred solution - cannot happen at present. Restrictions will be stepped up, family unification prevented, those with problems with their papers will be quietly deported and so forth, as recent legal changes now allow, but nothing on the scale which is required to absorb the whole of the West Bank into Israel and yet keep the ‘democratic’ - ie, Jewish - majority nature of Israel. There can, at present, be no repeat of the nakba of 1948 when three quarters of a million Palestinians were expelled from Israel by massacre and terror.

It therefore makes sense to confine Palestinians within a separate ‘state’. A state without bars but which Israel controls. Without any access to the sea, without any control over its borders, with no army allowed and with its air space subject to Israeli control. Such a ‘state’ will enable Israel to continue denying the Palestinians of the West Bank any political rights and will be an open invitation to expel the Palestinians of Israel into it. It can only be a disaster, not least for the Arabs of Israel itself, whom the present government would dearly like to be rid of.

What the west terms a peace process is in reality a war process by other means.