Slap on the Face …
By Jamal Kanj
The Middle East Peace Quartet which comprises of the UN, US, European Union and Russia just received a slap in the face from their spoiled progeny, otherwise known as Israel. On 27th September, the Israeli government announced plans to undermine the peace process by building 1100 new Jewish only units in occupied East Jerusalem.
Despite continued Israeli intransigence and blatant violation of its own agreements, UN Security Council resolutions and the 4th Geneva Convention calling on occupying powers not to “… transfer parts of its own civilian population into occupied territory (Art.49),” yet, the US and its submissive European Union have asked again the Palestinians to return, unconditionally, to an open ended negotiation exercise with Israel.
“Unconditionally” is by itself an Israeli condition on Palestinians to abandon previously negotiated understandings with various Israeli governments, set-aside international law, and submit to Israel’s diktat on peace talks.
This is invariable with Israel’s history of inventing linguistic sophistry whereby its “condition” becomes “unconditional,” “natural growth” a euphemism for expansion of illegal settlements and “secure border” to justify occupation.
Setting “conditions” on peace talks have always been an Israeli tactic to accomplish the most before even talking, and then drag negotiations perpetually to “avoid the inevitable.”
Israeli “conditions” were first established in 1975 when a Zionist US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger enticing Israel to agree on peace talk with Egypt, promised Israel on behalf of the US government, not to talk with the Palestinians unless the PLO recognizes Israel and UN resolutions 338 and 242.
Mind you that Israel was not asked to recognize the Palestinians and it never abided by the two referenced UN resolutions.
Despite PLO acceptance of US “conditions” in 1988, Israel refused to recognize the PLO, and agreed to participate in the 1991 Madrid peace round only if Palestinians were represented by a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. The US acquiesced “again” and coerced the PLO to concede to Israel’s new demand.
In 1993 the Labor Israeli government and the PLO signed the Oslo understanding, whereby the PLO reaffirmed “again” its recognition of Israel and renounced its armed struggle “terrorism” to achieve political goals. The signed Oslo document called for “permanent status negotiations” to start before May 1996.
Ignoring the time frame set by the Oslo understanding, a new Israeli Likud government headed by the current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu inserted a new “condition” in 1997: the PLO must first annul the Palestinian national charter calling for democratic non sectarian state in Palestine.
The US compelled the Palestinians to accept the new Israeli “condition” and without any reciprocal commitment from Israel, the PLO convened in December 1998 the Palestine National Council in Gaza under the tutelage of US President, Clinton, rescinding the Palestinian Charter.
In 2002 president Bush proposed “roadmap” for Middle East peace. The roadmap called to firm up permanent status agreement, end of conflict and reach accord on final borders by 2005.
While accepted by Palestinians, the Israeli government filed fourteen “conditions” before pretending to endorse the plan. The imposed fourteen Israeli “conditions” rendered the US plan dead on delivery and it never reached the “road” envisioned by the US president.
Nevertheless, the Palestinian leadership bought “again” into the Israeli gambit and following long grueling sessions of negotiation, they reached by 2008 substantive agreements on key issues with the Israeli Kadima led government under prime minister Ehud Olmert.
In 2009 the Likud under the leadership of prime minister Netanyahu came back to power and injected, yet again, new “conditions” on the Palestinians: re- negotiate from the starting point and recognize Israel once more, but this time, as a “Jewish state.”
Now, and in light of the new Israeli disregard to the peace process, the US and Europe must present Israel with an ultimatum: cease and desist on building illegal settlements or else they must recognize Palestine as the 194th member of the United Nations.
Otherwise, the doublethink Western policy advocating democracy in the Arab world, while tolerating Israel’s subjugation of a whole nation will be seen for what it was: patent hypocrisy.
*Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab World issues and the author of “Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America”, Garnet Publishing, UK. Jamal’s articles can be read at www.jamalkanj.com, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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