Gwynne Dyer: The death of the Middle East peace process

It’s as if the world’s leaders were earnestly warning us that global warming will cause the extinction of the dinosaurs. They’ve actually been dead for a long time already. So has the Middle East “peace process”.

As soon as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel will build 3,000 homes on “East One” (E-1), the last piece of land connecting East Jerusalem with the West Bank that is not already covered with Jewish settlements, the ritual condemnations started to flow. Even U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace,” and others went a lot further.

The British minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, warned that “the settlements plan…has the potential to alter the situation on the ground on a scale that threatens the viability of a two-state solution.” France called in the Israeli ambassador and told him that “settlements are illegal under international law…and constitute an obstacle to a fair peace based on a two-state solution.”

Even the Australian government summoned the Israeli ambassador and told him that Israeli plans to build on the land in question “threaten the viability of a two-state solution”. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that the plan would be “an almost fatal blow” to the two-state solution, as if it were still alive. And Netanyahu, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t actually do anything, just stone-walled and smiled.

In almost all the media coverage, the Israeli announcement is explained as an angry response for the United Nations General Assembly’s vote last month to grant the Palestinian Authority permanent observer status at the UN, which is tantamount to recognising Palestine as an independent state. As if Netanyahu were an impulsive man who had just lost his temper, not a wily strategist who thinks long-term.

Building in the “E-1” area, which covers most of the space between the Jewish settlements that ring East Jerusalem and the huge Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the Palestinian West Bank, is definitely a game-changer. It effectively separates the West Bank from East Jerusalem, the city that the Palestinians see as the capital of their future state. It also almost cuts the West Bank in two. But it’s not a new idea.

The Israeli government declared its intention to build on this land 14 years ago, when Netanyahu was prime minister for the first time. The plan was frozen in response to outraged protests from practically all of Israel’s allies, who had invested a great deal of political capital in the two-state solution. But it was never abandoned.

Successive U.S. presidents were assured by various Israeli governments that construction would not proceed there, but most of those governments went on preparing for the day when a pretext to break the freeze would present itself. The land is still deserted today, but there are street lights, electric cables, and water mains.

Now a pretext has arisen, even if the UN General Assembly’s recognition of a Palestinian state makes little practical difference. Netanyahu has seized the opportunity, as he undoubtedly always planned to. And you can’t kill the “two-state solution”. To Netanyahu’s considerable satisfaction, it is already dead.

Creating two independent states, Israeli and Palestinian, separated by the “green line” that was Israel’s border until it conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, was the goal of the 1993 Oslo Accords. That’s what the “peace process” was all about, but it was really doomed when Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister signed the Oslo deal, was assassinated by a right-wing Jewish fanatic in 1995.

Netanyahu was elected prime minister after Rabin’s death, and spent the next three years stalling on the transfers of land and political authority to the Palestinian Authority that were required under the Oslo Accords. Meanwhile, he supported a vastly expanded program of Jewish settlement in the West Bank, although it was obvious that this would ultimately make a Palestinian state impossible.

After a two-year interval when the Labour Party under Ehud Barak formed a government and seriously pursued a final peace settlement with the Palestinians, the Israeli right recovered power in 2001 and has relentlessly pursued project of settling Jews on Palestinian territory ever since.

The number of Jews living in the West Bank has doubled in the past 12 years, and they now account for one-fifth of the population there. Jewish settlements, roads reserved for Jewish settlers, and Israeli military bases and reservations now cover 40 percent of the West Bank’s territory. But to retain U.S. support, Netanyahu still has to pretend that he is really interested in a two-state solution.

That’s why he had to wait for the right excuse before building on “E-1” and sealing East Jerusalem off from the West Bank. But he always intended to kill off the “peace process”, and in practice he succeeded long ago.

Why do his Western allies in the United States and elsewhere put up with this fraud? Because they cannot think of anything else to do.

Comments (23) Add New Comment
So what is Netanyahu's long-term wily plan? To maintain the occupation forever? To expel the Palestinians?
Rating: -3
Well that is the million dollar question. How does Israel integrate the conquored territories and populations? I suspect they will try to deport the Palestinians in the West Bank to Gaza.
Rating: -4
Please, Please, Please
Its hard to recognize Netanyahu without Harper kneeling in front of him
Rating: +11
I would think his plan is indeed to 'cleanse' Israel of the Palestinians. Even Herod the Great never tried that. Unholy Land.
Rating: -5
Maybe Netanyahu plan is to keep getting reelected until he retires, with no regard to the long term consequences (like a mutli-ethinc multi-religous state that is a beacon of tolerance unto the world and the death of Zionism)
Rating: +3
The 'West' underestimates the Christian Hating, West Hating Israeli mindset.

It is based upon rigid ideology of the Israeli Religious Fundamentalist State that views others as 'Gentiles' to be used for their purpose.

It is as scary and insidious as the Arab Terrorist rigid Religious Fundamentalist mindset.

Both are evil.

There is little difference.
Rating: +13
I'm sure Netanyahu is no saint. But let's not leave out the role of Hamas in killing the peace process by their stated intention of killing every Jewish person on the planet. There is plenty of blame to go around. How would you feel if your neighbor's only goal in life was to annihilate you?
Rating: +8
As the American Empire continues to decline, the United States won't be able to continue supporting its expensive collection of client states, of which Israel is Number 1.
That's the plain truth of the matter, as laid out by John Michael Greer just two weeks ago here:
Within a decade or two, Israel is going to be left entirely on its own, and the result won't be pretty. If I were an Israeli, I would get out while the gettin's good.
Rating: +15
Israel and the Zionists must continue to saturate worldwide media with disinformation about their role as victims of insecurity in order to pursue their imperialist agenda and lobby for international support as well as billions of dollars in yearly military funding. Without this mask of deception, their pursuit for a Jewish only holy land is not attainable. Meanwhile, they reek bloody havoc on children and dirt farmers day and night with their star warsesque tanks and fatigues. When even during the South African aparthied in all its horror and shame did the whites descend upon Soweto with F16 fighter jets and white phosperous? The aparthied WILL fall and the cheers of victory will haunt the Zionist machine forever.
Rating: +3
Please, Please, Please
" But let's not leave out the role of Hamas in killing the peace process by their stated intention of killing every Jewish person on the planet"

A sentiment you can also find in mainstream Israeli political dialogue when it comes to Arabs. Parties in the Knesset espouse this as well in their internal literature. Avigdor Lieberman in particular.

Which isnt to say Hamas are not murderers or terrorists. They are.

However, the IDF has maintained a kill ratio of about 9:1 over the past thirty years - roughly nine dead Arabs for every dead Israeli.

That isnt self defence. Its retribution.

"There is plenty of blame to go around"

Absolutely. I hold Hamas and the current Government of Israel in equal amounts of contempt.

"How would you feel if your neighbor's only goal in life was to annihilate you"

How does this statement not apply to the Arabs in the West Bank or Gaza ?

An Arab in Gaza or the West Bank is far more likely to die at the hands of the IDF than an Israeli citizen is to die at the hands of Hamas or Hezbollah.

Rating: +14
Chris S
And so this now leads us to one of two scenarios, neither of which will have in it a pro-Zionist outcome to the Israeli-Zionist experiment of the last 100 years. Scenario 1: Israel does total ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in the West Bank and inside pre-1967 Israel and the resulting war plunges the entire region into chaos with the outcome for an Israeli state very problematic. Scenario 2: Back to a one state solution that some on the Palestinian side (and now some Israelis) consider inevitable: an equal, democratic, secular state of Jews and Palestinians. How would this work: ask Mika Peled who has written on this subject recently. Peled is the son of the former Israeli Chief of the Defence Staff, Matti Peled, so hardly an anti-Semite. If we want the best for both peoples, let's hope that the second scenario is the one that plays out.
Rating: +2
Something Else to Do
"Why do his Western allies in the United States and elsewhere put up with this fraud? Because they cannot think of anything else to do."

The Western World were quite capable of thinking what to do about Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia, Afgahnistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, just to name a few. Maybe the same logic should be applied to Israel.
Rating: -5
Can you imagine the politcal consequences that would face a government that abandoned Israel, let alone took action of any kind, but especially military, to constrain it? Like one of the above comments alluded: The job of a politician is to keep getting re-elected until he or she retires.
Rating: +4
Something else to do - all is proceeding according to plan. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq are all wars that were intentionally prolonged lost and or abandoned after the true primary objectives were reached. You simply do not have a conflict such as the Israeli Arab situation lasting for so long unless there is significant financial rewards to a select few for prolonging the misery. Its finally harvest time as the middle east spoils are greedily seized by the powerful, Follow the money and invest in post war regions if you want to make some profit.
Rating: +4
There never was a 'peace process'
The much vaunted 'peace process' was just a delaying tactic to allow Israel more time to consolidate the whole West Bank. Now it has boomeranged,as there is no possibility of a 'two state solution', Israel won't ever give up the land, so now there will be 'one state' which will eventuallybe overwhelmingly Arab, it's a demographic fact. Israel is a microscopic European colony in a sea of Arabic peoples, they are in the same position as the White South Afrikaners were in South Afica during aparthied. They are whistling in the dark.
Rating: -5
Gene Logan
In light of Gwynne Dyers usual honesty I thought I'd repost this:

While the world may need more love sweet love, what the middle east needs first is a little honesty. Israel, and Jewish supporters of Israel, need to take a good long look in the mirror and be honest about the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian lands; it is racist, reminiscent of South African apartheid and inhumane. They could ask themselves if they had approached the Oslo Accords in good faith would there still be intifadas and rocket attacks. Worth considering too is why, as a people with a long history of persecution and subjugation, would they ever want to visit the same on another people.

The Palestinians need to borrow that mirror and acknowledge that violence is not serving them well and be honest about how much further ahead they would be if they had modeled their resistance on Gandhi's campaign for Indian nationhood instead of Osama bin Laden's jihad against all infidels. A good first step would be to stop that pathetic display of modern muslim male machismo that is responsible for launching rockets at Israel on a regular basis - it is not working, invariably invites Israeli retaliation (and plays into their hands) and leads to more death and suffering.

The West certainly has it's share of reckoning to do. I don't agree that "they cannot think of anything else to do". We could start by admitting that we do have the power to bring about a just and peaceful settlement ... if only we wanted to. A good start: revoke the Special Envoy credentials of war criminal, Tony Blair, and appoint an honest person to the job, someone like, say, the Prime Minister of Iceland. If the media were to start telling the whole story (instead of just leaving that to Robert Fisk and Mr Dyer), and stop lying by omission, then our gov'ts might actually have to approach the issue honestly.

Essentially, Israel and Observer State, Palestine, must allow that hatred never ceases by hatred ... and that it's way past time they both acknowledged each other's right to exist.

Rating: -5
Ernest Payne
When the level of problems of the west reach a tipping point Israel will be tossed overboard. As it stands now only a tiny very vocal group support Israel. The tipping point is nearing.
Rating: -5
What would liberals in the West do without being able to conflate Hamas 'terrorists' with the Israeli state to stuff some cushion of moral equivalence, so they can still comfortably sit on the fence?

Israel actions in this column have to do with retaliation, not over missiles, but the reasonable 'non-violent' Fatah application for non-member UN status? The suspension of Palestinian pay ($100 million) Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority was done NOT because of 'Hamas' suicide bombers or extremist Islam, but done because the Palestinians applied for non-member status at the UN?

Face matter how reasonable or moderate the Palestinians act, no matter what concessions they agree to, Israelis treat them the same way. Therefore, there can be no idea of moral equivalence or 'both sides are wrong'.
That's just simple minded racism in avoiding the truth about Israel.

Personally I no longer care what some western 'liberal' or they're party leaders THINK is 'racism' or 'apartheid' anymore; ppl like Netenyahoo, Harper and MULCAIR hate you anyway and are more than happy to make you look like shitty hypocrites to destroy YOUR credibility in public forums.

Oh and let's not worry about Mr Dyer and his Media ilk, his Zionist pals have been making him walk the plank consistently over the last decade gibbering on about the non-existent Peace process and how each and every settlement announcement is a 'deal breaker' when he isn't re-writing IDF press releases.

The punks back evil...they just doesn't want to admit it.
Rating: -2
Dyer claims that Israel's "allies" are helpless when it comes to Israel's duplicitous and disingenuous behavior towards the Palestinians. What an incredible claim to make! Is the Zionist state so powerful that it can do whatever it pleases? Is the Zionist lobby in Canada and the U.S. so powerful that they cannot be challenged or ignored?

Not really, Israeli misbehavior could be managed or controlled however it is not attempted because Canada,U.S and Europe don't care about the Palestinians or the Muslim world, they just care about Israeli's formerly and badly mistreated Jewry. AS the old adage goes: two wrongs don't make a right.
Rating: 0
Israelis are getting out in increasing numbers. Their places are being taken up by Russians, who are jews in name only, and by the ultra-orthodox, who certainly are jews, but who won't fight in their own defense. When the majority of the population is made up of those two incompatible groups- and that time may be drawn up with some confidence, and is not so far distant- it will be interesting to see how the Zionist dream will proceed.
Rating: -1


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