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FLETCHER: Israeli-Palestinian Talks — Negotiations or Choreography?

Bill Fletcher Jr. | 9/4/2013, 3 p.m.
Bill Fletcher Jr.

How can there be honest negotiations when one side – which has the lion’s share of the weapons, including a nuclear arsenal and the support of the U.S. government – decides that it is appropriate to go forward with illegal settlements on Palestinian land? This is the question that haunts the current round of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It also raises serious questions as to what a future agreement might portend.

While the U.S. and Israeli media made a great deal out of the Israeli release of Palestinian political prisoners, it was of greater significance that the Israelis have not stepped away from the continuations of their settlement policy. In any other field of negotiations, one would assume that actions that preclude a constructive result would be avoided. That is not the case when it comes to talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The Israelis seem to be determined to assert that they hold the upper hand. And in a situation of what is sometimes called “low intensity warfare” they are nevertheless able to convince too many people that their intentions are noble.

There is a significant danger that an ‘agreement’ may be reached between the two sides, blessed by the USA, which brings nothing close to peace and justice to the region, let alone to the Palestinians. Looking at a map of the occupied Palestinian territories resembles looking at an x-ray of a cancerous lung. There is little that is cohesive. It is filled with the holes that delineate Israeli settlements. And that map may end up being the Palestinian “nation-state” unless something radically shifts the terms of the current negotiations.

The Palestinians face the prospect of the peace of the graveyard rather than peace with justice unless there is significant international pressure exerted. The pressure on the Palestinians to settle for just about anything will be tsunami-like, particularly coming from the US government that desperately wishes to proclaim the end of hostilities. What we, however, need to understand is that the imposition of the peace-of-the-graveyard will not bring about such a result. It will result in a continued, protracted and painful conflict, perhaps Palestinian vs. Palestinian and Palestinian vs. Israeli. Should you have any questions about this, ask the people of Northern Ireland.

The British and their Loyalist supporters thought that everything was wrapped up when they imposed a “compromise” settlement on Irish nationalists in 1921. Things did not quite work out the way that the British and Loyalists had planned.

Bill Fletcher Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and the author of "'They're Bankrupting Us': And Twenty Other Myths about Unions." Follow him on Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com.