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The peace process industry keeps the Israeli-Palestinian conflict running

Ben White. Monday 19 June 2017 #Occupation

Rather than admit their methods haven’t worked, pundits and scholars – often participants in unsuccessful peace talks themselves – push tired approaches that only keep Palestinians occupied

At an April conference in Washington DC held by the Middle East Policy Council, University of Pennsylvania-based political scientist Professor Ian Lustick had some strong criticism for what he described as “the continuous merry-go-round of American-orchestrated negotiations”.

After analysing the interests and roles played by the Israeli government, the US government, and the Palestinian Authority, Lustick turned his attention to a “fourth player” – what he called “the peace process industry“.

This industry, according to Lustick, is made up of “legions of pundits, scholars, commentators, funders and conference organisers”, whose “speculations, warnings, maps and advice fill the newspapers, blogging sites and airwaves”.

In particular, Lustick highlighted the role of this industry’s “two-state solution proponents”, who, “given the choice between a vanishingly small chance of success and having to develop and adapt an entirely new framework for pursuing values of justice, peace and equality and democracy in this domain, they prefer continuing the fight”.

He added: “It is far easier to raise funds, preserve institutions and promote careers by describing a closing window of opportunity for two states than to ever admit that in fact a window is closed.”

The result is that “both protagonists and observers [are discouraged] from thinking beyond the outworn categories of two states to imagine other possibilities”. (I tend to disagree: first a 2 State settlement and then opening new windows to the process)

Sample study

This peace process industry hides in plain sight. Its members maintain a high-profile public presence, but one whose role and influence is framed as independent and technocratic.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

In five pieces published over three weeks in May by The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Politico, CNN and Reuters, 16 regional analysts were cited on 22 occasions.

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky were both cited in three of the five articles – the pair are colleagues at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).

Career diplomat Aaron David Miller and former US envoy to Israel Dan Shapiro were quoted in two of the five pieces.

Together, Ross, Makovsky, Miller and Shapiro constituted almost half of the total 22 expert contributions.

Other analysts cited include Ronald Reagan and George W Bush-era official Elliott Abrams, veteran US diplomat and expert Martin Indyk, and former Israeli military and diplomatic figures like Gilead Sher and Amnon Reshef.

Of the 22 times that an expert was quoted, only three were Palestinian: Jibril Rajoub, Hanan Ashrawi (the sole woman of the 22), and Hani al-Masri.

Taking these five articles as a whole, written in the context of President Donald Trump’s Middle East tour, we notice the following:

First, Palestinian voices are marginalised, or sometimes absent entirely;

second, readers are not informed of the analysts’ own personal views; and

third, many are commenting on a “peace process” in which they themselves have been (unsuccessful) participants.

Makovsky (a US-Israeli dual national), for example, worked as senior advisor to the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under secretary of state John Kerry.

That special envoy was Martin Indyk, who took a break from Brookings to take up the role, before returning in 2014.

Ross, too, is a former US negotiator (albeit one who believeswe need to be advocates for Israel”).

‘The most spectacular deception’

This revolving door between think-tanks and government is a key element in sustaining the tired approaches and bankrupt frameworks that have helped keep the Palestinians occupied, colonised and dispossessed – at no significant cost to Israel with respect to consequences or sanctions.

The structure of the peace process imposes “mutual obligations” of “both sides” – Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – despite the fact that the former is a powerful, occupying state, and the latter is an interim, autonomous entity for the occupied population.

The peace process industry experts play a key role in talking up or echoing the latest demands of the PA fashioned by Israel the US or others, whether it’s “reform” of security services or financial institutions, or ending “incitement” in the media and the education system.

In turn, Israel is urged to adopt tokenistic gestures such as economic “confidence-building measures”, issue more work permits to enter the pre-1967 lines, or lift some of the restrictions on Palestinians’ usage of territory in “Area C” of the West Bank.

Writing a decade ago in the London Review of Books, Henry Siegman described “the Middle East peace process” as possibly “the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history.”

Last month, writing in The New York Times, former Palestinian negotiator excoriated a peace process that has produced “no progress” after “more than two decades.” She continued:

I spent several years involved on the Palestinian side of the negotiations and can attest to their futility…When we spoke of international law and the illegality of settlements, Israeli negotiators laughed in our faces. Power is everything, they would say, and you have none.”

During a recent seminar at Queen Mary University London, Palestinian author and academic Ghada Karmi told attendees: “We must stop talking about Palestine, and do something about Israel.”

( The western societies that were pressured to hide their racist and apartheid penchants publicly, vent their rage by openly supporting Israel policies without any limitation in “”free expression” rights)

Such a course of action is unlikely, however, so long as the “peace process” merry-go-round continues, ably assisted by its industry of experts, providing Israel cover for permanently-temporary occupation.

– Ben White is the author of  Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide and Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy. He is a writer for Middle East Monitor and his articles have been published by Al Jazeera, al-Araby, Huffington Post, The Electronic Intifada, The Guardian’s Comment is Free and more.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Young Ariel Sharon: Has he ever changed?
 ” Palestinian women are slaves to the Jews, because that’s how we want them to be”
War criminal Ariel Sharon, butcher of Beirut, is dead. He never faced justice for all the lives he ended and ruined. (Graphic by @[1069374286:2048:Doc Rocket] & me)
War criminal Ariel Sharon, butcher of Beirut, is dead. He never faced justice for all the lives he ended and ruined. (Graphic by Doc Rocket & me) Ben White‘s photo.
General Ouze Merham interviewed Sharon in 1956 and Ariel’s answers:
1. I massacred 750 Palestinians in Rafah in one swipe
2. I encouraged my soldiers to rape the Palestinian women
3. Palestinian women are slaves to the Jews
4. We dictate to others what we want
5. I swear that I am ready to kill any civilian Palestinian I meet
This is the French text:
Au grand jour's photo.

Nadia Massih published in the Lebanese The Daily Starthis Jan. 11, 2014

BEIRUT: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday aged 85, was widely reviled in Lebanon for his role in the invasion of the country in 1982 as well as the massacres at the Beirut-based Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

Sharon was commonly dubbed the “Butcher of Beirut” for his association with some of the worst atrocities during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War.

The Daily Star
FILE - In this June 15, 1982 file picture provided by the Israeli Defense Ministry, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, foreground, rides an armored personnel carrier on a tour of Israeli units advancing to the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, during the Israeli occupation. (AP Photo/Israeli Defense Ministry, File)
FILE – In this June 15, 1982 file picture provided by the Israeli Defense Ministry, Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, foreground, rides an armored personnel carrier on a tour of Israeli units advancing to the outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon, during the Israeli occupation. (AP Photo/Israeli Defense Ministry, File)

He was a part of the Israeli military since the country’s creation, as a member of the Jewish Haganah paramilitaries in the 1947-48 war that led to the “Nakba,” displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

He rose through the ranks with his belligerent military strategies, leading a brigade in the 1956 Suez War, and engineering the capture of the Sinai Peninsula 11 years later during the Six Day War.

However, it was in his political career that he will be most controversially remembered.

As Defense Minister he spearheaded the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, set up to root out Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization and form a peace accord with the Beirut government. The invasion morphed into a long occupation, and inadvertently helped to confirm Hezbollah’s status as the resistance party.

In 1982, Israel’s ally Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party member Habib Chartouni. Gemayel’s Kataeb fighters looked to the Palestinians to avenge the death and launched an attack of the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, which were under Israeli control.

Over 3,000 Palestinians, including many women and children, were brutally killed, and as many taken away, never to reappear.

It was a massacre that Sharon was personally implicated in. A U.N. investigation the next year concluded that Israel was responsible for the attacks, and the Israeli-run Kahan Commission the same year determined that Sharon was personally accountable.

The Kahan report’s findings said that Sharon bore responsibility “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge” and “not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed.”

The conclusions led many to dub Sharon the “Butcher of Beirut” and forced him to resign from the defense post but he refused to leave Cabinet, remaining minister without portfolio.

His bellicose reputation continued into his tenure as prime minister.

In 2000, he walked brazenly into the Temple Mount complex which houses the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque, some of the holiest sites in Islam. The inflammatory move was widely attributed as sparking the Second Palestinian Intifada.

He was also associated with the widespread expansion of illegal outposts in the West Bank. As Housing Minister in the 1990s, he oversaw the biggest settlement drive in 20 years.

However, despite his uncompromising attitude, in 2004 he signed into law a plan to re-house all settlers in the Gaza Strip.

Sharon: ‘Occupation’ terrible for Israel, Palestinians

Kelly Wallace on CNN this May 27, 2003

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appears to be urging Israelis to accept giving up land for peace and advocating an end to what he called “occupation.”

“You cannot like the word, but what is happening is an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation. I believe that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians,” he said Monday.

Those were stunning words from the longtime hawk and backer of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

“It can’t continue endlessly,” Sharon said. “Do you want to stay forever in Jenin, in Nablus, in Ramallah, in Bethlehem? I don’t think that’s right.”

On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet voted to accept — with reservations — the U.S.-supported “road map” to peace, clearing the way for a series of steps that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state within three years.

The first phase of the road map involves the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian zones reoccupied during the current uprising and a freeze on settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian officials are required to crack down on militant groups that have carried out attacks against Israelis.

The Palestinian Authority accepted the plan last month after it was drafted by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, the so-called Mideast Quartet.

The Israeli Cabinet’s 12-7 vote, with four abstentions, marked the first time an Israeli government has formally accepted the principle of a Palestinian state.

But Sharon faces a skeptical public. In a newspaper poll Monday, 51 percent said implementing the road map would not lead to peace, while 43 percent said it would.

The stakes will be high for this week’s expected meeting between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas will call for immediate implementation of the road map, including an end to Israeli military operations in Palestinian areas and a freeze on any settlement expansion, Palestinian advisers said.

Both steps are key to convincing radical Palestinian groups to stop attacks against Israel, the Palestinians said.

But Israeli sources said Sharon will reiterate his long-held position that the first step must be a clear and visible Palestinian crackdown on groups such as Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for four recent suicide bombings against Israelis.

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has acknowledged attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers and has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said Israel wants to see a “complete dismantling of the infrastructure of terror” by Abbas’ government.

“We cannot have negotiation by day and killing us at night,” Ayalon said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sharon and Abbas failed to achieve any breakthroughs in their last meeting more than a week ago.

And a series of suicide bombings by Islamic militant groups befinning shortly before the meeting was seen as a “declaration of war” by Sharon’s government.

Now the two men face U.S. pressure to deliver, with a possible Mideast summit — with President Bush as host — perhaps hinging on what comes out of this week’s talks.

A three-way summit involving Sharon, Abbas and Bush could be called within 10 days.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN that the White House would not agree to a summit until it sees initial steps taken by both sides — a Palestinian crackdown on militants and the lifting of Israeli economic restrictions.

Nevertheless, a Bush administration advance team left Sunday morning for Egypt to begin preparations for the possible summit, an administration official told CNN. The team is also set to go to Jordan, which Bush might visit early next month.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Jan-11/243804-sharon-most-reviled-man-in-lebanon.ashx#ixzz2qGSQGzht


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