Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Dangerous Plot

Special Envoy George Mitchell, April 16, 2009:

In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict

Another theoretical way of resolving the conflict of course exists – replacing the religious state + colony with a truly democratic state integrating Israelis and Palestinians. It might have been wise for Mitchell to mention that possibility, if just to indicate that Washington had thought through the choices should Israel refuse to accept the more moderate compromise of dividing the Palestinians’ homeland between itself and the Palestinians. Whatever the goal, one hopes that this time, the Palestinians will be at the table, ending the sorry historical pattern described below by Ilan Pappe.


Historical Pattern of One-Sided Pursuit of "Peace" in Palestine

up to the present day, 'bringing peace to Palestine' has alway meant following a concept exclusively worked out between the US and Israel, without any serious consultation with, let alone regard for, the Palestinians--Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine


Be that as it may, Mitchell’s remarks set a standard for justice that will require enormous effort on the part of practical policy to live up to. With the Netanyahu Administration resisting with all its might, thinking up all manner of precondition and erecting all manner of obstacle, people will soon start doubting Washington’s sincerity if it does not specifying what it means by “two states.” Geographic contiguity? Complete removal of Israeli citizens from land seized in 1967? Partition of Jerusalem? Right of return?...or WHAT? Obama already gave away the store by promising to maintain Bush’s $30 billion gift of weaponry.


Washington in Denial About Palestinian Future

To a greater degree than perhaps ever before, Washington today is engulfed in denial about Israel and its stupefying behavior, about its murderous policies toward the Palestinians, about the efforts of Israel and its U.S. defenders to force us to ignore its atrocities. Blinders have always been part of the attire of U.S. policymakers and politicians with regard to Israel and Israeli actions, but in the wake of the three-week Israeli assault that laid waste to the tiny territory of Gaza -- an assault ended very conveniently just before Barack Obama was inaugurated, so that he has been able to act as though it never occurred -- the perspective from which Washington operates is strikingly more blinkered than ever in the past.--Kathleen & Bill Christison


More power to Mitchell! And yet, he does sound very much like a sacrificial lamb being set up by his own government. I am not saying he is…just that he sounds like one. Some specifics from Washington about the meaning of “two states” and about possible negative incentives for Israel, should it continue obstructing progress, would enormously strengthen Mitchell’s position.

In this context, an editorial in the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat by its editor-in-chief, Tariq Alhomayed, exposes an extremely dangerous concept—that Israel would “sell” Palestinians some measure of freedom in return for a U.S. war of aggression against Iran (or perhaps an “Israeli” war of aggression with U.S. collusion):

The US Defense Secretary warned against striking Iran saying that this would be fruitless. This was followed by the Israeli President who said that the idea of [Israel] carrying out a military strike against Iran is “nonsense” and US Vice President Biden also stated to the Israelis that striking Iran would be “ill-advised”.

Why have such warnings against the danger of the military option been issued now knowing that the Israeli press has begun to talk about tough negotiations taking place between Washington and Tel Aviv regarding the peace process and Iran?

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper published the following headline: ‘Buscher for Yitzhar’. It refers to the idea that in order for Washington to respond to Israel’s demand that Washington prevents Iran from achieving nuclear armament then Israel must remove its settlements, particularly the Yitzhar settlement where most extremist Jews live.

The headline was based on comments made by the White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to a prominent leader of a Jewish organization. Are we facing a new equation; there will be a stop to the settlements in exchange for stopping Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon?

It is difficult to imagine what the moral impacts on U.S. and Israeli society or the practical impacts on global affairs would be of the U.S. accepting such a bribe. At a minimum, for the U.S. to agree to pay such an enormous price for such a tiny gain would definitively settle the debate over whether the Israeli tail wags the U.S. dog or the other way around. Even the establishment of a viable Palestinian state fully the equal of Israel and the complete resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute to the complete satisfaction of both parties would not remotely constitute reasonable compensation for a nuclear war of aggression justified by no more than the mirage of a possible future threat.

Moreover, the slightest suspicion in Tehran that this Arabic interpretation might represent a plot actually being considered in Washington would be the death knell of any U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, for were such a plot being entertained by Washington, it would prove true the worst accusations of American perfidy tossed about in Tehran. For those who wish to sabotage U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, be they Sunni Arab dictators or “Greater Israel” expansionists, rumors such as this are the perfect weapon.

Yes, U.S.-Iran policy is the other side of the U.S.-Israeli policy coin, but this is hardly the way to coordinate those two issues. Obama should find a way to make very clear that he has no interest in such self-destructive bribes.


Renegade Eye said...

I don't see a situation with Israel making concessions to Palestinians, in exchange for a go ahead to attack Iran. The US needs the help of Iran and Syria to "redeploy" from Iraq. Iran is in the driver's seat.

The two state solution is like dividing Ireland in the 1930s.

William deB. Mills said...

I totally concur with your depiction of U.S. needs vis-a-vis Iran and hope you are correct about the deal with Israel. I would hope that Obama would dismiss out of hand this particular bargain with the devil described by our Sunni establishment source.

Nevertheless, US-Israeli and US-Iranian relations are two sides of the same coin so some bargain seems predictable if we are to avoid disaster. Such a bargain might take the form of US security guarantee for Israel provided that 1) it renounce nuclear arms, join the NPT, and open itself to inspections on exactly the same terms as Iran and 2) it make a truly equal deal with the Palestinians, which would involve Israel in 1967 borders, right of either return or compensation, division or internationalization of Jerusalem, complete removal of Israeli settlers from West Bank, rerouting of the wall onto Israeli land, territorial contiguity including Gaza, sufficient Palestinian armed forces to defend themselves against Israel...

That's a big restructuring project. And even then...perhaps you are right and we would end up with Ireland in the 1930s. If that is the best we can hope for, we really need some fresh thinking.