September 24, 2020

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Sisyphus Dreams Again

It’s the never-dying fantasy of peace at hand… this time from Susana Terstal, the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process. HT Moshe Dann, who claims even normally sane people find this compelling.



eu flag (european union)

European Union flags. (photo credit: REUTERS)

September 21 marked International Peace Day. While I look forward to one day celebrate the peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, in the meantime we shouldn’t lose sight of the need to keep moving in that direction.

The very embodiment of the Sisyphean fantasy. We know what the direction is, and we should keep pushing the boulder of peace up the mountain. It’s a standing proof that we’re of good will (want peace) and good resolve. Of course underlying the virtue-signaling stand the classic liberal fantasies of a positive-sum solution (land for peace), based on the “fair-minded” but deluded notion that both sides want peace and will be willing to sacrifice their maximal demands for peace’s sake. No evidence to the contrary from the Palestinians can penetrate this impermeable mindset, which means, predictably, that any problems will get blamed on Israel.

While the EU believes peace is possible, current trends are pushing it further away than ever. We see the two-state solution being dismantled piece by piece, day by day.

“Believes” is a good verb here: 1) it is an act of faith (remarkably from an organization whose leaders tend towards agnosticism if not atheism); 2) it is in the singular because the fantasy is a collective one, leading some of us to suspect it’s a matter of [EU] identity. In the meantime, get ready for an Oslo Logic catechism.

To give some background, the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C under the Oslo Accords. Any unilateral modification undermines the entire agreement.

Of course all of this fell apart 19 years ago when the Palestinians launched a vicious war on Israeli civilians and unilaterally modified the Oslo Accords, thereby “undermining the entire agreement.” And nothing the PA has done since, either under Arafat or Abbas, indicates in any way that they want to abide by the Oslo Accords or reach the compromises it envisions. But somehow, not only does that behavior not register with the (single-minded) EU, but any Israeli response to the attitudes and behavior of the Palestinians registers (as here below), as a violation of Oslo. Catch 22.

The purpose of the Oslo Accords was to cement the steps necessary leading to a negotiated final status agreement to end the decades-old conflict.

Which they failed to do, utterly.

The accords do not change the status of the West Bank under international law.

Note the bizarre use of the present tense, as if the Accords are still in operation.

While, in 1997, the Oslo Accords determined that Israel would retain on an interim basis the military and administrative control over Area C, Israel cannot ‘apply sovereignty’ as has been suggested by some. All areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War are occupied according to international law and the local (Palestinian) population is protected persons under the 4th Geneva Convention.

This is, of course, not a matter of international law, but an interpretation of international law which has never been decided in a court of international law, which members of the “Cult of the Occupation,” adhere to with religious fervor, oblivious to any other interpretation. Indeed, one might argue that the “occupation” was a useful fiction designed to make the Oslo gamble work. Now, it’s become the cart that drives the horse.

We are well aware of the suffering and injustices inflicted upon both sides as a result of this conflict. For this reason, a negotiated agreement – which may include agreed land swaps – is of great importance to ensure a process of reconciliation and healing that accompanies sustainable peace.

I’m just guessing that she considers “the suffering and injustices inflicted on both sides” as inflicted by the other side. There’s probably no room in her mental furniture (or that of the single-minded EU) for suffering and injustice inflicted by the Palestinian leadership on their own people. As a result, she most probably a) sees Palestinian suffering as much greater than Israeli suffering (it is), and b) holds Israel responsible for that suffering. In fact, Israel does everything it can to alleviate its own people’s suffering and the Palestinians do everything they can to intensify their own people’s suffering. Why are there no bomb shelters in Gaza? Certainly not for lack of ability to build them.

Oslo has brought the notion that the land where Israelis and Palestinians live can be shared. Dismantling Oslo would take everyone back to a much more radical and dangerous debate about who is more entitled to the entirety of the land. Peace would be much further away. 

Wow. The power of deluded imagination! Let’s rephrase:

Oslo tried to introduce the notion that the land where Israelis and Palestinians live can be shared. The Palestinians have made it absolutely clear that they do not accept such a notionDismantling Oslo‘s fantasies would take everyone back where they always were, to a much more radical and dangerous debate about who is more entitled to the entirety of the land. Peace has always been much further away. Clinging to our fantasy of peace now, will make sure a) it remains far away, and b) those who don’t want to compromise will have the upper hand, because they can count on the EU (and others) to blame Israel and indulge the Palestinians.

Let me elaborate further on Area C, where I feel there is a need to clarify the EU position. Area C comprises more than 60% of the West Bank, and is the heartland of any viable Palestinian State.

The expression “viable Palestinian State” is a classic of Oslo Logic. It’s viable in the mind of Western positive-sum minded outsiders. For Palestinian leaders, religious and “secular”, alone “river to the sea” is a viable state.

Currently, only 1% of Area C is slated for Palestinian development. Of the 102 master plans for Palestinian development that have been submitted to the Israeli authorities for approval, only 5 officially approved, covering 6 localities.

The viability of the two-state solution is being eroded through demolitions, confiscations and  displacement while at the same time illegal settlements are being built and regularized. Despite the announcement last month by the Israeli government of 715 permits for Palestinians structures, almost all submitted master plans and building permits for Palestinian development remain unapproved. We have called on Israel to enable accelerated Palestinian construction, as well as social and economic development in Area C, to meet the needs of the population.

All EU activity in Area C is known to the Israeli authorities and fully in line with international humanitarian law.

Gotta read Tuvia Tenenbaum on the loopy behavior of the EU in protecting their dream of a “viable state for the Palestinians. As for international humanitarian law it is one of the most widely misused notions in the conflict.

Israel has a duty to agree to international relief schemes and grant unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance provided by the EU, together with many other donors. We insist on supporting Palestinian development according to the master plans which have been submitted, and we have shown willingness to coordinate with the Israeli authorities to move this forward. International law concerning occupation and conflict continues to apply until a negotiated resolution ends the conflict.

I haven’t checked, but I’ll bet the farm that none of these development plans include getting the refugees out of their Arab-built detention camps. And given the malice of many of these “humanitarian” groups, Israel does not have “a duty to agree to [their] schemes.”

We are aware that Israel also occasionally removes illegal settlement outposts. However, this does not balance the systematic demolitions and lack of provision for Palestinian humanitarian and development needs in the same areas. Just in 2019, over 300 Palestinian structures were demolished or seized, and hundreds of people (including children) were displaced. Settlements are illegal under international law regardless of their status under Israeli law.

More autistic assertions.

Suggestions that Israel can unilaterally annex any part of this area without also threatening its international standing and abandoning hope for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are mistaken.

More Oslo ilLogic. Since it’s been clear already in 2000 that there’s been no hope for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (it’s really the Israeli-Muslim triumphalist conflict), the idea that Israel cannot do anything to defend itself lest they lose their “international standing” is risible. By the way, just what do the Palestinians have to do to lose their international standing? Genocidal incitement and ambitions don’t really matter?

There is no viable alternative to the two-state solution that guarantees Israel remains a secure and democratic state with a Jewish majority. There is no two-state solution without a Palestinian State, based on the 1967 lines, and living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition with Israel.

Let’s try that again in a realistic key: There is currently no viable… two-state solution that guarantees Israel remains a secure and democratic state with a Jewish majority. There is no two-state solution since a Palestinian State, based on the 1967 lines, and living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition with Israel is, at least under present conditions within Palestinian political culture, not possible. Indeed a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines is a recipe for war. 

Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: Al-Jazeera TV, Sept 23, 2011.

Those three elements – peace, security and mutual recognition – are not just words.

Ummm… yes they are. Especially from you.

The EU is fully committed to the security of Israel, and will always support its right to exist.

Not really. They will, however, pay lip service to it, even as they support, encourage and fund Palestinian irredentism.

Mutual recognition is an important factor in building trust, hope and sustainable peace. Years of hatred and intolerance can be reversed through education and an understanding and appreciation of the other’s perspective and legitimacy.

If you really believed this pious drivel, there would be a massive EU drive to stop the child-abuse of the Palestinian leaders who systematically educate their children to hate and desire revenge. But confronting the Palestinians is not high on the to-do list of benevolent EUers.

The EU does not ‘take sides’ in the conflict, and we remain ready to support both sides to return to a genuine process towards a negotiated two-state solution. This is important for Israel’s future, as well as for the Palestinians. We cannot impose a solution on the parties, as this would not be democratic or sustainable. But make no mistake: only a negotiated solution can bring lasting peace. Perpetual occupation or unilateral steps will only push stability and peace further away.

Make no mistake: if there’s no peace, it is (in my sincere if deluded mind) Israel’s fault.

It is worth remembering that our reference point of international law is not limited to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that international law is not a menu from which one picks and chooses according to one’s tastes. International law is important for the stability of the world. This is not just a principled position but also a real politik one to ensure that new conflicts are not created, that stronger powers do not overtake weaker ones, and that history does not repeat itself. We all k9now how this can turn out and we should all aspire to a world where “might” does not equal “right”. International law protects us all.

I’ll pass on the self-congratulatory rhetoric. But I will note that sometimes the stronger powers are right and the weaker are wrong. As the Lawgiver makes the point repeatedly with an extraordinary instruction to judges:

Do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

Leviticus 19:15; see also Exodus 23:3-6; Deuteronomy 16:19.

Hard to think of a better principle to identify as the “progressive” left’s current error. The last thing they do, when they look at our conflict with our neighbors, is judge fairly. If they did, we might be much closer to peace.

We do not underestimate the challenges towards peace, and the fundamental shift in mentalities that needs to take place lest groups whose aim is to see peace fail should prevail.

Oh yes you do. You are aware of the mentality of those who would see peace fail, but you have no idea of how pervasive that mentality is among Palestinians, and in your generous open-mindedness, you probably think there are just as many among Israelis. After all, runs the mantra: “both sides…”

International law is our guide to peace as it inhibits the forces that seek to destabilize the Middle East, and provides a road map to good relations and mutual recognition. The EU is a partner for Israelis and Palestinians on this path.

International law is not your guide to peace, you think your interpretation of international law is your guide to peace. But in your progressive folly, you have adopted the Palestinians as poor victims who need protection and support from the aggressive Israelis. And in so doing, you have fed the dogs of war and howled at those who try to defend themselves from those howling belligerents.

The writer is the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process.

The writer is a sterling example of the folly of the EU and their quixotic, virtue-signaling effort to bring peace to the Middle East.

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