Quartet to Unruly Kids, Make-Up and Get Along
This article is about the announcement by the Quartet, which consists of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, setting forth their framework for Israel and the Palestinians to implement leading to re-launching negotiations and inevitably to an actual peace accord. This plan comes after a full week of speeches and posturing that was all part of the opening session of the United Nations and in response to the Palestinian bid for membership initiated to gain recognition of their statehood with set borders. The Quartet held their deliberations after the presentations throughout the week from the Durban III Conference celebrating the ten year anniversary of the initial conference with its theme of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic declarations; to Ahmadinejad’s rantings against the United States and Israel; to Erdogan’s accusatory orations aimed at Israel demanding apologies and reparations for the casualties of the Mavi Marmara led Flotilla; to Abbas’s insistence that the world grant the Palestinians their wildest dreams denied them by the evil Israelis for over sixty years; but before Netanyahu’s plaintive recitation of Israel’s attributes which seemingly have been overlooked by the world’s assembly.
The minutia within their plan contained such points as the initial meeting to declare intent to implement the Quartet’s plan within four weeks followed by serious and substantive meetings at three months with a review in Moscow replete with mid-term grades to be discussed all culminating in a two state solution by the end of 2012. The words, “We have all been here before”, from a CSNY song keep ringing in my head as I read the laboriously long and elaborate set of benchmarks, supportive ventures, critical tools, frameworks, crucial dates for review with suggested implementations resulting in renewal of purpose, and just about every other tired, worn out, overused and previously iterated newspeak we have been hearing with respect to the Oslo initiated Palestinian Israeli negotiations. Somehow, I get the impression that just as the Quartet trotted out a full list of retreads rather than a new approach, we will witness similar spectacular failures in meeting any of their deadlines and no peace will be formulated placing us in one year right back where we are now at the opening ceremonies of the United Nations.
Secretary of State Clinton spoke approvingly of the great strides that brought forth agreement by the Quartet on direction for the future of these negotiations. That has to beg the question that if the Quartet being able to put forth a plan, no matter how useless and improbable its success, is such a momentous accomplishment, how can we ever expect the Israelis and Palestinians to reach any form of agreement. If it took the Quartet a stop-the-world type momentous effort just to suggest restarting negotiations, and they are presumably all desirous of the same goal, what chance is there that the Palestinian and Israelis can reach an agreement? If you have been following this circus, not the Palestinian Israeli negotiations on what needs to be done in order to negotiate, that has been the meetings of the Quartet for the last few months; you would note that at first they had problems even coming together and meeting, and once they actually met, they were unable to come to an agreement or even close enough to any form of something substantive that they could not even release a statement. There were the occasional statement in response to the press where accusations and blame were tossed between the factions, and these are the powers that be that are supposed to set the agenda, schedule and tone for successful Palestinian Israeli negotiations. This has all the trappings of a made for prime time television comedy where the kids do something obviously very very wrong and the parents spend the better part of the episode fighting between themselves in front of the kids and finally barely reach an agreement, then they attempt to lecture the kids who end up laughing in their faces and going off to do whatever they please. Well, the Israelis and Palestinians don’t publically laugh at the members of the Quartet, but they do seem to continue on their own nonproductive course each side refusing to relent or compromise on a number of their core issues. The real interesting items are the main issues on which each side has proven intransigent.
That might actually make this article be more than just another reporting about the meetings by the Quartet and the related reactions by the Palestinians and the Israelis, well, nothing has changed and nobody seems able to agree on who is at fault or what needs to be done other than to have more negotiations for now. The Israelis insist that the Palestinians recognize that Israel is the Jewish State. The Palestinians claim they cannot recognize such a proposition as that would rule out allowing for millions of Arabs to return into Israel and receive automatic citizenship under the Right of Return. The Israelis refuse to allow the Right of Return under those conditions and offer to take a few tens of thousands of the refugees, the ones who have relatives already residing in Israel, and the rest would return to the Palestinian state. Well, there’s one Gordian Knot, but there are many more like it to go.
Jerusalem, simply saying the name conjures up visions of wars through the ages for this one relatively small city nestled in the hills around Mount Mariah fed by an underground tunnel bringing water from a nearby spring. The city does not hold much tactical importance and is not at the crossroads of major trade routes, that would be Megiddo, yet it is one of the most fought over cities throughout history. The Israelis claim all of Jerusalem as their capital city. The Palestinians insist on having Jerusalem as their capital city even if all they can have is the eastern half of the city, the section that was under Jordanian control after the armistice of 1949. Much of that insistence is in order to control the entire Old City of Jerusalem and also the Temple Mount so that they can, as did the Jordanians, control who gets access to their Holy Sites on the Temple Mount and throughout the Old City. Israel refuses to lose access to the Temple Mount and the Old City or give up on the numerous properties for which they have deeds of ownership that date to before the Jordanian occupation, some even predate the British occupation or even the Ottoman occupation. Another Gordian Knott. I’m going to have to use a different mythological analogy.
The Israelis also insist that the Palestinian state itself be a nonmilitary state. They have proposed having either IDF or shared responsibility with Jordan over the Palestinian state. Israel is not insisting that the Palestinian state not have an independent law enforcement, which would negate the definition of a state. They want a situation similar to that of Japan after World War II where the United States and the allies took responsibility for protecting Japan from outside aggressions and Japan would not raise a sizeable military capable of applying force beyond their boundaries. The Palestinian demand they not only be allowed a full-fledged military with complete freedom to arm their state as amply as they are able and also to be permitted to allow other countries to operate militarily within the Palestinian border without any restrictions by Israel. Israel, remembering the lining of her borders in 1967 and 1973 by Syria and Egypt with troops, armor, artillery, and everything necessary for a full military invasion definitely does not wish to empower a similar scenario in the West Bank the next time her neighbors decide the time has come to push the Jews into the Sea. The reasoning behind the Palestinians, and they have said constantly in Arabic, though refraining from doing so in English thus avoiding coverage in the Western media who are unable of translating anything said in Arabic, that reaching a peace agreement with the 1949 boundaries is but the first step to the final solution which is the eradication of the Zionist entity. Israel’s refusal to place themselves is such a precarious predicament should be obvious. They would be inviting a situation where they would be living with the Sword of Damocles forever raised over their heads (as promised, a different mythological analogy) which is beyond reasonable for any country to be expected to accept.
There exist numerous other points of contention; quite a few are of the simple nature that “if you want it, then I have to deny you having it” type items. The main ones are fairly well known, and if not are so documented that they can readily be found with a few searches of news reports. Many years ago I heard somebody quoting a talk show over a decade ago where the host put it plainly that the only way the Arab Israeli conflict will ever be ended is when one side wins and the other vanquished. That is a problem when you figure that there are over one billion Muslims in the world and approximately fifteen million Jews of which barely half live in Israel. Those are not the best of odds. Going into all the permutations and possibilities of how the confrontations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, the Arab World and Israel and the Jews, the West and the East, Europe and the Islamization taking hold and all the other related situations would require a large book that I am not ready to write quite yet. Anyways, there are others who have already addressed many of these subjects who are more well-known and have impressive credentials which I lack, so I will leave the scholarly writings of books to those who have recognized portfolios. In the meantime, I will continue to place my two cents worth here and leave it at that, unless somebody wishes to bankroll a more lengthy writing by yours truly.
Beyond the Cusp