by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado
Eager for a foreign policy victory to bolster its sagging popularity at home and in the world, the Obama Administration is launching a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The prospects for success, never great in the past, are even poorer today. Still, the consequences of failure are not enormous because none but the hopelessly naïve believe that these talks will succeed where previous ones have failed utterly to resolve anything other than the shape of the conference table and the seating protocol.
Why should these talks succeed when previous ones have failed? Have conditions changed for the better since the last talks? Indeed, circumstances are less favorable for talks now than in the past. The land that would constitute an independent Palestine is split into two separated territories: Gaza governed by Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and the West Bank, governed by the Fatah Party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas is opposed to the talks for starters. How can the final borders of a proposed Palestinian state be resolved at this time under these conditions?
On the Israeli side, Benjamin Netenyahu is a tough leader who cannot be expected to retreat on key issues like the so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees, control of East Jerusalem which both sides want and the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Officials in his government have reportedly already stated that they don’t believe it possible to reach a final peace deal, presumably because of these non-negotiable issues. One was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying, “No one really thinks the peace talks will succeed. But this is how the world judges us, and so we have no choice but to go through with the dance.”
With these conditions and sentiments prevailing, it is folly for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to put the prestige if the United States on the line once again to act as broker for a deal that is bound to fail. When will the leaders of the United States learn to view the world as it is instead of the way it wishes it were? Wishing doesn’t make it so.
The way this part of the world actually is at the moment is not very encouraging. Iran, also pledged to Israel’s destruction, is marching irrevocably toward acquiring a nuclear capability. The Obama Administration and other Western governments, who have held this to be unacceptable, have failed to stop this looming threat. This is Israel’s main worry and priority right now and it should be ours. It is not a convenient time to make happy talk about a peace process that, even if successful, could create another state hostile to Israel in its immediate neighborhood
Nevertheless, Mr. Netanyahu and his ministers will acquiesce to U.S. wishes and participate in talks that will go nowhere. They will do so because they perceive that this is the price of continued U.S. support, however tepid of late. In short, we are being humored.
The Palestinians have stated before repeatedly that the right of return by Palestinians who left Israel when it became a nation is non-negotiable. Netanyahu will never accept this because he and anyone who is not blind to the facts knows that with the Arab birthrate being what it is, it would mean the end of the Jewish homeland that Israel was created to be.
But the basic issue standing in the way of a durable peace that would result in an independent Palestinian state is the deep-seated hatred that many if not most of the Palestinians have for the Jews and a stubborn refusal to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist in the Middle East. Throughout the years, that hatred and prejudice has been taught and nourished among young Palestinians. It has manifested itself in rock-throwing, suicide bombing and rocket attacks on Jewish civilians.
Until this hatred is replaced by tolerance, a process which may take generations, the “peace process” and “roadmaps to peace” are just empty terms. Until Israel’s Arab and Muslim neighbors learn to not only accept Israel’s right to exist but to respect them as neighbors, U.S. efforts to broker a deal for an Independent Palestine are a waste of our time and prestige and a distraction from more immediate problems.
copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr
J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.