The Middle East Peace Process:
Dead as Monty Python's Parrot
By Stuart Littlewood
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 27, 2011
“This peace process is no more… This
is an ex-peace process!”
Stuart Littlewood considers the possible scenarios open to the
Palestinians in the coming months in view of the death – some would say
the stillbirth – of the “peace process”, from UN membership to the
collapse of the Palestinian National Authority and “new openings and
possibilities, a new logic and strategy, and even … new players”.
rightly says, the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the years "has failed to
mobilize its greatest resource and ally, grassroots activists the world
over". It also needs to provide them with guidance and leadership. "We
have no idea where the PA is heading," he says.
So it has been left
to the likes of Halper to explain the Palestinians' options in September
and inject some semblance of debate into the situation facing supporters,
activists and that shabby excuse for a government in Ramallah that’s more
of a hindrance than a help.
“Washington and London won't take kindly to a
declaration of statehood unless it’s made clear to them by
a coming-together of civil society across the world that
there'll be trouble, with a capital T, if they don't do
the right thing by the Palestinians and curb the twisted
ambition of their Zionist bosom-pals.”
No more pointless talk of negotiations
To start with, let’s have no more pointless talk of
negotiations. “The interminable peace process, says Halper, "serves one
purpose only: prolonging the Israeli occupation."
Many would go further and say that the US, Britain
and the EU have connived with Israel to prolong the occupation, to the
point where they hope it will become irreversible. Washington and London
won't take kindly to a declaration of statehood unless it’s made clear to
them by a coming-together of civil society across the world that there'll
be trouble, with a capital T, if they don't do the right thing by the
Palestinians and curb the twisted ambition of their Zionist bosom-pals.
Although Clinton and Hague still chirp about
"restarting talks", the idea is as dead as the parrot in the famous
Python sketch, which might have been written specially for the
Quartet “peace boutique” and its gormless salesman:
I wish to complain about this peace process what I purchased not half
an hour ago from this very boutique.
Salesman: What's wrong with it?
PA: I'll tell you
what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
QGS: No, no, it's resting.
matey, I know a dead peace process when I see one, and I'm looking at
one right now…
And so on. If you’re a “Python” fan you’ll know the ending says it all.
PA: 'E's passed on!
This peace process is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired
and gone to meet 'is maker!
'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e
rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing
up the daisies!
'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's
kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil!!
AN EX-PEACE PROCESS!! (pause)
QGS: Well, I'd better
replace it, then…
“Whatever Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton, Mr Cameron, Mr Hague
and others may think, applying for statehood is now the
only game in town.”
No, please don’t. This is where we finally close the chapter on
“Pointless Talks” and fast-forward to “Law and Justice”. Whatever Mr
Obama, Mrs Clinton, Mr Cameron, Mr Hague and others may think, applying
for statehood is now the only game in town.
What Palestinian membership of the UN would mean
"Ideally,” says Jeff Halper,
the response of the other
three Quartet members [referring to the United Nations, the European
Union and Russia] would be to formally declare the “peace process”
ended, opening the way to the only other alternative, the acceptance
in September of Palestine as a member state of the UN within
recognized borders… [I]t is crucial that the Palestinians declare it,
making it clear that it was Israel that led to the collapse of
negotiations. Only in that way can they prepare the ground for an
independent state in September.
In his analysis, Halper paints two scenarios. The first has a
Palestinian state within already-recognized borders – the 1949 armistice
lines – accepted as a full member of the UN. There would be no need to
negotiate territorial swaps, “adjust” borders to accommodate Israeli
settlements or accept exaggerated Israeli security demands.
Admission to the UN, says Halper,
would also end all ambiguity
over occupation itself, which has allowed Israel to avoid
accountability under international law… East Jerusalem is
Palestinian. Period. The Israeli presence in sovereign Palestinian
territory is illegal. Period. Continued occupation by Israel, which
would now clearly violate the most fundamental principle of
sovereignty upon which the entire international system is based, would
become intolerable. This would activate international sanctions on
Israel that could not be prevented by the US and Europe.
And the settlements?
Easy. All settlements built
on private Palestinian land must be removed. As to the others,
including the large settlement blocs, the Palestinian government could
simply say: you, the settlers, are welcome to stay in your homes, but
you will be living in Palestine, subject to Palestinian laws, with
Palestinians free to purchase homes in your communities.
Furthermore, by taking its place formally among the member states of
the UN, Palestine would have full-ranking ambassadors in the capitals of
the world and enjoy unmediated access to all the instruments of the
international community: the right to introduce UN resolutions, to
participate fully in international conferences and to pursue the
application of international law against the Israelis, including access to
the International Court of Justice.
You can imagine the steam
coming out of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) ears
at the very thought of the international community actually doing the
And how would all this come about? The Palestinian “leadership”,
assuming that anything worthy of the name and remotely credible can be
brought into being by September, submits an application to the UN
secretary-general, confirming its obligations to the UN Charter. The
application then goes to the Security Council. If it gains support from
nine of the 15 Security Council members and all the five permanent
members, a recommendation for admission goes to the General Assembly,
which must approve it by a two-thirds majority.
Assuming the US
vote in the Security Council is a "yes" or an abstention, the Palestinian
application would receive near unanimous approval, according to Halper,
But he adds: "The chances of the US actually allowing a Palestinian
state to emerge in September is minimal, if only because Congress would
not allow it."
The second scenario sees Palestine's application
failing. It does not become a member state of the UN – at least, not
straightaway. If the Security Council declines to recommend Palestine for
membership, the General Assembly may send the application back to the
Council asking it to reconsider. The American veto might then become an
abstention, but all this would take time and the Palestinians would be
unlikely to get a result in September. After that we’re into the tedious
run-up to the 2012 US election.
Halper seems to feel the
Palestinian Authority might then crumble and collapse, forcing Israel to
reoccupy, which it could not afford to do even with all its US subsidies.
Merely the threat of that
would inflame the entire Muslim world – and beyond. Even the threat of
such a thing happening would force the hand of the international
community. Whether the US would be pulled into joining international
efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all
or whether the rest of the world would simply pass it by is an open
question, but the status quo would become intolerable.
The present deadlock, if not resolved by the establishment of a
sovereign Palestinian state with recognized borders, “will lead to
collapse and chaos”. Halper expects the demise of the exhausted “peace
process” to provide new openings and possibilities, a new logic and
strategy, and even introduce new players.
Has the Palestinian Authority got what it takes to secure
Palestinians' rightful future?
Members of the pro-Palestine movement, inside and outside the occupied
territories, owe thanks to this courageous Jewish friend, Jeff Halper, for
his clear thinking. Meanwhile, much needs to be done to prepare the ground
for the Palestinians’ big chance in September, little more than 100 days
There are many pea-brains eager to block the Palestinians’
bid for freedom. And they don’t all reside in the White House. Just a few
weeks ago the British prime minister, David Cameron,
I want to be clear, we will
always support Israel. For example, when Iran flouts its international
obligations Britain is and will remain at the forefront of the
international community in ratcheting up the pressure with tough
sanctions. We will not stand by and allow Iran to cast a nuclear
shadow over Israel or the wider region.
It’s perfectly OK, apparently, for Israel to flout its international
obligations and cast a nuclear shadow over the region and even Europe.
People who are capable of such daft and dangerous pronouncements may stop
at nothing to make Israel’s enemy Britain’s enemy. They’ve already done it
with the Hamas government and with Hezbollah, as well as Iran, although
none is a threat to Britain. That’s the mentality we’re up against.
So, when can we expect to see Palestinian unity, leadership, integrity
and promotional strategy all geared up to seize September’s Big Chance?
When do we get mobilized? Has the PA got what it takes to secure a
rightful future for its long-suffering people?
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