Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bush’s Middle East Trip: Still No Peace

by Stephen Zunes

A Good Analysis

"......The United States still rejects the application of international law in settling the conflict, opting instead to use as its starting point the status quo based on Israel’s 40-year occupation. This underscores the longstanding and inherent contradiction between the United States simultaneously playing the role of chief mediator in the conflict and being the chief military, financial and diplomatic supporter of the more powerful of the two parties. As a result, Israel, the occupying power, has little incentive to compromise and the relatively powerless Palestinians under occupation have little leverage to advance their struggle for an independent viable state.

Harry Siegman, who headed the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994 and subsequently served as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has faulted the Bush administration for failing to acknowledge “the consensus reached long ago by Israel’s decision-making élites that Israel will never allow the emergence of a Palestinian state which denies it effective military and economic control of the West Bank.” Observing what most independent observers of the peace process have noted since the election of a right-wing coalition government in Israel in early 2001, Siegman writes that “Israel’s interest in a peace process - other than for the purpose of obtaining Palestinian and international acceptance of the status quo - has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land….”.....

The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse comes down to four major unresolved issues: Israeli settlements, Israeli withdrawal, the status of Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees. Each of these issues is summarized below. In each category, the Palestinian position is far closer to the international legal consensus while the U.S. position is much closer to that of the Israel’s rightist government, underscoring the reasons for the failure of the much-vaunted Roadmap for Peace and the peace process in general......."

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