Thursday, November 15, 2007

A real peace process?

It is time stop regarding the international community's efforts in Palestine/Israel as a sincere attempt at conflict resolution

A Great Comment
By Ben White
The Guardian

"......Arafat's death in November 2004 was greeted by US, UK and Israeli leaders as an unprecedented turning point with the potential for ushering in a "new era". Coupled with the then imminent Israeli redeployment from Gaza, media analysts unquestioningly echoed Condoleezza Rice's optimism that it truly was a "time to seize" the historic "opportunity" for making peace.

Thus, despite Israel's military occupation and countless war crimes of the Intifada, despite the continued settlement expansion, land confiscation and hopeless power asymmetry - despite even the declared Israeli intention of the Gaza "disengagement" being to freeze the "peace process" and free up further colonisation in the West Bank - the international community felt it was an "opportunity" for peace.

In 2006, the response of the Quartet to the very Palestinian "internal reform" and elections that they themselves had called for provided an even clearer declaration of intent. Hamas's track record of honesty and resistance won them a parliamentary majority, but the Palestinians returned from the ballots to be rewarded with blackmail and boycott.

From then on, the international community not only hindered the cause of peace but even helped foster civil war among Palestinians. In the power logic of the Quartet, elections are met with sanctions and Abbas's overthrow of the Hamas government is lauded as coup prevention. Fatah elements were armed and trained in order to fight Hamas, while Palestinians were deliberately brought to their knees by sanctions.

Surveying the policies of the international community in the last few years, the role of Washington, London and Brussels can only make sense if they are seen as accomplices to Israel's colonisation. This engagement, far from being genuine peace-seeking, can be characterised in three main ways.

Firstly, the conflict is depoliticised and development-ised, reduced to a matter of "state-building" and "economic investment". Tony Blair, the Quartet"s envoy, has heartily embraced this approach.

Secondly, the Palestinians are forced to "earn" the right to self-determination, jumping through a series of hoops often designed by Israel. These vary, from the demand that the occupied embrace pacifism, to the Palestinians being told to "recognise" the state that has carried out their dispossession

Thirdly, the "peace process" has sought to marginalise and ultimately negate the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. The international community"s discourse urges both sides (except we know which one they"re talking to) to lay aside past grievances and "move on".

It is time that the international community's peace process in Palestine/Israel is seen for what it is, stripped of the propaganda. It is only when we ditch the idea that the US and the other main players are acting in good faith that their policies, from roadmaps to Annapolis via post-election boycotts, make sense. It is time to think outside this limiting delusion about what really constitutes a process towards peace."

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