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The illusion of peace negotiations

The continuation of peace talks between Israel and Palestine are being portrayed as a failure by both sides. Despite the apparently shared sentiment by Israeli and Palestinian alike, any assumption of equality within the shared viewpoint is erroneous and should be dispelled. We need to clarify attempts to justify the talks which have served only to divert the international gaze as negotiators are reduced to trivial rhetoric about how best to approach the talks and vague renewals of commitment to the process. This all comes as the US works even harder to safeguard Israeli interests, including an appeal to the EU to postpone its ban on investment in companies based in illegal Israeli settlements.

Israel is “angry” at alleged leaks about the talks which have revealed its plans to propose provisional borders for a hypothetical future Palestinian state; borders which would still allow Israeli to maintain control over a considerable area of the West Bank. This anger has been justified by a sympathetic media, notwithstanding the fact that the current negotiations are nothing but another campaign to divest Palestinians of the remnants of their territory. Palestinian statements regarding the futility of the peace talks have been reported, yet not without a slant of justification towards Israel as the inaccurately-portrayed benevolent state willing to reach a compromise with the people it has oppressed for decades through apartheid practices.

The negotiations are primarily an exercise in diplomacy between three leaders whose roles are contaminated by regional interests and dependency, with Palestinians suffering the additional indignity of a leader whose allegiance to the people has been severed in return for economic benefits provided by the Israeli state. Palestinians lack representative leadership in the negotiation process, which explains why the talks are taking place. If Abbas truly represented Palestinian demands, Israel and the US would have probably proposed other methods of coercion in order to prevent a possible acquisition of identity based upon land and nationhood. As things stand, Israel and the US can effectively reject both the notion of a future Palestinian state as well as a single democratic state which abolishes the current exclusive nature of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Palestinians have long expressed indignation at the acquiescence expected of them. This is partially reflected in various statements by Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, who routinely claim the existence of human rights violations against Palestinians, yet fail to hold Israel accountable due to a compromised ideology. Netanyahu speaks of peace while indulging in further expansion of the illegal state through settlement building, sanctioned by the US which made it clear that it would not oppose further construction of the illegal dwellings. Abbas compromised the outcome of the peace talks by a prior agreement stating that he would not resort to UN backing in return for the release of pre-Oslo prisoners, contradicting a previous assertion made by Palestine’s UN representative who alluded resorting to “political, legal and popular efforts” if the two state solution is not implemented. At this point it might be prudent to assert that far from proving futile, the negotiations have furthered Palestinians’ incarceration under the occupying power not only through the united efforts of Israel and the US, but also through the alienation of Palestinian leaders from the cause and the people.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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