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PA's negotiations with Israel unlikely to go anywhere

The "peace process" freak show shambles on. Since August, Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials have met for secretive meetings supposedly intended to resolve the "conflict".

Under the emerging "framework" deal brokered by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, the Palestinian Authority would have to agree to give up its claim on swathes of the West Bank, the parts were some 80 percent of the Israeli settlers live.

Israel has also invoked the relatively new demand that the PA recognise Israel as a "Jewish state". Even more farcically, it is demanding the right to maintain a military occupation in the Jordan Valley as part of any deal.

Just look at a map and you can see how untenable that is. What kind of "state" does not even theoretically control its own borders? Any such "Palestinian state" would be no more than a hollow sham.

Other reported aspects of the "framework" agreement render any such deal unlikely.

Legislating the half-million-plus Israeli settlers in the West Bank into some sort of sham legality, and signing a piece of paper that says the Palestinian right of return is void would be a blow against Palestinian liberation and rights.

But it is unlikely to happen. The misnamed "Palestinian Authority" (it has no real authority) is supine and servile to Israeli interests. It is desperate to sign a deal. But the more concessions it makes to Israel, the more new demands Israel raises.

The Israeli electorate gets more right-wing and more racist with each new election. The current coalition government is a government of settlers. The foreign minister, racist fanatic Avigdor Lieberman, is a settler living in a West Banks home built on land that Palestinians were kicked off of. And not only him. The housing minister Uri Ariel lives the West Bank colony of Kfar Adumim not far from the Palestinian city of Jericho. No wonder the Israeli government builds more and more in the settlements when the very minister responsible for such decisions is a settler.

The grip the Palestinian Authority maintains on the West Bank is a cipher for Israeli occupation. In fact, the existence of the PA actually improves Israeli control of the West Bank. Funded in large part by European aid, PA programmes free Israel from some of the costs of its decades-old military occupation. This control will not last forever, and Palestinians in the West Bank will sooner or later push back against the PA's abuses and concessions to Israel.

But the main reason why Kerry's deal-making is unlikely to lead anywhere is Israeli intransigence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and even Lieberman (currently positioning himself as next prime minister) may be inclined to get behind the deal. But the same cannot be said for their coalition partners, Uri Ariel's "Jewish Home" party.

The party is led by Naftali Bennet, a Zionist fanatic who believes Israel should simply annex 60 percent of the West Bank. Bennet and his party have gone out of their way to attack Kerry. The deal along the lines that Kerry is currently proposing is farcically unjust for Palestinians, but anything short of total Israeli control will not be enough for such fascists.

Should Netanyau go for the deal, Bennet's party is likely to flee the coalition, triggering new elections, and more than likely, an even more right wing government. No matter how much the PA gives up, it will never be enough for Israel.

An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.

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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