By Jamal Kanj
Outgoing Israeli president Shimon Peres talked in a recent interview about a peace agreement he reached with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in 2011.
According to Peres, the Israeli prime minister rejected the draft understanding telling him “to wait a few days Tony Blair could get a better offer.” The President continued, “The days passed and there was no better offer,” and there was no peace agreement.
Peres interview reveals three important issues regarding the peace process and the botched role of the so called peace mediators.
The first, Benjamin Netanyahu is more interested in maintaining his anti-peace government coalition than a peace accord.
Second, the peace mediators are undermining the prospects of peace.
Third, Palestinian leaders need to go back to the drawing board and take a crash course in the art of negotiation 101.
On the first point, Israel must be pleased with the status quo, building illegal colonies with impunity under the guise of peace negotiations with no urgent need to reach a peace agreement. Not that Israel doesn’t want it, but not until it realises its demographic programme.
This is not an opinion. It is well established fact that the parties forming the current Israeli government are ideologically opposed to the peace process and to halting the expansions of the “Jewish only” colonies on occupied land.
According to the official Israel’s central bureau of statistics report for 2013, the Netanyahu government increased by 123.7 per cent number of building permits for “Jewish only” housing in the West Bank. The largest majority were during the “peace negotiation” in the last six months of the year.
This is consistent with the bonafide position of the various Israeli governments which saw the number of illegal Jewish settlers grow three-fold since the start of the deeply flawed Oslo process over 20 years ago.
Responding to ICB report, Israeli Peace Now organisation concluded that Netanyahu’s government is “committed to only one thing: building settlements,” not peace.
A fact that wasn’t absent from the mind of American officials who – politically and financially – empowered Israel’s violations of the peace process. Interviewed by former Israeli soldier-turned American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, president Barack Obama lamented, “We have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time.”
The second revealing point is when an Israeli premier counts on the mediator of the Mideast peace quartet, Tony Blair, to bring him a “better offer” than his own Zionist president. Netanyahu must have known this since his former adviser and ex-Israeli army officer Lianne Pollak was Blair’s consultant.
Another mediator, US secretary of state, keeps reminding us of his “commitment to Israel,” with his lead team negotiator Martin Indyk, a former policy director from the strongest US foreign lobby, America Israel public affairs committee.
Last point, one can’t comprehend the Palestinian leaders’ wisdom in negotiating agreements that couldn’t be carried out. They did it in the 2001 Taba agreement with outgoing Israeli premier Ehud Barak. It was rejected by Ariel Sharon when he came to office.
Abbas negotiated an understanding at the end of Ehud Olmert’s reign which was trashed by succeeding Israeli prime minister Netanyahu.
And now, Abbas was hoodwinked “again” by the “king of deception,” the ceremonial Israeli president. Side negotiations are Machiavellian Israeli tactics. For each time and with every meaningless agreement, “deceptive” unofficial Israeli negotiators chip on a piece of the Palestinian pie, with nothing reciprocated from the “official” Israeli government.
Before the pie disappears, the upcoming Palestinian unity government should be tasked not just with elections, but in parallel it must join “real” UN organisations taking the process away from phony peace mediators.
It would be impossible to reach a just agreement when “peace” intermediaries are “ideologically committed” to one side and when an Israeli premier expects better results from them than his own president.
– Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.)