Saturday, 8 May 2010

Israel Matzav: What the US doesn't get about Israel and the 'Palestinians'

What the US doesn't get about Israel and the 'Palestinians'

I doubt that anyone at the White House read Giora Eiland's piece on why the 'proximity talks' are doomed to failure. And that's a pity. Because had they read it, they might think twice about the amount of effort they are investing in a 'process' that is doomed to failure.

The first problem stems from deep cultural differences between us, people of the Middle East, and the Americans. For the Americans, if Israeli-Palestinian talks have been going on for 17 years now, the negotiations obviously aim at securing a final-status agreement. On the other hand, Israel and the Palestinians have been engaged in talks for two wholly different goals.

The first objective is maintaining a process for the sake of the process. For Israel, the ongoing process mitigates the international pressure exerted on us; for the Palestinian leadership, the process is the main justification for the continued rule of the veteran leadership. Hence, the very existence of a process is vital for the sake of both sides’ political survival.

The second objective of both Israelis and Palestinians is to ensure that when the current round of talks fails, the other side will be blamed for it.


The big loser may be Obama. The failure of the process will certainly not boost his status, yet even if success is achieved – it may lead to grave disappointment. Let’s assume that an agreement is reached as result of massive American pressure. The strategic outcome may be greatly disappointed.

The US believes that the Arab world truly wants to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and would be grateful to America should it be able to force both sides into such deal. Yet the truth is different: The Arab world is uninterested in seeing an end to the conflict. In the view of the Arab Street, a situation that includes recognition of the Jewish state, its sovereignty in the Holy Land, even partial control in the Holy Sites, and renunciation to the right of return would constitute capitulation to American pressure.

The Arab street would be mad at the US and at its own leaders should such agreement be reached.

The American assessment that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have a powerful positive effect on America’s regional status may prove to be a grave error. The conclusion here is that the two-state solution, which requires so much from the parties involved and so little from the Arab world, will likely not be secured. Yet should it be achieved after all, its implications may be deeply disappointing.

Read it all. Send it to the White House. The idea of having a process for the sake of having a process is exactly how the Middle East operates. I can think of other instances where we have processes that are leading nowhere and that exist for their own sake. Think of it as appointing a committee to deal with a problem that no one wants to resolve.

Israel Matzav: What the US doesn't get about Israel and the 'Palestinians'

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