Permanent negotiations and the international community

MK Ofer Shelah claims the occupation corrupts Israeli society, but later admitted his opinions are close to those of Netanyahu (Photo: Hanay, Wikimedia Commons)
MK Ofer Shelah claims the occupation corrupts Israeli society, but later admitted his opinions are close to those of Netanyahu (Photo: Hanay, Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s consensus is not to resolve the Middle East conflict, but to keep it at a manageable level. To achieve this objective, the Israeli strategy is built on tactical moves to render the Palestinian people and its leadership submissive. In this situation, the international community should decide whether it will continue to accept Israel’s policy of permanent negotiations without outcomes, thus sacrificing the Palestinian people. Sergio Yahni explains.

Israel’s social structure is completely dependent on the ongoing colonisation of the Negev, the Galilee, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Colonisation provides profits for construction and security companies, as well as housing and labour for the Israeli Jewish poor and middle classes.

Moreover, the conflict generated by colonisation boosts Israel’s police and military exports. The ideology of colonisation, with its associated idea of Jewish supremacy, provides disenfranchised Jewish communities in Israel a sense of belonging, thus preventing acute social conflict and allowing reproduction of the country’s social structures.

A conference at the Hebrew University on Wednesday, organized by the Molad Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, discussed the Arab League’s peace initiative and thus the extent of Israel’s colonial framework.

On the one hand MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and MK Yoni Chetboun (Habayit Hayehudi) defended colonisation in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967; MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) claimed colonisation of these territories corrupts Israeli society and defended the two state solution as an alternative to the ongoing conflict.

Shelah said the occupation will lead to disaster. “The settlements are an obstacle that just keeps growing”. He warned that Israel is rapidly reaching an international standing similar to that of apartheid South Africa, and concluded that “thinking the world will grow accustomed to this situation is similar to what white people used to say in South Africa”.

This confrontation between partners in Israel’s governing coalition comes in the midst of numerous statements by high-ranking government officials which highlight the Israeli position toward Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

On June 6 Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon said the Israeli government never adopted a position regarding the two state solution and could not adopt one as most coalition members reject such a stance.

Netanyahu himself has called upon the Palestinians time after time to sit at the negotiations table without preconditions. Danon, however, explains that Netanyahu can call for peace talks despite this lack of government consensus as he knows no solution will be forthcoming.

Six days later the prime minister’s office confirmed that “the government has no official position on the Palestinian subject”.

On June 13, Deputy Foreign Minister Ophir Akunis stated in an interview with the Voice of Israel that the Palestinians are not yet ready for a state or even for an expanded autonomy. He added that the Palestinians are not even a partner for peace, as they will not return to the negotiating table without preconditions.

In a subsequent interview with Israel army radio, MK Shelah admitted that his opinions are actually close to the visions of Netanyahu, even closer than those of Danon and  Hotovely. What seemed to be a breach in the government thus became an expression of Israeli consensus regarding the objectives of negotiations with the Palestinians: not to resolve the Middle East conflict, but to keep the flames of the conflict at a level manageable for Israel.

To achieve this objective, the Israeli alternative is a strategy built on tactical moves to keep the Palestinian people and its leadership submissive. At times this requires larger military operations, such as the 2009-2010 and 2012 offensives on Gaza. Sometimes it requires policing and crowd control methods, and in other periods it requires providing some level of economic improvement to the Palestinian population.

Obviously, the recognition of a Palestinian state by the international community did not change the reality of Israel’s occupation. In this situation, the international community should decide whether it will continue to accept Israel’s policy of permanent negotiations without outcomes, thereby sacrificing the Palestinian people. The duty of the international community should be to adopt military or diplomatic methods to force Israel to abide by international resolutions.

 

* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

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