The peace process industry keeps the Israeli-Palestinian conflict running #Occupation

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This peace process industry hides in plain sight. Its members maintain a high-profile public presence, but one whose role and influence is framed as independent and technocratic. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Rather than admit their methods haven’t worked, pundits and scholars – often participants in unsuccessful peace talks themselves – push tired approaches that only keep Palestinians occupied

Ben White's picture

At an April conference in Washington DC held by the Middle East Policy Council, University of Pennsylvania-based political scientist Professor Ian Lustick had some strong criticism for what he described as “the continuous merry-go-round of American-orchestrated negotiations”.

After analysing the interests and roles played by, respectively, the Israeli government, the US government, and the Palestinian Authority, Lustick turned his attention to a “fourth player” – what he called “the peace process industry”.

‘It is far easier to raise funds, preserve institutions and promote careers by describing a closing window of opportunity for two states than to ever admit that in fact a window is closed’

– Professor Ian Lustick

This industry, according to Lustick, is made up of “legions of pundits, scholars, commentators, funders and conference organisers”, whose “speculations, warnings, maps and advice fill the newspapers, blogging sites and airwaves”.

In particular, Lustick highlighted the role of this industry’s “two-state solution proponents”, who, “given the choice between a vanishingly small chance of success and having to develop and adapt an entirely new framework for pursuing values of justice, peace and equality and democracy in this domain, they prefer continuing the fight”.

A Palestinian youth cries outside a hospital morgue in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 9 June 2017 after the death of 35-year-old Aeid Jumaa, who was killed by Israeli gunfire during clashes on the border with Gaza north of Jabalia (AFP)

He added: “It is far easier to raise funds, preserve institutions and promote careers by describing a closing window of opportunity for two states than to ever admit that in fact a window is closed.”

The result is that “both protagonists and observers [are discouraged] from thinking beyond the outworn categories of two states to imagine other possibilities”.

Sample study

This peace process industry hides in plain sight. Its members maintain a high-profile public presence, but one whose role and influence is framed as independent and technocratic.

Let’s take a look at some examples. In five pieces published over three weeks in May by The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Politico, CNN and Reuters, 16 regional analysts were cited on 22 occasions.

Of the 22 times that an expert was quoted in five pieces on the conflict in May, only three were Palestinian

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky were both cited in three of the five articles – the pair are colleagues at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Career diplomat Aaron David Miller and former US envoy to Israel Dan Shapiro were quoted in two of the five pieces.

Together, Ross, Makovsky, Miller and Shapiro constituted almost half of the total 22 expert contributions.

Other analysts cited include Ronald Reagan and George W Bush-era official Elliott Abrams, veteran US diplomat and expert Martin Indyk, and former Israeli military and diplomatic figures like Gilead Sher and Amnon Reshef. Of the 22 times that an expert was quoted, only three were Palestinian: Jibril Rajoub, Hanan Ashrawi (the sole woman of the 22), and Hani al-Masri.

Martin Indyk (R) and Dennis Ross arrive at the headquarters of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in November 2005 to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat (AFP)

Taking these five articles as a whole, written in the context of President Donald Trump’s Middle East tour, we notice the following:

First, Palestinian voices are marginalised, or sometimes absent entirely; second, readers are not informed of the analysts’ own personal views; and third, many are commenting on a “peace process” in which they themselves have been (unsuccessful) participants.

Makovsky (a US-Israeli dual national), for example, worked as senior advisor to the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under secretary of state John Kerry. That special envoy was Martin Indyk, who took a break from Brookings to take up the role, before returning in 2014. Ross, too, is a former US negotiator (albeit one who believes “we need to be advocates for Israel”).

‘The most spectacular deception’

This revolving door between think-tanks and government is a key element in sustaining the tired approaches and bankrupt frameworks that have helped keep the Palestinians occupied, colonised and dispossessed – at no significant cost to Israel with respect to consequences or sanctions.

The peace process industry experts play a key role in talking up or echoing the latest demands of the PA fashioned by Israel the US or others

The structure of the peace process imposes “mutual obligations” of “both sides” – Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – despite the fact that the former is a powerful, occupying state, and the latter is an interim, autonomous entity for the occupied population.

The peace process industry experts play a key role in talking up or echoing the latest demands of the PA fashioned by Israel the US or others, whether it’s “reform” of security services or financial institutions, or ending “incitement” in the media and the education system.

In turn, Israel is urged to adopt tokenistic gestures such as economic “confidence-building measures”, issue more work permits to enter the pre-1967 lines, or lift some of the restrictions on Palestinians’ usage of territory in “Area C” of the West Bank.

A child stands by protest signs reading “50 years is enough” in Hebrew prior to a mass demonstration against 50 years of occupation titled “Two States – One Hope” in May 2017 in Tel Aviv (AFP)

Writing a decade ago in the London Review of Books, Henry Siegman described “the Middle East peace process” as possibly “the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history.” Last month, writing in The New York Times, former Palestinian negotiator Diana Buttu excoriated a peace process that has produced “no progress” after “more than two decades.” She continued:

I spent several years involved on the Palestinian side of the negotiations and can attest to their futility…When we spoke of international law and the illegality of settlements, Israeli negotiators laughed in our faces. Power is everything, they would say, and you have none.

During a recent seminar at Queen Mary University London, Palestinian author and academic Ghada Karmi told attendees: “We must stop talking about Palestine, and do something about Israel.”

Such a course of action is unlikely, however, so long as the “peace process” merry-go-round continues, ably assisted by its industry of experts, providing Israel cover for permanently-temporary occupation.

 

– Ben White is the author of  Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide and Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy. He is a writer for Middle East Monitor and his articles have been published by Al Jazeera, al-Araby, Huffington Post, The Electronic Intifada, The Guardian’s Comment is Free and MORE!. Original: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/peace-process-industry-israel-palestine-930901645

President Among The People

Abbas posing in a typical “candidate baby pic when running for elections”. The Irony…

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Palestinian president (yawn) Mahmoud Abbas (82), made a relatively rare public appearance on a Ramallah market on the evening of Monday 20th – which included the standard ‘holding a baby’ photo event that all politicians seek.

This public appearance probably needs to be seen as part of the rapidly changing political situation between Abbas, his internal critics in Fatah, Hamas and their foregn political sponsors.

In the quickly changing political scene of the Middle East, president Abbas suffered a setback as his ousted and disgraced competitor, Mohammed Dahlan(55) and Hamas have allied, for now, with Egypt which has stepped in to help besieged Gaza Strip’s power generation after for years upholding the siege set up by Israel.

Abbas had asked Israel to cut supplies to Gaza, in an apparent attempt to please the new United States administration. Some kind of geopolitical geography involving Gaza and rest of occupied Palestinian territories have clearly been part of the Qatar crisis and overall the shifting political tectonic plates in the Middle East.

That Egypt, otherwise allied or even subservient to Saudi Arabia during al-Sisi’s reign, would move to support Hamas’ rule in Gaza and that Dahlan (who for years grew and tool great care of his ties to Saudi-Arabia and the Gulf monarchies allied to it) would be the middleman in this, must have come as somewhat a surprise to Abbas, although rumours about a deal between Hamas and Dahlan – who lost the Gaza Strip to Hamas after an allegedly largely corrupt rule as its governor – have been growing for some time.

PHOTO: Al-Rimawi Photography

Direct link to the photograph on the photographer’s own wall:
https://www.facebook.com/AlRimawiPhotography/photos/pcb.838314592986130/838312989652957/?type=3&theater

SOURCE:

Egypt sends fuel to power-starved Gaza, undercuts Abbas (Yeah we use stupid ABC now)
http://abcnews.go.com/…/egypt-sends-fuel-power-starved-gaza…

Gaza crisis: Israel slashes electricity supplies for 3rd day as Egypt provides fuel
http://maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=777749

POLITICAL PRISONER, IMPRISONED FOR HALF OF HIS LIFE BY ISRAEL, IN ‘DIFFICULT HEALTH SITUATION’

Yet another case of claimed medical neglicence by the occupier Israel is that of political prisoner Mohammed Saeed Bisharat(32).
 
Bisharat, from Tammoun north of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation since August 1st 2001 when he was 16.
 
He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment by Israel’s occupation forces’ military court.
 
Mohammed Bisharat has been ill and moved between the notorious Ramleh prison clinic and a hospital in ethnically cleansed Palestine 1948 since May because of his ‘difficult health situation’.
 
According to Israeli doctors, he suffers from kidney failure and would need dialysis three times a week. Whether he will get the treatment he needs is, apparently, still an open question.
 
The consequence of not getting the treatment would be death.
 
He should not be mistaken for another political prisoner with the same name from Tammoun: Mohammed Aref Bisharat, member of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades, who has been imprisoned by Israeli occupation since 1992 and sentenced to 75 years imprisonment by occupation military court.
 
SOURCES:
 
 

ISRAEL KILLS YOUNG MAN IN OCCUPIED WEST BANK

Israel’s occupation forces have shot and killed a so far unidentified young man this afternoon at or near an occupation military checkpoint in Jaba’, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem.
 
Several contradictory claims has been attributed to the Israeli occupation:
 
According to one the killed youth would have ‘approached’ occupation forces’ military tower, ‘raising a knife’ and would have then been fired upon.
 
Another is that Israel’s occupation forces would have been doing ‘routine check’ on a road to illegal Israeli colony of Adam, when the young man would have ‘attempted to stab’ occupation soldiers and would have been ‘immediately fired towards’.
 
It’s claimed that the youth, shot multiple times, died immediately.
 
SOURCES:
 
 
 

IPNOT QUOTE OF THE DAY June 20th 2017: Exit Trump, Enter Merkel?

The minister said Ramallah is in close contact with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel regarding Berlin’s taking more of a lead role on a two-state solution. A senior official in the German Foreign Office told Al-Monitor that Merkel is now ready to play a more active and independent role on Middle East policy. The source said German goals in the region are to be part of a Western-Arab coalition against terrorism, to uphold the Iran deal and to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process based on a two-state solution.
 
Germany has traditionally been reluctant to play a role in the Israeli-Palestinian issue given the country’s special relations with Israel. Yet Merkel is concerned that the US administration will not produce a viable diplomatic process, and that Trump’s aims in the region are mainly related to American business interests in the Gulf and to an anti-terror perception.
 
The German source emphasized that Germany does not want in any way to predetermine permanent status issues. It is strongly opposed to Israeli settlement policy and wants to strengthen Abbas’ posture.
 
According to the official with direct access to Merkel, the chancellor is ready to create a regional economic framework in favor of a two-state solution. The idea raised in German policy planning circles is to propose an “EU Marshall Plan” for Israel and the Palestinian Authority in close cooperation with the Arab League.
 
PHOTO: Graffiti in Berlin by Guenther Schaefer

IPNOT QUOTE OF THE DAY June 19th 2017: Collective Punishment

According to PCHR’s investigations, after the abovementioned attack, the Israeli forces completely closed Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) area, Sultan Suleiman Street and all gates of Jerusalem, excluding Bab al-Asbat (Lions Gate).
They banned the Palestinians from entering and exiting the Old City and obliged the commercial stores’ owners to shut down otherwise they would pay a fine of over NIS 40,000.
The Israeli forces also erupted metal barriers in the streets leading to Bab al-Amoud and prevented vehicles from using these streets. The Israeli officers chased the civilians who were at Bab al-Sahera (Herod’s Gate), al-Mesrara and Nablus Street and fired sound bombs at them.
Moreover, they assaulted some civilians and pushed the journalists away from the scene. The Israeli forces mobilized all over Jerusalem, mainly the streets of Nablus, Bab al-Sahera, Sultan Suleiman and al-Mesrara.
Israeli forces stopped the by-passers and checked their IDs and then deported the West Bank residents by buses distributed throughout the city. The Israeli police declared they “Deported over 350 Palestinians, who entered Jerusalem without permits, and returned them to the Palestinian territories”.
 

IPNOT PICTURE OF THE DAY June 18th 2017: Harassed By The Israeli Occupation

Our picture of the day from and for Sunday June 18th shows Israel’s occupation forces stopping young men near the Damascus Gate for a ‘stop-and-frisk’ treatment.
 
Israel’s occupation forces have increased random searches of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem after the incident in which three Palestinian teenagers and one member of Israel’s occupation forces paramilitary Border Guards died.
 
350 people found with IDs identifying them as residents of occupied West Bank have been ‘deported’ from occupied East Jerusalem by Israeli occupation police.
 
Because of it’s scale, the ‘crackdown’ by the occupation has been called collective punishment.
 
PHOTO: Shehab News Agency