Was the ‘peace process’ an international smoke and mirrors screen?
David Gardner, the Financial Times’ International Affairs Editor, sees Palestine’s application to be recognised as a state as a ‘diplomatic bid to call Israel’s bluff’.
He believes that this move is starting to ‘strip away layer after layer of the cant and duplicity that has enveloped the so-called peace process.’
Pointing out that the hopes raised by the 1993-95 Oslo accords have not ended the Israeli occupation of Palestine, he records:
“The peace process has served as an international smoke and mirrors screen for the inexorable expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
“It cannot be stated often enough that the biggest single enlargement of the settlements took place in 1992-96, at the high-water mark of the peace process under Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, when the number of settlers grew by 50%, or four times the rate of population growth inside Israel.”
Papers, leaked to al-Jazeera in January show that Mr Abbas was willing to give up nearly all of east Jerusalem but this offer was rejected by the previous Israeli government, make it clear that the settlements were intended to be permanent.
If the USA and Israel think a UN vote is meaningless, why try to block it?
Mr Gardner adds later that “international recognition of the Palestinians right to a state would call Israel’s bluff and expose the hollowness of the US role as a less-than-honest broker.”
The Netanyahu government and the administration of President Barack Obama insistence that a UN vote is meaningless is dismissed by him: “If so, why have Israeli diplomats been moving heaven and earth to try to prevent it, even presenting it as an existential threat?”
His later point has a bearing on these attempts: if the Palestinians win recognition, even by the General Assembly, under international law Israel would no longer be occupying territory it claims is in dispute, it would be occupying another state.