Notes on a Dysfunctional Peace Process
10/08/2010 - 10:23
James Besser

 What a crazy, dysfunctional peace process.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinian statehood is his number one goal, but he apparently doesn't want it bad enough to accept some kind of compromise on a settlement moratorium that will allow talks – the only route to his goal- to continue.

You can make a good case that settlements and settlement growth are big problems, but you can also offer a sound argument that Palestinian incitement is every bit as much an impediment to peace process progress. The only way to get past both obstacles – and many others – is to actually negotiate, not just talk about whether or not to talk.

The Palestinian leader obviously doesn't get it. Instead, he seems to be on the verge of leaving the talks over the settlement issue; according to Ha'aretz, he's told U.S. special envoy he will “resign if settlement construction continues.”

The only thing he didn't say was “nanny nanny boo boo.”

The Arab League, helpful as always, is reportedly “ poised to back Abbas decision to leave talks,” according to the Jerusalem Post. 

The League, too, says Palestinian statehood is a priority but willfully ignores the only way that's ever going to happen – through serious negotiations and difficult compromises on both sides. These countries are like the enablers who think they're being nice to an alcoholic friend by offering a beer.

Actually, it's worse than that; they're acting like “allies” of the Palestinians who'd rather have them keep suffering in order to preserve Israel as the region's favorite punching bag.

Then there's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he's ready to take “historic steps” to forge a peace agreement. But apparently they don't include reforming his coalition to get rid of members – starting with his foreign minister – who will do everything possible to make sure those steps don't take place.

How can anybody take his support for negotiations seriously when he holds fast to a coalition that is unalterably opposed? Forget Bibi's words; you'll know he means business about this iteration of the peace process when he dissolves his government and brings in the centrist Kadima party. And you'll know he's serious when creating conditions that will allow negotiations to advance is more important to him than appeasing the settlers and their supporters.

Both sides are busy setting up paradigms of blame, but it seems to me both sides deserve a good measure of the stuff.

And you have to wonder about an administration in Washington that seemingly went into this process without a clear idea of how to get the two recalcitrant leaders to actually want these talks to work, and not just say the words.

I've heard its latest efforts referred to as a "half-baked" peace plan.  Half baked? These guys apparently didn't even know where the oven was.

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