What Will Happen in Israel - PA Direct Talks / Prof.B.Rubin

Prior to the start of the new round of Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) direct negotiations, a high-ranking administration official briefed the media today on what to expect. Having read the transcript prior to its official release, I will summarize here the most interesting points.

The basic structure of the talks is as follows: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas plan to meet every two weeks, starting on September 2. There will be more frequent meetings at a lower level on various issues. The United States will watch closely but the talks will be bilateral and the U.S. side will make no formal proposals.

In the words of the briefing:

“It does not mean that the United States will simply stand aside and not participate actively. We will operate in a manner that is reasonable and sensible in the circumstances which exist, but the guiding principle will be an active and sustained United States presence.” The word “presence” is an alternative to the word “involvement,” signaling a role as observer at this point.

Is the idea of solving this in a year realistic? The U.S. official insists it is a “window of opportunity” (heard that one before?), citing statements by both Netanyahu and Abbas (neither of whom believes this for a moment) to that effect. If they don’t make peace now, he added, they will face “”far greater difficulties and far greater problems in the future.”

It is noteworthy that making a deal is always deemed never to pose any greater problems in the future. To set as the two choices: continuation of a long, bloody conflict or its solution bringing about total peace and happiness obviously signals which is the preferred option. In this case, both leaders would love to make a deal, right?

Of course, this is not the real world. Netanyahu has to worry not so much about domestic reaction (a real but overstated factor) but about making such concessions that Israel would be in a worse, more dangerous situation, faced round two, escalated Arab demands, and a lack of Western support no matter how much he listened to Western advice. Netanyahu has to deal also with the details of borders, most notably pertaining to east Jerusalem, and retaining a limited number of settlements near the frontier.

Abbas has an even worse problem. First, he himself doesn’t want to give up certain demands, including the “right” of return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to live in Israel, which would consequently (as Abbas and Netanyahu both know) would not remain Israel for more than a few months.

Second, Abbas lacks the political power to offer any solution that would conceivably be acceptable to any Israeli leader since his colleagues almost unanimously oppose such an outcome.

Third, he has not prepared his own people for such a compromise deal. On the contrary, he and the PA have been telling them daily for 16 years that Israel is illegitimate and by waiting they will get everything.

Fourth, he has no control over Hamas which will do everything possible to destroy any such agreement and overthrow the PA.

Fifth, he cannot depend on real Arab support, even if the dying Egyptian president and weak Jordanian king are present.

Sixth, he can depend on the violent opposition of Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Muslim Brotherhoods, and huge portions of the Arab world’s population.

Seventh, he and his colleagues reject almost all the Israeli conditions: that a treaty end the conflict forever, that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, that the Palestinian state have limits on its military and cannot invite in foreign troops, and that all Palestinian refugees be resettled in Palestine. He might be able to agree to minor border changes but even that is in question.

Finally, he has an alternative strategy: ensure the talks fail, blame Israel, and seek Western support for a unilateral declaration of independence without making any compromises or concessions to Israel.

Virtually none of these eight points is ever addressed by the U.S. government or the mass media. Well, the briefing did mention one: claiming that a recent poll showed that over 80 percent of the Arabs in the six most moderate countries are “still in principle open to the two-state solution.”

This argument, by the way, is expressed with the most appalling distortions of the facts. For example, the briefer bragged that 39 percent said that a two-state solution would happen through negotiations as if this was some amazing fact. Of course that’s what they say (it’s amazing more don’t say it) because they certainly don’t think this would be the outcome of any war they won!

The briefer also said that the majority of those polled believe that if there is no two-state solution there will be conflict in the coming years. What this leaves out is: they probably believe that a two-state solution would also bring conflict and that they believe that if Israel doesn’t meet every Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim demand there can be no two-state (temporary) solution.

Moreover, the briefer left out the fact that the poll showed an astonishingly high level of support or revolutionary Islamist leaders (including Iran’s regime) and groups in the most moderate states. Here's my analysis of the same poll.

But why go on? The ultimate argument, which really underlies all the others, is: Would you rather have us do nothing? Shouldn’t we try?

Sure, I respond. You must, however, act with a realistic and honest assessment of the situation and with the proper preparations. To stage negotiations, for example:

--Without ever pressuring the PA to stop the very incitement and radicalism that ensures there is no popular base for peace is to guarantee failure.

--To show you are ready to accept a Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and protect it from being overthrown is to ensure there is no basis for peace.

--To fail to show strong backing for moderates—including the Lebanese independence forces—while coddling extremists is to ensure there is no strategic basis for peace.

Many more points can be added here. No, this is not the best that the United States of America could do. Yes, the talks will fail. Certainly, much of the media will pretend otherwise.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

Muslims Who Don't Want to Live Under Islamist Dictatorships Urge: Help Us By Telling The Truth

Posted: 31 Aug 2010 12:10 PM PDT

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By Barry Rubin

I constantly receive mail and contacts of various kinds from Arabs, Iranians, Pakistanis, and Turks--among others--about how much they like my writing. In fact, many of my ideas and inspiration comes from conversations with these people. You'd be surprised to hear some of the names, countries, and positions of those involved in these dialogues.

It's a complex issue but to put it simply: those in the West may romanticize or refuse to criticize radical Islamists and Middle East dictatorships but that doesn't exactly thrill those who live under these regimes or who fear seeing their countries being taken over by extremists who repress and maybe will kill them.

I wrote an entire book about this situation and these people, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, John Wiley Publishers (2005). That book, and other things I've written, explains both my tremendous sympathy for these liberals and reformers as well as why I didn't advocate a policy based on the belief that the United States could democratize the region or solve the problems of these societies by overthrowing the ruling regimes.

During my last speaking trip, which usually focused on the battle between Islamists and nationalists, there were Arabs or Iranians present at each event who enthusiastically endorsed what I said. In one case, a Palestinian wearing a very large kafiyah sat in the front row nodding at my main points. Afterward, he explained that he was a Palestinian Authority supporter who hated Hamas and thought that group was ruining his people's chance for ever getting their own independent state.

And don't even get me started on Iran, where a large majority opposes the current regime, and Turkey, where an even larger majority opposes the current regime. These people, almost all of them Muslims, are anti-Islamist and prefer a democratic state. They may not be "moderate Muslims," that is religious reformers, but they are Muslims who are moderates. They don't respect Westerners smug in their "virtues" of being so Islamophilic, tolerant, and "pro-Arab" as to saddle the poor victimized Middle Easterners with horrible, repressive regimes and permanent violence.

Most of the people who hate and oppose revolutionary Islamism can be most accurately called conservative traditionalists. They prefer Islam as it was practiced before the age of Iran's revolution and Usama bin Ladin. They don't like Israel and have plenty of complaints about the West (though there are also things they like about both) but they don't want to go to war or spend the next century seeking revenge either.

A minority of them are real democrats, courageous people who know what their countries need to do in order to get out of their current morass. The majority is just fed up with terrorism, ideology, dictatorship, economic impoverishment, social stagnation, and using Zionism or imperialism as excuses for all of the above. The Western "sympathizers" who endorse every reactionary cultural and political tendency as "authentic" do them no favors.

For example, in response to this article I wrote pointing out that the amount of hatred and incitement coming from the Muslim majority world far exceeds that in the West or Israel, I received two letters from Middle Eastern Muslim readers.

One, from an Iranian, noted: "Best article yet! keep it up!"

And another reader--presumably Iranian--writes to me as follows:

"I read your Rubin Reports with great pleasure and anticipation. I find you are among the very few Westerners who are not giving into political correctness vis-à-vis Islamic terrorism, the new fascism. The dance of appeasing Muslim radicals (or the rest) is most dangerous and will lead to diminished freedom and the end of the rule of rational law.

"I fear so much that my grandchildren will be subject to a totalitarian theocratic rule that I search for a way out of [this situation to live] in the West. There are majorities in some places in the Middle East—Iran, the prime example—who are fed up with the ideology of hate and of death and of darkness, and long for peace and freedom and happiness. We are fed up with antisemitic people and governments and we want to rescue reason from theocratic dogma.

"Thank you for what you do. I hope Westerners read your work and pay heed. The alternative is hatred, violence, and the rule of evil."

Note the implications of those last three points;

Hatred by Islamists and radicals: Not only of the West and Israel, Christians, Jews, or Bahais, but also of Muslims who have a different interpretation of their religion or who are "too" secular, and also at times of various other groups who are Muslims (Berbers, Kurds, Shia, Sudanese Africans).

Violence: Not only against Westerners and Israelis plus local Christians but also against all of the groups mentioned in the previous paragraph plus women who deviate from what the Islamists want, homosexuals, and others.

The Rule of Evil: Not over Westerners but over those Middle Easterners (again, mostly Muslim) who live under such regimes or will be drowned in revolutions in the uture.

So, if one supports Islamists like those who rule Iran and the Gaza Strip, pro-Islamist (abroad) dictatorships like that in Syria, those who are close to ruling Lebanon, and revolutionaries who want to impose Islamist totalitarian regimes, is this "pro-Muslim" or "pro-Arab?" Presumably, it is like saying that backing the Nazis made one a friend of the German people or supporting the Stalinists proved that one loved the Russian people and those in its satellite states.

Or perhaps everyone who doesn't want to be ruled by Iran, the Taliban, Hamas, Hizballah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other assorted dictatorships are Islamophobic or racist?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Note: This article appears on Pajamas Media. I have added here a couple of relevant links as well.


Alon Pinkas, Ex- consul of Israel in the U.S WROTE IN MAARIV:

The Palestinians are not interested in endind the Israeli occupation.
They could make peace and have a state in 2000 at Camp David.
They are interested in demonizing and deligitimizing Israel in the eyes of the world .

Michael Brenner's:Palestine and Washington's Alchemy

Michael Brenner published an article in Huffington Post, on September 1, 2010, in which he argues that the talks are no more than "a virtual peace process" and its only goal is to secure the 2012 presidential elections.
His reasons:
The Israeli government is an ultra- right government, the settlements are mushrooming and the infrastructure on the West Bank "have eaten up a large fraction of Palestinian Land."
Abu Mazen represents only part of the Palestinians. He represents the whole nation only formaly. And he is weak.

According to Brenner, Obama will not put any more pressure on Israel, because of the 2012 elections. He hopes that the Arab leaders will pressure Gaza, and if not- Gaza will remain a cage.

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