Seeing through the smokescreen

Anyone who has followed the Palestinian-Israeli peace process over the past decade and a half would be virtually blind not to see just how dysfunctional the entire setup really is. In this case, Israel’s inconsistencies seem so obvious, it is surprising that anyone takes some of the statements from some of its officials with anything but a grain of salt. For example, Israel’s recent ire over the Palestinians’ refusal to return to negotiations is ridiculous. Palestinians have said from the start that they would no longer sit at a table with Israel’s leaders as long as settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem continue to expand. Logically, since Israel refuses to stop its illegal expansion of Jewish colonies on Palestinian land, Palestinians have decided to take another route in their pursuit of liberation. Instead of relying on the negotiating process, which has clearly proven a failure, the Palestinian leadership, led by President Mahmoud Abbas is looking to the international community to acknowledge their national rights and aspirations.

Since 1988, when late President Yasser Arafat first declared a Palestinian state in Algiers, over 100 countries have recognized our state. Most recently, countries such as Brazil and Argentina have declared their recognition and support for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. The gestures of support have been mostly symbolic of course given that Israel has not unloosened its tight grip on the Palestinians or their land. However, it has sent Israel into a rage and has set off a litany of contradictions from officials such as Mark Regev that even the daftest of observers should be able to see right through it.

“It’s clear unfortunately that the Palestinian leadership has adopted a policy where they refuse to engage directly with Israel,” Regev told the BBC. “And I would ask them; ‘How do you expect to make peace with Israel unless you’re willing to talk to Israel?’

It is almost ridiculous how Israel continually throws the ball into the Palestinians’ court. If the parties are negotiating, it is the Palestinians’ fault for not accepting the bits Israel throws at it. And if the talks have stalled, it is also the Palestinians’ fault for being intransigent.

But the real issue is not even whether the talks are on or off. That is just what Israel wants the world to think because it is safer for them to cast blame on the Palestinians than admit to the world that they have no interest whatsoever in making peace with their “neighbors.” What many fail to see is that Israel’s “peace negotiations” are nothing but a smokescreen. When someone like Regev accuses the Palestinians of refusing to sit at the table with them and “make peace” he understands completely that there is no “peace to be made”, just a “mirage” –” to use his own words –” to fool others into thinking Israel wants it.

So, even if the Palestinians were to sit down opposite the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they know all too well that nothing will ever come of it. They have tried it before. And tried it again, and again and again. Finally, this time around, it is the Palestinians who are trying to call at least one shot. No negotiations with settlements.

And that is why Israel is throwing a hissy fit. Israel has always wanted to have its cake and eat it and this is the perfect example. It will not back down on settlement construction or Jerusalem or the refugee problem. We all know that. It also has no shame in twisting facts. Just the other day –” after the US caved in and dropped its own settlement freeze demand as a prerequisite for returning to peace talks –” Israel claimed Netanyahu had accepted the 90-day freeze but it was the Americans who changed their tune all by themselves.

In all cases, it doesn’t take a genius to see what is going on. Israel is the master of stalling for time in order to continue its expansionist aspirations in Palestine. This new “stunt” by the Palestinians does not suit them because it brings too much attention to the situation on the ground, which we all know is far from the realization of a Palestinian state.

Then there is Wikileaks, which is adding fuel to the fire for Israel but is just one more piece of evidence for the world to see that it has no interest in an actual peace deal with the Palestinians. In November, 2008 Israel informed the US that it would keep the Gaza Strip –” under Hamas rule –” “on the brink of collapse and functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis".

Now is that a country interested in making peace?