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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 04:49 PM

All Talk In The Middle East

By Jamie Stern-Weiner

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique

Thursday, June 27, 2013

For Israel and the US, negotiations with the Palestinians have never been about achieving a resolution of the conflict, which can only happen on terms all Israeli governments have rejected. Rather, their primary function has been to reduce international pressure on Israel without it having to make political concessions.

Israeli governments have consistently embraced negotiations as a relief valve for international pressure to end the occupation, provided that they are not based on international law, reach no decisive conclusion and can be extended unto eternity. This understanding of the peace process is the only way to make sense of the current situation, in which an Israeli government that explicitly rejects a two-state settlement is pushing for negotiations, against the resistance of a Palestinian leadership that officially accepts it.

Negotiations began in the early 1990s as a response to the first Palestinian intifada, which dramatically increased the costs of occupation for Israel. The 1993 Oslo Accord, which launched the peace process, was the product of secret discussions that subverted the official negotiations being conducted at the time. Whereas official Palestinian representatives, riding the wave of the intifada, demanded the fulfilment of Palestinian rights under international law, the Oslo Accord and the peace process it initiated neglected even to demand the dismantling of Israeli settlements. The result was predictable: over the next decade, as Israeli and Palestinian diplomats talked, Israeli settlers built - nearly doubling in number. "By creating a calm environment", they "were able to complete" their work.

In the wake of Rouhaniís election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been particularly forceful in urging the international community to maintain pressure on Iran and avoid "drawn out" negotiations that simply allow Iran to "gain time". For its part the US has been clear that, as a National Security Council spokesperson put it this week, "the window for diplomacy is not open indefinitely". "We are open to negotiation", Secretary of State John Kerry has explained, but "not an open-ended, endless negotiation". Both the US and Israel are well aware of the risk of dialogue being used as a fig-leaf to enable destructive behaviour. They should know.

Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/all-talk-in-the-middle-east-by-jamie-stern-weiner

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