Pretending to restart Israeli/Palestinian peace talks, Quartet representatives met in Washington on July 11. Attending were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and former UK Prime Minister/reinvented war criminal/current Middle East envoy Tony Blair.
Ahead of talks, Clinton and Ashton expressed determination to overcome previously unresolved issues.
On July 12, an unidentified senior US official called the meeting an "excellent and serious discussion on the next steps. (Representatives) expressed support for (Obama's) May Middle East speech and called to start preparatory phases of talks without any preconditions."
However, "(t)here are still gaps, and they need to be closed before the Quartet can go forward with public statements."
In fact, chasms define still unresolved issues. More on that below.
On July 12, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined, "Israel and Palestinian sources to Haaretz: US peace efforts have failed," saying:
Intensive US strong-arming failed. America "was unable to find a formula that (all) parties could accept." Manipulative Washington demands were unacceptable. Netanyahu blamed Palestinians for the impasse.
Last January's Palestine Papers revealed that Obama rejected unacceptable Bush era two state solution "Road Map" terms, effectively accepting settlements as Israeli territory. Or did he?
On September 23, 2009, he told the UN General Assembly he supported "(t)wo states living side by side in peace and security - a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."
However, on October 21, 2009, Obama's Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell said:
"The US believes that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that achieves both the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state encompassing all the territory occupied in 1967 or its equivalent in value, and the Israeli goal of secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meets Israeli security requirements."
He meant an independent Palestine would include 6,258 square km, the equivalent of Gaza and the West Bank. However, he suggested land swaps as part of the deal, replacing a two state solution with an ethnically pure Jewish state (excluding Israeli Arabs) and an unacceptable rump Palestine.
In November 2007, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said:
"Israel (is) the state of the Jewish people - and I would like to emphasize the meaning of 'its people' is the Jewish people - with Jerusalem the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people for 3,007 years."
In other words, Israeli Arabs aren't wanted. Either leave or be expelled. Only Jews may be citizens. UN Resolution 194 granting Palestinian refugees the right of return is rejected.
In September 2009, Israeli Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman endorsed ethnic cleansing, saying:
"A final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has to be based on a program of exchange of territory and populations."
On July 17, the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre headlined, "Report: US sought Quartet approval for Bush-era settlement assurances." However, EU and Russia representatives rejected the scheme, saying:
"Senior European diplomats said that the failure of the Quartet meeting pushed the Palestinians even more toward turning to the UN" for independent sovereign state recognition and full status de jure recognition.
American intransigence is responsible, proposing "one-sided wording for an announcement that favored Israel and which had no chance of being accepted by the Palestinians."
Senior European sources said:
"The Israelis pressured the US very heavily and the American wording was too blatant and unbalanced."
It called for land swaps, settlements annexed by Israel, and disapproval of Palestinian General Assembly efforts for full status de jure recognition in September. Ashton and Lavrov rejected US language stating:
"Permanent peace means two states for two people (not a two state solution): Israel as a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people and the state of Palestine as homeland for the Palestinian people and each state enjoys self determination and mutual recognition and peace."
Washington rejected General Assembly sovereign state recognition, saying it must be resolved through Israeli/Palestinian negotiations, "tak(ing) into consideration the changes that occurred in the past 44 years, including the new demographic facts on the ground and the needs of both sides."
In other words, settlements (exceeding 40% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem) belong to Israel. Unstated but also perhaps expelling Israeli Arabs to make Israel ethnically pure, and demanding Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state. In return, Palestinians get virtually nothing, except nominal recognition on land unfit for statehood.
That's how America and Israel negotiate. It's why peace negotiations were stillborn from inception, a worthless exercise because both countries reject it. As a result, how can Palestinians negotiate without a willing partner.
In fact, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 1984 and 1986 - 1992) admitted it, saying he wanted talks to drag on for years so Israel could expropriate Palestinian land to expand settlements, a policy still in place. Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu once called the peace process "a waste of time," laying down take it or leave it demands like Yitzhak Rabin's Oslo Accords.
Since the mid-1970s, talks proved more pretense than peace, especially since 2006 with Palestine's legitimate government excluded from negotiations, spuriously called a terrorist organization and held hostage under siege.
That's where things now stand, why Palestinians must get de jure General Assembly recognition, then seek international condemnation of Israel's illegal occupation of a sovereign state, demanding it end.
A Final Comment
Sailing for Gaza, Israeli naval vessels surrounded Freedom Flotilla II boat Dignite al Karama in international waters.
Blocking the small yacht were "three battle ships and seven commando boats of different sizes (with) at least 150 soldiers", according to Haaretz journalist Amira Hass on board.
Carrying 13 activists, including herself, and three crew members, it pressed on. Israel threatened to attack.
Around mid-morning on July 19, Israeli Radio (Reshet Bet) said naval forces controlled the boat with no clashes, and that it would be towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth said IDF chief Benny Gantz ordered naval forces to take over the vessel, "after the activists refused to alter the route of the ship to Ashdod." Prior to intercepting it, it was heading toward "an area that is under a maritime siege."
Activists were told to choose between (interrogations and) deportation or imprisonment. Earlier, Flotilla spokesperson Thomas Sommer-Houdeville said the boat carried a message of peace, hope and solidarity with besieged Gazans.
Hass said its "participants regard themselves as representatives of the entire (blocked Flotilla), and are determined to exhaust all possibilities (to) reach (Gaza), or at least carry out the symbolic act of protesting the blockade."
They understand the risks but took them anyway, challenging Israeli viciousness unarmed in peace.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon accused passengers of "a provocative act." Haaretz said Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Ehud Barak congratulated naval forces for successfully intercepting the boat.
Elite Shayetet 13 commandos boarded it, Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan calling it "piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights."
Israel's lawlessness, in fact, gave humanitarian activists another victory. By winning battles, Israel lost the war, exposing itself as a rogue terror state, shooting itself in the foot with each criminal act.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.