Dealing with Washington and Israel is like swimming with sharks. Get out of the water or be eaten. Achieving an equitable Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement is no more likely now than ever. Both sides know it but pretend otherwise, suggesting perhaps a finessed or arranged resolution - a sham one or capitulation if anything is agreed.
On September 15, the latest Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt round ended with no progress, Haaretz saying both "sides seem no closer to a compromise on West Bank settlements."
Al Jazeera headlined "Slow progress in Egypt peace talks," saying "Latest round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians make little headway....The only agreement the two sides arrived (at) was to meet for the scheduled talks in Jerusalem on" September 15.
Al Jazeera's Marwan Bishara said "Because of a lack of optimism, the negotiations are being conducted in secrecy. We don't know what precisely is going on in these two rounds," or what will follow.
Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin called settlements "the main issue" and that any sort of agreement "does not look promising."
Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh added: "Americans came pretty much empty handed." Further, "Thousands of new (settlements) are approved and ready for construction come the end of September." More about them below.
Even New York Times writers Mark Landler and Isabel Kershner struck a sour note headlining, "Amid Shelling, Mideast Peace Talks Drag," saying:
Shifting "to home turf" on September 15, neither side "had broken an impasse over Israel's (settlement construction) moratorium." More on it below. First some spin.
Obama said "talks are moving forward in a constructive way."
His regional envoy George Mitchell claimed "We continue in our efforts to make progress....and believe that we are doing so."
Hillary Clinton was also optimistic and buoyant, saying progress was made. Resolving the settlement construction issue is manageable, and a deal is possible in a year. No elaboration of what kind she means. For sure, none of the most fundamental Palestinian issues will even be discussed, let alone resolved, including:
-- the right of return;
-- borders - Israel is the only country in the world without established ones;
-- East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital;
-- self-determination or a one-state solution, protecting all Israeli citizens equitably by law, making no distinctions based on faith, ethnicity, or other factors; and
-- short of that, ending the 43 year occupation, repressive and illegal under international law.
The Contentious Settlement Construction Issue
Netanyahu's December 10 month moratorium was bogus and deceptive. Construction perhaps slowed but never stopped, a topic an earlier article addressed, accessed through the following link:
In August, the Israeli Peace Now group launched an anti-settlement campaign, explaining moratorium violations. It concluded by saying "there is almost no freeze or even a visible slowdown, despite the fact that legal construction starts have been prohibited for eight months. It also means that....Israel is not enforcing the moratorium."
In September, Peace Now updated its information headlining, "13,000 housing units can be built without further government approval," saying:
-- 2,066 are ready for immediate construction - where "ground works have already begun or the construction permit has already been approved;"
-- hundreds more are also ready to go, but ground work construction hasn't begun;
-- at least another 11,000 housing units have been approved according to valid building plans, "and the settlers can build them even without further government approval;"
-- it means that "if the government (imposes) a de facto 'tacit freeze,' (settlers) can still build 13,000 housing units, 5,000 of which are in isolated settlements east of the" Separation Wall; and
-- 25,000 more units were previously approved but need updating to proceed.
What's clear is that freeze or no freeze, massive settlement construction will continue.
On September 16, Haaretz writer Avi Issacharoff headlined, "Report: US suggests 3-month extension to settlement freeze," saying:
"Abbas has agreed....but Netanyahu has yet to respond." His office then issued a statement saying:
"we don't comment on the content of the negotiations. The position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (is) well known, and hasn't changed."
During Sharm el-Sheikh meetings, he told Abbas that construction would resume at the end of September - that is, at a faster pace than now. If finessing the issue, in fact, happens, Peace Now says:
"The reality is that under such a compromise, construction....can still re-start on a massive scale." Besides the 2,066 ready to go, 60 settlements have gotten Civil Administration land allocations though the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division or another settlement agency.
Taking all of the above into account, total potential settlement construction is about "38,000 housing units (in) plans that were approved" but never built. Most require further approval, but it's little more than rubber-stamping them whenever Israeli authorities wish. Neither Washington nor Abbas will stop them. Nor will world leaders object.
The "peace process" charade goes on, Palestine's legitimate government excluded. Palestinians are instead represented by a coup d'etat regime, headed by an Israeli collaborationist serving them, not his people. Imagine what's likely ahead.
On September 1, five disreputable leaders began discussions in Washington - Obama, Netanyahu, Abbas, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah, men journalist Matthew Cassel calls "a dictator, a (dictatorial) monarch, a puppet and two heads of government responsible for the region's only military occupations - not the best ingredients for making world peace."
They're superb ones, in fact, for waging war against it, the agenda America and Israel pursue, intolerant of peace and dedicated to avoiding it at all costs.
A Final Comment
On September 16, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined "Plastic flowers," using them as a metaphor for the settlements, saying:
They're not real. "They are rootless, lifeless, without an ounce of grace, and they obscure the real landscape."
The settlements are the same, "wedged into foreign soil and never producing anything but their own ugliness." They've grown nothing "but the damage they have caused....No theater, no museum, no music and no dance, very little literature and no meaningful creative work."
They're "comatose cities," out of place "migrant villages." They "should have collapsed (on their own) years ago....This then is the project we're fighting for and paying for," and negotiating for - to steal land from its owners instead of "removing this ugly plastic flowerpot from our windowsill," and acting civilized instead of like rogues.
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.