by Stephen Lendman
According to Israeli Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom, talks will begin next week in Washington. They'll start Tuesday.
Imagine one side going into the enemy camp's heartland. Imagine its legitimate government denied participation.
Imagine being represented by a longtime Israeli collaborator. Imagine a betrayal and failure scenario. It's certain. It's guaranteed. Palestinians deserve better. They have no say. Maybe next time. Not now.
So-called talks assure conflict, not peace. They assure continued militarized occupation. They assure issues mattering most aren't resolved. They assure the worst of all possible outcomes.
A senior Israeli official confirmed Shalom's announcement. US, Israeli and Palestinian leaders chose the date. More participants than thought will be involved.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is Israel's chief negotiator. Netanyahu's personal envoy Isaac Molho will attend. Saeb Erekat's representing Palestinians. He's a convenient stooge. He's a longtime Israeli collaborator. Expect sellout. He did before. It's planned again.
John Kerry's personally involved. At least for starters. Martin Indyk represents Washington. He's no honest broker. He never was. He's not now.
He's Foreign Policy Program vice president and director for Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. It's pro-Israeli. So is Indyk. He spurns Palestinian rights.
Jordan's interior minister is involved. So is Japan's foreign minister. Maybe some surprise participants will be announced. They won't be honest brokers. They won't be evenhanded. They won't recognize Palestinian rights.
According to senior Israeli officials, initial Washington talks will deal mainly with deciding on what's discussed, what's not, and for how long. Around nine months of futility's planned.
Why Palestinians agreed, they'll have to explain. They'll get nothing in return. They'll be denied what they want most. Previous articles explained. Final status issues won't be resolved. They never were before. They won't be this time.
They include universally recognized Palestinian self-determination, ending occupation, settlements, borders, air, water and resource rights, letting diaspora Palestinians return, and East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital.
Israel's hardline. What Palestinians want most they won't get. Why bother talking to an all take and no give partner. Why let America and Israel rig the process. Why go along with a sham.
Ahead of next week's talks, Israel agreed to release 82 longterm held Palestinian political prisoners. Tokenism doesn't wash. Rearrests happen often. Israel said releases will proceed in four rounds. Maybe Netanyahu will change his mind before they end.
At the same time, dozens of other Palestinians will be imprisoned. It's a revolving door. Some out one end. Others in the other.
Everyone released will be hounded. They'll be harassed. They'll be closely monitored. Their movements will be restricted. They won't have a moment's peace.
Israel Harel's a longtime Haaretz columnist. He founded the Institute for Religious Zionism. It's at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Until 1995, he headed the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
He knows longtime Palestinian suffering. He knows occupation harshness. He knows Israeli deals aren't worth the paper they're written on.
He knows Netanyahu says one thing. He means another. He can't be trusted. Why Harel headlined his latest article "Netanyahu already agreed to 1967 lines" he'll have to explain.
Netanyahu calls talks a waste of time. He prioritizes permanent occupation, land theft, settlement expansions, other development, stealing Palestinian resources, and militarized rule.
He refuses final status talks. He wants all valued Judea and Samaria areas Judaized. He wants Jerusalem as Israel's exclusive capital.
He wants unchallenged regional domination. He prioritizes Israel's Greater Middle East agenda. Divide, conquer and control explain it.
Israel's the only country without fixed borders. It wants them expanded. It wants parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
It wants Palestinians recognizing Israel as a democratic Jewish state. It's one in name only. It never was democratic. It's not now.
Arabs comprise one-fifth of its population. They're marginalized. They're denied. They're persecuted. They're persona non grata. They're virtual non-people.
Peace talks were stillborn from inception. Israel deplores it. Subverting it's prioritized. So-called "territorial compromise" is code language. So is "land for peace." It's more land for Israel. It's less for Palestine. It spurns peace.
According to Harel, Netanyahu changed. He did so "with respect to his politics and his personality."
He'll negotiate "based on Israel's pre-1967 borders." He'll do so "even if he doesn't believe that such a price will satisfy the Palestinians."
He wants Israelis deciding on what affects Palestinians. He wants it by national referendum. He's got no right to do it. Palestinians have sole right to choose their future. It's their choice, not Israel's.
He's proceeding anyway. He wants authorizing legislation expedited. He calls it "essential" for national security. It's code language for all take and no give.
According to Harel, letting Israelis decide by referendum is "reasonable." Not so. It's unacceptable. It's unprincipled. It's intolerable. Palestinians alone may choose.
"People close to Netanyahu say" he changed. His goals are different. "(H)e was not bluffing in his Bar-Ilan University speech in 2009 when he supported two states for two peoples."
"He has internalized the fact that such an agreement can only come about 'based on the 1967 lines.' "
He thinks Palestinians post-agreement will forego their right of return. "It is also only then that they might recognize Israel as the national home of the Jewish people â€(even if through circuitous, indirect languageâ€)."
(E)motional(ly he's) already there." He "agreed in practice to conduct talks based on the pre-1967 linesâ€¦"
He's polar opposite. He's hardline. He wants maximum land. He wants minimum Arabs. He wants Greater Israel for Israelis alone. So do other Israeli hardliners. They said so many times. It's no different now.
Harel thinks letting Israelis decide for Palestinians gives him wiggle room. He doesn't wiggle. He doesn't bend. He never did. He won't now. It's his way or no way.
His comments and body language send clear signals. Others don't decide for him. Choosing is his prerogative.
"Whether (he negotiates) wholeheartedly or halfheartedly," said Harel, "he is pushing for a referendum to salve his conscience" no matter how things turn out.
False. He wants Israelis alone to decide. He wants Palestinians having no say. He wants occupation harshness continued.
He wants land unabated theft. He wants all valued Judea and Samaria areas Judaized. He wants Greater Israel ethnically cleansed. He wants certain one-way terms.
He wants Palestinians denied all rights. He wants colonization and apartheid harshness. He wants settlements expanded. He wants everything the way it's always been and more.
According to retired US CENTCOM head General James Mattis, current conditions are "unsustainable. (They've) got to be directly addressed."
He calls recognizing Palestinian self-determination essential. "We've got to get there, and the chances for it are starting to ebb because of the settlements, and where they're at."
They're "mak(ing) it impossible" to achieve. "If I'm in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there's 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don't get to vote - apartheid," he warned.
"That didn't work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country. So we've got to work on this with a sense of urgency."
"I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel."
"That influences all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can't come out publicly in support of people who don't show respect for the Arab Palestinians."
Israel bears full responsibility for regional hostilities. America's interests are harmed. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel."
It's no perception. It's real. It's longstanding. It's not changing. The more land Israel steals, the worse things get.
"Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with (regional) governments and peoples."
It "weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world." He named none. Pro-Western ones don't exist. Tinpot despots run them. Repression sustains them.
It prevents Palestinian liberation. It's unfulfilled. It's only a dream. Maybe it'll come true. Now now. Maybe some day.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.