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El Pais, Spain

Coming in September: The U.N. 'Train Wreck' Over Palestine


"The two speeding locomotives are of course, Benyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. ... The U.S. and the E.U. could come out of this collision of locomotives weakened and wounded - something that countries with their own aspirations in the region will take advantage of: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran undoubtedly, but also China and Russia."




Translated by Jason Ross


June 9, 2011


Spain - El Pais - Original Article (Spanish)

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, during which he was interrupted for applause over 30 times. Netanyahu rejected the use of Israel's 1967 borders as a basis for talks with the Palestinians.

C-SPAN VIDEO: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, May. 24, 01:14:18RealVideo

There is still three months before the two trains arrive at their collision point. That will be in September, after the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is counting on the support of a large number of member states, perhaps 130 to 140, to recognize Palestine as one of their own. The only thing that might prevent this is a resumption of peace talks, which right now are at a low ebb, with both sides in radical disagreement over conditions that both demand of the other just to sit down.



The two speeding locomotives are of course, Benyamn Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. The first demands that the Palestinian president break with Hamas, the PLO's estranged and now reconciled brother, if he wants to negotiate the creation of a Palestine state. And Netanyahu has some powerful reasons: the goal of Hamas is the destruction of Israel and the group is classified by Washington and Brussels as a terrorist organization. He also demands that Abbas recognize the "Jewish character" of Israel; an oblique way of resolving the question of the Palestinian "right of return" and branding the million-and-a-half Israeli Arabs that possess recognized citizenship as foreign - although its impossible to disregard the fact that a good portion of Israel's ultra-right government members would be delighted if they could take away their citizenship and set to work every day further reducing their rights.


Netanyahu demands a lot and is disposed to give precious little. He has dueled with as much skill as cynicism when it comes to the two demands imposed on him for the talks by Obama: that construction in the occupied territories be frozen; and that talks are based on the 1967 borders. The proposed demilitarized Palestinian state would be under permanent Israeli military control as far as Jordan, there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees and there would be no partition of Jerusalem. It's no wonder that the Palestinians have closed their negotiating office and terminated this phase of talks.



Negotiations don't mean to Netanyahu what they do to Abbas. For the former, it means sitting at the table and prolonging the haggling as long as possible without ever conceding that which he doesn't want to concede: the occupied territories and Biblical Judea and Samaria, which they have as much a right to as the Serbs to Bosnia and Kosovo or al-Qaeda to Al-Andalus (Moorish Spain and Portugal). For the latter, there's no point in negotiating unless it is to create a Palestinian state on land occupied in 1967, as has been set out in a rash of proposals and plans; the Clinton Parameters, the Quartet's Roadmap (the U.S., E.U., Russia, and the U.N.), the 2002 Arab Initiative (in reality, Saudi), and the Annapolis Conference.


Abbas will obtain massive support from U.N. member states, which will endorse recognition but have no legal effect. If they get as far as voting on the recommendation, it will be a gesture of high symbolism yes - but just a gesture. For Palestine to feel like and vote with all of the rights of a member state, its application must first get the green light from the Security Council, which will require a favorable vote or at least the abstention of the United States, which possesses veto power. Once the Security Council gives its approval, the General Assembly can vote on its inclusion as a member of the multilateral organization.



Le Quotidien dOran, Algeria: Obama's Disgrace Leaves Palestinians No Choice

Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, Palestine: U.S. 'Knesset' More Extreme than Israel's!

Samidoon, Palestinian Territories: 'America Cannot Be Trusted'

Haaretz, Israel: Israelis Must Brace for Dark Times

Jerusalem Post, Israel: Netanyahu and 'The Book of Why'


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Israelis and Palestinians are now engaged in an open diplomatic tussle over winning over the most hesitant countries, particularly the Europeans. European Union members may tip the scales - and they would if they had a common foreign policy and voted together. But that isn't the case. That is why it is feared that come September, we'll have yet another opportunity to demonstrate European division and the poor state of transatlantic relations. The U.S. and the E.U. could come out of this collision of locomotives weakened and wounded - something that countries with their own aspirations in the region will take advantage of: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran undoubtedly, but also China and Russia.


If nothing happens en route and initiatives like France's to hold an emergency meeting in July fail, the tension in September could lead to a new intifada. If the first, begun in 1987, was with stones, and the second, begun in 2000, was with suicide bombs, the third one being prepared will be peaceful, following the example of the young Tunisians and the Egyptian revolutionaries of Tahrir square who rebelled against dictators and inspired intellectuals like American Gene Sharp, who support peaceful struggle not only on moral grounds, but above all for its political effectiveness and capacity to persuade the public.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 10, 7:59am]



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