Post #61 – A Bad Start to the New Year in the Middle East

Having been thwarted in the UN Security Council when a vote to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank went against it, the Palestinian Authority (PA) decided last week to sign several international conventions, most importantly the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002. As an expression of national dignity and exasperation with the peace process, the PA’s signing is understandable.  Unfortunately, it is also a gift to Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right, who will now use it in the run-up to March elections to show that the Palestinians have abandoned the peace process and cannot be trusted.  Moreover, by joining the ICC in defiance of US warnings not to do so, the PA will probably incur American sanctions, though we may hope that France and other EU governments which have recognized a Palestinian state will make up the difference in aid.

The bottom line here is that as badly as Palestinian-Israeli relations are now, they are likely to get still worse.  The PA is promising to bring charges of Israeli crimes against humanity before the ICC, which the Israeli government and pro-government groups, will counter with legal, economic, and military action of their own. Already, Israel has frozen $127 million in tax revenues due the PA; and inasmuch as Israel, under the 1993 Oslo accords, reportedly collects over $1 billion a year in customs and other taxes on behalf of the PA, the freeze may have a devastating effect on the PA’s ability to pay salaries and otherwise function.  A tit-for-tat situation may evolve, and life in the West Bank and Gaza may become even more tenuous.  The resumption of violent confrontations between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas will then be quite likely.

Has the Obama administration thought through what a collapsing of the PA will mean for the tattered peace process and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

And how about the rule of law?  Israel and the US, are not parties to the ICC.  (They have signed but not ratified the Statute.  In all, 17 countries have either not ratified or not signed it.)  For Israel and the US to complain about the Palestinians joining the Court when they have not joined seriously undermines their protests.  Israel and the US fear—and with good reason—that if they did join, their nationals could be dragged before the Court on war crimes or related charges.  After all, Israel is an occupying power with well documented abuses of human rights.  Protesting the Palestinians’ action, and condemning them for human-rights violations, would be more credible if Tel Aviv and Washington supported the Court and the principles of international law it represents.

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4 Comments

  1. Mel, My experience of the Palestinians is very limited is that they now support an eventual one state solution. It appears that Israel continues its rightward movement with the fundamentalists having many more children than liberal Jews. Obviously the Islamic world is shaking to its very foundations. Trends seem set not just for a deal or a breakthrough but a demographic clash over fifty years….

    I feel they are both brats. If the rest of Europe could embrace Germany after two world wars why can’t Israel and Palastine gather together a common market agend of water and renewable energy for the Middle East?

    Here is a paper I presented at a conference on the subject attached.

    A bow wow in the six directions to you fine sir.

    Bob

    ________________________________
    ROBERT WISE, Associate Principal
    503.278.3461 | http://www.coganowens.com

    1. The Palestinians are split over the question of one state or two. From a demographic point of view, one state would seem preferable for them because of the inevitable population advantage. Those favoring one state believe the Oslo Accords are dead. The two-state advocates argue from the vantage point of having international support for it, including from the US. They say only separation can restore the Palestinian people’s rightful homeland, fulfill self-determination, and eliminate the occupation. The last Gaza war and other horrors seems to have hardened Israelis against two states; but that view hardly provides a path to peace. You’re right to point to water and energy as opportunities for finding common ground. I’ve said the same. But narrowmindedness prevails, and US favoring of Israel–or refusal to stand against it–offers no chance for new leaders with a cooperative agenda to emerge.

  2. Hi Mel,

    I am shocked and fearful with the rise of anti Semitism and Moslem fobia and terrorism in Europe and elsewhere. Are we headed into the 1930s again? Did you seen the prosecutor in Argentina was murdered who was working on a case involving a Jewish Center bombed in 1994. I just saw that a Lebanese beauty pageant contestant who accidently had her picture taken with the Israel beauty queen was threatened. And Boko Haram.. what can we say about this Satanic Death Cult?

    The German and French and British leaders seem to be doing what they can but the rogue terrorist has people on edge.

    What ideas can break through this trend?

    Here are a few “big” steps:

    · Western leaders conference on bridging the divide and creating better community.

    · EU initiative to help form the Sunshine Union as outlined in the paper I sent you.

    · Reinitiate the peace process in the Middle East going back to the Clinton almost agreement.

    · Focus on aid for health care and education in foreign aid.

    · A get tough stance on Saudis who seem to be the funders of much of what is going on. I read about the mild critic of Wahabism who is to be lashed 1000 times. There are our dear friends and our leadership kisses their asses….

    · Nuclear deal with Iran and possibly “reconciliation “. What would that take?

    · Whither Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria…..+++?

    Big ideas for bad times.

    Take care brother. As quoted in Sam Hamill’s translation of the Wen Fu:

    The poet stands
    At the center of the Universe
    Contemplating the Enigma…

    ________________________________
    ROBERT WISE, Associate Principal
    503.278.3461 | http://www.coganowens.com
    From: Bob Wise
    Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2015 3:23 PM
    To: ‘In the Human Interest – Mel Gurtov’
    Cc: Bob Wise & Nancy Murray
    Subject: RE: [New post] Post #61 – A Bad Start to the New Year in the Middle East

    Mel, My experience of the Palestinians is very limited is that they now support an eventual one state solution. It appears that Israel continues its rightward movement with the fundamentalists having many more children than liberal Jews. Obviously the Islamic world is shaking to its very foundations. Trends seem set not just for a deal or a breakthrough but a demographic clash over fifty years….

    I feel they are both brats. If the rest of Europe could embrace Germany after two world wars why can’t Israel and Palastine gather together a common market agend of water and renewable energy for the Middle East?

    Here is a paper I presented at a conference on the subject attached.

    A bow wow in the six directions to you fine sir.

    Bob

    ________________________________
    ROBERT WISE, Associate Principal
    503.278.3461 | http://www.coganowens.com

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