Why the Peace Talks Collapsed—and Should Not be Resumed

2 May


           A week ago Israel suspended participation in the peace talks in response to news that the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah had for a third time concluded a unity agreement with the Hamas leadership of Gaza. Such a move toward intra-Palestinian reconciliation should have been welcomed by Israel as a tentative step in the right direction. Instead it was immediately denounced by Netanyahu as the end of the diplomatic road, contending that Israel will never be part of any political process that includes a terrorist organization pledged to its destruction. Without Hamas’ participation any diplomatic results of negotiations would likely have been of questionable value, and besides, Hamas deserves inclusion. It has behaved as a political actor since it took part in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, and has repeatedly indicated its willingness to reach a long-term normalizing agreement with Israel if and when Israel is ready to withdraw fully to the 1967 borders and respect Palestinian sovereign rights. The contention that Hamas is pledged to Israel’s destruction is pure hasbara, a cynical means to manipulate the fear factor in Israeli domestic politics, as well as ensuring the persistence of the conflict. This approach has become Israel’s way of choosing expansion over peace, and seemingly ignoring its own citizens’ mandate to secure a stable peace agreement.


            Israel had days earlier complained about an initiative taken by the PA to become a party to 15 international treaties. Again, a step that would be viewed as constructive if seeking an end to the conflict was anywhere to be found in Israel’s playbook. Such an initiative should have been interpreted in a positive direction as indicating the Palestinian intention to be a responsible member of the international community. Israel’s contrary lame allegation that by acting independently the PA departed from the agreed roadmap of negotiations prematurely assuming the prerogatives of a state rather than waiting Godot-like for such a status to be granted via the bilateral diplomatic route.


            To remove any doubt about the priorities of the Netanyahu-led government, Israel during the nine months set aside for reaching an agreement, authorized no less than 13,851 new housing units in the settlements, added significant amounts of available land for further settlement expansion, and demolished 312 Palestinian homes. These acts were not only unlawful, but actually accelerated earlier settlement trends, and were obviously provocative from a Palestinian perspective. As Haaretz columnist, Gideon Levy, observed in a TV interview, if Israeli authorizes even one additional housing unit during negotiations it is sending a clear signal to the Palestinian people and their leaders that it has no interest in reaching a sustainable peace agreement.


            The revival of direct negotiations last August between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority was mainly a strong arm initiative of the U.S. Government, energized by John Kerry, the American Secretary of State, who has put relentless pressure on both sides to start talking despite the manifest futility of such a process from its outset. Such resolve raises the still unanswered question, ‘why?’ Kerry melodramatically proclaimed that these negotiations were the last chance to save the two-state solution as the means to end the conflict, in effect, declaring this new round of U.S. sponsored negotiations to be an all or nothing moment of decision for the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Kerry has reinforced this appeal by warning that Israel risks isolation and boycott if no agreement is reached, and in the last several days, declared behind closed doors that Israel was taking a path that could lead Israel to becoming an apartheid state by this apparent refusal to seek a diplomatic solution.


            It is probably beside the point that no one at the State Department informed Kerry before he started to walk this tightrope that the two-state goal that he so unconditionally endorsed was already dead and buried as a realistic option. Further, that Israel had established an apartheid regime on the West Bank decades ago, making his supposedly controversial statement better understood to be ‘old news.’ In other words, Kerry showed himself awkwardly out of touch by issuing future warnings about matters that were already in a past tense. With respect to apartheid he discredited himself further by apologizing for using the a-word in response to objections by Israeli supporters in the United States, however descriptive ‘apartheid’ has become of the discriminatory nature of the occupation. American leaders present themselves as craven in relation to Israeli sensibilities when they retreat in this manner from reality without showing the slightest sign of embarrassment.


            The agreement of Israel and the PA to sit together and negotiate formally expired on April 29th, yet the indefatigable Kerry rather remarkably pushed the parties to agree on an extension by a flurry of meetings in recent weeks disclosing a mood hovering uneasily between exasperation and desperation. Even if the talks were to resume, as still might happen, it should not be interpreted as a hopeful development. There is utterly no reason to think that a diplomatic process in the current political climate is capable of producing a just and sustainable peace. To think differently embraces an illusion, and more meaningfully, gives Israel additional time to consolidate its expansionist plans to a point that makes it absurd to imagine the creation of a truly viable and independent sovereign parallel Palestinian state. So long as the political preconditions for fruitful inter-governmental diplomacy do not exist, calls for direct negotiations should be abandoned. Both sides must approach negotiations with a genuine incentive to strike a deal that is fair to the other side, which implies a willingness to respect Palestinian rights under international law. For reasons suggested, those preconditions do not exist on the Israeli side. This makes it deeply misleading to put the blame for the breakdown of the talks on both sides, or sometimes even to point the finger at the Palestinians, as has been the practice in the mainstream Western media whenever negotiations hit a stone wall.


            It has been painfully obvious ever since Oslo (1993), that there is something fundamentally deficient about the double role played by the United States Government in relation to such negotiations. How can it be trusted when American officials declare over and over again that the country will forever remain the unconditional ally of Israel, and yet at the same time give even minimal confidence to the Palestinians that it a neutral third party seeking to promote a just peace? The short answer is that ‘it can’t’ and ‘will not.’ From the very outset of the recent diplomatic initiative this contradiction in roles was resolved in Israel’s favor by the Obama appointment of Martin Indyk as Special Envoy entrusted with the delicate symbolic role of overseeing the negotiations. Indyk has a long public career of involvements supportive of Israel, including past employment with the notorious AIPAC lobby that exerts its disproportionate pro-Israeli influence over the entire American political scene. Only the weakness of the Palestinian Authority can explain a willingness to entrust its diplomatic fate to such a framework already strongly tilted in favor of Israel due to Israel’s skills and strengths as an experienced political actor on the global stage.


            Against this background we have to ask what is gained and lost by such fruitless negotiations. What is gained by Israel and the United States is some hope that while negotiations proceed the conflict will not escalate by taking an unwelcome turn toward a Third Intifada that forcibly challenges Israel’s occupation policies associated with the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. There is also the sense that so long as the U.S. Government is seen as backing a two-state solution it satisfies regional expectations, and provide a rationale for supporting even a futile diplomatic effort because it is the only game in town, and it seems perverse to challenge its utility without presenting an alternative. The Arab world itself endorsed and recently reaffirmed its 2002 regional peace initiative calling for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Palestine and formal acceptance of Palestinian state within 1967 green line borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Such a vision of peace derives from unanimous Security Council Resolution 242 that was premised on Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied in the course of the 1967 War, but additionally on a just solution of the refugee problem. And there is near universal appreciation expressed for Kerry’s dedication to resolving the conflict, and so it is a kind of public relations success story despite the serious drawbacks mentioned.


            In effect, there has existed a global consensus since 1967 on establishing peace between Israel and Palestine, reinforced by the apparent absence of alternatives, that is, the only possibilities are widely believed to be either two-states or the persistence of the conflict. It should be appreciated that way back in 1988 the Palestinian Liberation Organization, then speaking for all Palestinians under the leadership of Yasir Arafat, gave up its maximalist goals, and formally indicated its willingness to make peace with Israel based on these 1967 borders, with an implied readiness to compromise on the refugee issue. Such an approach allowed Israel to possess secure borders based on 78% of historic Palestine, and limited the Palestinian state to the other 22%, which is less than half of what the UN had offered the Palestinians its partition proposal of 1947, which at the time seemed unreasonable from a Palestinian perspective. In appraisals of the conflict this historic Palestinian concession, perhaps imprudently made by the PLO, has never been acknowledged, much less reciprocated, by either Israel or the United States. In my view, this absence of response exhibited all along a fundamental lack of political will on the Israeli side to reach a solution through inter-governmental negotiations, although some would interpret the Camp David initiative in 2000 as the last time that Israeli leadership seemed somewhat inclined to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The Palestinian Authority depends on Israel to transfer tax revenues upon which its governing capacity rests, and it can usually be brought into line if it acts in defiance of Tel Aviv and Washington. Also, collaboration on security arrangements with Israel creates both co-dependency and give a measure of stability to the otherwise frozen situation. Occasionally, seemingly with quixotic intent, the PA and Abbas challenge this image by suggesting their option to quit the political stage and return the responsibilities of administering the West Bank to Israel.


            The two-state consensus has been increasingly challenged over the years by influential Palestinians, including Edward Said, who toward the end of his life argued that in view of intervening developments subsequent to 1988, only a one-state solution could reconcile the two peoples in an acceptable manner based on mutual respect for rights, democracy, and equality. The advocacy of a single secular democratic state draws on two sets of arguments—a pragmatic contention that the settlement process and the changed demographic of East Jerusalem are essentially irreversible, and thus there is no feasible means at this time to create a viable Palestinian state, and this becomes more apparent with each passing day; and a principled contention that it makes no political or ethical sense in the twenty-first century to encourage the formation of ethnic states, especially as in this case, 20% of the Israeli population is Palestinian, and subject to an array of discriminatory legislative measures. In some respects, the essence of the Palestinian predicament is to acknowledge that it is too late for the two-state solution and seemingly too early for a one-state solution.


            Assuming that the diplomatic route is blocked, is the situation hopeless for the Palestinians? I believe that Palestinian hopes for a just peace should never have rested on the outcome of formal diplomacy for the reasons given above. Put succinctly, given the Israel failure to heed the call for withdrawal in SC Res. 242, its non-response to the 1988 PLO acceptance of Israel within the 1967 borders, and its consistent commitment to settlement expansion, no sane person should have put much faith in an Israeli readiness to make a peace respectful of Palestinian rights under international law. Currently, the best prospect for realizing Palestinian self-determination is by way of pressures exerted through the mobilization of a movement from below, combining popular resistance with global solidarity. Such a process, what I have called ‘legitimacy war,’ exemplified by Gandhi’s nonviolent victory over the British Empire and more recently by the success of the global anti-apartheid movement against racist South Africa, represents the latest strategic turn in the Palestinian national movement, and seems even compatible with the recent outlook of Hamas as expressed by its leaders and confirmed by its behavior.


            It is time to appreciate that the current approach of the Palestinian national movement rests on two broad undertakings: the adoption of nonviolent resistance tactics and an increasingly strengthened global solidarity movement, centered on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) initiative, which is gaining momentum throughout the world, especially in Europe. These developments are reinforced by UN calls to Member States to remind corporate and financial actors under their national control that it is problematic under international law to continue engaging in business dealings with Israeli settlements. In effect, there are horizons of hope for Palestinians with respect to seeking a just and sustainable peace between these two ethnic communities that is gaining most of its impact and influence from the actions of people rather than the maneuvers of governments. Of course, if the political climate changes in response to legitimacy war pressures, governments could have a crucial future role to play, taking advantage of a new balance of forces that could enable diplomacy to move towards solutions. Constructive diplomacy would contrast with what has recently transpired, which seemed to combine deflection from Israeli expansionism followed by participation in a childish blame game. It is important that world public opinion reject as meaningless the diplomatic charade of peace talks while the fate of a people continues to be daily sacrificed on the altar of geopolitics.


43 Responses to “Why the Peace Talks Collapsed—and Should Not be Resumed”

  1. Paul Wapner May 2, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Your analysis is spot-on.

    The NYT reported today that Netanyahu wants to unilaterally declare Israel a Jewish state–how 20th century and politically unwise.

    Thanks for underlining that the PA and Hamas unification and the PA attempts to join international treaties should be seen positively by Israel since they represent the possibility of more effective governance and state-like responsibility.

    Your prescription looks to the long-term. I get it, but oh how sad that is.

  2. Clif Brown May 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Your paragraph that begins “It’s probably beside the point…” is as concise an analysis of the fanciful Kerry initiative as I have seen. Your point that the only reason for the talks is to provide an alternative, even if empty of content, to another intifada, makes sense out of an otherwise inexplicable exercise in futility.

  3. Fred Skolnik May 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Hamas has stated time and again, to its own people, that any accommodation with Israel would be strategic and temporary. It has not disavowed its dream of destroying the State of Israel. This is a dream you seem to share when you suggest anything other than a two-state solution, to be brought about by strangling Israel. You have allied yourself with one of the most brutal terrorist organizations of modern times.

    Israel understands what you do not understand, and that is the intentions of Hamas. Under no circumstance will Hamas ever be allowed to set up its rocket launchers 15 miles from Tel Aviv ot 15 yards from Jewish Jerusalem. Israel also understands that Abu Mazen lacks the will, the courage and the support to reach a settlement with Israel whose contours are clear to all reasonable people. This admittedly creates a dilemma. The solution will not be the disappearance of the State of Israel, nor will it be to turn Israel into another Syria.

    I realize that you are oblivious to any reality that challenges the dogmata by which you live. I will correct just one. Israel is not an ethnic state, just as Ireland and Italy are not ethnic states though Irish and Italian Americans, like Jewish Americans, are an ethnic minority in the United States. Ireland is an Irish national state and Italy is an Italian national state and Israel is a Jewish national state. In this Jewish national state the Arabs are a national minority, just like the Kurds living in Turkey and the Basques living in Spain. Recognizing this reality will I think help you see things a little more clearly.

    I cannot note without a smile your characterization of Martin Indyk as a biased party. Coming from someone who served the UN Human Rights Council in the way that you did, this is the height of chutzpah.

  4. john francis lee May 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    That Israel is a member state of the UN and Palestine is not … says it all. The ‘West’ talks and talks … at least the talk has stopped.

    Now … in Palestine, in Syria and the Ukraine the real killing can begin.

  5. Gene Schulman May 3, 2014 at 4:36 am #

    Richard, I see your latest blog was picked up and reprinted by Information Clearing House. And I hope it will be picked up elsewhere. This confirms my opinion that it is a very important statement about the cessation of the “peace talks”. It is a fitting return to the discussions after your moratorium on comments addressing the Israel/Palestine struggle.

    The moratorium has given me the opportunity to read Ilan Pappe’s latest book “The Idea of Israel” and Ali Abunimah’s “The Battle for Justice in Palestine”, both are complements to your own writings. I recommend these books to your readers, in spite of what Fred Skolnik may have to say about you (above).

    I am not optimistic that there is any solution to the Israel/Palestine struggle so long as Israel has the full support of the US. Peace will not happen, because neither of these parties want it to happen. Both are part of the Grand Game to dominate the world, as it is being played out now in Ukraine.

  6. Aaron Wiederman May 3, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    I appreciated the way you pointed out that the desire for peace must come from both sides, since this would be a fantastic starting point. However, personally, I would never underestimate the fact that PA insisted on the destruction of the State of Israel. After all, this is not the positive message Israel need to hear in order to be stimulated towards any peaceful compromises. It doesn’t matter if it is “hasbara, a cynical means to manipulate the fear factor in Israeli domestic politics” – we are talking about political and diplomatic processes, not about expressing opinions. And if only one foundation of this process concerns the “manipulation of the fear factor in Israeli domestic politics”, I would never find it so appealing.
    Hence, in light of this, I am not surprised that Israel didn’t welcome the the intra-Palestinian reconciliation besimkha.

    In my opinion, it’s not only a matter of “interpreting PA’s moves and aiming to reach peaceful agreements” that would turn out a superficial approach, instead, it is also a matter of “interpreting PA’s moves knowing who PA is, knowing the past and keeping into account the risks and possible aftermath”.

    • Kata Fisher May 3, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      I have a reflection:

      When Jesus taught “religious” that they will not go wrong in the following of the teaching of Moses, he assured them “good work, you are keeping the Law.” The Law in itself, we learn that it is good and Spiritual. However, the Scribes and Pharisees did not keep the Law by Faith; they kept it by their works and self-righteous awareness, instead of awareness of God by Faith. God was among them and they were not aware of God or the Scripture that witnessed to Him. Ironically, we find this among unrighteous throughout the time and each dispensation of Grace.

      Now what about PA and State of Israel? A point of start is where and what? Dispensation of Grace – or all unrighteous behavior?

      • Richard Falk May 3, 2014 at 10:45 am #

        Kata: I much appreciated this distinction between keepers of the outer law of rules and keepers
        of the inner law of faith. I recall St. Augustine’s wonderful injunction: “Love one
        another, and do what thou wish.”

      • Kata Fisher May 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

        Beloved Professor Falk,

        Desires of human hearts are a difficult doctrine, and St. Augustine may have reflected on that. We can reflect on this: there are people who will deliberately attack one’s character in order to achieve ruin of a person’s reputation and get away with things that are natural for them.

        They are on their own and to themselves – not even knowing themselves and their actions. They can not hold themselves accountable.

        You have always had had spiritual and natural authority to submit them to the Laws that are appointed.

        It is very difficult to go against prophetic anointing in this point in time, and your character reflects that anoiting – that Oil of the Olive Tree in which you are. There is jealousy, viciousness and resentment when there is someone whose character is solid as a cornerstone, and cannot be moved by anything.

        I do believe that somewhere there is a High Priest who is under the order of Melchizedek and can be stumbled upon in this point in time – he sees right trough them, and needs no validation of himself. They should fear him – they should fear one who is telling them differently than what they believe.

        You have robbed no one their righteousness by Spirit.

  7. ray032 May 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    When this latest round of Idle Peace Talks was announced, I thought 9 months was an arbitrary figure or symbolic of New Life. I also knew if Hamas was not included, Peace would be still born, a charade, and just more Idle Talk as Israel expands and builds more Settlements on the very land that is the reason for Peace Talks. How could the powerless Palestinians ever believe and Trust Israel was negotiating in Good Faith?

    A 47 year Israeli Military Dictatorship in the Palestinian areas to maintain a walled Israeli Democracy for Jews will not last.It’s Days are numbered and the Writing is on the Wall.

    What troubles me with thoughts of 1929 Deja Vu, is the renewed reinvigorated push by Ultra Nationalist Zionists pushing Jewish Sovereignty over the Temple Mount.

    Reading several reports in The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and other Israeli media, there have already been several attempts to bring goats up to the MounT for a Jewish Ritual Blood Sacrifice. This is the flash point that will lead to that Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty – Armageddon in a word, and the blood shed will be Israeli and Arab.

    It is disturbing to see the mob violence that occurred in Odessa in the Ukraine yesterday. It is absolutely crazy mob violence, the breakdown of all human reason and restraint. It confirms the long held belief I have had if WWIII comes, no one will have to go to it, it will unravel all around us.

    If the Israeli government does not restrain the extreme Zionist Ultra Nationalists pushing for re-instating blood sacrifice on The Temple Mount, what you see in this video link will be much worse in Israel and the occupied territories.

    What I have yet to understand is why the Jewish Sages of Today do not see this in their Jewish Scriptures recorded by the Prophet to a Future Israel 600 years before Christ Jesus appeared among men?

    Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah.
    To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? says the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
    When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
    Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
    Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates: they are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them.
    And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you: yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
    Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil;
    Learn to do well; seek Judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land:
    But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it………………………………………….
    Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
    For all those things have my hand made, and those things have been, says the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.

    • ray032 May 4, 2014 at 6:03 am #

      Re-posting this comment in The Jerusalem Post this am in this article, ‘Ex-Shin Bet chief: Israel does not intend to stop ‘price tag’ attacks’ it was deleted by the moderator for adding 1 word to this sentence – A 47 year Israeli Military Dictatorship in the (OCCUPIED) Palestinian areas to maintain a walled Israeli Democracy for Jews will not last

      I removed the word ‘occupied’ and the comment remains so far.

      • ray032 May 4, 2014 at 7:36 am #

        deleted again! Seems to me the action is consistent with this image;

  8. Sergey May 3, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    Dr. Falk,

    Thank you for your important and very relevant entry on the peace process, or lack thereof, between the occupied Palestine and Israel. It brings so much grief to my heart to see the negotiations implode. However, anyone who is familiar with Israel’s policy toward Palestine knew that the peace talk were doomed to fail. Sadly, Israel’s current government is neither interested in halting expansion of its settlements nor in forging a durable agreement that can give Palestine sovereignty and dignity.

  9. Mike 71 May 5, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    The most recent “Palestinian Reconciliation” is the third attempt at forming a unified Palestinian entity. Like previous attempts it will utterly fail! As Fred Skolnick, above, noted, Israel justifiably rejected negotiations with a terrorist organization dedicated to its destruction. A “long term normalizing agreement” is not a permanent negotiated peace agreement! The expiration of a 10 year “Hudna (truce),” would enable the resumption of hostilities against Israel. Ariel Sharon unilaterally gave up Gaza not knowing that Hamas would take over in a coup d’etat two years later. No rational commander would give up a strategic advantage for an illusory temporary truce. What General Norman Schwartzkopf said of Saddam Hussein, could also be said of Richard Falk: “He is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a General. Other than that he’s a great military man.” Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 war “Green Line” is unlikely without Palestinian recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the other side of that line, as modified by mutually agreed to “land swaps” to compensate for land taken for settlements. Professor Falk wrongly assumes all Jews are as naive, gullible and clueless as himself. Of course, the Covenant of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (www.isis.org.il/plochart.htm) and the Covenant of Hamas (www.avalon.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp) are not “Pure Hasbara.” The Hamas Charter, in particular, calls for the genocide of all Jews, not just Israelis (Article 7), rejects negotiated resolution of conflict for perpetual war (Article 13) and labels any Palestinian who negotiates with Israel as a traitor to the Palestinian cause (Article 32). Compare these real Palestinian documents with the forged, “The Protocols of the Elder of Zion,” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion.
    The Palestinian National Authority’s becoming party to international agreements does not necessarily bind Hamas to those agreements. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s priorities are first, national security, then secondly, development within those settlements to be kept, but no further expansion into new settlements. However, if the prospect of a permanent peace is not a Palestinian objective, despite whatever concessions Israel may make in negotiations, there is no disincentive to resuming expansion of Israeli settlements beyond those already established. Under International Law, the victorious belligerent in war may retain captured land, until modified by treaty. The Post World War II Allied occupations of Germany and Japan ended with such treaties. If, and when, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ends, it will end on the same basis. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_possidetis

    If Palestinians choose not to have an independent, stand alone state, which would be exclusively their own, and as Mr.Abbas demands “Judenrein/Apartheid,” a “single-state” option can easily be fashioned from the status-quo under the “Greater Israel” paradigm of Israeli Economics Minister Naftali Bennett. Minister Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, proposes a “tripartition” of the Palestinian Territories (Judea and Samaria), returning Gaza to Egypt, annexing “Area C (62% of the West Bank which is sparsely populated),” offering Palestinians in “Area C” (48-150,000) Israeli citizenship, allowing Palestinians to retain “Areas A & B,” as a semi-autonomous region, prohibition of immigration into the West Bank from outside Israel, favoring industrial development of West Bank, integration of “Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox)” and Arab women into the work force, increased trade with emerging markets, free trade agreements with India, Russia and China and land grants to war veterans in the Negev and Galilee to provide affordable housing and equitable population distribution. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naftali_Bennett The Platform of the Jewish Home Party is at: http://www.baityehudi.org.il/englp/our.htm

    Given the perpetual mutual enmity between Palestinians and Israelis, the possibility of the Palestinian “one-state”solution, as proposed by Edward Said, is as dead as he is. One need only look at Syria and Lebanon, where there are no Jews, to see how such “one state” paradigms work. The Shia-Sunni conflict would have to be resolved before any similar Palestinian-Israeli proposal could be given any credibility.

    Palestinians’ continually shifting sideways and backwards, but never forward in negotiations with Israel, is another form of intransigence. Prior to the recent negotiations, Mr. Abbas demanded a settlement construction halt as a “precondition” to resuming negotiations; when Mr. Netanyahu countered that he would agree to that if Abbas either abandoned any so-called “right of return,” or recognized Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, Abbas rejected those offers in favor of allowing settlement construction to continue in return for release of prisoners. Since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, intended to negotiate a “two-state” solution with Israel, in 2000, Yasser Arafat, and again in 2008, Mahmoud Abbas, respectively, walked away from Israel offers to return over 95% of captured land in return for peace. Just after the Israeli victory in the “Six Day War,” when the first offer to return land for peace was made, the Arab League adopted the infamous “Three No’s (No negotiation, recognition, or peace with Israel)” of the 1967 Khartoum Conference. While Egypt and Jordan have made their peace accommodations with Israel, Palestinians prefer to leave captured lands in Israeli hands, rather than obtain their return in exchange for peace.If settlement development is irreversible, it is due to Palestinian intransigence and unwillingness to negotiate peace. If Palestinians seek self-determination, they will have to respect Israelis’ rights to the same. While Israel regularly holds elections, Mr. Abbas of Fatah, is now in the eighth year of the four year term to which he was elected in 2006 and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, is now in the seventh year of the five year term to which he was elected in 2007. Palestinians could best demonstrate their commitment to democracy by holding elections when scheduled and respecting majority rule as is done in Israel. As neither Ilan Pappe, nor Ali Abunimah, ran for, or was elected Prime Minister of Israel, they should respect the electoral decision of the Israeli majority, which Marxists never do, an obvious case of “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy!

    A recent New York Times article, “After Failed Peace Talks, Pushing to Label Israel as Occupier of Palestine,” May 4, 2014, narrows the issues. As the attributes of Palestinian statehood only exist on its official letterhead, the focus is on the legal/diplomatic struggle for recognition as a state under occupation. As Mr. Abbas signed applications to join 15 international agreements, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and 1977 Protocols, governing the conduct of war, Hamas, as a separate entity, has consistently violated them, particularly as to the deliberate targeting of civilian non-combatants by cross-border rocket and mortar attacks. The Palestinian National Authority plans to join 40 other international agreements, including the Rome statute establishing the International Criminal Court, established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

    The Palestinian plan is fraught with complexities. The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court is prospective from its 2002 inception, long after most Israeli settlements were established, not retroactive. Accepting the court’s jurisdiction subjects Palestinians, Hamas in particular, to war crimes prosecution for rockets fired into Israeli territory from Gaza in violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions since 2002. Alan Barker, a consultant to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, notes Arab injection of language barring “direct, or indirect” transfer of populations, but as the court’s jurisdiction is prospective, it only governs settlers and refugees arising after 2002 and would bar any so-called Palestinian “right of return.” Even if return of refugees was allowed, it would only affect those who left in 1948 and 1967, as refugee status is not inheritable by succession.

    Placing the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court could narrow the issues, leading to a final resolution. It would eliminate any illusions of a “single-state” solution, either by Palestinians, or Israelis, dismantle settlements established after 2002, bar any so-called “right of return,” except for those expelled after 2002 and recognize Israel’s “inherent right of individual, or collective self-defense,” when subjected to armed attack, as recognized under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. The Palestinian Liberation Organization and its constituent members would be required to recognize Israeli sovereignty over territory on its side of the “Green Line,” as modified by by pre-2002 settlements and land swaps to compensate Palestinians for lands taken for the settlements. The Irish Republican Army to which the P.L.O. is often compared to, makes no claims to the entirety of the United Kingdom. Like the I.R.A., under the “Good Friday Agreement,” Palestinians will have to learn to live in peace alongside their neighbors. The illusion of poorly armed Palestinian terrorists conquering a far better armed and determined Israel, in the words of the Bard is a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5)!”

    • Richard Falk May 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

      As this comment is mainly analytical and argumentative I have given it my approval, although
      it does contain personally insulting remarks that I will not accept in the future. I also find
      that the presentation is one-sided in ways that endorse Israeli expansionism, ignore the Palestinian
      ordeal, and overlook efforts to find common ground for a sustainable peace based on international law.

      • ray032 May 6, 2014 at 11:53 am #

        @ Dan Livni you are ignorant of the facts;

        For Temple Mount activists, Passover is considered the peak time of year, due to the commandment of ascending to the Temple and offering sacrifice, which they see as one of the most important commandments in Judaism. “If the prime minister would allow it, Jerusalem would be bustling with thousands of young lambs and goats being brought to sacrifice by Jews fulfilling this most important of commandments from the Torah,” read a statement jointly published by the temple movements. “It is the only commandment, aside from circumcision, that is punishable by karet [a kind of spiritual punishment equivalent to cutting off the soul from God]” adds journalist Arnon Segel, one of the Temple movements’ leaders.

        As with every Passover, goat sacrifice “practice runs” took place in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem, and eight activists were arrested en route to the Temple Mount carrying a goat. In contrast to years past, this time it seems that the Palestinian side is taking rhetoric about changing the status quo rather seriously. The security establishment has also indicated that there is a connection between the breakdown of negotiations and the escalation of violence in Jerusalem in general, and the Temple Mount specifically. The relative weakness of Fatah in Jerusalem has also been a contributing factor. The police are well aware of the back and forth between the Jewish Temple activists and Islamic activists, “they are very attentive to every discussion in the Knesset, every committee meeting, as well as to websites for the Jewish movements, and they respond immediately,” said one police official.

      • Kata Fisher May 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

        Livini: “There is no Israel” – and for sure that she is, and God teaches all her children! The Word of the Spirit is TIMELESS!
        You have to recognise what myths are: the myth part! How would you know what’s myth when you do not know who you are? Not the child – not a child who is instructed by God! Maybe unlawful child or a lawless child.

    • Kata Fisher May 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

      I have a refflection:

      “Oh…it must be the stork that brought him here…”

      • Kata Fisher May 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

        Livni: Likewise, look at this so that you have a better perception…


      • Dan Livni May 8, 2014 at 5:34 am #

        Palestinians do not accept the permanence of a Jewish State in the middle east. That is the reason for 100 years of conflict. Everything else is double talk.

        Israel has made many peace offers, proposals, gestures and opportunities, all of which have been rejected by the Arabs, since 1920. Let us examine why:

        1920, San Remo conference decisions, ejected

        1922, League of Nations decisions, rejected

        1937, Peel Commission proposal, rejected

        1947, UN General Assembly proposal, rejected

        1948, Israel’s stretched out hand for peace, rejected

        1967, Israel’s stretched out hand for peace, rejected

        1978, Begin/Saadat peace proposal, rejected

        1995, Rabin’s Contour-for-Peace, rejected

        2000, Barak/Clinton peace offer, rejected

        2005, Sharon’s peace gesture, rejected

        2008, Olmert/Bush peace offer, rejected

        2009 to 2013, Netanjahu’s invitation to peace talks, rejected

        2014, Obama/Kerry contour for peace, rejected

        The single common denominator of all the above rejections, spanning 94 years, has been the implicit and/or explicit requirement of the Arabs to accept the RIGHT to be, to exist of a sovereign nation-state of the Jewish people on a portion of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. And, since categorically the Arabs reject the Jews’s right to sovereignty on ANY parcel of land of the Jewish people’s homeland, hence the above rejections. This has been and continues to be the essence of the Arab Israeli conflict, its core. It is about time all knew and appreciated it.

      • Dan Livni May 8, 2014 at 5:35 am #

        The Jewish vs. Muslim claim to Jerusalem (poster)
        April 29, 2014

      • Dan Livni May 9, 2014 at 6:02 am #

        Amnesty Researcher Admits That Palestinian ‘Eyewitnesses’ Often Lie
        May 9, 2014

      • ray032 May 9, 2014 at 6:59 am #

        It’s also a fact the IDF often lie. Jews and Gentiles lie. God made people all the same.

        Btw Dan, while I no longer see your personal attack accusing me of blood libel and lying about the extreme Ultra Zionists wanting to restore animal blood sacrifice to the Temple Mount, you have yet to acknowledge my exposing your false belief.

        Here’s more proof from Israeli sources. Again, this kind of Jewish extremism will alienate most external Christian support of Israel, and will set in motion the path to the Great Day of the Battle of God Almighty or Armageddon in a word.


        ‘Five arrested for planning Passover sacrifice on Temple Mount
        Police transfer animal to Ministry of Agriculture, bring in suspects for further questioning’


      • Kata Fisher May 8, 2014 at 6:55 am #


        Kata Fisher is Church Charismatic Catholic, and ironically a mom ordained in Roman-Catholic Church. It cannot get more vicious and nasty than that — one would think? What do you think that I can’t be as difficult as hell? For sure I can be as difficult as hell. Meaning, I can tell you about hell I observed/see, and do you like that?
        Ordination is a behavioral factor that is not modified — what do you expect from me?
        He (pastor) has to communicate in his massage in truth, despite of someone’s ethical standards/rules or feeling. However, this is also a growth process, and faith, and we cannot really push, or fast-forward that spiritual growth in faith and change, only the understanding factor. While in business we can apply professionalism/ethics/behavior modification/manners, because we may or cannot always apply the true identity of ourselves, due to the different factors people deal with…in ministry we do not apply professionalism/manners, not can be made to—we apply gracefulness (this is totally different and not same as professionalism/ethics).

        We are the monk or the merchants…

        One thing I am not is this: Antisemitic. Do you understand that?

  10. wingsprd May 7, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    I am very sad to see your blog Richard, and you yourself, (a voice of reason and courage) maligned, There has been too much hate exhibited here on the part of pro Israel voices. We are all part of humanity.

    • Fred Skolnik May 7, 2014 at 1:25 am #

      Calling Israelis Nazis, accusing Israel of genocide and characterizing Jews as “wicked Israelites,” “Satan’s harlot” and “the Antichrist” are not exactly expressions of love.

      • Kata Fisher May 7, 2014 at 4:06 am #

        Fred Skolnik: I told you no myths, but you are mixing everything up. I can write to you about these things in futile Theology or tell you plainly, clarify – but why should I do that?

        We plainly know and understand that no one is grafted in by heresies and lies — what graft people in (Jews and Non-Jews) would be the Law, and by the prophesy, and it is by God’s Spirit.

        We cannot follow some odd doctrine and be righteous before God.

        Also, we cannot apply time-pass / the instruction of the Law due to sin/unrighteousness to perform “herem warfare” genocide over exile- Jews in the Land (contemporarily Muslims who came back to Holy Land over the time). Herem warfare is what Nazi did during the Church age/dispensation of Grace and God’s Spirit to non-Jews and under the evil power of Antichrist Hitler Nazi were (he was Antichrist in the world and the ‘church false’ — not first and not the last one).

        You need to understand this: it is very difficult for people that are not Church-charismatic to understand the vile and devices of devils that are in false-church-charismatic. We tell you plainly about some things — as we understand and see.

        You would have to understand that disorder of “the Azusa Street” was charismatic churc practices in nature, and has brought on “Berlin Declaration of 1909” because of that disorder, and also other things – this just followed. In addition to that, Israel is skewed and not quite right with the Landmarks and exile Jewish people in the Holy Land. However, you do not understand that ancient Rome fell apart and that kingdoms and nations came after that and that one kingdom is that little one of Antichrist — that is a part of the Ancient Rome — a foothold and destruction over the nations even in this point in time.

        Wicked tribs have always done wickedly (Satan’s harlot/Synagogue of Satan: evil Jews and Non-Jews by their satanic hearts …) – but there was always different packaging of same spiritual realities.

        Contemporarily wicked are ancient issues in contemporarily packages.

        Just look at spiritual and natural realities, and then tell me that commandments of God’s Law and will for this point in time is done in the Land!

        I tell you this plainly: Laws that are appointed can assure you that Law of God and God’s will in this point in time are done – just obey the Laws appointed/courts appointed by God.This alone has something to do with love for another person / a human.

        Do not agree with satanic hearts that rob, kill, and destroy – this is allowed and is allowed by God, and is not because GOD ALONE is not willing that they stop and repent of their satanic hearts.God’s will for satanic hearts is to repent and stop – but they will not – they will blaspheme God and do all evil and will not repent.

        We say this: you have a choice to do what-ever you will. God’s will of your will – follow a will – will whatever!

      • Kata Fisher May 7, 2014 at 4:38 am #

        Fred Skolnik: Olive tree is blessed, and is Holy and is always under Grace and Spirit of God. Meaning, Jews who are Holy People and righteous – always were by Spirit of God (regardless if under Judaism– or not). One can be under spiritual attack, and led astray for a while. Judaism grafts in Jews and non-Jews as always have had. False Christians hate this fact – they have hated enough by their satanic hearts so that there was Holocaust — those satanic hearts have preformed Holocaust, and nothing else could have had.

        I hope no hard feelings — I understand that we all were frustrated for a while.

  11. rehmat1 May 7, 2014 at 5:06 am #

    On Israel’s Memorial Day, Lior Ben Eliahu, the brother of Tamar Ben Eliahu, who died in a Jerusalem bus bombing, couldn’t take Zionist regime’s peace propaganda anymore. He penned an open letter addressed to Ya’alon saying that Israeli regime is not interested in peace and quiet.


  12. Gene Schulman May 7, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    I must say, in retrospect, that last month’s moratorium that Richard placed on discussions about the Israel/Palestine struggle was very refreshing and served as a holiday for me. Now we’re all back in the office, it seems, and the back biting begins again. I had forgotten how nasty voices like Skolnik and Livni could be. I am actually surprised to see that they haven’t been deleted from this blog for their ad hominem insults and twisted arguments.

    I, too, am sad over Richard’s efforts being so maligned. He deserves better.

    • Fred Skolnik May 7, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Nasty, Gene? And how exactly do you define calling Israelis Nazis, accusing Israel of genocide and characterizing Jews as “wicked Israelites,” “Satan’s harlot” and “the Antichrist”? Maybe not nasty. Maybe vicious. What do you think?

  13. Mike 71 May 8, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    While my analysis may be argumentative, it does not set present a basis for unlimited Israeli expansionism. What expansion has occurred was the result of Israeli perseverance in three major Arab “wars of aggression (1948-49, 1967 and 1973),” followed by Arab refusal to negotiate peace in exchange for return of captured land. The legal doctrine for retaining captured land is explained at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_possidetis I do not overlook efforts to find “common ground,” particularly those of Secretary Kerry, but do emphasize Palestinian refusal, particularly that of Hamas, to accept it.

    Perhaps my unfavorable comparison of Professor Falk to Saddam Hussein as a strategist and quote from Macbeth were overly harsh, but the reality is that Saddam was better versed in military strategy. Regarding seeking a “long term normalizing agreement,” it has been in existence since June 1967. Perhaps Falk has forgotten the concept of “mutuality of obligations,” or slept in class while his Contracts Professor defined it: “The legal principle that provides that unless both parties to a contract are bound to perform, neither party is bound.” This principle is as equally applicable to International Relations, as it is to commercial contracts.

    Thanks to Dan Livni for providing detail documenting why Israel has engaged in “Just Wars.” One question to him: If Palestinians glorify “homicide bombers,” would that justify Israeli glorification of Baruch Goldstein, a follower of Meir Kahane and Koch? See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Goldstein There is an old Marine Corps adage about “Payback,” which says in essence,”What goes around, comes around!”

    Here is some recommended reading for all:

    On war, war crimes and “Just War Theory:”

    The Art of War, Complete Texts and Commentaries, Sun Tzu, Translated by Thomas
    Cleary, Shambhala Publications (2000)

    “Supreme excellence in war is winning without fighting” — Sun Tzu

    Just and Unjust Wars, A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations, Michael
    Walzer Basic Books (1977)

    “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an International Crime, it is the
    Supreme International Crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains
    within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
    — Robert H. Jackson, Chief U.S. Prosecutor, Nuremberg Military Tribunal

    http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_War_Theory


    (Relevant paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Just War

    A quote from Professor Falk recognizing Just War Theory:
    The war in Afghanistan “against apocalyptic terrorism qualifies . . . as the first
    truly just war since World War II.” –The Nation, October 29, 2001 (Shouldn’t that
    same concept also be applicable to Israel, also a victim of “apocalyptic terrorism?)

    On Israel:

    Six Days of War, June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, Michael
    Oren, Presidio Press, Ballentine Books (2003)

    The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz, John Wiley and Sons (2003)

    Enjoy your summer reading; it should enhance the quality of dialogue on this blog!

  14. ray032 May 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Richard, your UN replacement has been announced, and by the comments on the story in the Jerusalem Post, he will get as little cooperation from Israel in doing his job as you did.

    What do you know about Makarim Wibisono?

    ‘UNHRC President replaces Falk with pro-Palestinian Indonesian diplomat’

    • Richard Falk May 8, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Ray: Very little, but what I have heard, he is competent and possesses integrity,
      which should be enough to be a helpful presence in monitoring the occupation.

  15. Gene Schulman May 9, 2014 at 1:47 am #

    Zionism beyond control & Choices for the Palestinians
    Posted: 07 May 2014 11:43 PM PDT

    I think the above by Alan Hart is worth posting here. He even quotes Richard Falk from his own last post.

    I know all the hasbarists among you will find a dozen reasons to vilify Hart, but that is to be expected.

    • ray032 May 9, 2014 at 5:51 am #

      Gene, for those interested, here is the link to Alan Hart’s article:

      I have heard this statement by Golda Mier before, “Prime Minister, I want to be sure I understand what you have just said. You do mean that if ever Israel was facing a doomsday situation, it would be prepared to take the region and even the whole world down with it …?

      I have already envisioned the possibility of Israel could and would exercise the “Samson Option” The Jewish story of Samson is the 1st record of a suicide destroyer I’m aware of.

      The International Laws concerning war and it’s aftermath was codified at the same time as Israel’s recreation from the Bible, that Book so many discount as myth.

      I discovered this Time Magazine interview of David Ben-Gurion from August 16, 1948.

      “Won’t Israel grow?”

      “There are eleven million Jews in the world. I don’t say that all of them will come here, but I expect several million, and with natural increase I can quite imagine a Jewish state of ten million.”

      “Can that many be accomodated within the U.N. partition boundaries of Israel?”

      “I doubt it.”

      Then Ben-Gurion dropped his matter-of-fact manner. The labor politician was replaced by the prophet. A dreamer’s stare veiled his blue eyes. The room was small but his voice throbbed loudly, as if speaking to multitudes against the winds on Mount Carmel.

      “We would not have taken on this war merely for the purpose of enjoying this tiny state. There have been only two great peoples: the Greeks and the Jews. Perhaps the Greeks were even greater than the Jews, but now I can see no sign of that old greatness in the modern Greeks. Maybe, when the present process is finished we too will degenerate, but I see no sign of degeneration at present.”

      His voice took on a deeper tone.

      “Suffering makes a people greater, and we have suffered much. We had a message to give the world, but we were overwhelmed, and the message was cut off in the middle. In time there will be millions of us – becoming stronger and stronger – and we will complete the message.”

      “What is the message?” the reporter asked.

      “Our policy must be the unity of the human race. The world is divided into two blocs. We consider that the United Nations is a Jewish ideal.”

      The UN is no longer a Jewish ideal now that the UN meekly asks, please Israel, obey UN International Law.


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