Tadros: Proximity talks: classic American re-branding

As someone close to me once said: Whoever heard of a country signing a ‘peace process’ instead of a peace treaty?

But the process continues because Israel benefits by the ongoing babble. The process diverts attention away from Israel’s flagrant violation of international laws and its brutal and inhumane occupation of the Palestinian people. Israel is buying time with the peace process – the longer it takes the more the rogue state benefits by way of annexing more and more Palestinian land through illegal colonial settlement construction, the Apartheid Wall, and closing areas for the flimsy reasons of ‘security’ or nature conservation.

Now we’re looking at the absurdly labelled ‘proximity talks.’ Here’s what al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros has to say in “Peace Talks by Proxmity?”

US-style re-branding

But the point of these talks may be less grandiose than achieving Middle East peace – the US administration’s aim may be simply to add some momentum to a process currently in regression.

It’s classic American re-branding. If people stop buying the McChicken Burger because it’s become stale and boring, you call it a Chicken Surprise, market it and it will start selling again. It’s still two buns, chicken breast and lettuce in the middle, but it has a different wrapper – and that’s what counts.

Take the recent flap over plans to build new settlement construction in East Jerusalem. It’s a perfect example of why Israel wants the ‘peace process’ to continue, while at the same time it has no intention of taking any effort toward peace seriously.

Israel has been under a 10-month construction moratorium since Nov. 26, 2009, when Benyamin Netanyahu pushed for a watered-down compromise of President Barack Obama’s initial demand that Israel cease all construction in the illegal colonial settlements and illegal colonial outposts. But the freeze itself is little more than a joke when viewed in terms of building statistics provided by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and analyzed by Israeli human rights group Peace Now.

Consider these statistics:

·         There was a 33 percent rise in construction starts in the illegal settlements and a 300 percent jump in government-initiated construction plans in the settlements in the fourth quarter 2009.
·         About 390 building foundations were laid, though construction wasn’t started.
·         Of those 390 foundations, at least 170 were fake. However, they would still constitute ongoing construction and therefore be exempt from the freeze.
·         Construction in the illegal colonial outposts continued and increased.
·         Currently, projects to build 9,431 new units in occupied East Jerusalem are near the final approval stage.
·         Even something as transient as a trailer parked on confiscated Palestinian land could constititute ‘ongoing’ construction plans, thereby exempting that land from the freeze.
·         Six of those plans call for building Jewish-only compounds in the middle of Arab neighborhoods.

~ Peace Now

“Before the freeze, the Netanyahu-Barak government approved the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the settlements, thus, when the freeze went into effect, hundreds of new housing units were already under construction, which allows them to be continued well into the freeze period,” according to a Peace Now settlement report.

So spare me the  proximity talks. How about shifting the weight of the United States and its billions of dollars we pay in unconditional military aid to Israel every year by forcing Israel to comply with international  law? Why not begin earnest dialog with Israel about ending the siege on Gaza? By earnest dialog, I mean backing up the rhetoric with threats to pull U.S. funding of Israel’s colonial enterprise.

Works for me. But the idea may just be too ‘proximate’ to the real solution for it to be considered.

~ Kristin Szremski 5/5/2010


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Filed under Activism, Current events, Opinion/analysis

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