W&Y Reader Nehad Ismail.
In his speech on 24 June 2002 launching the “Roadmap for Peace” US President George W. Bush called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace. Essentially the Roadmap for Peace was a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proposed by the Quartet on the Middle East: the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
The final text was released on 30 April 2003 but the process reached a deadlock early in phase I and the plan was never implemented. Ariel Sharon the then Israeli Prime Minister raised some fourteen reservations which scuppered the plan. In an opinion piece in the New York Times 24 September 2003 the Israeli historian Professor Avi Shlaim noted: “The Palestinian Authority embraced the road map and started implementing it even before it was issued. Sharon obtained from Bush three delays in issuing the road map and then submitted 14 amendments designed to wreck it”.
Many observers of the Middle East believe that the entire peace process was a charade and a fraud. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has exposed the fraud publicly. According to a recent Washington Post report “Netanyahu made the sensational promise that he would not support the creation of a Palestinian state as long as he was prime minister, a stunning reversal of his earlier stance supporting a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict”. Many people are convinced that this has been Netanyahu’s position all along and by re-electing him the Israeli electorate has effectively rejected the two-state solution.
Palestinians and their supporters still believe the entire exercise has been a fraud including in the years Tony Blair has been envoy for the Middle East Quarter. Blair took up the post in 2007 and during his eight years as a peace envoy achieved very little. Sir Oliver Miles, the former UK ambassador to Libya told the media: “Tony Blair should never have been made Middle Eastern peace envoy”. Sir Oliver, who used to run the Foreign Office’s Near East and North African department, said the former prime minister had achieved “very little” in the post and his appointment was a “mistake”. “I think he’s not been able to do the job. I think he’s the wrong man and I also think it’s the wrong job”.
Most Palestinians had already given up on the so-called peace process and have been convinced that the Israeli leaders were not serious about peace. They argue that it is impossible to talk seriously of peace and a two-state solution when the government is confiscating ever more Palestinian lands to build its sprawling settlements. The entire world appeared happy to accept the Israeli narrative that the Palestinians had no interest in establishing a working peace until Netanyahu boldly announced that as far as he was concerned that there will be no two-state solution on his watch. A New York Times editorial on 17 March put it this way: Netanyahu’s behaviour in the past six years — aggressively building Israeli homes on land that likely would be within the bounds of a Palestinian state and never engaging seriously in negotiations — has long convinced many people that he has no interest in a peace agreement. But his statement laid bare his duplicity, confirmed Palestinian suspicions and will make it even harder for him to repair his poisoned relations with President Obama, who has invested heavily in pushing a two-state solution. Since the Oslo Accord in 1993 the interminable Middle East “peace process” has been a process but without peace – just a permanent process with no-end in sight.
By 2002 the list of failures and missed opportunities had continued to lengthen. Today, confiscation of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements continue unabated. The creation of irreversible facts on the ground has been a deliberate Israeli policy to thwart the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state.
Writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz in June 14, Kobi Richter was blunt about Netanyahu’s mendacity: ‘The dust is beginning to settle from the collapse of Benjamin Netanyahu’s peace fraud. Three of the architects – Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman – are trying to convince one another, and us, that you can sell the world the story of the Palestinians being responsible for the failure of the diplomatic process’.
One is tempted to pose the question: will the failure of the two-state solution project open the way for the one-state solution? Could the model adopted by South Africa, of one democratic state for all with a one-person one-vote option open to everyone regardless of religion or ethnicity, where Arab and Jew can choose to live anywhere they please within the new Israeli/Palestinian state? In an interview published in November 2007 in Haaretz, Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, declared firmly: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights . . . the State of Israel is finished.”
Nehad Ismail Tweets as @nehadismail