In todays Haaretz (a liberal Israeli paper) columnist Carlo Strenger comes up with a brilliant sarcastic analysis of what seems to be happening with regards to the Peace Talks and the overall Government of Israel.
In a funny and ironic piece titled: Political learnings for make benefit of understanding glorious nation of Israel Strenger manages to show just how dysfunctional right now the Right wing is making the Israeli Polity. Now, anyone who knows anything about Israel knows that there is a certain amount of dysfunction already there - yet with the coalition voted in during the 2009 elections the mechanisms of Government have clearly mis-fired and the time of the "Government by Chaos" is at hand
So now both sides in the Peace negotiations have seemingly similar qualities of "Government by Chaos". Yesterday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitanu Party former Nightclub Bouncer and now Foreign Minister of Israel went before the UN and presented a plan that while having been discussed in private meetings, had never been put forth and had no official sanction. His trip to the "far side" (a place where random ministers go off without official sanction and address the U.N.) was captured in this article: Aluf Benn / Lieberman is making a liar out of Netanyahu. Amongst other things Lieberman proposed population swaps in a Two-State solution that would create a chaotic mass of enclaves based on ethnicity (a solution no one who is not certifiably insane supports).
Predictably, the Americans who are orchestrating these talks reacted negatively. It seems to have been made clear through back channels that these kinds of shenanigans were not viewed favorably (to say the least). Further, the Americans have already been disappointed in the lapse of the "settlement freeze" (construction in and of new settlements) that expired on Sept. 26th and have put the American sponsored Peace talks in jeopardy.
To save the talks, off to the Middle East goes George Mitchell. Here is where the double speak of the "Govenment of Chaos" is on full display: Netanyahu: If we don't try, we won't achieve peace: All one can say is "Huh? What do you mean if we don't try Mr. Prime Minister??? Holy Moly - it is your government that did not extend the Settlement Freeze when you knew that was going to cause an end to the talks. I mean come on"... At least that is what I said when I read this. According to the article the Americans made a very generous offer to keep things going:
...Mitchell said that U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked him to convey a message to Israelis, Palestinians and their leaders that the U.S. remains committed to achieving regional Middle East peace, between all peoples of the area.
Mitchell said that he knows that the road to peace will have many potholes but that the U.S. is more determined than ever to achieving the common goal of peace and security in the Middle East.
Clinton spoke with Netanyahu twice on Tuesday about the American proposal. Under the proposal, the U.S. would give Israel guarantees on the issues of security arrangements, refugees and recognition of Israel a Jewish state. In exchange, Israel would extend the settlement freeze for several months.
According to one Israeli source familiar with the contents of the conversation, Netanyahu was not enthusiastic about the proposal and did not respond positively.
A European diplomat said that Netanyahu told the Americans that he could not agree to extending the settlement freeze in the main settlement blocs and 2,000 residential units that have already received approval.
A freeze that applied only to settlement construction outside the main blocs, however, would be unacceptable to Abbas, who has demanded the extension of the full settlement freeze as a condition to continue peace talks.
In effect, Mr. Netanyahu was called on this promise by the Americans who went out of their way to make things happen... and instead of working with them, Mr. Netanyahu basically said "tough".
Now, there are some in Israel calling for a change in the coalition that currently is in power. Israel's Labor Party supposedly stands for Peace and could leave the coalition causing problems for PM Netanyahu - however, they hold the Defense Ministry and a few other ministries and in a seeming move to do anything to hold power, won't do the principled thing and leave. Opposition party (and actual largest holder of seats in Knesset) Kadima has told the Prime Minister they would back him up in government if and only if he went against the craziness of his Foreign Minister, and actually took good faith steps to get back to the negotiating table.
The Prime Minister has the backing of his opposition as well as #1 Ally the United States, yet he has decided that this is not enough.
Further, E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton is going to Israel in a "surprise visit":
The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will make an unannounced visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Thursday, in what seems like another last ditch attempt to put the recently stalled direct Mideast peace talks back on track.
The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be arriving in Israel directly following a consultation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington scheduled for later Wednesday, and will be meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this Friday.
So where do we go from here? I only have my opinion as an American and supporter of our alliance with Israel. It seems to me that PM Netanyahu has decided that our regional concerns (because this effects our relationships and ability to counter Iran's hegemonistic dreams), as well as the concerns of a majority of his own population that supports peace and a Two-State solution take a second place to the ambitions of the Right Wing in Israel and their Settler "base". So what do we do? Since we are the prime benefactor for Israel I don't think it is unreasonable for us to now flex some muscle to try to coerce the Israelis out of their intransigence and back to the negotiating table. How do we flex our muscle? At home we elect those candidates that support a Two State peaceful solution to the issue. In our foreign policy a possible solution is that we start with cuts in aid to the tune of for every dollar spent on settlements that is one less dollar in U.S. aid. We say we oppose the settlements - Ok.. let's live up to that.
Personally, I want Israel around for a long, long time. I support the existence of the State and their strong alliance with America. What I do not support is their continued objections to a real and lasting attempt at Peace. They are free to do what they want but it doesn't have to be with my help if I disagree with their actions.
And I am not the only frustrated one: Thanks for reading. This from the great Israeli columnist Bradley Burston sums up frustration better than I ever could
I realize this diary won't affect much of anything but it feels good to say something and hopefully someone reading it somewhere will take notice.