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The peace process

The quartet of interested parties - consisting  of US, Russia, EU, and UN - have set up a mediation process  to make progress in the Israel Palestinian conflict.

Whilst the nature of the quartet, and the processes it has set in place might not have been exactly what Israel sought, there can be no doubt that from the end of the Six Day War in 1967 Israel believed that a negotiation would take place culminating in a lasting peace with multilaterally agreed borders for Israel.

To re-iterate - Israel was always, somewhere down the track, going to give back land - via a negotiation process - and agree on mutually accepted borders with its neighbors.

It’s 2010 and the mediation process is supposed to be in place. But there’s just one small hitch: one of the parties in the negotiation refuses to attend the mediation process, unless the other party “shows a bit of good faith” by restraining its activities within the disputed areas. But isn’t that what the mediation process was set up to achieve?

This is a bit like a dispute between a divorcing couple where the court is forcing a mediation, and wife says to husband (through lawyers of course):

I'm not attending the mediation until you stop using the family car.

The husband - the stock standard bad-guy in today's metaphor - would reply to the wife (through lawyers, of course):

If you want to resolve anything at all between us, it's only going to happen via mediation. Mediation is my only leverage on you to resolve the differences between us.

I maintain the car is mine anyway, but it's not up to you or me to resolve this matter. Only the mediation can resolve it.

Therefore the longer you delay coming to the mediation, the further do you delay resolution to this issue - and all other issues.

Thus should Israel send a message to the Quartet, to the world, and to the Palestinians:

Israel stands ready at any instant to halt all development in all settlements, wherever they may be, including East Jerusalem, but ONLY in the context of the mediation process which has been set up by the Quartet.

Israelis have waited for 43+ years for a mediation process to actually take place, and whatever claims the Palestinians have against them can only be resolved by the method set up by the Quartet.

Once upon a time Israel granted a concession unilaterally: They vacated / evacuated Gaza "as a show of good faith" without any mediation process. For that "give peace a chance", Israeli civilians received ongoing military attacks against them. Never again will they give anything outside the context of a full negotiation process.

The mediator who fails to force both parties to negotiate now and without pre-conditions is no mediator!

Today's Middle East mediators are not bringing the parties together and are instead calling only upon Israel to accede to a Palestinian request (pre-conditional to the mediation itself). They have lost their independence and forfeited their right to be mediators; they should acknowledge their ineptitude and appoint truly independent mediators to continue with the process.

This latest  little twist in the 43+ year saga for a just solution for all parties in the dispute is typical of all the previous twists: Somehow the world believes that peace can be achieved by imposing Palestinian demands upon Israel. It never worked in any dispute in history, and it'll never work in the middle East. Somehow each new generation of world leaders starts again from the beginning. They ignore what went before. Groundhog  Day.

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Mr Zwier is incorrect in fact, when he assumes and states that a mediator doesn't put preconditions on one party in a mediation. In his example / analogy there would be many a mediator who would indeed place an injuction upon the husband using the car. He"d simply say: "I don't want to see you again before me until you have done ..."

Posted by LK on 2010-03-20 23:32:11 GMT

The facts, and the rights all militate toward Israel's case being correct. However, no Israeli government should undervalue the necessity of good relations with the US. eg, if Israel should attack Iran it will presumably require a US veto to some UN Security Council resolution against it. To ignore this consideration in favor of the "right thing to do" is inadvisable in the extreme. Israel has to learn to just play ball, and fight battles which are winnable.

Posted by LK on 2010-03-20 23:26:56 GMT

Neither the USA or the EU really needs mohammedan oil. There is oil in Alaska and Canada"s athabaska oil sands are virtually untouched. There are oil shales as well. These might increase costs a bit, but threatening to develop those sites would break the cartel which is bleeding the West white with punatively inflated prices since the Yom Kippur War. As regards "real politics" one should recall Begin"s facing down some US president - Ford or Carter (?) - and Sharon"s facing down G W Bush when he declared that Israel would not play a Czechoslovak role to serve the putative interests of other nations. No nation has a hold on Israel if it chooses to assert itself; Libya, North Korea, Iran and Burma get by even as they thumb their noses at the international community. Israel needs to take Edward Said"s advice and "speak truth to power". It should also announce plans to deprive "Palestinians", if hardships imposed on it make its humanitarian assistance to them unsustainable.

Posted by paul2 on 2010-03-19 03:53:47 GMT

I cannot imagine that if MM or Paul were given an audience with Obama, Clinton, or America"s ambassador to Israel, they would be able to persuade them of the truth of: "Its all in the Palestinians court now". I also doubt whether Ralph would be able to persuade them to resign. But I think Ralph"s arguments have a marginally better traction with Israel"s allies than MM or Paul"s regardless of the pure truth.

Posted by Ralph on 2010-03-18 20:26:03 GMT

Paul2, "peace" negotiators aren't doing it out of the goodness of their own hearts. Countries have interests, not morals. The US (and others) needs to grease the wheels of industry with Arab/Islamic oil at some kind of affordable prices. The Arabs thus have leverage on the US to lean on Israel. Israel relies (way too much) on US financial aid, but also on diplomatic support from the Uncle Sam, as well as intelligence sharing. So the Arabs demand, the US presses and Israel often has little option but to comply. The EU has its own home-grown Arab/Muslim problem, and is pressing Israel accordingly. "Peace" has nothing to do with any of this; it never did.

Posted by Jake in Jerusalem on 2010-03-18 20:11:14 GMT

MM is right; if the Pals want peace, or even something as minor as a state of their own, they need to do something other than throw self-pitying tantrums and expect the international community to force Israel to change their nappies. But back to Ralph"s point about mediators. Each mediator, Quartet or otherwise, has an agenda and therefore becomes an advocate, usually for the Pals. Each mediator wants to turn a settlement into a national gain, usually at the expense of Israel and some minor international concerns: justice and principles. International negotiations are not matters that can be decided by a court if compulsory negotiations fail. Unless one of the parties has been defeated in an international action, say like Serbia. Israel is being treated as a defeated aggressor by friend and foe alike. Israel should thank all of the self-appointed peace makers and tell them to butt out. The issue is between Israel and an entity with an undetermined status. As long as that entity is saved from its folly and criminality by do-gooders and cynics, it will wriggle out of dealing with reality. A reality that various idealistic Israeli governments have helped it to avoid.

Posted by paul2 on 2010-03-18 14:27:19 GMT

I am in the market for a car.I was told I can have one, but that I had to pay for it in full, before being able to take it to a mechanic to check it out for mechanical condition and roadworthiness. I asked what would happen if the car was found by the mechanic to be in such a bad condition so as to be unrepairable and not worth a brass razou. I was told I had no recourse to the seller and could not return it for a refund. I respectfully declined the deal. This is like the proposed negotiations. The Israelis are told what they must do in order to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Do What we want, but we will not give you any guarantees in return. Thanks but no thanks...

Posted by danny on 2010-03-18 11:50:11 GMT

The latest news is that the jihadist hosts have celebrated the Baroness"s visit by rocketing an Israeli victim to death this morning.

Posted by Arnold Roth (Jerusalem) on 2010-03-18 11:28:58 GMT

The failure of "negotiations" with Arabs - whether Arafat and his followers, or Syria, Iran or others - follows a standard pattern. Talks are held, some concessions are made to the Arab side and then, surprise!, the Arab side raises their demands and wants more. Result? The Arab side remains permanently unhappy, never reaching it"s always-moving goal. This is how the Arabs, who already held Gaza, the WB and much of Jerusalem before 1967, fought Israel for more; how Gaza was handed as a gift to Arafat a few years ago, who did not reciprocate with any moves towards peace; how Syria demands the Golan today BEFORE negotiating further with Israel, etc. Westerners fail to understand the cultural differences in different regions that necessitate different negotiating strategies. American foreign policy, in particular, has failed repeatedly because of a lack of understanding that different people are different (e.g Vietnam, Iran). The Liberal Deconstructionists have a hard time with this, prefering to believe that everyone is the same. It"s just not so. US President Hussein-Obama, having grown up in different cultures, SHOULD have a better understanding of this. That he is doing all the wrong things suggests to me that perhaps some of the wilder speculation about him might actually be true. NB Catherine Ashton is in Gaza right now. An hour ago, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, killing one person, apparently a foreign worker. The EU, US, Quartet, etc will doubtless have a... disproportionate response.

Posted by Jake in Jerusalem on 2010-03-18 10:44:19 GMT

How about an arrest warrant for the noteworthy Baroness Ashton - for support of a terrorist organization, etc. File it in Belgium, of course!

Posted by Paz on 2010-03-18 10:11:20 GMT

No-one can "force" a mediation. By definition, it is a consensual process. Put another way: it takes two to tango (or make peace), but it only requires one recalcitrant party to start a broyges (or make war)....

Posted by Steve Lieblich on 2010-03-18 10:11:10 GMT

Small correction to make here: the Quartet members include Russia, the UN and the EU but not the UK. Catherine Ashton, who now manages foreign policy for the EU, is here this week. She is going to Gaza this morning for an official visit to the Hamas regime. Driving to work earlier today, I heard the BBC"s correspondent interviewing John Ging, the head of the UN"s refugee agency for the Palestinian Arabs, UNRWA, ahead of Ms. Ashton"s arrival. Ging, no stranger to the fine distinctions in this complicated part of the world or to the value of heaping blame on Israel, was quoted saying: "The people of Gaza are hoping for a single outcome from Baroness Ashton"s visit - a lifting of the Israeli siege... We have to have action. A thousand days and a thousand nights of a mediaeval siege is far too much. It"s a shame - it"s a disgrace." His comments embody the other side of the Groundhog Day-ness of this farce. No mention of Egypt bolting its part of the Gaza gate. Not a word about the rockets fired at Israelis by the Gazans for years. The BBC"s audience hears this depicted as a humanitarian crisis, net. A crisis created by the Israelis. Ging"s (and the BBC"s) use of the word "medieval" reinforces the point that this is all about an ancient grudge, and that rights are being trampled. Gazan Palestinian Arab rights, of course. Ms Ashton is in Gaza though she knows Hamas is a member in good standing of the EU"s list of proscribed terror organizations. Her flaunting of EU policy is not getting in her way or anyone else"s, and she will be flying on to Moscow for a Quartet meeting later this week, fresh from her tete-a-tetes with the jihadists. If you ask me, this is very upsetting - the triumph of ignorance (on one hand) and political expediency over principle. Nothing new in that either.

Posted by Arnold Roth (Jerusalem) on 2010-03-18 10:05:36 GMT

Let"s just use the Arab method - walk out on the "discussions" with the mediator, and refuse to meet with him/her/it until the other party has shown good faith and a) removed anti-Israel and anti-semitic educational materials from their schools, b) laid down their weapons, c) acknowledged crimes against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, d) committed to non-violence, e) paid significant reparations (to be underwritten by the US, EU, and others) to Israeli families who have had loved ones murdered by Palestinian "militants", and f) stated unequivocally that they recognize the right of the Jewish people to live anywhere in the Land of Israel, as promised by the same Bible that all of the quartet swear by.

Posted by Perry on 2010-03-18 10:00:24 GMT

Absolutely. Now you should send this to the American "president" and his cohorts because it seems they just don"t get basic principles of negotiation...or don"t care!

Posted by Ronit on 2010-03-18 07:22:50 GMT

EU, UK, UN, US all share the "U". If they lived up to the "U" in their names they would be able to achieve whatever they wanted.

Posted on 2010-03-18 01:51:26 GMT