James Baker was feeling sorry last Sunday for Israel because Israel had no negotiating partner in her search for peace. Speaking to Fareed Zakaria on GPS, Baker pointed out that the Palestinians are now divided. What can Israel do? Hamas now governs in Gaza, the PA rules in the West Bank. Poor Israel. Disappointed again. No chance for peace.
Of course, it never crosses Israel’s mind to lift the siege on Gaza. Even materials needed to rebuild those 22,000 buildings destroyed by Israeli planes and tanks are not allowed in.
Freezing settlement construction and reducing the pain caused by the wall snaking throughout the West Bank would be a step toward a reasonable peace. It might even help if Israel ceased assassinating Palestinian leaders.
I wish Baker could see that it’s not the lack of peace partners, but Israel’s determination to create “facts on the ground,” and its brutal occupation that complicates any step toward peace.
Who in the world could think that Israel is the least bit interested in peace when every day more and more Palestinian land is confiscated, olive trees are uprooted, homes are demolished and young Palestinians are imprisoned? Netanyahu openly declares his opposition to any Palestinian state and Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, threatens to wipe Palestine off the map. On assuming office Lieberman announced the Mideast peace process was dead.
Henry Siegman, Director of the U.S./Middle East Project in New York, writes:
It is now widely recognized in most Israeli circles – although denied by Israel’s government – that the settlements have become so widespread and so deeply implanted in the West Bank as to rule out the possibility of their removal (except for a few isolated and sparsely populated ones) by this or any other government unless compelled to do so by international intervention, an eventuality until now considered unlikely.
Israel has crossed the threshold from “the only democracy in the Middle East” to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.
Israel does need to negotiate, but Israel’s battle is with itself. Is Yahweh Israel’s God or is the State of Israel Israel’s God? And the Jews of the world need to choose between upholding the high ethical standards of Judaism or forfeiting its moral values in support of the continued brutality of the State.
I wish Zakaria had challenged James Baker’s bias and asked about the suffering of the Palestinians, but I guess in the American media it is not to be.
February 26, 2010
 Henry Siegman, Imposing Middle East Peace, The Nation, January 25, 2010., p.18.