Saturday, September 25, 2010

Peace Talk Breakthrough

My mind leapt when I read in the Christian Science Monitor of a “Breakthrough in Middle East Talks.” Maybe I have been wrong. Maybe Israel is going to finally take a step toward peace by abandoning settlements in the occupied territories. Maybe Israel is going to reroute the wall which has caused so much pain and destruction to Palestinian families, or at least, maybe Israel is going to stop taking 80 percent of Palestinian water for Israeli use only or reduce the number of checkpoints. All kinds of possibilities ran though my mind. But no, an agreement to "more talk" was the breakthrough.

After the meeting, it was all smiles as Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu appeared briefly before the press. The news of the meeting’s concrete achievement – an agreement to hold more talks later this month – was presented as a breakthrough.[1]

However, on the ground, few Palestinians have much hope in the talks. “Had this been the first round of talks, then we would have hoped for a good solution,” said Reem Abu Latif, an architectural engineer. “However, this is the 20th time, and we know the results. Now we are expecting nothing. Nor do we care.”[2]

That’s it. They have agreed to more talk. That’s the break through? In the meantime, Israel announced, not the vacating of settlements, not even a continuation of a partial freeze on building settlements. But according to Peace Now, and reported in Haartz:

2,066 new homes would be ready for continued West Bank construction as soon as a moratorium on settlement building is lifted this month, a report by the Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now said Sunday, adding that work on another 11,000 potential units could hypothetically start as well.[3]

Two thousand! Just numbers to most pro-Israeli Americans, but not so for the thousands of Palestinians who receive demolition orders for their homes, barns, fields and greenhouses. These are real people with real problems and need to feed their families like all the rest of us but they are seldom seen by an Israeli or recognized by an American.

Israel intends to build new settlements immediately after the September 26th “slow up” is over. Abbas has pledged to walk out unless settlement building is stopped. Of course, Netanyahu knows this so his commitment is to build more settlements. I fear that Hillary Clinton does not have the political will to stand up for justice. So, where does that leave us? Clinging to straws in an ocean of rhetoric. The “peace talks” are focused far more on talk than on peace.

Thomas Are
September 25, 2010
[1] Joshua Mitnick, Abbas goes out on a limb for peace, Christian Science Monitor, September 13, 2010, p.10.
[2] Ibid, Christian Science Monitor. September 13, 2010. p. 10
[3] Chaim Levenson Peace Now: 2,066 settlement homes to be built as soon as freeze ends., Haartz, Sunday September 12, 2010.

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