Nadia Hajib writes:
Three aspects of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Saban Center speech on Friday have escaped general notice. First, though she spoke boldly of asking “tough questions and expecting substantive answers” on the core issues of the conflict, the process will not culminate in a “just, lasting and comprehensive peace” as Clinton claimed, but rather a framework agreement. What is a framework agreement? As defined by United States peace envoy George Mitchell in early September at the short-lived revival of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, this peculiar American innovation is said to be more than a declaration of principles but less than a full-fledged treaty. It is supposed to establish “the fundamental compromises” that would then be fleshed out in a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict.
This bodes ill for the Palestinians, who have already signed a declaration of principles as well as a dozen other compromise-filled agreements with Israel between 1993 and 2000. Worse, it sounds like they would now be expected to compromise on their right of return, while actual freedom awaits a peace treaty that would then still have to be implemented — who knows when? A second Obama term? Or his successor’s? And meanwhile, Israel would continue to colonize.
Then Clinton, perhaps unwittingly, further exposed the U.S. pretense of even-handedness. She claimed that the Obama administration, like its predecessors, does not accept the “legitimacy of continued settlement activity.” However, some of those predecessors defined all settlements as illegal. This administration’s phrasing, which it has used before, suggests that some settlements are more legitimate than others: it is “continued” activity that is said not to have legitimacy rather than the entire illegal enterprise. This puts the Obama administration in the same camp as George W. Bush, who also supported Israel’s territorial and other ambitions in his April 2004 exchange of letters with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Finally, Clinton illustrated how completely the administration has bought into the Israeli discourse. In her eagerness to support an Israel that is both Jewish and democratic, she skated perilously close to racism. She warned that “the long-term population trends that result from the occupation” were endangering the Zionist vision. In other words, that another four million Palestinians might soon demand equal rights in an Israel that has effectively controlled all of mandate Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea since 1967.
These are murky waters indeed. One cannot imagine a political leader in any real democracy applying the same reasoning to their country. Would U.S. leaders speak of long-term Black, Hispanic, or Muslim population trends that endanger America as a “white and democratic” or as a “Christian” state? In the modern era, democratic states are expected to be constructs in which all citizens are equal under the law, irrespective of race or creed. [Continue reading.]