Henry Siegman writes:
What conclusions are to be drawn about the state of Middle East peacemaking from the extraordinary spectacle of the adversarial encounter between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their several major adversarial addresses in the second half of May?
The spectacle did not bring an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement any closer. Indeed, Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress, no less than Congress’s reaction to that speech, effectively buried the Middle East peace process for good. For what America’s solons were jumping up and down to applaud so wildly as they pandered pathetically to the Israel lobby was Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, thus endorsing his determination to maintain permanently Israel’s colonial project in the West Bank.
If Netanyahu succeeds in his objective, these members of Congress will be able to take credit for an Israeli apartheid regime that former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert predicted would be the inescapable consequence of policies the congressmen cheered and promised to continue to support as generously as they have in the past.
Unfortunately, it is an outcome made more likely by Obama’s insistence that a United Nations resolution could never bring about Palestinian statehood. He was wrong about that. That the United Nations can create a state was affirmed and celebrated not by enemies of Israel but in Israel’s own Declaration of Independence of 1948. It is the U.N. Partition Resolution of 1947, not negotiations between the Jews and Arabs of Palestine, that is cited in that declaration as having brought about the state of Israel and the source of its legitimacy.
It is the United Nations, not Netanyahu nor even the United States, that can and should bring the state of Palestine into being — and would do so if the United States were not to prevent it. The bilateral talks with Netanyahu that Obama is insisting Palestinians return to will only continue to serve, as they have in the past, as cover for the expansion of Israeli settlements whose purpose it is to annex (i.e., steal) enough Palestinian territory to preclude the possibility of Palestinian statehood.