The reasons the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed

This week the Israeli columnist, Nahum Barnea, spoke to senior American officials involved in Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace effort and heard their explanation for the talks’ failure. Barnea writes, “what they told me is the closest thing to an official American version of what happened.”

Let’s go back to the beginning. Was this round not doomed for failure from day one?

“The negotiations had to start with a decision to freeze settlement construction. We thought that we couldn’t achieve that because of the current makeup of the Israeli government, so we gave up. We didn’t realize Netanyahu was using the announcements of tenders for settlement construction as a way to ensure the survival of his own government. We didn’t realize continuing construction allowed ministers in his government to very effectively sabotage the success of the talks.

“There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements. The Palestinians don’t believe that Israel really intends to let them found a state when, at the same time, it is building settlements on the territory meant for that state. We’re talking about the announcement of 14,000 housing units, no less. Only now, after talks blew up, did we learn that this is also about expropriating land on a large scale. That does not reconcile with the agreement.

“At this point, it’s very hard to see how the negotiations could be renewed, let alone lead to an agreement. Towards the end, Abbas demanded a three-month freeze on settlement construction. His working assumption was that if an accord is reached, Israel could build along the new border as it pleases. But the Israelis said no.”
Compare the current round of talks to Henry Kissinger’s efforts after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, an effort that led to disengagement agreements between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Egypt. Compare it to James Baker’s effort after the first Gulf War, an effort that led to the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991.

“At the end of a war there is a sense of urgency,” they said. And then one of them added bitterly: “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.

“20 years after the Oslo Accords, new game rules and facts on the ground were created that are deeply entrenched. This reality is very difficult for the Palestinians and very convenient for Israel.”
Were you surprised when you discovered that the Israelis don’t really care what happens in the negotiations?

“Yes, we were surprised. It surprised us all along the way. When (Moshe) Ya’alon, your defense minister, said that the only thing Kerry wants is to win a Nobel Prize, the insult was great. We were doing this for you and for the Palestinians. Of course, there were also American interests at play.

“A lot of people told us – ‘don’t stop. Keep going.’ We told them: ‘It’s in your hands. Take responsibility for your own fate.’ But, stuck in their own ways, they preferred we do their job for them. Public apathy was one of our biggest problems.

“One of the Palestinians who participated in the talks told an Israeli participant: ‘You don’t see us. We’re transparent, we’re hollow.’ He had a point. After the second intifada ended and the separation barrier was built, the Palestinians turned into ghosts in the eyes of the Israelis – they couldn’t see them anymore.”

It almost sounds like you wish for an intifada.

“Quite the opposite, it would be a tragedy. The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.”

The world is being self-righteous. It closes its eyes to China’s takeover of Tibet, it stutters at what Russia’s doing to Ukraine.

“Israel is not China. It was founded by a UN resolution. Its prosperity depends on the way it is viewed by the international community.”

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6 thoughts on “The reasons the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed

  1. BillVZ

    In what looks to be another example of U.S. delusional foreign policy the article does show how the relationship with Israel is unique.

    “We didn’t realize Netanyahu was using the announcements of tenders for settlement construction as a way to ensure the survival of his own government. We didn’t realize continuing construction allowed ministers in his government to very effectively sabotage the success of the talks.”

    The US is barred from telling the truth, which makes a real negotiation impossible. “Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism would not be possible without the US’ unequivocal military, economic, and diplomatic support.” Jim Miles
    The Israelis know that they will never be subject to real US pressure, because the US Congress stands ever-ready to do whatever Israel asks. No sabotage- the Peace Talks were never meant to be successful. And so the beat goes on.”

  2. Menno van Barneveld

    At first the Romans drove away the tribe of Juda out of Israel. Lateron the Muslims drove away the remaining tribes of Israel out of their land. But God is restoring Israel and bringing the Jews back in our time. The UN was not the founder of Israel, but an instrument of God. God will push out all the Muslim Palestines in the near future.
    Better the UN gives them a new nation in the open space that emerges in Syria, for you cannot compete with God and win.

    Menno van Barneveld,
    The Netherlands.

  3. Paul Woodward

    The thing that perplexes me about God is that they say God is all powerful and yet countless people speak on God’s behalf and they all say different things. Either God has a limitless number of different voices capable of making all sorts of contradictory statements, or those who claim to know the will of God are deluded or perhaps just pretending.

  4. josieamilburn

    God had nothing to do with the Jews, Romans, Neanderthals , Christians or rabbits. The idea of a God, sitting around somewhere manipulating the world and taking sides is a tragedy for the folks who believe this and for the rest of the world who have to suffer the consequences of such useless thinking.If people must have a God, then for God’s sake, give him a break.

  5. Menno van Barneveld

    Genesis 15:7 Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” (God gave Abraham Israel in possession,)
    Genesis 26:4 I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring, (God gave Israel to the offspring of Isaac, that now are the Jews, not the Muslims.)
    Isaiah 2 On a bare hill raise a signal, cry aloud to them; wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles. (God in our time is calling the Jews from abroad to come home.)
    Isaiah 60:21 Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever. They are the shoot that I planted, the work of my hands, so that I might be glorified. (God will restore Israel at the beginning of the great tribulation and the Jews will possess it forever.)
    So not a limitless number of different voices , but purly the Bible, undoubtedly.

    Menno van Barneveld

  6. Paul Woodward

    I regard all forms of evangelism (whether religious or non-religious) as a form of fascism: You are trying to ram your dogma down other people’s throats as though those who have not enslaved themselves to your holy book are empty vessels waiting to be filled.

    If you genuinely believe that human beings were created by God, I suggest showing them more respect.

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