No, Egyptian uprising won’t hurt the peace process

(simply because there is no such thing)

Time to come up with new excuses?  (photo: Pete Souza / white house)
Time to come up with new excuses? (photo: Pete Souza / white house)

Yesterday, Politico’s Laura Rozen posted this tweet:

On Isr/Egypt, official tells me while Egypt unrest demos status quo unstable, makes Isr hunker down, less willing to “take risks for peace.

Hey, wasn’t that the Israeli reply to… just about any event in recent history?

Turmoil in Lebanon? Further proof that Israel can’t take risks. The publication of the Palestine Papers? PM Netanyahu concludes that he could go on building in East Jerusalem. Unilateralism? it’ s bad for peace. International community’s involvement? You guessed it: A disaster for Peace.

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, says we shouldn’t negotiate with President Abu-Mazen because he has no real authority over his people. And we shouldn’t, god forbid, allow new elections in the Palestinian territories, because the Hamas would only get stronger. A united, Fatah-Hamas government, is clearly out of the question, and if the Palestinian president tries to go to the UN, we have the answer ready: the US should veto it, because it’s bad for peace.

Until recently, Israel used to say that democracy in the Arab world is the key to peace and stability. This is Netanyahu in 1993 (h/t Aeyal Gross):

“Here, in a nutshell, is the main problem of achieving peace in the Middle East: Except for Israel, there are no democracies. None of the Arab regimes is based on free elections, a free press, civil rights and the rule of law”

Now Netanyahu is talking about a “tremendous threat” from the changes in Egypt, and the Israeli Right claims that the Arabs “are not prepared” for democracy and that the reform movement puts the peace process in danger. It seems that even if all Palestinians join the Likud tomorrow, an Israeli minister would explain why this is bad for the peace process, and three hundred House representatives would sign a letter condemning Arab Rejectionism. All in the name of peace, of course.

The truth is there is no peace process, and it’s not because of the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Iranians, the reform movement or the coaching staff of the Minnesota Vikings. There is simply no point in talks with Israel right now. The Israeli government refuses to commit to evacuating settlements, refuses to discuss borders or even open maps and refuses to talk to Syria. In recent months, some ministers wanted to come out publicly with a “peace plan” that would leave the Palestinians with something like 60 percent of the West Bank, but even that was too radical for this government.

Two years after he returned to the PM office, Netanyahu has yet to come up with some sort of practicl offer for the two state solution – the vision he claimed to have adopted. Perhaps this is asking too much of him. All Netanyahu wants is to engage in meaningless talks that would go on forever, because that’s his only way of handling the mounting international pressure.

For that exact reason, the only way to push things forward is to apply even more pressure on Jerusalem.