Ever so often, when it seems like too much time has passed since someone has addressed the “peace process,” there is suddenly a meeting followed by reports that nothing has actually changed but that there is sober optimism that Israelis and Palestinians are ready to negotiate. The latest news — following meetings in Jordan where (surprise!) no significant breakthrough was made — is that Israel is ready to negotiate immediately with the Palestinians. According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s exact words were:
“I’m ready to get into my car at any time and go to Ramallah, even if it’s more than a small headache for my security guards, but Abu Mazen isn’t ready.”
This does not sound like someone with any genuine desire to negotiate or sense of urgency about the future of this region and the people living in it. To declare that traveling to Ramallah is a headache is just smug. It is an insult to the millions of Palestinians inside the West Bank who cannot travel freely and are constantly harassed, as well as the millions more in the diaspora who cannot visit freely at all. It is also an insult to me as a tax-paying Israeli citizen, that I have to pay for all the security that goes into what is such an easy journey for the Prime Minister – a journey that he has already determined is futile through his daily actions as well as the tone of his words.
This sounds like someone who cannot be bothered; like he’s doing the world a favor by turning his attention for a few moments away from war with Iran and imploring Birthright participants to move to Israel. It sounds like he would be just as content doing nothing, which he has proven to be especially good at over the last few years. And why not? He has had to deal with no consequences, either domestically or internationally, for being derelict.
There is such a double standard by Israel vis-a-vis negotiations and it is reported on in Western mainstream media with no criticism at all. This enigmatic 21-point plan submitted by Israel to the Palestinians as a precondition to talks? Twenty-one points? Might these points just state the de facto status quo over and over again: “We are a Jewish state with an undivided capital in Jerusalem and every fifth Israeli lives in the Judea and Samaria.” And apparently these 21 points have “domestic political consensus,” whatever that means.
Netanyahu isn’t even willing to stomach one Palestinian precondition: a halt of settlement construction that has literally eaten away at the possibility of a Palestinian state. May I remind everyone once again that settlement construction is considered illegal by the international community and that they are, in fact UNILATERAL actions taken by Israel on a daily basis that contradict the notion of a so-called “peace process” So who is Bibi kidding? How can anyone talk about “peace talks,” “negotiations” or a “two-state solution” with a straight face anymore?
At this point, I just find all the “news” about negotiations one giant disingenuous insult by Israel to the Palestinian public, the Israeli public and really anyone with any sense of decency. By reporting on it as if it is in fact news, the mainstream media is just feeding into the facade that Israel is a peace-seeking, two-state solution-wanting country. Nothing about its actions indicate that it is, so all this talk about negotiations is absolutely meaningless. It is a waste of space on the page.