Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   No comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

The Samson complex

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 5/10/13

Israel again rebuffs peace with the Arab world 


Washington's reputation as an "honest broker" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in tatters after four years of indulging Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intransigence. The Obama administration desperately needs to resurrect a credible peace process.

Faced with a diplomatic impasse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, seized his chance last week. He extracted from the Arab League an agreement to dust off a decade-old regional plan, the Arab Peace Initiative, declaring the move "a very big step forward."

Unveiled by Saudi Arabia in 2002, the plan promises Israel normal relations with the whole of the Arab world in return for its acceptance of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, or 22 percent of historic Palestine.

The new Arab overture, like its antecedent, has raised barely a flicker of interest from Israel. Tzipi Livni, Washington's sole ally in Netanyahu's cabinet, predictably lost no time in praising the plan. But the prime minister himself has studiously avoided mentioning it, leaving his aides to dismiss the initiative as a "trick" designed to ensnare Israel in injurious peace talks.

His oblique response serves as a rejoinder to one of the conflict's most enduring myths. Even before Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967, it presented itself as eager for acceptance from the Arab states. This fiction, which continues to shape western perceptions, rests on two pillars.

The first assumes Israeli fervor to engage diplomatically with the Arab world. Or, as Israel's then-defence minister Moshe Dayan famously told the BBC just days after the end of the Six Day War: "We are awaiting the Arabs' phone call."

The second, articulated most clearly by Abba Eban, when he was foreign minister in the early 1970s, castigates the Arabs for "never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to make peace with Israel.

And yet the historical record suggests the exact opposite. After their humiliation in 1967, the Arab states quickly conceded -- at least, privately -- that Israel was here to stay and began considering ways to accommodate it.

As Shlomo Ben-Ami, an Israeli historian who was foreign minister during the 2000 Camp David peace talks, observed: when the Arab states called, "Israel's line was busy, or there was no one on the Israeli side to pick up the phone."

Such obduracy was confirmed in last month's disclosure by WikiLeaks of classified US diplomatic cables from that period. In late 1973, a few weeks after the end of the Yom Kippur War, the Arab League quietly offered Israel a regional peace agreement that would recognize its pre-1967 borders. But the Arab states were rebuffed.

According to a cable from January 1975, US diplomats in the Middle East concluded that Israel's leaders demonstrated "an extraordinary lack of understanding" of Arab intentions, preferring instead to gird "their loins for the fifth, sixth, seventh Israeli-Arab wars." The cables describe Israel as hellbent on self-destruction; suffering, in the words of US officials, from a "Masada or Samson complex."

This context should be borne in mind as Israel's current opposition to peace talks is ascribed solely to the hawkishness of Netanyahu's government. In truth, this is a pattern of behavior exhibited by Israel over many decades -- or what former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad termed last week Israel's "occupation gene."

The Saudi peace initiative of 2002 arrived at a time early in the second intifada when Israelis were terrified by a wave of suicide bombings and the Israeli economy appeared close to collapse. Nonetheless, the then military chief of staff -- today's defense minister -- Moshe Yaalon, advised that Israel's highest priority was not negotiations but a military campaign to "sear defeat deep into the Palestinian consciousness."

At least, the newly revived Arab peace initiative has the advantage that it appears -- unlike its predecessor -- to have the enthusiastic backing of the White House.

Another difference, doubtless due to pressure from Kerry, is a concession from the Arab states that an agreement on Palestinian statehood will not require Israel to return to the 1967 lines. Approval of "minor" and "comparable" territorial exchanges brings the Arab League into line with the diplomatic positions of Abbas, US President Barack Obama and, ostensibly at least, several previous Israeli prime ministers.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Mandela: a Dissenting Opinion

Why Gaza must suffer again -- The four guilty parties behind Israel's attack

Tide Turns against Israel: Pariah Status and Isolation Lie Ahead

Forget Iran, It's Israel's Nuclear Gun Pointed at Obama's Head

Western complicity exposed -- Europe and US richly reward Israel for pariah status

Is Britain Plotting With Israel To Attack Iran? Ex-ambassador Exposes Government Cover-up

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
No comments