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The "No State" Solution: Palestinian Peace Talks Are Set-Up To Fail, Again

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The closest indication of progress to date took place in 2011 when the UN cultural body UNESCO voted to grant Palestinians full membership status. Celebrations were short-lived however as the US, under intense pressure from the Israeli Lobby, announced that in retaliation to the UN's vote, Washington would be withholding funds to UNESCO in a move which US critics called geopolitical blackmail. Israelis do not appear keen at all to see Palestine achieve any UN status mainly because Tel Aviv knows this could empower Palestinian officials to seek legal recourse, and perhaps even compensation, from the International Criminal Court for violations of international law including war crimes and the ongoing construction of illegal Jewish settlements.

Palestinian protester climbs Israel's controversial separation barrier during clashes with Israeli security forces following a demonstration against Israeli settlements and its separation wall, in the West Bank village of Nilin near the Jewish settlement of Hashmonaim (background), on June, 7, 2013 (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

The dominant paradigm: Political zionism

In advance of John Kerry's efforts to kick-start the peace process this summer, Israel's Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, launched the Israeli right wing's advance attack on the Two State Solution, claiming that the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel has reached a "dead end" (Haaretz, June 2013).

The biggest stumbling block for the US and the Palestinians in these negotiations is the potent mix of religious fundamentalism and historical revisionism which continues to underpin Israeli political ideology on this issue. Bennett demonstrates this line of thinking as he explains, "It must be said that this land has been ours for 3,000 years." He added, "There was never a Palestinian state here and we were never occupiers. The house is ours and we are residents here, not the occupiers."

If only Tony Blair and the Quartet could apply the same vigor in defense of the Palestinians' own legitimate roots claim to the region and inalienable "right to exist."

Bennett went on to reinforce the micro-colonial agenda which still dominates Israeli policy on Palestine, "The most important thing in the Land of Israel is to build, build, build," he said. "It's important for there to be an Israeli presence everywhere. Our principle problem is still the unwillingness of Israeli leaders; (to) put it simply that the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel."

Alternatively, there has been a revived interest in a "One-State Solution," which is growing in popularity in some circles. Proponents of the One-State Solution to the conflict advocate a single state in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, which includes citizenship and equal rights for all inhabitants regardless of ethnicity or religion. Unfortunately, this solution does not square with Zionist political vision of a pure "Jewish State," and therefore is unlikely to ever gain serious traction on the Israeli side so long as the conservative hard-line Zionist ideology continues to dominate the Israel political leadership.

A Palestinian protester kicks back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli security forces as clashes broke out during a demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, on June 16, 2013 (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Nothing will happen

Understanding the reasons why the current paradigm of peace negotiations between Israel and occupied Palestine is destined for stalemate -- and thus failure, is important if any solution to the conflict is to be achieved in the future. 
Nearly 70 years of suffering by the native Palestinian population and millions of refugees still interned around the Middle East also means that any solution brokered by the US which does not allow Palestinian refugees "the right of return," will ultimately fizzle out. Out gunned and with no economic or military hand to play at the negotiation table, Palestinians are, by default, the ones who matter least during any western-brokered peace process. 

For decades, Israeli political leadership has been dominated by a series of throw-backs, consisting mainly of ex-Israel paramilitary fighters, some of whom took part in violent ethnic cleansing campaigns and even in terrorist bombings. This string of leaders have all presided over a worsening situation; Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin -- all entrenched in the same extremist political belief system which is responsible for Israel being in the position it finds itself today.

Israel's current figurehead, PM Netanyahu, maintains a similar hard-line to that of his predecessors that practically guarantees Israel's predictable deadlock on negotiations and eventual failure on any future agreements. He explains, "Foreign policy is shaped by the Prime Minister and my view is clear. I will seek a negotiated settlement where you'd have a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state." Palestinians have resisted Netanyahu's call for such recognition, fearing it would be tantamount to waiving any right of return for Palestinian refugees (Reuters June 2013).

For the US and former colonial powers Britain and France, achieving balance and influence in a region dominated by an Arab majority has always been a chief priority, not just geopolitically, but also in terms of controlling global oil markets. Since 1948, Israel has served as a temporary wedge in the region, and a catalyst for general and  periodic conflicts, as well as fueling the world's most prolific and lucrative arms and security product market. 

After 30 years of failed peace talks, where the West has acted as the deity-like guiding hand over matters, it should be clear that for any real peaceful settlement to happen, it has to come from inside Israel. To achieve this, an urgent transformation needs to take place inside Israel -- from hard-line ideologies and politics, as well as general Israeli attitudes towards Palestinians and Arabs -- all of whom are still characterized as second class residents by Israeli society. When it becomes no longer beneficial to empower hard-line Israeli politicians in positions of political power -- both in Israel and in America, then a peaceful solution is possible.

Until that time, we are left to suffer with the revolving door, known as the "peace process." 

*Patrick Henningsen is a writer, investigative journalist, and filmmaker and founder of the news website 21stCentury

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