A remarkable editorial in The New York Times this morning calling on President Obama to resume the “peace process” between Israelis and Palestinians (President Obama and the Peace Process). It’s remarkable for how detached it is from reality.
It is time for Mr. Obama — alone or, better yet, in concert with Europe, Russia and the United Nations — to put a map and a deal on the table.
The outlines of a deal are no secret. They were first proposed by President Bill Clinton in 2000. But neither side has been willing to make the necessary concessions — on land swaps, how Jerusalem can be shared and how many displaced Palestinians can go home, or not. The Israelis need to know that their closest ally won’t enable more inaction. The Palestinians need to know they will have American support so long as their demands are realistic. Mr. Obama needs to speak up before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel pre-empts the debate with what is certain to be an inferior proposal when he addresses a joint meeting of Congress next month.
Mr. Netanyahu has made some concessions, most notably giving Palestinians more control over their own security in the West Bank. But he has long insisted that the Palestinians aren’t serious about negotiating a final deal, and he is now hinting that he will unilaterally offer them an interim, step-by-step arrangement that will put off statehood to some undefined future.
Wait, what? “Neither side has been willing to make the necessary concessions”? Didn’t The New York Times read about The Palestine Papers? In fact there is literally no level of concessions that has been able to satisfy Israel – on territory, settlements, refugee rights or Jerusalem.
More troubling is The New York Times’ incapacity to grapple with a reality in which Israel and the Palestinians are not “equals” who need to be cajoled into making “concessions,” but occupier and occupied, colonizer and colonized. And it is laughable that The Times labels Netanyahu giving more “security control” to the Palestinian Authority a “concession.” This is no concession. It has long been clear to Palestinians, if not The Times, that the PA acts as Israel’s security proxy, and that this “concession” is a benefit for Israel. Those PA forces aren’t protecting Palestinians against daily attacks by Israeli settlers, home demolitions, night raids, kidnappings and wanton killings by the Israeli occupation army. They are protecting Israel.
Politically, The Times does not seem to get that the Palestinian Authority has no legitimacy left to make a deal with any Israeli government, and no deal like the “Clinton Parameters” can bring this conflict to an end. There needs to be a fundamental rethink, where rights are placed at the center of the discourse. That’s where things are headed with the increasing focus on Israeli apartheid, and the Palestinian response to it in the form of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions).
But it seems The New York Times’ editors have their heads firmly planted in the 1990s and yearn for the good old days of the failed peace process. Read the whole editorial. It’s a prime example of the bankruptcy and detachment from reality of the “two state solution” discourse and the US policy that rests on it.