Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rice’s Israel-Palestine “Peace” Overture: More of the Same as Shock and Awe of Iran Looms
Thursday January 18th 2007, 6:53 pm

It’s like a broken record played over the decades with the same worn refrain. “US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday she heard strong encouragement from Israeli and Palestinian leaders and their neighbors for quick progress toward a Middle East peace agreement,” reports the Associated Press. “There is no doubt there could be a very important effect on the entire region if we are able to make progress on Middle East peace,” said Rice the Destroyer. “I did find the parties very desirous of making progress,” she droned. “I believe the whole region is looking for ways to make progress and drive toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Of course, the “establishment of a Palestinian state” is not on the agenda, or at least not the sort of state envisioned by the Palestinians. Instead, the Palestinians will receive more of the same terminating in a series of isolated Bantustans surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and military garrisons.

As Laila El-Haddad writes, “Israel controls life in Gaza with an ‘invisible hand’, despite its ‘disengagement’ from the area over a year ago.” In Disengaged Occupiers: the Legal Status of Gaza, a report by Gisha, the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, a Tel Aviv-based rights group, we learn “Israel has not relinquished control over Gaza but rather removed some elements of control while tightening other significant controls,” most notably “control over Gaza’s air space and territorial waters, its borders, the movement of goods and people, the taxation system, fiscal policy and the population registry,” in other words Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison. “Israel controls Gaza through a kind of ‘invisible hand’, which is hard to see but felt intensely by Gaza residents, who know that their ability to do basic things—buy milk, turn on electric lights, travel abroad—depend on decisions made by Israel,” Sari Bashi, director of the institute and co-author of the report, tells Al Jazeera.

For Rice and her neocon bosses, this situation represents a sort of pre-statehood, a prescience of things to come. For the Israelis, “statehood” for the Palestinians translates into widespread poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, and the “withholding of Palestinian tax revenues” (i.e., stealing Palestinian tax money) resulting in “an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” In short, statehood for the Palestinians consists of ghettoization, as the Israeli Ilan Pappe notes.

“Ghettoizing or quarantining unwanted communities, even if they were regarded as sub-human or dangerous, never worked in history as a solution,” writes Pappe. “The Jews know it best from their own history. The next stages against such communities in the past were even more horrific and barbaric. It is difficult to tell what the future holds for the Gaza population, ghettoized, quarantined, unwanted and demonized. Will it be a repeat of the ominous historical examples or is a better fate still possible?”

Unfortunately, “a better fate” is not possible with the neocons in control, working closely with the Israelis. As Stephen J. Sniegoski explains, the “Likudniks have always sought to deal in a radical fashion with the Palestinian problem in the occupied territories—a problem that has gotten worse, from their standpoint, as a result of demographic changes. A U.S. war in the Middle East at the present time provides a window of opportunity to permanently solve that problem and augment Israel’s dominance in the region. The existing perilous situation, as Likud thinkers see it, would justify the taking of substantial risks.” One such “substantial risk,” now boiling with ugly determination in the foreground, is the possibility the neocons and the Israelis will attack Iran.

Rice is playing the role of a carnival sideshow barker as she cajoles easily flimflammed Arab leaders into “high-level yet informal” meetings. Meanwhile, in the background, the clock ticks toward the shock and awe campaign long ago sketched out for Iran. Rice “announced the Israeli-Palestinian talks as she began three days of meetings with Sunni Arab allies in the region—Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states—to rally support for President Bush’s new military and diplomatic strategy in Iraq,” according to the New York Times. In other words, Rice is calling together the most reactionary ruling elements in the region, urging them onboard the Good Ship Lollipop, another designed to fail “peace plan” intended to string the Palestinians along.

It is but another distraction, as the Israelis and their American counterparts are not interested in peace. In fact, they are interested in making life miserable for the Palestinians and punishing harshly all those who dare ask for a sincere and lasting peace. Soon enough, they will make life miserable for a whole lot of Iranians, as they have for Iraqis—a template based on years of work practiced with ghoulish determination on the Palestinians.


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