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Netanyahu was the one to stop Israeli-Palestinian talks

The Israeli media is reporting a high-level effort to resume negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was brought to an end a couple of weeks ago at the Benjamin Netanyahu’s orders. The prime minister, meanwhile, continues to claim he has no partner.

Secret talks with Abu-Mazen. Israeli president Shimon Peres (image: World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Coming up to September and the UN bid by the Palestinian Authority, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claims that the Palestinians refuse to negotiate with his government, and therefore urges the world to oppose their diplomatic moves, “in the interest of peace.”

Many echo this talking point: It’s being voiced no not only by advocates for the Israeli right in America (here, here, here, and here) but also by critics of the current Israeli government, sources in the Obama administration and even an editorial in the New York Times.

I intend to write a separate post on the way Israel is manipulating the world’s public opinion by using the term “peace” when it actually means maintaining the status quo; I also have my doubts on the UN bid and the false notion of “Palestinian statehood” when in reality the occupation only deepens—a better idea might be to dismantle the PA altogether—but it is important to note that even on this very issue of negotiations, the Israeli prime minister and the people speaking in his name are far from telling the whole truth.

As various media outlets in Israel have revealed that in recent weeks, Israeli president Shimon Peres has had a secret negotiating channel with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. According to a report in the daily Maariv, Peres—who has  often acted as an unofficial envoy for the government, given the rivalry between Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the latter’s poor image in the world—has met with Abbas four times, discussing various details regarding the resumption of formal negotiations between the two parties. In-between these meetings, Peres also had a one-on-one with president Obama, which could be indicative of the importance attributed to these talks.

Netanyahu was aware of Peres’s moves, and according to the Israeli president’s closer circles, approved them. Yet a couple of weeks ago, Netanyahu surprisingly called off a meeting between Peres and Abu-Mazen, effectively closing the secret channel.

According to Maariv, the Palestinian president was already on his way to Amman, where the meeting was supposed to take place, when an aide to Peres notified him over the phone that the meeting was cancelled at the order of the Israeli PM. According  to Netanyahu’s associates, this wasn’t a good time for an understanding with the Palestinians, given the political circumstances in Israel, Ben Caspit reported.

According to Maariv, President Peres is now “completely exasperated” with Netanyahu.

My guess is that Netanyahu felt that Peres was getting closer to some understanding—anything—with Abbas, and this was against his goal of prolonging negotiations without offering concessions, as a way to get the international pressure off his back while keeping the Israeli consensus behind him (at least on this issue). In my opinion, there was little to no hope that that these talks would have led to anything, but still, it’s important to note that as soon as there was the slightest whiff of progress, even that informal channel became way too much for the Israeli prime minister.

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    1. Sylvia

      Rabin called Peres “the indefatigable saboteur”. It was true then, it is true now.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Taoist

      Thanks, NOAM.

      Even though we had the nagging suspicion Netanyahu blocked Peres’ efforts (Peres didn’t need much prodding, either), we couldn’t say for sure. Netanyahu never had the intention to solve the Palestinian issue, his strategy has been to pretend before the world he wants “peace,” an empty word he utters when convenient, while in reality all he does is kicking the can of warms down the road. That appears to have been an empty “strategy,” but there is more to it than our eyes can see.

      Netanyahu’s strategic outlook was defined long ago, and it was first put on paper in 1996, by a group of American-Jewish (not so much Americans, but yes Jewish) neo-cons, all committed to the perpetuation of the occupation. It was called, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” and it was published under the sponsorship of “The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies,” as part of the “Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.”


      The authors were like a Who is Who gallery of neo-cons/pro-occupation troglodytes: Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser, all of them at the forefront of the struggle for a total dispossession of the Palestinians, and the paper read like a script for the recent history of the ME, in which “rolling back” the enemies of Israel in the neighborhood (what we call “regime change”) by US intervention (of course, we paid for it, and put the dead too), was a vital part of the new strategy.



      We must distinguish soberly and clearly friend from foe. We must make sure that our friends across the Middle East never doubt the solidity or value of our friendship.
      Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions…”


      It was to be a “CLEAN BREAK,” and it was. The paper was for Netanyahu to implement, but he lost his PM position in ’99. It was also to be Netanyahu’s recipe for economic reforms, which the authors, all neo-cons to the max, envisioned as the embracing of the savage neo-liberal juggernaut, whose effects and consequences on Israeli society we are witnessing as I write.

      Netanyahu returned to the government in 2003 as, guess what, Finance Minister, and in 2009 as PM again, and he’s been able to capitalize on the profound changes US interventions created in Israel’s surroundings.

      Back to the CLEAN BREAK.

      On “peace” or better said, “wage war, talk peace”:



      We have for four years pursued peace based on a New Middle East. We in Israel cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent. Peace depends on the character and behavior of our foes. We live in a dangerous neighborhood, with fragile states and bitter rivalries. Displaying moral ambivalence between the effort to build a Jewish state and the desire to annihilate it by trading “land for peace” will not secure “peace now.” Our claim to the land —to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years–is legitimate and noble. It is not within our own power, no matter how much we concede, to make peace unilaterally. Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, ‘peace for peace,’ is a solid basis for the future…”

      “…Israel can now embrace negotiations, but as means, not ends, to pursue those ideals and demonstrate national steadfastness…”


      Those are the basis for Netanyahu’s negotiation: “peace for peace” i.e, nothing for peace, or, in other words, accept our peace, with no land, or anything else whatsoever, or die slowly, either by being “on a diet,” or at the hands of the IOF. He’s now betting on US elections, hoping Obama will be kick out next year, and he will do anything in his power to defeat him. What he’s looking forward to, is another Repugnican, a Bush II clone, to continue to do the job for him by proxy, carving out the strategic space he needs to continue the occupation, forever. However, things has changed in the ME since the CLEAN BREAK was conceived, and the reliance of Israel on Turkey and Jordan is no more, and Mubarak is not there to watch Israel’s back vis-a-vis Hamas. Syria, however, is tattering on the brink of disaster, a little bit too late for Netanyahu to exploit it. Lebanon is not the same either, with a strong resistance movement capable of containing Netanyahu’s Greater Israel pipe dreams.

      And Israelis are waking up to the damage done, even if they don’t know they were used as pawns in Netanyahu’s expansionist strategy, or why, but hopefully for them is not too little, too late.


      Reply to Comment
    3. Bosko

      @Noam – “In my opinion, there was little to no hope that that these talks would have led to anything”
      That sentence says it all. I agree with you, there is no hope at this time of achieving meaningful results with a weak PA leadership with Hamas breathing down their neck and backed up by their delusion that they would be able to get 100% of what they want by going to the UN.
      So, haven’t we learnt from the past? There are times when it is our holy duty to talk to them make sensible concessions and even give up land for peace. That’s what we did with strong and honourable Arab leaders like Sadat.
      But for the life of me, I don’t see why we need to offer carrots and make concessions to Arab leaders who are either incapable, unwilling or both, to sign a peace deal with us, much less deliver it.
      All we achieve by making to concessions to such Arab leaders is that we set a new base line, we give away another bargaining chip without achieving actual results. Sometimes it is just more sensible to wait till better times, more opportune moments to try to achieve the peace that we all want.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Devin

      Peace at this moment is dream. As long as Netanyahu has his power, he will mislead the world and refuses to talk about Peace. He just like a spoiled baby ( my way or noway ). He does not think wisely when it comes to peace. The international body believe 1967 border is base for peace and he brings some unreasonable matters to prevent peace with the neighbors. Peace has a price and everybody should be ready to pay it.

      Reply to Comment

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