The cables released last night by Al Jazeera, which form the Palestine Papers, have provided ultimate confirmation of what many on the ground have known for some time – Israel is not interested in an equitable two state solution. Instead Israel is interested in maintaining the status quo, which necessarily means that both Palestinian and Israeli society will be in a permanent state of war. Control of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the separation of the West Bank from Gaza is the form of the Israeli-imposed one state solution. Crippling land annexation in the form of settlement expansion and development of Israeli infrastructure permanently change the facts on the ground while the United States, the main broker in the region, remains deftly silent. This continues while Israel informs the world that there is no Palestinian partner for negotiations and refuses to even provide documents detailing the Israeli bottom line.
This is not a new story, it has been happening for years. We now have ultimate confirmation that this is what was happening behind closed doors. However, I am left with a lingering and specific question regarding the United States. During negotiations regarding Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority was ready to give up part of the contentious East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Israel simply rejected the offer and began moving settlers into Palestinians homes in the neighborhood. Apparently the Israeli rationale was that the Palestinians were ready to give it up, might as well move settlers in, create facts on the ground and force them to ‘give up’ different territory. A simple land grab. What is striking is that the United States monitored this entire process. American officials were aware of the Palestinian offer and then watched in relative silence while Israel created a new settlement. Hilliary Clinton did deplore the actions of Israel in Sheikh Jarrah but the language was more tempered than that of the Europeans who literally watched the take over from their consulates in the neighborhood.
We are left with a number of revelations that are not surprising or new. Israel is not interested in an equitable two state solution, preferring a one state in which the Palestinians are controlled without democratic recourse. The Palestinian Authority is an effective instrument of Israeli occupation which is not representative of Palestinians. Finally, the United States is a dishonest broker who is acting like Israel’s lawyer and main supplier of aid. Again nothing new, now we just have concrete proof. These documents do not represent the death of the two state solution, they show that it never really began.