The Dying Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace Process’

Even before Israel’s founding in 1948, some Zionists had plans to seize all of Palestine and purge the native Palestinian population, but global politics required a pretense of “peace talks.” So the charade has gone on for decades though it now seems to be coming to an end, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

By Lawrence Davidson

An intractable process, one that never seems to resolve itself, is either no process at all or a fraudulent one contrived to hide an ulterior motive. The so-called Israeli-Palestinian (at one time the Israeli-Arab) “peace process,” now in its sixth decade (counting from 1948) or fourth decade (counting from 1967), is and probably always has been just such a fraud.

One might object and say that the Oslo Accords (1993) were part of this process and they were not fraudulent. In my opinion that is a doubtful assumption. The talks were carried on in secret by officials who, at least on the Israeli side, never had an equitable peace in mind.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

Their goal was a political modification of the occupied territories that would free Israel from its legal obligations as occupiers of Palestinian territory and facilitate the pacification of the Palestinians and their resistance organizations. The Israeli side seemed to have believed that negotiating the return of Yasser Arafat and Fatah to the West Bank would provide them a partner in this process – not a peace process, but a pacification process.

It did not take long for the Palestinians to see through this gambit, and relations with the Israelis soon returned to the tense and sometimes violent status quo ante. It was only after Arafat’s suspicious death in 2004 that the Israelis finally got a Palestinian “leader,” in the person of Mahmoud Abbas, who would cooperate with them in this process of pacification. Organized resistance then became the pursuit of those in Gaza who persist in calling the “peace process” a fraud. They are correct.

The present Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and some of his ministers have of late hinted at the truth. Netanyahu recently told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that criticism of his government’s expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem (which are illegal under international law), whether it comes from the U.S. government or Jewish groups such as J Street and Peace Now, are “words detached from reality” and “foster false statements [of hope] from the Palestinians,” therefore delaying the coming of “peace.”

Likewise, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, has accused Palestinian “president” Abbas, the very man who helps Israel pacify the West Bank population, of “promoting hatred of Jews.” Why? Because Abbas has complained at the United Nations and other world forums of Israel’s unwillingness to bring the “peace process” to a conclusion that he and his Palestine National Council could accept.

Abbas, who lost the last Palestinian free election (held in 2006) to Hamas but with U.S. and Israeli support has usurped the office of Palestinian president, is actually a nearly perfect “peace partner” for the Israelis. The amount of compromise he asks for from the Israeli side in exchange for coming to terms is embarrassingly minimal. However, Netanyahu’s government refuses the Palestinians any compromise at all because, for these Zionists, the “peace process” is a facade whose only value lies in its very fraudulence. Its only value is as a cover for the process of territorial absorption.

Thus, it is probably justified to conclude that a good number of Israelis (and certainly a vast majority of their leadership) are not interested in peace and probably have never been, unless you define peace as total Palestinian surrender. More accurately, they are interested in expansion and control of all of Palestine from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. After six decades of a “peace process” going nowhere, anyone who does not understand this is deluding themselves.


Just who are those deluding themselves? Many of them are diaspora Jews who are, whether they understand it or not, caught in a contradiction: they are at once committed to Zionism’s ideological goal of a secure Jewish state in Palestine but nonetheless are, at this moment of maximum Israeli power, calling for ideological compromise.

Some of these people are members of Zionist groups in the U.S. such as Peace Now and J Street. Both organizations want continuing peace negotiations with the Palestinians looking toward achieving some variation of the two-state solution. J Street is apparently upset with Netanyahu’s determination to continue the colonization process “in every part of Judea and Samaria” (the West Bank) as well as East Jerusalem because to do so “erects one obstacle to peace after another.”

Unfortunately, the history of official Zionist behavior is on the side of Netanyahu. All the evidence indicates that Zionism and its leaders have been committed to the conquest of all of historic Palestine at least since 1918.

In that year Chaim Weizmann submitted a map of the proposed Jewish national home to the Peace Conference that settled matters after World War I. It represented a maximalist program that has been incrementally realized first in 1948 and then 1967. Nowhere in the Zionist program has there ever been room for voluntary retreat. That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu describes those who criticize his colonization efforts as “detached from reality.”

Netanyahu and his ilk, however, tend to ignore the fact that there are multiple realities operating here. Certainly, one should not forget the Palestinian reality, particularly that of Gaza, and Israeli culpability in its creation and maintenance.

On the Zionist side there now exists at least two realities. One is certainly that of Prime Minister Netanyahu – the reality of the Zionist ideologue with Israeli power backing it up. But then there is the other Zionist reality – that of Israel’s increasing isolation, not only diplomatic and cultural, but also, over time, economic. The latter reality scares many diaspora Jews to the point where they are willing to compromise maximalist ideological goals.

The Zionists in power are as yet impervious to this fear. However, if the reality of economic and cultural isolation ever overtakes that of Israeli power, then the number of compromisers will rapidly grow, and the zealots such as Netanyahu will find themselves alone in a Masada-like fortress of their own making.

[For more on this history, see William R. Polk’s three-part series, “The Battle for Palestine” parts one, two and three.]

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

5 comments for “The Dying Israeli-Palestinian ‘Peace Process’

  1. Julian
    November 10, 2014 at 20:46

    In Germany there’s a saying “Wer viel redet muss wenig tun”, which roughly translates to “Who talks a lot has little to do”.
    As long as Netanjahu and his cronies continue their policy of stalling and undermining any peace plans whatsoever, no one will really be able to stop them. All they have to do is keep the peace talks at near-starvation levels, meaning that they’re still going on, but at a level at which they might as well kill them off and be done with it. Better be honest about it rather than continuing this farce.

    The peace talks will probably come to fruition once the last square foot of Palestinian land has been bulldozed and a new, state funded settlement has been built on it. Because then there’s nothing to really talk about anymore. Israel’s warhawks won’t be able to/won’t be willing to call their radical settlers back and will at the same time protect their citizens.
    For the Palestinians it would be a Pyrrhic victory: Peace, but with no land on which to live peacefully.

  2. JWalters
    November 9, 2014 at 20:55

    This is a welcome article. The fraud of Israeli intentions goes back to the establishment of Israel by war profiteering banksters using religious supremacists as boots on the ground.

  3. Duglarri
    November 8, 2014 at 13:54

    As the facade of the peace process falls away, the outline of the actual “plan” on the part of the Zionists has to be faced. What comes after annexation?

    What comes after is a completely unsustainable Israeli domination of a population of trapped Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, prisoners without rights or a means to make a living, but more importantly, constituting a long-term threat to the peace and security of Israelis.

    Critics of the Israeli right have often argued that they will have to see sense eventually, as the impossibility of permanent rule over an Arab majority would some day penetrate either the foot-thick skulls of the right. But this is to assume that there is no plan. There is a plan, and the plan is called “transfer”; the effective plan is becoming more clear all the time; it is genocide. The Palestinians can either leave or die; and as they can’t leave, it will be the latter.

    And that’s the plan.

  4. Abe
    November 7, 2014 at 23:31

    Critics Slam US Military’s ‘Disturbing’ Praise for Israel’s Gaza Offensive

    • William
      November 8, 2014 at 19:21

      A fine article by Lawrence Davidson but at least two decades late. Israel’s animosity — hatred — and plans to prevent any Palestinian state has been open to anyone who can read. This was seldom if ever printed in the U.S. media because to do so was politically incorrect. Despite all the evidence the U.S. continued to cling to wishful thinking as official policy. But facts are facts: the specious emperor is starkers, i.e., buck naked.
      There will NEVER be peace in the Middle East as long as the U.S. is represented by cowards.

Comments are closed.