January 8, 2007

The Politico-Religious Israeli-Palestinian Conflict/(PART II)

 by Rodrigue Tremblay

 

"I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy [in the Middle East] not approved by the Jews.... I am very much concerned over the fact that the Jewish influence here is completely dominating the scene and making it almost impossible to get Congress to do anything they don't approve of. The Israeli embassy is practically dictating to the Congress through influential Jewish people in the country."

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, February 1957

 

"...the American leadership is presently shaped by dangerous right wing Southern extremists, who seek to use Israel as an offensive tool to destabilize the whole Middle East area."

Alain Joxe (CIRPES)

 

"I cannot imagine a Presidential candidate saying, 'I'm going to take a balanced position toward the Israelis and the Palestinians', and getting reelected....It's inconceivable. —AIPAC is smart enough to penetrate any sort of circumlocutions."

Former President Jimmy Carter

 

 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political-religious conflict that has lasted for nearly 90 years, that is to say since the British minority government of Lloyd George, in its 1917 Balfour declaration, decided to open the ancient Ottoman province of Palestine to Jewish settlement. It is a conflict that pits three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) against each other and which involves the political and economic interests of Jewish zionists, Arab fundamentalists and Western Christian politicians.

 

Presently, there is a lot of pessimism regarding the possibility of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and little hope that it will ever be settled in a civilized way, even though polls indicate that the populations of Israel and of Palestine would like to put an end to their more than half-century long war of attrition and would be ready to accept a settlement that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Nevertheless, the politicians on either side and those who reign in Washington D.C. seem to have little inclination to find a solution to this conflict.

 

The last serious and nearly successful attempt to resolve the conflict, and to put an end the Israeli occupation of Palestine that began in 1967, goes back to the Oslo Accords  of 1993. As for the so-called present day "peace process," it is close to being completely comatose. Indeed, the peace process in Palestine has been pretty much stalled since the collapse of the Oslo Accords, notwithstanding the efforts made by the so-called diplomatic Quartet, which is comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. Indeed, before the onset of the 2003 Iraq War, it was thought that a roadmap for a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be followed with some hope of success. The U.N. Security Council even adopted Resolution 1515, which put its stamp on the quartet roadmap for peace between Palestinians and Israel. The resolution would have legalized a permanent agreement between Israel and Palestine. —But this also failed.

 

The world is therefore entitled to know why this conflict, which has been active since the 1967 war, is never resolved.

 

There is a lot of blame to be laid down on both sides of this conflict, but two main reasons stand out as explanations for the stalemate.

 

First religion.

 

The first reason why there is so much intransigence on both sides, and why moderate voices have so much trouble being heard, is because the conflict has religious overtones. In the past, when responsible and pragmatic political leaders, such as the Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin or the Egyptian President Anouar Sadate, attempted to resolve this rotten political-religious conflict, they both were assassinated by religious fanatics; President Sadate in October 1981, and Prime Minister Rabin in September 1993.

 

On the Israeli side, ultra-nationalist religious and political leaders reject out of hand any compromise with the Palestinians because they have a mystical reading of history. They believe, for example, that the Israeli military victory during the Six-day War of June 5- 10, 1967, was of divine origin. Right-wing rabbis and their political allies are the most intransigent voices against any political settlement of this old conflict, going so far as to forbid Israeli students (through a December 2006 Halakhic decree, for example) from using schoolbooks that feature the pre-1967 Israeli borders. They go back to biblical times, thousands of years ago, to find self-serving passages in the Bible (Genesis, chap. 15 or Deuteronomy, chap. 43) which mention that a Jewish tribe lived in certain areas, and that such areas must be part of contemporary Israel, no matter who has owned and occupied these territories for hundreds of years.

 

On the Palestinian side, suspicion, fanaticism and intolerance are no less rampant. While some Palestinian organizations accept the right of Israel to exist and are open to a permanent agreement guaranteeing the political coexistence of Palestine with Israel, (the Fatah, for example, which is the movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas), other radical and Islamic militant organizations or parties, such as the Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), presently the majority party, denounce Israel's right to exist and vow to never accept any settlement that encompasses any mutual recognition. The opponents to any political settlement with Israel go back to the time of Mohammed, in 7th century Arabia, to find historical-religious precedents when accords were signed between tribes, with the clear intention of not respecting them and using violence instead to attain their objectives.

 

The second reason behind the stalemate is related to politics outside the region, especially to domestic politics in the United States.

 

Since it is obvious that the two conflicting parties harbor too much rancor and hostility towards each other to reach a compromise on their own, a realistic solution has to be the result of some outside arbitration. But the only credible conflict resolution mechanism that the world has at present is the United Nations. And that is where domestic American politics weighs in. The country that has the most influence within the 15-member U.N. Security Council is the United States. Over the years, however, the American government has used its veto power dozens of times to prevent the U.N. from imposing sanctions on the belligerents, thus de facto paralyzing the United Nations.

 

Why is this so? It is essentially because very rich Zionist political contributors have an undue influence on both major American political parties, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, when it comes to American foreign policy in the Middle East. Therefore, no matter who occupies the White House, this powerful Lobby is always in a position to call the shots at the U.N., because the American government of the day follows its general orientation in its approaches to the Middle East.

 

The Bush-Cheney administration has pushed this servility to a higher level than any other previous administration. It has thus contributed more than any other to discrediting the United Nations and prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, under Bush II, American foreign policy in the Middle East has been close to being Israel's foreign policy. It is a dual foreign policy, which is designed by the same neocon advisors. In gratitude, a group in Israel is building a center named after George W. Bush. —And, the same political forces are presently pushing for a U.S.-led war against Iran. Nobody should bet against them succeeding.

 

In conclusion, even though some may quarrel with details, the two main factors preventing a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are political-religious extremism in Israel and in Palestine, and the bias in American politics in favor of one side in the conflict. As long as politico-religious fanatics on both sides, within Israel and within Palestine, are in control, and as long as the formal and informal pro-Israel Lobby in the United States is behind American foreign policy in the Middle East, there will not be a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the world will pay a price for it.

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Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at  rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

Also visit his blog site at www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.

Author's Website:  www.thenewamericanempire.com

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Posted, January 8, 2007, at 5:30 am

 

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