Culture, Israel

Did everyone miss that negotiations are back on the table?

Discussion about returning to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations always feels something like this:
Rar ar ar ar, the Palestinians are intransigent.
Rar ar ar ar, the Israelis see no need to negotiate.
Rar ar ar ar, the Arab world / Bush Administration doesn’t give a shit, they’re happier with the status quo.
But they’re meeting. This month!
The conference in Annapolis, MD, is to produce an agreement between all parties regarding the schedule of official negotiations and an agenda of topics to be broached (settlements, right of return, etc.). I think in my own circles of progressive Israel activists, we’re actually surprised the Annapolis conference is a reality. We regularly demand via action alerts, phone calls and visits to our reps that this exact thing is what we want. And we do it frequently. (Not as much as conservative pundits, mind you, but enough to make our point heard out there.) But man, who thought it would work??
If you’re in New York and want to get the scoop on the Annapolis conference, the fate of settlements, etc. then Akiva Eldar is speaking for Brit Tzedek v’Shalom this Thursday, November 8, 7pm-9pm at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th St. (between Broadway and West End Ave.). Akiva Eldar is the chief political columnist and editorial writer for the Israeli national daily Ha’aretz and coauthor with Professor Idith Zertal of the highly acclaimed book Lords of the Land. We will have a riveting presentation along with time for questions and comments. There will be copies of Lords of the Land available for purchase and signing.

8 thoughts on “Did everyone miss that negotiations are back on the table?

  1. Let’s hope that the conference is able to accomplish something, and that Olmert isn’t too crippled by threats from his own coalition.

  2. No one here has too much hope in this conference and it’s practical outcome. To really obtain something we would need the consent of the arab population and not the egotism of Ulmert, the other-worldliness of Rice and the political fragility of Abu Mazen.

  3. >>“We regularly demand via action alerts, phone calls and visits to our reps that this exact thing is what we want. And we do it frequently. (Not as much as conservative pundits, mind you, but enough to make our point heard out there.) But man, who thought it would work??”
    It strikes me as a little….almost imperialist, to “demand” that your own government interject itself directly into the security and political processes of a foreign (and much weaker) state in order to influence or determine that state’s policy to your personal liking.
    This time though it’s a little absurd to imagine that leftist Americans’ “action demands” precipitated anything having to do with Annapolis. This is clearly Sec. Rice’s initiative, she’s jumped into it head first and she will frankly be lucky if she can walk away from it without suffering a major embarrassment.
    She has reformulated the logic, timing and goals of this ‘non-meeting meeting non-summit summit’ so many times that you can’t escape the impression that she’d just like it to be over with already. It’s as likely as anything that Annapolis is Rice’s way of trying to buy off Arab political support for the Iraqi government and the US mission there. Whatever the underlying motives behind her push she’s clearly not talking about it in public.

  4. More or less imperialist than propping Israel up with weapons sales and billions in loan guarantees? Face it, we’re imperalist whether we act or whether we withhold action.
    And I meant not to take all the credit myself for my little action alerts, but the growing rift in the American Jewish community about how to best support Israel is totally the result of normal folks like me being a bit of a pain in the ass and breaking from convention. And the rift is allowing politicians more wiggle room to do this kind of thing.
    It is important that everyone not let this turn into an embarrassment — if we could rewind time to summer 2006 before the Second Lebanon War, we all wish we could have done things differently. This shouldn’t be zero for two, is what I’m saying.

  5. Kung Fu,
    You’re asking your own government to impose upon a weaker foreign government a “settlement” that most of that government’s people clearly don’t want. Please, how much more imperialist can things really get?
    Olmert is one of the most unpopular leaders of a democratic country since approval polls were invented. (Apparently his recent prostate cancer more than doubled his “approval” rating to….11%)
    It’s simply disingenuous to speak of “supporting” Israel by forcing it to do things that its own people are unwilling to do. Would you ask your own government to impose a similar “settlement” upon the Palestinians or any other group of people in the world who were in the midst of a dispute over strategic and historical territory? Isn’t it patronizing and offensive…to say the least?
    Aside from alleviating personal guilt feelings, what lasting benefit could such an imposition bring?

  6. Eric, how can you say Israelis don’t want negotiations? The past few years of polls supporting negotiations are the highest they’ve been since the fall of Camp David — 70% – 80% consistent.
    If Olmert can produce a commitment from Palestinians to negotiate, we can discuss his approval ratings again at that time. The man half-lost a war in Lebanon and is under corruption investigation, so let’s not confuse that with the support for an end to the quagmire.

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