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Disaster of Israel's making

By Sonja Karkar - posted Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Disaster of Israel's making
A peace effort in the Middle East has been 15 years in the undoing

The illegal settlement movement, supported by every Israeli administration to date, has burgeoned out of control and its right wing leaders are vehemently opposed to negotiating land for peace.

We will probably see the present Foreign Minister and Kadima party leader, Tzipi Livni - if she forms the next government and takes over from Ehud Olmert, now interim PM - use the same stalling tactics with the Palestinian Authority that have, up until now, allowed land grabs from the Palestinians for the Zionist dream of a greater Israel. After all, Livni was nurtured on that dream.

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Her main rival, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to allow expansion of the settlements if he wins expected early elections. A 15-year-old peace process is ominously poised for failure, not just politically but economically.

The 1993 Oslo Peace Accords were supposed to offer the Palestinians the political freedom and economic independence to which they have always been entitled. Since then, Palestinian society has been taken on a rollercoaster ride of promises, lies, provocations and chaos with not a single benefit to show for its painful concessions.

So much has been made of Oslo's promise of new beginnings, when in fact the real historic moment of peace occurred when Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat agreed to a two-state solution at the UN General Assembly in 1988, accepting on behalf of his people, Israel's “right to exist” on 78 per cent of the land stolen from them.

That was the hard-won chance for resolving the conflict that Israel should have grasped with both hands.

However, Israel was never going to let go of its dreams of taking all of the land and the Oslo Accords, and every renewed peace process since then, have simply paid lip-service to Palestinian aspirations, while Israel has pursued its own objectives in defiance of international law.

Powerful Israeli interests, and not Arafat's intransigence or Palestinian terrorism, have caused Oslo's failures. From the beginning, Israel and the World Bank violated the economic clauses of the Accords, which were supposedly designed to improve and stimulate recovery from the disastrous circumstances that had already been visited on the Palestinians by Israel's military assaults and occupation in the previous decades.

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As Harvard University political economist Sara Roy points out, “Decades of expropriation and deinstitutionalisation had long ago robbed Palestine of its potential for development, ensuring that no viable economic (and hence political structure) could emerge”. A viable Palestinian economy is essential for the functioning of an independent Palestinian state.

No sooner had control of Oslo's economic development programs shifted to the World Bank, than the basic infrastructure that was supposed to have been built was reported as “repairs” to infrastructure when none in fact existed, and the building of a casino in Jericho took precedence over essential ports, roads and canals. As Arutz Sheva Israel News reported recently, “the casino was one of the most corruption-laden aspects of the Oslo Accords”.

Those who were allegedly involved reads like a who's who of the Israeli political establishment: Olmert; former prime ministers Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon; minister Avigdor Lieberman; and Sharon's adviser Dov Weissglas in concert with Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff, who is now being investigated for allegedly giving millions of dollars in bribes to Lieberman and Sharon. Netanyahu could emerge as prime minister again if early elections are held.

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About the Author

Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine and one of the founders and co-conveners of Australians for Palestine in Melbourne.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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