Online Journal
Front Page 
 Special Reports
 News Media
 Elections & Voting
 Social Security
 Editors' Blog
 Reclaiming America
 The Splendid Failure of Occupation
 The Lighter Side
 The Mailbag
 Online Journal Stores
 Official Merchandise
 Progressive Press
 Barnes and Noble
 Join Mailing List

Commentary Last Updated: Oct 24th, 2007 - 01:24:08

Is it a peace process or dangling of a carrot?
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 24, 2007, 01:22

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

How can an unpopular US president who will be out of office in just over a year orchestrate Middle East peace? And especially when the Palestinian nation is both physically and ideologically divided, and the Israeli leader under investigation for corruption inspires little other than scorn?

Certainly, the main players are dutifully going through the motions. And at the end of next month there will be a major powwow in Maryland, which few seriously believe will produce anything at all other than a flimsy statement of intent.

Some might say that's better than nothing but as long as Israel keeps expanding its colonies and Hamas refuses to either recognise Israel or the outcome of the conference, it won't be worth anything.

So what's this all about? There are some who believe it's nothing more than a sham to enhance George W. Bush's legacy, shredded by the Iraq war. Others suggest it's a way to boost the standing of Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas with their respective publics. Maybe so, but in light of the way the so-called Roadmap popped up just before the invasion of Iraq and disappeared just as suddenly, there may be something far more sinister at play.

Apart from Abbas, who is certainly genuine in his wish to hasten a two-state solution, there are no peacemakers involved. Lest we forget it was Olmert who launched a full-scale war against Lebanon, planned in Washington months before Hezbollah crossed the border to abduct Israeli soldiers. More recently, Israeli planes invaded Syria's airspace to bomb what Damascus calls an agricultural research centre.

Moreover, the Israeli military has just seized 270 hectares of Palestinian land to build a road that would force Palestinian traffic east of a wall around the large Jewish colony of Maale Adumim, thus cutting off the West Bank from East Jerusalem. These are not the actions of a country seriously courting a peace treaty.

As for the Bush administration, its officials are talking peace out of one side of their mouths and what sounds like war out of the other. While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is shuttling to and fro in an attempt to persuade Arab leaders to jump on her new peace wagon, her colleagues have vetoed bilateral negotiations between Israel and Syria, are discouraging rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas, and are continually threatening Iran.

On Sunday, US Vice President Dick Cheney warned that "the US and other nations are prepared to take action" to halt the Iranian nuclear programme, while accusing Iran of "delay and deception." This came on the heels of Bush's warning that a nuclear-armed Iran could trigger a Third World War.

Even the Quartet's new peacemaker, Tony Blair, has got into the act. Recently, he told a prestigious audience in New York -- which included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and right-wing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch -- that radical Islam could be compared to Nazi Germany with Iran as its poster country. And for that, he received four standing ovations. Even more worrying, he is being backed by France's neoconservative leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, to stand as Europe's first permanent president.

In all honesty, the US and Israel are not behaving as though they are committed to a peaceful region.

If that were the case, they would actively seek Palestinian unity and quit their policy of allowing Gaza, an isolated prison camp, to fester.

Secondly, Israel would make every effort to woo Lebanon by heeding the UN's call to negotiate on returning the Shebaa Farms area; and likewise it would open talks with Syria on the Golan Heights.

Lastly, we have to wonder why the US and Israel have studiously ignored the Arab Peace Initiative, which has been on the table since it was first proposed by Saudi Arabia and agreed upon by all 22 Arab League members in 2002. This offers normalisation of relations between the Arab world and Israel in exchange for Israel's pullback behind its 1967 borders and a just solution for Palestinian refugees. It's worth noting, too, that the Saudi official news agency reported that Iran also backed the plan.

Arab initiative

On the face of it, the Arab initiative would result in a win-win situation for Israel. Instead, in return for its agreement to abide by UN resolutions, it could enjoy real security for the first time.

A comprehensive peace plan would also bring prosperity to Israel and to the entire region.

But that would be too easy, wouldn't it? Instead, the US and Israel would prefer to engage in half-hearted symbolic measures such as the proposed Maryland conference, which has little hope of achieving anything except photo ops and vague promises.

Call me a cynic, but this new US gesture is somehow linked to its intentions towards Iran, just as the Roadmap was a precursor to the invasion of Iraq. I hope for the sake of Palestinians and all of us who live in the neighbourhood that this time I'm wrong.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
More muck on Maher
Is it a peace process or dangling of a carrot?
U.N. challenges U.S. on illegal air strikes in Iraq
Onward, Christian Soldiers!
Stop calling me a "doomer"
Does Larry Sabato really want a constitutional convention?
On propaganda and Islamophobia
With Bush at the helm, another war is inevitable
Gitmo at home: Domestic violence courts in America
'Far more insidious' than fascism: Recalling E.M. Forster's warning
War of the words: The Holocaust
I am �that big of a lunatic,� Bill Maher
Academic freedom at risk on campus
Celebrating American tears: Responding to Naomi Wolf's recent missive
US applies a double standard to Turkey
The Iraqi Genocide
The ugly face of bigotry
In the Kingdom of Fear
U.S. too often follows Israel's lead in diplomatic situations
Of missiles, antimissiles and human targets