A just and peaceful solution to the protracted
Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible when the US ceases to block every
attempt made towards it.
This assertion might raise many questions, for example, just
how is one to define a just and peaceful resolution? And for what reasons would
the US obstruct such a possibility, considering that stability in the Middle
East is, or at least should be a top American priority?
A just and peaceful resolution is difficult to define,
considering that the conception of justice varies both in definition and
interpretation. In the case of this conflict, the long held assumption is that
a just resolution is one that would be consistent with international and
humanitarian laws, and which would enjoy the largest possible consensus
A consensus is indeed at hand and has been for decades; it
is one that recognizes the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian
territories as illegal and immoral, that unconditionally acknowledges the
illegality of all Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine and the illegal
transfer of Israeli settlers to inhabit unlawfully acquired Palestinian land.
Strangely enough, despite its very cautious phraseology, the US, especially
under the current administration of President Barack Obama recognizes these
very facts. But then why is the man who leads the world�s only superpower
proving not only incapable of achieving what should be a practicable feat, but
also going so far as to hinder the efforts of other parties to simply recognize
Palestinian rights or pinpoint Israeli injustices?
This is precisely what has just taken place, a repeat of the
same infuriating episode for the thousandth time.
A recent proposal presented by Sweden -- the current holder
of the rotating European Union presidency -- called on EU members to recognize
an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The proposal
was watered down to a mere communiqu�, issued by EU foreign ministers on
December 8, which calls for the division of Jerusalem to serve as �the future
capital of the two states.� Naturally, Israel, as the occupying power rejected
the statement. But so did the United States. �We are aware of the EU statement,
but our position on Jerusalem is clear. We believe that is a final-status
issue,� declared Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley.
He further declared that �this is best addressed inside a formal negotiation
among the parties directly.�
Crowley, like all of his bosses, Obama included, knows well
that Israel is neither keen on �direct� nor indirect negotiations, and is
deliberately prejudicing any possible just solution with its continuing
colonization of occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Israel�s
right-wing extremist government is not bashful about its true intentions, and
the smart and savvy Obama is not ignorant of the prospects of a �direct�
negotiation between those with the bulldozers, the tanks and big guns (based in
Tel Aviv) and those with dismal press releases (based in Ramallah). But it�s
not just the rare initiatives of the EU that are being summarily dismissed by
All initiatives, whether by individual states or regional
groups, for example by the Arab League, or through international forums such as
the United Nations are rejected, derided and at times suspected of
This is a continuation of a terrible legacy that goes back
decades. The reason such a redundant policy is being highlighted now -- as it
should be -- is because Obama promised change and pledged to lead a new
decisive course, led by a gentler, kinder and more sensible America. In the
Middle East, this is hardly being realized.
Why? Shouldn�t the US, in desperately trying to maintain its
role as a world leader, and to preserve its economic and strategic interests in
the Middle East, embark on the frequently promised new course -- not for the
sake of Palestine and the Arabs, but its own?
Israeli newspaper Haaretz suggests an answer, one that many
of us have already recognized long prior to Obama�s presidency, or even his
involvement in politics altogether. �In the case of Obama�s government in
particular, every criticism against Israel made by a potential government appointee
has become a catalyst for debate about whether appointing �another leftist�
offers proof that Obama does not truly support Israel,� wrote Natasha Mozgovaya
on December 4.
Haaretz highlighted several cases in point, amongst them the
intense war lead by the pro-Israel lobby in Washington against Chas Freeman, a
widely respected US official nominated by the Obama administration months ago
to chair the National Intelligence Council. He dared voice guarded critique of
US foreign policy in the Middle East and became a victim of the worst possible
vilification campaign, forcing him to concede the nomination.
Other examples include Robert Malley, a daring American
political adviser who wished to believe that his country�s national interests
took priority over Israel�s. He was let go even before the Obama presidency
More, a �controversy� is currently �raging� -- as in, the
Israeli lobby is not happy -- over the appointment of former Republican Senator
Chuck Hagel as an intelligence aide. According to Haaretz, �Republican Jews
have . . . protested Hagel�s appointment, citing an incident in 2004 when Hagel
refused to sign a letter calling on then-president George Bush to speak about
Iran�s nuclear program at the G8 summit that year.�
Stephen M. Walt, a Harvard University professor and
co-author of the widely-read The Israel
Lobby and US Foreign Policy, recently wrote that �groups in the lobby
target public servants like Freeman, Hagel . . . because they want to make sure
that no one with even a mildly independent view on Middle East affairs gets
appointed. By making an example of them, they seek to discourage
independent-minded people from expressing their views openly, lest doing so
derail their own career prospects later on.�
Luckily, neither Walt nor numerous other independent-minded
Americans like him are afraid to speak their mind, to safeguard the
independence and integrity of their country. This should always be the case.
For the time being, don�t be surprised when you hear that
the US continues to block the path for peace in the Middle East. At least now
you know why.
Ramzy Baroud is an author of
several books and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. He is an
internationally-syndicated columnist. His latest book is �My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza�s Untold Story� (Pluto Press, London), available at