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Israel’s Bad-Faith Negotiating Position

Posted on May 7, 2009

By William Pfaff

Israel has always believed in “creating facts on the ground,” whose existence may later come as an unpleasant surprise to others. Iran now seems to have learned from this Israeli precedent, to Israel’s disadvantage.

In diplomatic circles, in Europe as well as the Arab states, there has been discussion of the possibility of Iran’s being designated a “civil nuclear power,” exercising its right, under the Nonproliferation Treaty (which it has signed), to develop power for civilian uses.

This is what Iran has persistently claimed to be all it wants. The proposal goes on to say that whatever military work Iran has done is already faits accomplis—“created facts,” that are useless to contest.

The proposal is that if the U.S. were to join Europe and the Sunni Arabs in a drive to push Israel—which has plenty of concealed nuclear “facts”—to join the nonproliferation pact, which it has always refused to do, and open up to inspectors, just as Iran has done, the Iran-Israel discussion could at least be switched onto a new track.

The foreign policy position of Israel under the Benjamin Netanyahu government remains officially unknown. It undoubtedly will not be clarified until the new Israeli prime minister visits the United States to meet President Barack Obama.


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The atmosphere is chilly, the unction of Shimon Peres during his American visit notwithstanding, because of the less-than-enthusiastic welcome the Obama administration gave the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee convention last week. Vice President Joe Biden attended, and Rahm Emanuel was the star of a fund-raising reception. But both stuck to the U.S. position that there must be a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not there, and has been rumored to be fighting on Israel’s side in a conflict with National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones, whose insistence on the two-state agreement is seen by the Israelis as a threat. They want to throw out all previous agreements with the Palestinians, the Quartet and the United States and start negotiations all over.

Israel has set two conditions for new talks, both conflicting with U.S. policy. The first is Iran’s effective nuclear disarmament, which is impossible because of those Iranian facts on the ground, and because the U.S. has set itself against military action.

The second demand is also made for propaganda purposes, and is of transparent bad faith. It is that Israel be “recognized as a Jewish state” by all its interlocutors. This is impossible because Israel refuses to describe which “Israel” is to be recognized. The 1948 state recognized by the U.N.? Israel within the 1967 armistice borders (long ago violated by colonies and annexation of Palestinian lands)? Or an Israel with frontiers yet to be defined—since annexation and colonization continue today?

This comes at a moment when Israel’s Jewish population actually is falling through emigration. Israel already is internationally recognized within its legal borders. Everyone knows that it is a Jewish state.

But the demand to recognize it as such is meant to exclude the Arab citizens of Israel, who were there long before there was an Israel. Netanyahu’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has already demanded that they be forced to take a loyalty oath (or be expelled).

The demand is also meant to foreclose Palestinian claims on illegally seized property in 1948 or after, and most important, to close off any Palestinian “right to return” (or recompense).

This position is not meant to be taken seriously. It is propaganda to impress foreign public opinion and Jews living in Europe and America: “You see, the Arabs won’t even recognize us as a Jewish state!”

The demand that the threat of Iran be eliminated before Israel negotiates on Palestine replays a well-worn record. The issue could still be considered live a year ago, when Israel sought American permission (and assistance) in an attack on Iran. That was rejected by President George W. Bush, probably to greater surprise in Jerusalem than in Washington, where the political class has no desire for still another war sure to involve the United States.

President Netanyahu will probably tell President Obama that he will be happy to negotiate but only on conditions that cannot be met, including total suppression of Hamas, denial of a sovereign Palestine state in full control of its territory, and without removing established Israeli colonies or Israeli air and water rights.

Since none of this can be taken seriously, the great question is what response Barack Obama will give. That will reveal to the world whether there will or will not be more war in the Middle East.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at

© 2009 Tribune Media Services Inc.

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By prosefights, May 8, 2009 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

No requested May 7, 2009 response from retired US nuclear weapons designer and former Air Force secretary Thomas C Reed.

“The Jerusalem Post on February 25-6, 2009 posted

Binyamin Netanyahu has just become prime minister of Israel. He is determined to take action before - not after - Iran achieves its nuclear potential. This creates a volatile, hair-trigger situation that could explode at any moment.

Events reported above point to increasing dangerous times.

Failure of Air Force officers Feehan, Taylor, Kubinec and, perhaps, General Grabeski to do their jobs is making matters worse.

If Brzezinski is guilty of genocide and avoids prosecution and punishment as a result of an inane government cover-up, this may not sit well with many people around the world.

Lawyer attempts to cover-up will not work for the reason others have done their investigations of these unfortunate matters and reached their conclusions.

Concurrence by all parties on what happened in these unfortunate matters is important to peaceful resolution, I believe.

Your educational background and experience as 11th secretary of the Air Force makes me ask that you advise us how to get the Air Force to do its job to help get these unfortunate matters peacefully settled.

I ask that you respond by May 7, 2009.”

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By Purple Girl, May 8, 2009 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

After 60 yrs of taking beatings and shit for isreal it’s time they reciprocate.They ahve done nothing to quell the violence their ‘Friends’ have endured, in fact they ahve intentionally racheted up the rhetoric or provocation by breaking agreements.
It’s time Isreal grow up and actually stand on it’s own as a soverign nation- Wanna be a Big boy, then take your own lumps when you instigate them.
Isreal hasn’t been a True independent nation, it’s been a blood sucking parasite to the very nations who have tried to support them.
Don’t get me wrong the psychotic obsession of some of the Muslim leaders have only solidified this one sided allegience. had they shut up, we may have exorcised Isreal dependency long ago.

Isreal has been that buddy you take out and buy drinks all night, only to find he’s picked a fight with 5 bikers, in a biker bar, and expects you to take them all on while he heads to the car.That’s no Friend, that’s a leach and an Asshole. Best way to fix that the next go around, no free drinks and walk out when he starts talking shit, and leave his ass.

As for those who live so safely here and expect US to be the protective brother of Isreal, I question their alliegnece to US. How many have Duel citizenships- is the number greater than all others? Worse yet are the number who are allowed to hold public office or have positions related to public service. This shit must end! Pick One,because that is what our Oath Requires.don’t like it move to Isreal and maintain your American citizenship there.Havng a Duel citizenship while being a Public Servant here is no different than operating as a Double Agent.You admit your Allegience is divided.
Isreal is a ‘Friend’ who needs some ‘tough love’ or to be cut loose.

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By Jaded Prole, May 8, 2009 at 4:06 am Link to this comment

The US hold the strings on its puppet state. Nothing short of nuclear disarmament and either an end to its Apartheid system making all Palestinians equal citizens, or a withdrawl to the 1967 borders is acceptable. It’s past time for an end to our support of this aggressive, racist, terrorist state.

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