The political peddlers, think-tank experts and media professionals are all back in full force. They want us to believe that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has done what others have failed to do. On his sixth trip to the Middle East during his post, and following intense shuttle diplomacy likened to that of Henry Kissinger, Kerry managed to create a modest common space between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority (PA), thus securing their agreement to resume the so-called peace process.
The media is focusing a great deal on how the ‘breakthrough’ happened, not on why or whether or not it was really a ‘breakthrough’ in the first place. It is typical in these ‘breaking news’ dramas that the media inundates itself with excessive superfluous details, while paying little heed to the underlying logic behind the entire story.
For now, we know this: Kerry announced from Amman on July 19 that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators had put the groundwork in place to resume frozen peace talks. They have been frozen since 2010 because Israel refuses to stop illegal settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to continue slicing up the West Bank, fully control and isolate occupied East Jerusalem, build illegal settlements, erect walls and cut down trees, while wining and dining in some fancy Washington retreat, talking about peace and such.
A stick in Netanyahu’s beehive
Israel is in desperate need to remold its scruffy image which has resulted from too many bombs, damming evidence of war crimes, and arrogant speeches made by numerous politicians.Ramzy Baroud
The answer is not simple and cannot be readily expressed through catch phrases and sound bites, although, some commentators are doing just that. Speaking on Israeli public radio, Chico Menashe, said the return to negotiations is like “a half-baked cake Kerry removed from the stove. Kerry convinced the Israelis and Palestinians it was edible, and both sides agreed to eat it.” Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, was quoted in the Jerusalem Post saying, both parties “basically agreed to disagree, and to talk about that.”
And so the commentary teeters between cautious optimism, high hopes, cynicism and creative metaphors. In the final analysis, few truly understand this latest jumpstart of the ‘peace process’, the political risks it entails, and why the show is likely to go on for a while longer. Predictably, it will come to an abrupt ending followed by a protracted blame game. Knowing how mainstream western media operates, Palestinians will likely be the party responsible for the failure of the talks that are yet to start.
But here are some interesting points that must be considered firstly concerning the Americans. The Middle East region is in a constant influx, between revolutions, counter revolutions and war. Neither the U.S., nor its traditional allies are able to sway the outcomes in their favor. Neither money, nor arms, nor any political grand scheme is achieving much.
Since the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2010, the U.S. has suffered many blows. Its status as the uncontended superpower is in shambles, and its allies have been caught in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. Despite attempts at meddling, enticing some parties with money, and inciting violence against others, there are no tangible outcomes that promise to take the region back to an era of ‘political stability’, as in the same old status quo, that of political stagnation under US stewardship.