The ICG Rethinking the “Peace Process”

by Shoshana Bryen, American Thinker
June 3, 2012

The International Crisis Group defines itself as an “independent, non-partisan, [sic] source of analysis … on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict.”  While presidents and secretaries of state have relied it upon for analysis in places as disparate as Sudan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Burundi, it proves to be one-sided and ahistorical in its recent review of the Israel-Palestinian “peace process.”  Noting that the world is currently preoccupied elsewhere, the ICG suggests that that might be a good thing:

    Not to discard the two-state solution, for no other option can possibly attract mutual assent; nor to give up on negotiations, for no outcome will be imposed from outside. But to incorporate new issues and constituencies; rethink Palestinian strategy to alter the balance of power; and put in place a more effective international architecture. (All citations here.)

In a mere 54 words the ICG makes clear that it is uninterested in legitimacy for the State of Israel, denied by the Arab world since 1948, and doesn’t worry about how to secure Israel from the designs of those who, having started wars and launched terror against it from before its birth, still plot Israel’s extermination.  It appears not even to notice irreconcilable Israeli and Palestinian political positions.  The ICG wants:

  • a “two state” solution;
  • “[n]ew issues and constituencies”;
  • a new Palestinian strategy to “change the “balance of power”; and
  • a more effective “international architecture.”

Each requires measure.

There are currently three states (one real, two functional) between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.  There cannot be a “two state” solution unless one disappears.  The IGC takes the conventional position of one Palestinian State and one State of Israel, disregarding the well-known-by-others inability of Hamas and Fatah to cohabitate without bloodshed.

This ICG position engenders two questions: will Palestinian nationalism — either the Hamas or the Fatah variety — be content with a split, rump state wedged between a hostile Israel and an even more hostile Jordan?  What part of the Palestinian program yet expounded agrees that between the two slivers that are supposed to fulfill Palestinian nationalist desires, a Western, democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious-but-Jewish country called Israel will ever be acceptable?

Both Palestinians and Israelis have been quite clear about their essential requirements, which they lay bare in six points (three on each side).

Israel’s basic requirements are:

  • recognition of the Jewish state of Israel as a permanent, legitimate part of the region;
  • “[s]ecure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” the promise of U.N. Resolution 242; and
  • the capital of Israel in Jerusalem, with Israeli control of Jewish holy sites.  Israel’s experience from 1948-1967 makes it impossible to trust the U.N. or an Arab State with protecting Jewish patrimony.

All of these require the participation of the Arab States as well as of the Palestinians; none precludes a Palestinian state.

For the Palestinians, the essential requirements are:

  • international recognition of an independent Palestinian state without accepting a Jewish state of Israel;
  • Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine; and
  • the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to live in Israel if they choose.

Each Palestinian point is a rejection of the legitimacy of Israel.  For the ICG — and the Quartet and the U.N. — to toddle merrily along without noticing or caring is willfully naïve.

New issues and constituencies” means to introduce the 1949 Armistice Lines and Hamas to the discussion, as well as Israeli Arabs as a separate entity.

At the core of the Oslo process was the notion that a peace agreement would need to deal with issues emanating from the 1967 War … as opposed to that arose in 1948 from the establishment of Israel, the trauma of the accompanying war and the displacement of the vast majority of Palestinians. But if that logic was ever persuasive, it no longer is.

The “core” of Oslo ensured that the legitimacy of the origins of the State of Israel — through a U.N.-sponsored process that midwifed the majority of U.N. member-states — would not be subject to debate.  It was a minimal Israeli condition for inviting the Palestinians to finally accept the state the world had prepared for them in 1947 and expected them to declare in 1948.  The ICG would thus eliminate the single protection for Israeli legitimacy in the discussion.

The statement on refugees requires deconstruction: first, the “vast majority of Palestinians” did not leave the space that became Israel, which is why Arabs constitute almost 20% of the citizens of Israel today.  Second, the intergenerational imprisonment of Palestinians in camps by UNRWA and the Arab States is a shame on the U.N. and the Arab States and should be dealt with by them — it is no reason to reopen the issue of Israel’s pre-’67 borders1.  And finally, the vast majority of those who left are no longer with us.  Because their jailors rewrote international norms for refugee status (refugees cannot be resettled and refugee status passes down through the generations), a fourth and fifth generation of Arab people has never known the rights or benefits of citizenship.  That is a terrible shame, but again, a shame of their oppressors.  Not of Israel2.

The right of return and the Nakba (the “catastrophe” that befell Palestinians in 1948); the place of the Arab minority in Israel; and, more broadly, the Palestinian connection to Historic Palestine have become more prominent.

The Palestinian “connection to Historic Palestine” includes the entirety of the Kingdom of Jordan.  Is there an ICG proposal to subject the creation of Jordan to post hoc review?  To adopt the words “right of return” and “nakba” without quotation marks is to adopt the legitimacy of both.  The so-called “right of return” does not exist in international law and has not been applied, for example, to Pakistanis who regret the fact that their great-grandparents left India at Independence.  “Nakba” raises the question: what was the catastrophe?  Was it the independence of Israel?  The failure of seven Arab states to murder it at birth?  The failure of the Arabs to declare an independent Arab state as Israel’s neighbor, producing the multi-generational refugee problem?

The ICG primly instructs the Palestinians on the balance of power:

Rather than ad-hoc, shifting tactical moves, the entire Palestinian national movement needs to think seriously through its various options — including reconciliation, internationalisation, popular resistance and fate of the PA — and decide whether it is prepared to pay the costs for pursuing them fully.

The ICG appears not to have noticed that the “entire Palestinian national movement” currently finds itself unable to have any discussion at all.  The so-called “unity government” agreed upon by Hamas and Fatah last December — that supposedly ended the brutal Palestinian civil war of 2007 — has failed.  The election promised to the residents of the West Bank and Gaza in May by Palestinian leadership has been canceled; Mahmoud Abbas’s term of office expired in December 2009.  The Palestinian Authority has been jailing West Bankers who criticize Abbas and the PA (see Abu Rihan and his Facebook page), and Hamas has hanged Palestinians it calls “collaborators.”

For a “new international architecture,” the ICG — rightly — downplays the possibility that the Quartet will produce progress but suggests that Washington will continue to engage in the “peace process” to “help manage its relations with the Arab world and to compensate for close ties to Israel.”

Most parties in Washington for most of Israel’s life haven’t found it necessary to “compensate” for excellent relations with a democratic, pro-Western ally that shares not only Washington’s general threat assessment (through the Cold War to Islamic terrorism to Iranian nuclear progress), but also its values: rule of law, equal rights including women’s rights, tolerance, and entrepreneurial capitalism.  If Washington ever finds itself apologizing for its relations with Israel, it will be a Washington that is having trouble with its own values and standards.

Oddly enough, although the ICG warns its readers “not to discard the two-state solution … nor to give up on negotiations,” and though it rejects the notion that “the process itself has run the course,” it finds precisely that conclusion:

Continued meetings and even partial agreements … are possible[.] … But (they) will not bring about a durable and lasting peace. The first step in breaking what has become an injurious addiction to a futile process is to recognize that it is so — to acknowledge, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes.

Nor does the ICG.

1The one country of the Levant (Lebanon, Israel, Syria, plus Egypt proper — not Gaza, and Jordan proper — not the West Bank) that never had Palestinians in refugee camps is Israel.  All the others had and still have imprisoned populations.

2Note too that the ICG counts only Arab refugees — skipping over the 750,000+ Jews who were expelled from Arab countries, many of whom found refuge and citizenship in Israel, and none of whom were permanently confined to camps

June 6, 2012 | 6 Comments »

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  1. The West has created (purposefully) and perpetuated a problem that requires the elimination of one of the two parties since the Palestinians do not accept Israel.
    Therefore in facing the intransigence of the Arab side (the Pal represent whether we like it or not a 2012 version of the Arabs NO,NO and NO (triple NO).
    How long will it take for Israel to realize that there is ONLY one solution. The world does not need 3 Pal entities. Jordan is enough.
    The evacuation of J & S will lead to another Gaza-like situation on the internal flank of Israel.
    The world allows only the Arabs to take unilateral actions. It is time for Israel to make her move to solidify Israel and the right of the Jews.

  2. All of the “peace” narratives suggest giving land for recognition or legitimacy. Who cares or needs recognition or legitimacy from jew killers. Its like the former death camp inmates begging the nazis for recognition. apparently only the “smart” jews are so smart that they want to repeatedly give something for nothing. Apparently these great negotiators of historical renown want to give away something for nothing even when the receiver shows disinterest. The arabs appear to be the real negotiators because every time they refuse something for nothing the “smart” jews offer them more. My mind boggles at the extent of Jewish foolishness. Can anyone explain: The UN is obligated through its charter to the league of nations Palestine mandatory trust. The mandate states to encourage Jews to settle west of the Jordan River to reconstitute the Jewish homeland. This right is to all jews world wide. Why are there no Jewish or Israeli govts, NGO’s focusing on prosecuting this right in both international and Israeli fora? Right now there is a jewsih lawyer, Dershowitz, advocating a settlement freeze in direct contradiction of that legal obligation. As far as I know there is nothing that rescinds that right and that right is not dependent on a govt of Israel. There are many jewish NGO’s facilitating the rights of the “palestinians” but where is jewish support for jewish legal rights? Unless this discussion is resolved I cannot see a basis for any other discussion. Either Jews still have that right or they don’t.

  3. BB and Barak are preparing the ground for a Unilateral Evacuation of most of Y&S. I am convinced that this is their end game.

    Institute for National Security Studies annual conference in Tel Aviv,

    Conference Summary, Part 1

    Panel on the Palestinian Issue
    INSS Director Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin endorsed the idea of unilateralism in the current political reality, explaining that the concept should return to the center of Israel’s public debate, while taking heed of past lessons.
    “We will learn the lessons of 2005, with the big mistake of leaving the Gaza-Egypt border open,” Yadlin said. “We will stay in the Jordan River Valley, both to stop [arms smuggling] and to keep cards in our hands. If the Palestinians don’t want to reach an end of conflict, which means recognizing Zionism and solving the issue of refugees, we will hold on to our cards for when we reach an agreement with the Palestinians.”

    As Maj. Gen.(ret.) Yadlin summarized, “We will create two states, which [previous conference speakers] the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, and[former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy agree with. Let’s go forward without depending on the Palestinians.” The idea was not universally applauded by other speakers on the panel.

    Dr. Robert Danin, a former senior official with the Middle East Quartet, voiced hope that negotiations could yet bear

    Mr. Ziad AbuZayyad, co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal said that Israeli unilateralism would only strengthen rejectionist Palestinian factions.

    Mr. Dov Weissglass, who was a senior advisor to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said even a unilateral action would
    prove impossible. The internal Israel political scene would never permit it, Mr. Weissglass said, because of the influence exerted over the Likud Party by a unified, active settler-based faction.

  4. NormanF nails the issue on it’s head. That’s why it is now time (really has been since inception) to unilaterally declare that Israel considers Jordan the Palestinian state (which of course it is as the vast the majority of the Arabs there identify as “Palestinian”) annex Judea and Samaria and be done with it. Any Arab who does like that or misbehaves, will be sent home across the river. Peace at least! Or at least peace as it can only exist in the Middle East between Jews and Arabs so long as Israel maintains it’s military strength. It’s the simplest, the most honest and the ONLY solution.

  5. Why are countries so concerned with the national rights of the three-million-people Palestinian no-nation? The West doesn’t support independence for hundreds of liberation movements worldwide, including many that clearly involve historically, linguistically, and genetically distinguishable nations? The world demands that we cede the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and Judea. If there are Jewish territories on earth, those are the ones. It would be sort of like Russia abandoning the Kremlin, or America selling the White House. There is not a single instance in world history when an attacked country won the war, conquered the land of its enemy, and then relinquished it out of goodwill. Israel has been attacked half a dozen times in six decades; taking over the enemy’s land is a historically standard retribution. Is there any benefit for Israel in agreeing to the concessions? No, they are clearly suicidal. No state can possibly exist within eight-mile-wide borders, let alone a state besieged by three hundred million enemies.

    Muslims are prohibited from making peace with infidel states, let alone in ostensibly Muslim lands. Truce is the only sharia-sanctioned form of international relations. A truce is a legal springboard for jihad. Hamas offers simple conditions for a long-term truce: partition Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinian non-nation, let millions of descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees return to Israel, and unobstructed access to Israel for Palestinians. There is also an equivocal condition: the absolute rights of Palestinians to their land; a legal basis for the eventual takeover of Israel.

    The West is used to dealing with states. When a peace treaty is signed, that’s it—the war is over. Not so with Muslims.

    The two-state solution concept was meant originally “to end all wars,” Iran, however, won’t sign a peace treaty with Israel regardless of the peace with the Palestinian Arabs. Since offering them a state does not pacify Israel’s most implacable enemy, the two-state solution is objectively worthless.

    The West Bank Arabs oppose the two-state solution because it would inundate them with refugees returning from Lebanon and Syria. Brotherly feelings aside, the West Bankers would hate to see that criminalized, degraded mass return home. When Sharon tried to resettle some Gazans in the West Bank, local Arabs drove them out.

    Ben Gurion’s nightmare, the Little Triangle around Lod in the center of Israel, has become a refuge of illegal Arab immigrants, and police have long ceased operating there because it is too dangerous. Only a Jew with an urgent death-wish would enter an Israeli Arab town such as Umm al Fahm.

    Peace, changes nothing but only formalizes the facts established by war. After the Germans were utterly defeated, peace ensued regardless of whether a peace treaty had been signed. After Israel defeated Syria, there was peace even without a peace treaty. War changes facts, and peace is only the name for the resulting change. A peace treaty must establish a situation significantly better than war. It must not lay the foundation for another war. It must leave the victorious party in a good position to wage the next war should it break out. Israel-Arab peace settlements fail on all these counts.

    The two-state option solves nothing—unless the goal is to get rid of the Jewish state.

  6. The Palestinian Arabs reject Israel’s existence.

    That is why peace is impossible.

    Any talk of negotiations or some formula to bridge the chasm between them and Israel will go nowhere.