Shock!!! Horror!! Yet another ‘breakthrough’ in the Middle East….
You will have to excuse the raging cynicism of this headline but as is said elsewhere promises of peace in the Middle East are a bit like the Will O’ the Wisp. It might also reasonably be said that this story is being pushed for the benefit of an American domestic audience and to distract attention from Barack Obama’s domestic travails over healthcare. If you look at the detail then there really isn’t much to recommend the likelihood of this breakthrough occurring; principally because while Israel is pledging a ’12 month moritorom’ on establishing it’s illegal settlements it actually isn’t really because it is going to continue with those already under construction.
In return the US is going to push for tougher sanctions on Iran and a gaggle of Arab nations have signed-up to easing more restrictions on Israel principally travel restrictions on Israeli’s. Notably, Saudi Arabia, which as ever is walking it’s tightrope between international and domestic opinion, has stood aside from this pact and the grandstanding opposition of a ‘European source’ cited in The Guardian that they will ‘come on board’ is a little optimistic to my eyes.
However, if you want a clinical deconstruction of the proposed terms of the deal you really don’t need to look much further than the editorial columns of the Financial Times which rather eloquently deconstructs the ‘bogus’ nature of Benjamin Netanyahu claims that ‘natural’ settlement is needed;
“With vast subsidies, these colonies are growing at more than three times the rate of population in Israel proper. The municipal boundaries of the settlements extend far beyond the built-up areas. Combined with the security wall built on West Bank land, the settler-only roads and the military zones, the Palestinians are penned into shrinking and discontiguous Bantustans.”
Quite apart from his own personal position Netanyahu is in the thrall of ultra-religious parties like Shas which, like the man himself, have no interest in peace but are intently interested in the establishment of the Eretz Israel of the Bible. The concessions that this deal seemed to have gained seem to be an exteremly shaky foundation for a peace process which requires largescale cultural shifts both in Palestine and Israel and the international community to even get off the ground.