By Jafar M Ramini
The late John F. Kennedy, the only President of the United States of America since WW2 with any integrity, once said, “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”
(The White House, July 25, 1961)
Let’s try to equate this with what’s happening now in the endless negotiations over Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians despite having the moral argument on their side have no power to speak of. They have been negotiating and they have been compromising for years. And what have they got for their efforts? Nothing. No, less than nothing. We are in a far worse state now than we have ever been.
Meanwhile, successive Israeli governments keep demanding more negotiations while making every possible effort to sabotage those very negotiations they say they are calling for. The most recent example was the thwarted effort of Secretary of State John Kerry last year. Every time Mr. Kerry arrived to conduct a session of mediation between the two sides the Israelis announced more settlement expansions, more new settlements in and around East Jerusalem and more confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank. So what is the point? The Israelis have all the trump cards at their disposal and the Palestinians have what? They have a begging bowl.
That begging bowl has been left empty. In fact, it actually has a gaping hole in it.
Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, having spent the last 22 years bending backwards to accommodate Israel has now exhausted all possible options. So last December, he went trotting back to the United Nations, begging bowl in hand, to once more ask the international community to compel Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories and honour past UN resolutions in that regard. The Israelis in their usual arrogant, uncompromising fashion used all their power to ensure the failure of this move. Which of course it did.
Mr. Abbas, back firmly to the wall with nowhere else to go, finally decided to do what all of us have been calling him to do for years, he signed the Rome Statute and joined the International Criminal Court. And all hell has broken loose.
To misquote William Shakespeare, “Hell hath no fury than a Zionist scorned.”
Mr. Netanyahu and his fellow cabinet members unleashed the most venomous and vicious attack on the person of Mr. Mahmoud Abbas and rolled out the usual propaganda machine to demonise and discredit him and the Palestinian Authority.
Last week the ICC decided to kick start an ‘initial’ enquiry into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israel in Palestine, most particularly during the most recent massacre in Gaza last summer.
What do the Israelis do? They not only reject the whole process out of hand, calling it ‘absurd and ridiculous’ they threaten to ‘liquidate’ the ICC. Why? What are they frightened that these unbiased, impartial lawyers will find? Isn’t this extraordinary behaviour an admission of guilt?
The very idea that anybody would dare to question Israel is sacrilege.
Yet, the cynicism of these people is astounding. Despite all the above, the current Israeli President Mr. Reuven Rivlin has just issued an invitation to Mr. Mahmoud Abbas to come to Jerusalem for yet more negotiations. “I call upon President Abbas,” he said, “ Instead of going to The Hague or to the United Nations, come to Jerusalem. Come to talk directly to the Israeli government and people.”
Why Jerusalem, Mr. Rivlin? Why not Tel Aviv? Or is this your way of affirming to Mr. Abbas and to the world at large that Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal capital of Israel? So, if you have already decided on Jerusalem what are you inviting Mr. Abbas to negotiate over?
Mr. Kennedy sir, if you could look down on us all, you would see that the Israelis have taken ‘what is yours is negotiable’ to extreme lengths. Why shouldn’t they when every time a member of the US government visits Israel it is only to mouth more platitudes and offer Israel more support?
Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee, is leading the way to stop U.S. aid to Palestine. Sen. Rand Paul has even introduced new legislation to cut all funding to the Palestinian Authority. Why does the United States of America pass legislation to protect a foreign country?
Senator Lindsey Graham went on to say that existing US legislation “would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they filed a complaint. Palestine could lose millions of dollars of crucial American aid if they attempt to use their newly acquired membership of the International Criminal Court to sue Israel for alleged atrocities carried out during the last conflict.”
At a recent news conference in Jerusalem Senator Graham went even further, calling the very idea of Palestine using the ICC to sue Israel “a bastardizing of the rule of the ICC”, adding “I find it incredibly offensive.”
What is offensive, Senator Graham is your continued support of the genocide, apartheid and colonization of Palestine by Israel.
Mr. Kennedy, negotiations? Fat chance, sir.