The Israelis and Palestinians are meeting in Washington, DC with the purpose of establishing a framework for peace talks. Martin Indyk, who has a long history as an operative for the Israel Lobby, will represent the Obama Administration. The following is from an interview with Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, as reported by Mondoweiss.
It’s definitely a step backwards for the Obama administration. When the Obama administration came to office in 2009, they appointed former Senate majority leader George Mitchell as special envoy for Middle East peace. And that was widely seen as revolutionary within the circle of analysts who look at “peace process” issues, because Mitchell has been the only key figure involved in the “peace process” for the last two decades who doesn’t come from that kind of a background, like Indyk, like Ross, like Aaron David Miller, who are very much part and parcel of the Israel lobby–and who, when they’re not in office, then shuttle back to pro-Israel think tanks. So it was seen as very revolutionary, and in fact the Israel lobby came out very strongly against Mitchell, saying, “we don’t want someone who’s even handed. Even handed is bad. We need to be pro-Israel.”
The problem throughout these past two decades, has been that the United States has acted, in the words of Aaron David Miller, who was a former peace process player and a very high-ranking one at that, that the United States functions as “Israel’s lawyers.”
And if you look at the published memoirs of people like Dennis Ross, who has been a key peace process participant for the last two decades, if you look at what was revealed through WikiLeaks and through the Palestine Papers, which was thousands of documents from inside the Palestinian negotiating team that were leaked to Al Jazeera a couple of years ago, what you’ll find is a very coherent and very straightforward strategy that the United States has pursued regardless of who is the president of the United States. And that is to work with Israel, to try to mold proposals that are to Israel’s benefit, and then to try to ram these proposals down the throat of the Palestinians, and to blame them when they don’t accept them, when they don’t even come close to meeting standards of international law, human rights, and come nowhere close to fulfilling Palestinian self-determination. …
So the fact that Mitchell was seen as unencumbered with this ideological baggage of belonging to these pro-Israel lobbying institutions was seen as a negative in their eyes. So the fact that Obama would consider appointing Indyk to head up this “peace process” in the second term, is really, really a huge step backwards. And you know, I’ll say even though Mitchell was considered to be more even-handed in his approach, actually again, if you look at the Palestine Papers, look at WikiLeaks, and this is something I detail in my book coming up, you’ll see how Mitchell did the exact same thing as a lot of the other pro-Israel peace process officials, and that is twist the arms of the Palestinians into accepting Israeli proposals.
So if Obama thinks that Martin Indyk could do a better job where George Mitchell couldn’t, he’s sadly mistaken, and he’s sadly mistaken if he believes that he can keep appointing individuals from these very pro-Israel ideological perspectives to somehow bring about a just and lasting peace. It’s not going to work. It hasn’t worked in the past, it won’t work in the future. And it really brings to mind Einstein’s definition of insanity. The United States keeps doing the exact same thing over and over again, and somehow expects that it’s going to lead to a different result, and it’s not. It’s only been leading to more Israeli colonization of Palestinian land, which many people would argue is really the point of having a “peace process”–it seems as if Israelis and Palestinians are negotiating towards a peace agreement, that takes a lot of pressure off of Israel, and allows them to continue colonization.