Israeli Intransigence Undermining the Peace Process

  • 30 December 2009

Israeli government under the premiership of Benjamin Netanyahu, continues to implement plans that undermine the peace process. Last Monday, it announced its intention to build about 700 new housing units for Jews in the occupied West Bank. At the same time it has started to implement a plan of replacing Arabic names of localities with Hebrew ones in East Jerusalem, in a bid to alter the Arab character of the city.  To some extent, this Israeli behavior is a reflection of Netanyahu’s policy to avoid its commitments to the peace process, as was his decision last November to put a freeze on colony building activities in the West Bank for ten months. However, Netanyahu has the habit of going back on his decisions and commitments in the wake of opposition by Israeli extremist right-wing members—either from his own government or from colonizers. This suggests that the government shall not take any serious steps with respect to the peace process without obtaining the approval of radical groups.

Since the time the Netanyahu government has come to power, it has adopted policies that are inimical to the peace process. Its recent positions expose a clear strategy of imposing ‘fait accompli’ on Palestinians, such as its ploy of changing the Arab features of Jerusalem, or its continuing colony-building activities. It has also been unequivocal in branding Israel as a Jewish state, thereby openly rejecting the right to return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
Such extremist actions and positions confirm that peace does not constitute a part of the Netanyahu government’s policy. In fact, it came to power on a program to colonize and its primary goal is to impose “peace” on Israeli terms, and make the establishment of a viable Palestinian state impossible, and to subvert the principles of the ‘Madrid Conference,’ based on the “land for peace”  formula. Moreover, it is even more alarming to note that it is seeking to impose new references like “normalization for peace,” and “economic peace”. It is alarming to note that the Netanyahu government responds only to its own extremist elements, and is impervious to US or international pressure seeking to freeze colony-building activities in order to revive the peace process. This was  in evidence when White House opposed the building of 700 new houses in the West Bank, as it said it would undermine peace negotiations.”  It asked the Israeli government to return to the negotiating table, and stressed that the issue of Jerusalem is important for Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians. It emphasized that good intentions in negotiations could help meet the aspirations of both sides. However, the Israeli government did not respond to this call.

If Israel behaves as a state above the law and challenges the will of the international community, then a decisive international stand against it seems imminent.