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MER Weekend Reading:  CHOMSKY on the "Peace Process"


MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 7/29/00:
    The U.S. and Israel have worked long and hard to twist and distort their
real policies.  Consequently it takes a master linguist to unravel all the rhetorical
gobbledygook.  Professor Noam Chomsky, "arguably the most important intellectual alive" the New York Times proclaimed a few years ago, provides the crucial historical background without without today's "peace process" cannot be seriously understood.
    A unique 90-minute video documentary featuring Chomsky and titled "The New World Order: Latin American and the Middle East" is available until the limited remaining copies are sold.  To find out how to easily and quickly order it on-line just email to INFOMER@MiddleEast.Org with subject "Chomsky" for instant information.


                      By Noam Chomsky

 "By definition, the 'peace process' is whatever the US
 government happens to be pursuing.  Having grasped
 that essential principle, one can understand that a
 peace process can be advanced by Washington's
 clearly-proclaimed efforts to undermine peace...
 From 1971 the US has been virtually alone in the
 international arena in barring a negotiated diplomatic
 settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict: the
 "peace process" is the record of these developments."

The latest AP report from Camp David (evening, July 25)
begins: "The Middle East peace talks at Camp David collapsed
Tuesday over rival claims to East Jerusalem. Disappointed,
President Clinton said he tried several approaches but could
not come up with a solution." Clinton expressed hope that
the process would continue to a resolution of the East
Jerusalem problem, at which point the fundamental
outstanding issue would have been overcome.

To have a sense of what is taking place, it is useful to
back off a few steps and to look at the immediate events
from a somewhat broader perspective.

Any discussion of what is called a "peace process" --
whether the one underway at Camp David or any other --
should keep in mind the operative meaning of the phrase:
by definition, the "peace process" is whatever the US
government happens to be pursuing.

Having grasped that essential principle, one can understand
that a peace process can be advanced by Washington's
clearly-proclaimed efforts to undermine peace.  To
illustrate, in January 1988 the press reported Secretary of
State George Shultz's "peace trip" to Central America under
the headline "Latin Peace Trip by Shultz Planned." The
subheading explained the goal: "Mission Would Be Last-Ditch
Effort to Defuse Opposition on Contra Aid." Administration
officials elaborated that the "peace mission" was "the only
way to save" aid to the contras in the face of "growing
congressional opposition."

The timing is important. In August 1987, over strong US
objections, the Central American presidents had reached a
peace agreement for the bitter Central American conflicts:
the Esquipulas Accords. The US acted at once to undermine
them, and by January, had largely succeeded. It had
effectively excluded the sole "indispensable element" cited
in the Accords: an end to US support for the contras (CIA
supply flights instantly tripled, and contra terror
increased). Washington had also eliminated the second basic
principle of the Accords: that the human rights provisions
should apply to US clients as well as to Nicaragua (by US
fiat, they were to apply to Nicaragua alone). Washington had
also managed to terminate the despised international
monitoring mission, which had committed the crime of
describing truthfully what had been happening since the
adoption of the plan in August. To the consternation of the
Reagan Administration, Nicaragua nevertheless accepted the
version of the accords crafted by US power, leading to the
Shultz "peace mission," undertaken to advance the "peace
process" by ensuring that there would be no backsliding from
the demolition operation.

In brief, the "peace mission" was a "last-ditch effort" to
block peace and mobilize Congress to support the "unlawful
use of force" for which the US had recently been condemned
by the World Court.

The record of the "peace process" in the Middle East has
been similar, though even more extreme. From 1971 the US has
been virtually alone in the international arena in barring a
negotiated diplomatic settlement of the Israel-Palestine
conflict: the "peace process" is the record of these
developments. To review the essentials briefly, in November
1967, under U.S. initiative, the UN Security Council adopted
resolution 242 on "land for peace." As explicitly understood
by the US and the other signatories, UN 242 called for a
full peace settlement on the pre-June 1967 borders with at
most minor and mutual adjustments, offering nothing to the
Palestinians. When President Sadat of Egypt accepted the
official US position in February 1971, Washington revised UN
242 to mean partial Israeli withdrawal, as the US and Israel
would determine. That unilateral revision is what is now
called "land for peace," a reflection of US power in the
domain of doctrine and ideology.

The AP report on the breakdown of the Camp David
negotiations, cited above, notes that the final official
statement, "in a gesture to Arafat," said that "the only
path to peace was resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security
Council after Middle East wars in 1967 and 1973. These call
for Israel to relinquish territory won from the Arabs in
exchange for secure borders." The resolution of 1967 is UN
242, calling for full Israeli withdrawal with at most minor
and mutual border adjustments; the 1973 resolution merely
endorses UN 242 without change. But the meaning of UN 242
has crucially changed since February 1971, following
Washington's dictates.

Sadat warned that the US-Israeli rejection of UN 242 would
lead to war. Neither the US nor Israel took him seriously,
on remarkable triumphalist and racist grounds, later
bitterly denounced in Israel. Egypt did go to war in October
1973. It turned out to be a near disaster for Israel, and
for the world: the prospects of a nuclear exchange were not
slight. The 1973 war made it clear even to Henry Kissinger
that Egypt was not a basket case that could simply be
disregarded, so Washington shifted to the natural back-up
strategy: excluding Egypt from the conflict so that Israel,
with mounting US support, could proceed to integrate the
occupied territories and attack Lebanon. That result was
achieved at Camp David in 1978, hailed ever since as the
grand moment of "the peace process."

Meanwhile the US vetoed Security Council resolutions calling
for a diplomatic settlement incorporating UN 242 but now
also including Palestinian rights. The US also voted
annually against similar General Assembly resolutions (along
with Israel, sometimes one or another client state), and
otherwise blocked all efforts at a peaceful resolution of
the conflict initiated by Europe, the Arab states, or the
PLO. This consistent rejection of a diplomatic settlement is
the "peace process." The actual facts were long ago vetoed
from the media, and have largely been barred even from
scholarship, but they are easy enough to discover.

After the Gulf War, the US was finally in a position to
impose its own unilateral rejectionist stand and did so,
first at Madrid in late 1991, then in the successive
Israel-PLO agreements from 1993. With these measures, the
"peace process" has advanced towards the Bantustan-style
arrangements that the US and Israel intended, as should have
been obvious to anyone with eyes open, and is entirely clear
in the documentary record and, more important, the record on
the ground. That brings us to the present stage: Camp David,
July 2000.

Throughout the several weeks of deliberations, it was
regularly reported that the main stumbling block is
Jerusalem. The final report reiterates that conclusion. The
observation is not false, but it is a bit misleading.
"Creative" solutions have been proposed to permit symbolic
Palestinian authority in Jerusalem -- or as the city is
called in Arabic, Al-Quds. These include Palestinian
administration of Arab neighborhoods (as Israel would
prefer, if rational), some arrangement for Islamic and
Christian religious sites, and a Palestinian capital in the
village of Abu Dis near Jerusalem, which might be renamed
"Al-Quds," with a little sleight-of-hand. Such an endeavor
might have succeeded, and might still succeed. But a more
intractable problem arises as soon as we ask a basic
question: What is Jerusalem?

When Israel conquered the West Bank in June 1967, it annexed
Jerusalem -- not in a very polite fashion; for example, it
has recently been revealed in Israel that the destruction of
the Arab Mughrabi neighborhood near the Wailing Wall on June
10 was done with such haste that an unknown number of
Palestinians were buried in the ruins left by the bulldozers.

Israel quickly tripled the borders of the city. Subsequent
development programs, pursued with little variation by all
governments, aimed to extend the borders of "greater
Jerusalem" well beyond. Current Israeli maps articulate the
basic plans clearly enough. On June 28, Israel's leading
daily, Ha'aretz, published a map detailing "Israel's
proposal for the permanent settlement." It is virtually
identical to the government's "Final Status Map" presented a
month earlier. The territory to be annexed around the
greatly expanded "Jerusalem" extends in all directions. To
the north it reaches well past Ramallah, and to the south
well past Bethlehem, the two major nearby Palestinian towns.
These are to be left under Palestinian control, but
adjoining Israeli territory, and in the case of Ramallah,
cut off from Palestinian territory to the east. Like all
Palestinian territory, both towns are separated from
Jerusalem, the center of West Bank life, by territory
annexed to Israel. To the east, the territory to be annexed
includes the rapidly growing Israeli town of Ma'ale Adumim
and extends on to Vered Jericho, a small settlement
bordering on the town of Jericho. The salient extends on to
the Jordanian border. The entire Jordanian border is to be
annexed to Israel along with the "Jerusalem" salient that
partitions the West Bank. Another salient to be annexed
farther north virtually imposes a second partition.

The intensive construction and settlement projects of the
past years have been designed to "create facts" that would
lead to this "permanent settlement." That has been the clear
commitment of the successive governments since the first
"Oslo agreement" of September 1993. Contrary to much
commentary, the official doves (Rabin, Peres, Barak) have
been at least as faithfully dedicated to this project as the
much-condemned Binyamin Netanyahu, though they have been
able to conduct the project with less protest; a familiar
story, here as well. In February of this year the Israeli
press reported that the number of building starts increased
by almost one-third from 1998 (Netanyahu) to the current
year (Barak). An analysis by Israeli correspondent Nadav
Shragai reveals that only a small fraction of the lands
assigned to the settlements are actually used for
agricultural or other purposes. For Ma'ale Adumim, for
example, the lands assigned to it are 16 times the area
used, and similar proportions hold elsewhere. Palestinians
have brought petitions to the Israeli High Court opposing
the expansion of Ma'ale Adumim, but they have been rejected.
Last November, rejecting an appeal, one High Court judge
explained that "some good for the residents of the
neighboring [Palestinian] villages might spring from the
economic and cultural development of Ma'ale Adumim,"
effectively partitioning the West Bank.

The projects have been carried out thanks to the benevolence
of US taxpayers, by a variety of "creative" devices to
overcome the fact that US aid is officially barred for these


The intended result is that an eventual Palestinian state
would consist of four cantons on the West Bank: (1) Jericho,
(2) the southern canton extending as far as Abu Dis (the new
Arab "Jerusalem"), (3) a northern canton including the
Palestinian cities of Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarm, and (4) a
central canton including Ramallah. The cantons are
completely surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel.
The areas of Palestinian population concentration are to be
under Palestinian administration, an adaptation of the
traditional colonial pattern that is the only sensible
outcome as far as Israel and the US are concerned. The plans
for the Gaza Strip, a fifth canton, are uncertain: Israel
might relinquish it, or might maintain the southern coastal
region and another salient virtually dividing the Strip
below Gaza City.

These outlines are consistent with the proposals that have
been put forth since 1968, when Israel adopted the "Allon
plan," never presented formally but apparently intended to
incorporate about 40% of the West Bank within Israel. Since
then specific plans have been proposed by the ultra-right
General Sharon, the Labor Party, and others. They are fairly
similar in conception and outline. The basic principle is
that the usable territory within the West Bank, and the
crucial resources (primarily water), will remain under
Israeli control, but the population will be controlled by a
Palestinian client regime, which is expected to be corrupt,
barbaric, and compliant. The Palestinian-administered
cantons can then provide cheap and easily exploitable labor
for the Israeli economy. Or in the long run, the population
might be "transferred" elsewhere in one or another way, in
accord with long-standing hopes.

It is possible to imagine "creative" schemes that would
finesse the issues concerning the religious sites and the
administration of Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
But the more fundamental problems lie elsewhere. It is not
at all clear that they can be sensibly resolved within the
framework of nation-states that has been imposed throughout
much of the world by Western conquest and domination, with
murderous consequences within Europe itself for centuries,
not to speak of the effects beyond until the present moment.

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