Embalming the Peace Process


Israel’s left-leaning newspaper Ha’aretz ran an interview with Sharon’s senior advisor Dov Weinglass that is nothing less than extraordinary. In the interview, Weinglass reveals Israel’s hidden strategy in dealing with the 37 year long conflict in Palestine. The solution, as Weinglass suggests, is “a long-term interim situation” (Sharons disengagement plan) that precludes negotiations with the Palestinians.

This is less difficult to understand than it seems. As Weinglass opines, “The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians.”

“Park conveniently in an interim situation?” In other words, the “long-term interim situation” is a well considered plan to do nothing; no concessions for peace, just the rigorous maintenance of the status quo. It is a formula that vindicates the continuing settlement activity and, of course, the dismantling of Palestinian society. It is an astonishing admission.

Weinglass concedes that the Sharon’s original acceptance of the road map was predicated on the belief that “the eradication of terrorism precedes the start of the political process." The improbability of complete calm ensures that Israel will not be responsible for “painful” concessions like withdrawing from the territories. Instead, Sharon can point to terrorism as the convenient justification for continuing occupation and stepped up settlement activity.

Shifting gears from the road map to the “disengagement plan” is strictly a matter of nuance, since the Israeli leadership has no intention of allowing Palestinian objectives to be realized. The distinction is, however, noteworthy; if only to appreciate the full Machiavellian character of Wineglass’s thought-process.

“The disengagement plan is the preservative of the sequence principle. It is the bottle of formaldehyde within which you place the president's formula so that it will be preserved for a very lengthy period. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."

Formaldehyde? So, Weinglass equates Sharon’s plan to “embalming fluid”, the necessary component for preserving the remains of a dead body. In this case, it is the requisite additive for creating a public relations smokescreen that conceals a “certifiably” dead process.

Again, we must congratulate Weinglass for his stunning candor. It is rare indeed, that a politician will openly boast about a strategy that is so transparently malicious. Weinglass is bragging that he has devised a method to suspend all political activity while (appearing to) pay homage to a peace plan. It is a wretched deception and a tacit condemnation of 3 million Palestinians to a miserable life of deprivation and brutality. It is also a window into the mind of a man who believes that his malevolent calculations are a valid expression of patriotism. His loyalty to Israel would be better served by respecting the wishes of the nearly 60% of Israelis who continue to seek a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

Weinglass also says that “Sharon doesn't think that after a conflict of 104 years, it's possible to come up with a piece of paper that will end the matter. He thinks the other side has to undergo a deep and extended sociopolitical change.” No one who has followed Sharon’s checkered career has any doubt what extended sociopolitical change means. His adult life has been exclusively devoted to the systematic destruction of Palestinian society; fully focused on wiping out the remaining symbols of Palestinian identity. It is no longer a matter of simply thrashing an enemy, but a vile attempt to erase every trace of their history from the collective consciousness. Palestinians are quickly becoming an invisible people. This reality emerges from the dual onslaught of the 37 year occupation and the collusive omissions of the American media.

Weinglass is obviously pleased with the Bush administration’s change of heart over the internationally recognized borders of 1967. By accepting the new “realities on the ground” the administration has signaled that it will no longer pursue a policy that will encourage withdrawal. (despite the consensus opinion of the world community) Weinglass notes that “there is an American commitment such as never existed before, with regard to 190,000 settlers." True, Bush has recklessly given his blessing to the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land, ignoring 37 years of stated US policy in the region. Also, talk of a Palestinian state, the return of refugees, and the partition of Jerusalem have all been frozen.

Is Weinglass happy with the results of these concessions from the Bush administration?

His response is illuminating: “I found a device, in cooperation with the management of the world, to ensure that there will be no stopwatch here. That there will be no timetable to implement the settlers' nightmare. I have postponed that nightmare indefinitely. Because what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns.”

There it is! There will be no settlement; not now, not ever. This is the dismal substance of Weinglass’s statement. It points the Middle East towards a future of unavoidable (yet calculated) suffering and conflict. The bloody incursions in Gaza and the bombings in Taba are just the most recent additions to this chronicle of violence and retaliation. There will be plenty more. The pathogens of victim hood and rage will only grow in Weinglass’s culture of animosity.

Weinglass’s strategy depends heavily on the idea that forestalling negotiations will ultimately bring about the complete integration of the West Bank into the Israeli state. He assumes that Islamic groups will not acquire chemical or biological weapons in the near future. With American forces rampaging through Iraq, inflaming Muslim hatred towards both countries, this seems like a risky prospect. The first WMD to go off in Tel Aviv, Baghdad or New York will utterly change the complexion of this global conflict. Weinglass, Sharon and Bush are all moving the world closer to that tragic day. How much blood could be spared by simply seeking a just peace? (Note: a recent poll by the Associated Press shows that more than two-thirds of the people living in Australia, Britain and Italy believe the war has increased the threat of terrorism.)

Thanks to Counterpunch for providing Ari Shavitâ’s interview with Dov Weinglass from Haâ’aretz. 

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