Weary words

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Young, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry conceded upon landing in occupied Jerusalem Thursday that there has been some skepticism, pessimism and disappointment in the Arab world concerning the so-called peace process.

That is putting it mildly. After decades of empty talks and meaningless words – none of which have helped the Palestinians achieve freedom – the people of this region know better than to trust the United States to be an honest broker of peace.

Not only have these endless rounds of talks failed to help Palestinians regain their own state, but they have actually strengthened Israel, allowing for more land grabs and its consolidation of natural resources, all the while cementing its military hegemony.

While the stances of the U.S. vis-a-vis the peace process have helped Israel at home, they have also helped it on the international stage.

In tandem with these talks has been a string of U.N. proposals and amendments which could have, with baby steps, supported the struggle of the Palestinians. But at each vote, when more and more of the world is moving in favor of Palestine, the U.S. has used its veto to throw these opportunities out of the window.

Kerry has now made as many trips to Palestine in his first months in office as Hillary Clinton did in her four years in the same role, and seems desperate to convince us he is committed to peace. But were the U.S. to have found an honest and committed negotiator, the Jewish lobby in the U.S. would ensure talks would still stumble and fall.

During the intifadas, the Palestinians, with their popular resistance, captured the world’s attention. But they were warned they would only get somewhere through diplomacy. And now who is listening, and what have they been allowed to achieve? Infighting between Fatah and Hamas has also disabled their cause, and has been a dream come true for the Israelis.

The biggest enemy that the Palestinians face now is time. With each passing day, as Tzipi Livni said herself, settlers build new houses on Palestinian land. Not only that, but more Palestinians are born refugees, more water is diverted to Israel and more children must cross more checkpoints to get to school.

Whatever proposal the U.S. and the Israelis put on the table this time around, it is likely to be a continuation of the same old tired charade. The Palestinians must be wary of any deal. Unless it includes a clear timetable and road map – which stipulates the creation of two states, with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine – and details for the future of the now millions of Palestinian refugees, then it is not worth even glancing at.

If it does not include these conditions then it will be further evidence that this extended farce, this tragedy of peace talks, is little more than a concerted attempt to wear the Palestinians down.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 24, 2013, on page 7.




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