The 2010 Palestine Peace Talks: A Sylvester Stallone Remake?

Saturday 23 October 2010 by CEPRID

Agustín Velloso


A new round of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis has just begun in the United States. The summer was one of kite-flying, on the one hand in the form of indirect contacts between the two sides so as not to further provoke Palestinians sick of the Israeli Occupation and the incompetence of the Palestinian Authority. On the other hand threats came from Mahmud Abbas saying he would not participate without a halt to settlement building and from Benjamin Netanyahu saying he would only participate if no preconditions were set.

So interest in this latest of the interminable round of talks resembles the likely interest in a film of Rocky 6. The directors and leading actors of Rocky knew they were offering entertainment barely suitable for an infantile public and for grown-ups desperate for escape. But they still managed to fool film goers around the world their production was, at the very least, the film of the decade.

To convince public opinion, the US government, the leading promoter of earlier talks and the ones under way, have presented them as the round that is going to "resolve all final-status issues ....within one year" in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One can still recall, if one leaves aside the 1991 Madrid preview, the 1993 billboard announcing the first film in this saga "the Washington Conversations." Also since then we have seen remakes like the "Declaration of Principles" and the "Oslo Process".

More than a film it is an endless series whose episodes - variations on the same screenplay - get the subtitle of the city in which they were staged. Annapolis, Sharm- el Sheik, Taba, Wye River, Paris, Cairo, Camp David and so on. Today, the film show rolls on in Washington. This time, the director is the wife of ex-President Clinton, organizer of the 1993 talks in the same city.

The locations are seductive and the special effects continue to work well, especially on the so called Palestinian Authority, the official designation under the Declaration of Principles. The PA , an apparently proto-government body, lost all legitimacy for Palestinians once it turned into a tool subsidized and managed by the owners of the political entertainment industry. These are the Quartet, the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

In 1993, all smiles, Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat and Yitzak Rabin embraced in the White House rose garden while an ecstatic world applauded the scene thanks to another visual effect popularized by CNN. "Take part directly in historic events! Be part of history!" The appearances and the special effects substituted for peace, because, without justice, peace is out of reach. On the other hand, if justice were done the appearances and special effects would be redundant.

The process is completed with endless conversations between political leaders , bulky studies by analysts and experts and a plethora of NGO-run projects. All this is paid for by the same people who organize the rest of the show. Nobody remembers the players who refused to participate in the Oslo Process and criticized the change of course in the Palestinian cause. Abdel Shafi and Edward Said among others. They were lucky. Others who dared criticize the PA shortly after its establishment in Palestine got to know personally the prisons built with money from the Quartet in order to oppress the Palestinian population suffering under the Israeli

Occupation. Intellectuals, activists and resisters in general have suffered repressionand punishment for opposing the Peace Process.

While it is true they have been marginalized by the international news media, they can consider themselves fortunate, since members of Hamas or of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other resistance organizations are either dead or else in Israeli jails by the thousand. They think the conversations are a childish diversion and so continue to struggle against the Israeli Occupation.

The public in 2010 behaves the same as in previous years. Despite being somewhat jaded after almost two decades of Peace Process, they will pay again to see the show for the umpteenth time. The media are trumpeting a dazzling presentation "A Palestinian State within the year!" "Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama set on Peace to show regional policy success!" "Moratinos optimistic, confident talks will work out, rebuilding hopes for Peace!"

While the world watches this newsreel of the conversations unwind, in Palestine the deaths pile up, the number of refugees grows and the State of Palestine promised in 1947 shrinks all the time. In any case it has been occupied by Israel from the start.

Translated by Toni Solo, activist living and working in Nicaragua

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