Why the Peace Talks Failed

The New York Times tells us that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have fallen through because the Palestinians are “refusing to resume direct negotiations absent a (settlement) moratorium.”

I’d say the map below (from a BBC article on the “settlement row”) explains everything you need to know about why the peace process has failed – and why a viable two state solution is well nigh impossible at this point.

14 thoughts on “Why the Peace Talks Failed

  1. Elaine Meyrial

    Continued land confiscation and dismemberment of Palestinian territory is akin to “wiping Palestine off the face of the earth.” Akin to Ahmadinajad’s wish for Israel. It would seem that both Israel and Iran has much in common: states that claim to be democratic in nature while privileging one religion over another. Both systems of governance are anachronistic in the 21st century.
    Perhaps someday, the United States will apply the same standards of conduct to Israel that we reserve for Iran. “Two peas in a pod.”

  2. Cotton Fite

    In November I drove south from Jenin and then east across Rt. 5 toward the check point back into Israel. On the way east I came across Ariel, an Israeli “settlement” that literally divides the West Bank in two. I recently learned it is also called the capital of Samaria. This is hardly a settlement; it is a city of 18,000 with a prominent facility named for the settlers’ generous benefactor, John Hagee. Two large industrial parks lie a few kilometers east, still on the West Bank.
    For whatever reason, I have held out hope for the Obama peace initiative. When I left Ariel I felt my hope vanishing. Netanyahu will never dislodge those 18,000 Israelis – nor do I think he will even try – and a contiguous Palestinian state is impossible with Ariel sitting in the middle of the West Bank.
    I fear the two state solution vanished years ago when Israel realized no country, particularly the U.S., would seriously challenge its strategy of taking the West Bank for its own, settlement by settlement. Of course Israel will not re-institute a freeze. Of course the Palestinians will not negotiate while construction continues; nor should they.
    As a friend recently reminded me, no colonial power has ever willingly relinquished what it has seized and possessed. Unless we resolve to exercise the power we possess to convince Israel it may not continue on this path, hope for an end to this injustice and a real peace for both Israelis and Palestinians will continue to fade.

  3. Miriam

    Seriously and amen to this post. When will Israel take any sort of responsibility for the failure of the peace process? Every single Israeli Prime Minister has said that they want peace, and yet every one of them has contributed to the land loss of Palestinians by agreeing to settlement building. It is sad and confusing to me how these politicians can continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths. Just today in Haaretz, Shimon Peres, regarding his disapproval of the ruling to stop renting to Arabs said, “Every person is created in God’s image – that is one of the main tenets of Judaism, and it forms the basis for democracy. The state of Israel is composed of Jewish citizens and non-Jewish citizens, and we all have the same rights, which include the right to practice any religion.” How can he say this and then support the continued building of Israeli homes on stolen Palestinian land? I hope that one can speak out of both sides of one’s mouth for only so long.

  4. Richard Kahn

    What does “restricted or inaccessible to Palestinians” mean? There’s a lot of yellow on that map that doesn’t strike me as very inaccessible.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author

      It may seem like a “lot of yellow” to you, but if you are interested in a contiguous, viable Palestinian state, this map shows pretty clearly that this territory has been carved up into something more closely resembling Swiss cheese.

      You’ll notice a lot of dark orange on the eastern half of the West Bank – namely, the Jordan Valley. From B’tselem:

      Since 1967, Israel has employed various methods to de facto annex the Jordan Valley, the most significant land reserve in the West Bank. Toward this end, Israel prevents the development of Palestinian communities there, systematically demolishes the structures of the area’s Palestinian-Bedouin communities, prevents Palestinians from accessing the Valley’s rich water resources, and harshly restricts Palestinian movement in the area. Simultaneously, Israel has allocated extensive areas in the Valley for settlements…

      The Jordan Valley is closed almost completely to Palestinians who are not officially registered as residents of the area. Palestinians living elsewhere in the West Bank are only allowed to enter on foot or by public transportation. Israel set up four checkpoints west of the Valley, which it uses to control Palestinian movement between the Jordan Valley and the rest of the West Bank – Ma’ale Efraim, Tayasir, al-Hamra, and Yitav (al-M’arajat)…

      Other orange areas on the western edge correspond to Palestinian lands that were expropriated by the routing of the Separation Barrier into the West Bank proper. Again, from B’tselem:

      Eighty-five percent of the amended route runs through the West Bank, and not along the Green Line. In areas where the Barrier has already been built, the extensive violations of human rights of Palestinians living nearby are evident. Further construction inside the West Bank, in accordance with the Cabinet’s decision of February 2005, causes additional human rights violations affecting hundreds of thousands of local residents.

      The orange lines that carve up the West Bank represent “Israeli only” highways that are forbidden to Palestinians. From a B’tselem report entitled “Forbidden Roads”:

      The (Forbidden Roads) regime, based on the principle of separation through discrimination, bears striking similarities to the racist apartheid regime that existed in South Africa until 1994. In the roads regime operated by Israel, the right of every person to travel in the West Bank is based on his or her national origin.

      The roads regime that Israel operates in the West Bank differs from the policies of South African apartheid in at least one important way. While every last detail of the apartheid system was formulated in legislation, the roads regime in the West Bank has never been put on paper, neither in military legislation nor in any official decision. Implementation of the regime by IDF soldiers and Border Police officers is based solely on verbal orders given to the security forces. Therefore, enforcement of the roads regime entails a greater degree of arbitrariness than was the case with the regime that existed in South Africa…

      The Forbidden Roads Regime is based on the premise that all Palestinians are security risks and therefore it is justifiable to restrict their movement. This is a racist premise that led to a policy that indiscriminately harms the entire Palestinian population, in violation of its human rights and of international law.

      1. Richard Kahn

        I was indeed referring to the Jordan Valley. Once you go through the checkpoint leaving Jerusalem, you can take Road 1 to Road 90 and then take Road 90 all the way north to Mehola and not hit one checkpoint. I don’t understand how these roads are restricted or unaccessible to Palestinians. There are many, many Palestinians driving on Road 90.

  5. Israel Gershon

    Those who say a two state solution is impossible don’t really want a two state solution. The Israelis and Palestinians know what a reasonable end game looks like. Obama’s focus on the building expansion plans for Jerusalem housing units has shown itself to be a failed approach based on a misguided naive understanding of the situation. The Palestinians should call Israel’s supposed bluff and sit down for direct negotiations on a final settlement. They won’t however, because they don’t want to make a settlement with Israel, they want to win a state by force of arms or by force of some world political movement.

    1. Shirin

      Are you really suggesting that negotiating over land while continuing to confiscate, build, and colonize it is intended to result in a reasonable “end game” for the Palestinians? Is it your belief that Israel will continue to confiscate, build, and colonize more and more land while simultaneously negotiate to withdraw from it and return it to the Palestinians for their state? Are you saying that in reality Israel is being charitable, and is investing in all that confiscation and construction in order to ultimately turn the finished product over to the Palestinians? And if none of the above, what IS the purpose of continuing to confiscate, build and colonize the very land over which they are negotiating?

      1. Israel Gershon

        Shirin, yes there is a reasonable give and take and a reasonable border that can be drawn and agreed to. And no apartment complex would get in the way of such an agreement if it were made. But you should consider that Israel can make the same speech. Is it reasonable to negotiate while Palestinians continue to fire missiles into Israel, continue to plan terrorist attacks, continue to teach their children the most vile Jew hatred, continue to deny the history of the Jewish People and their connection to their homeland, continue to call for Israel’s destruction, and in recent polls, continue to say that a two state solution is only the first step to the eventual end of Israel? Enough of the rhetoric; if they want peace they should sit down and draw the borders.

    2. Shirin

      What you are saying is so far from reality it is difficult to believe you are not being disingenuous or seriously deluding yourself. There is no “give and take” here, there is only take and take and take and take. How can you possibly suggest that a serious “give and take” can go on while one side continues to grab more and more of exactly the thing that they supposed to be negotiating about. It is like negotiating over how a pizza will be divided while one party eagerly gobbles it up piece by piece.

      We are also not talking merely about apartment complexes here.

      It’s hardly worthwhile in the meantime to respond to your verbatim recitation of the same tired Israeli excuses we have heard decade after decade except to point out yet again that in addition to being in many respects inaccurate, more importantly they utterly ignore cause and effect. Do you seriously believe that continuing to ethnically cleanse and Judaize the occupied territories, and brutalize the people living under occupation is likely to reduce the hostility that you find so distressing?

      1. Israel Gershon

        You accuse me of being so far from reality and then you spew out your over the top leftist nonsense. The only people ethnically cleansed from the West Bank were Jews. You are not the owner of the “correct” history. Not even Benny Morris agrees with your slant.

      2. Shirin

        Who knew that facts, logic, reason, and humanity were either leftist or nonsense? Oh well.

        Oh, and Benny Morris is hardly a paragon of “over the top leftist nonsense”. Fortunately, that does not detract from the value of the information he uncovered and revealed to the world.

  6. Hakeem Baig

    Thanks Rabbi Brant Rosen! You have a wonderful heart, your concern for fellow human beings is much appreciated. As Elaine said in the first message on this post “Perhaps someday, the United States will apply the same standards of conduct to Israel that we reserve for Iran. “Two peas in a pod.”


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