The Israeli Palestinian pantomime

The Palestinian bid to achieve statehood by having the United Nations set a timetable for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank has failed. To the surprise of nobody. Despite this being a foregone conclusion the vote was quite widely covered in the media. Because it makes relatively good drama.

I strongly doubt that on either side of the Green Line anyone was sitting by their radio counting each and every vote with baited breath. The Palestinian delegation themselves couldn’t have been under any impression that they would achieve anything other than failure with the Americans hinting they would have vetoed the bill had the Security Council decided to vote it through.

One wonders how either side imagines they are to end this state of affairs that we have become used to calling “conflict” without actually speaking to each other. But then for that statement even to make sense you have to take for granted that the aim of each side is to end the conflict. In fact the attitude of both Palestinian and Israeli governments makes far more sense if one imagines that the goal on both sides is to perpetuate the conflict for their own personal benefit.

Writing in the Jewish Daily Forward JJ Goldberg (no relation) points out that chief Palestinian negotiator (shouldn’t he be unemployed right now?) Saeb Erekat told an Israeli radio station two weeks ago that the Palestinian delegation had failed to come up with the necessary nine security council votes. Goldberg goes quite deeply into the senseless Palestinian failure, pointing out that had they waited just one more week they would still have failed (from an American veto) but would have managed to demonstrate support from the Security Council and therefore would have won a small victory of sorts.

The Palestinian Authority took the step of going to the security council not only with the certain knowledge that they were going to fail but taking steps in order to bring that failure about. Looks to me like they were putting on a show. Increasingly the whole conflict simply looks like the various actors are simply putting on a show.

Now with the elections coming up here in Israel one wonders what it is that is actually at stake. Is there really going to be a substantive difference in Israel because of whoever is voted in to the next Knesset? The “process” of ending this Israeli Palestinian conflict we have all been living through forever may well begin again. I don’t see an agreement being reached, I don’t see any substantial changes being made on the ground. The two sides at first will refuse to meet, then be cajoled into it, then will sit in a room, probably in Washington DC supposedly thrashing something out.

In a deal that will eventually lead nowhere.

The world isn’t particularly happy with Israel at the moment, relations especially between Netanyahu and Obama have ensured that there is a wide gap between the super power and us. So it would be nice to have a sweet talking Labour government that will work to repair that rift. Other than that, no one is really saying anything about what it is they actually want to do in the next Knesset. If the choice is between Labour and Likud on the economic level it seems that there is little between them, both parties recently joined forces to raise the minimum wage for example.

So really Israelis get to choose between a government that talks tough and a government that doesn’t talk tough. Palestinians of course don’t get to choose. They’re always going to be stuck with the useless politicians and diplomats who steal the money earmarked for them and sabotage themselves in the United Nations.

The stakes are low. So low that your vote is barely relevant. For brief, blissful moments I forget that this is all just a show and become deeply involved in whether another settlement here, or a prisoner release there is the “right” or “wrong” thing to be doing. I forget that in the end it’s all for political survival rather than the higher goal of helping Israel and Israelis. After years of Likud we are no safer than we were under years of Labour. With us regular people being the ones to suffer as a result.

About the Author
Marc Goldberg is a copywriter and avid blogger, author of Beyond the Green Line the story of fighting through the al Aqsa Intifada in the IDF Paratroopers
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