If Israel continues to target Palestinian families, what’s the point of a ‘peace process’?

9:01 am - August 27th 2013

by Ben White    

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Human Rights Watch this weekend released a must-read item on demolitions in Israel that they say are intended “to drive [Palestinian] families off their land”, part of a wider regime of “forcible transfer” and “discrimination”.

The report notes that some 3,800 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli home demolitions since Prime Minister Netanyahu took office in 2009.

The continuation and even escalation of Israeli violations of international law during peace talks illustrates that the official “peace process” only serves to protect Israel from accountability over its policies. What Palestinians actually need is a protection of their basic rights and an end to the impunity enjoyed by the state of Israel.

Early yesterday morning, Israeli forces invaded Qalandia refugee camp near Ramallah and shot dead three residents, wounding many more. The killings come a week after the IDF shot dead another Palestinian in Jenin.

Israel has now killed 13 Palestinians in the West Bank this year.

Even before the deadly raid, there was yesterday’s approval of the budget for an expansion of Ramat Shlomo settlement – along with millions more in government money for a “national park” operated by a right-wing pro-settler group in illegally-annexed East Jerusalem.

The country’s Housing Minister personally helped dedicate new settlement housing over the weekend, declaring a Palestinian state “will never happen“.

Soon after the announcement of the resumption of peace talks a month ago, the Israeli government put 91 Jewish settlements on a national priority funding list, while official figures showed three times as many settlement housing starts in the first quarter of 2013 compared to 2012.

And it is not just the settlements (Amnesty International points out they are a war crime): just last week, dozens of Palestinians were displaced by the demolition of their homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

That is why the British government and others need to go beyond support for the deeply flawed US-managed negotiations and mealy-mouthed disapproval, and instead use real leverage and sanctions against a state which, without meaningful consequences, will continue to colonise and kill with impunity.

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About the author
This is a guest article. Ben White is a freelance journalist who has written for Guardian's CIF, Electronic Intifada and others. His book 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide' (Pluto Press), was published in 2009.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East

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Reader comments


The entire region is awash with military coups, chemical warfare, suicide bombings and sectarian slaughter. Yet the ongoing stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians is what still preoccupies you. Even proposing sanctions against Israel. How dare they put their own security above others? It’s not as if there’s any chance of the instability spreading is there?

Could you please tell us what you propose for the various troubles in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq? Or doesn’t your concept of impunity stretch to these nations as well?

Will a Palestinian state ever happen? A good question. I hope so but doubt if it would be an all singing all dancing militarised nation.

There is no peace process. Settlers still settling and Palestinians still getting shot. All there is is an agreement between Israel and Abbas that he gets to be in charge of the West Bank bantustan/ghetto/concentration camp until it is decanted into Jordan via ethnic cleansing.

There was a good Al Jazeera programme on this the other night and they decided to just call it ”The Process”. It’s not a peace process, just a process for keeping the current situation more or less as it is. People engage in it for various reasons.

Ben, why your obsessive focus on Israel? What’s behind it?

Thanks Kojak for getting the inevitable whatabouttery out the way (*optimistic tone*) from the get go – and thanks Daphne for the question (it’s because I just really like hummus).

@Damon – yep, the peace process has never been about a real peace but rather a never-ending process (while Israel continues to colonise).

Netanyahu needs to be kicked out of the office. He is number one reason for the entire region being in such a mess. From Gaza to Egypt to Syria … but, soon the fire will burn Israel too .. With friends like BiBi Israel does not need enemy …. Everything depends on a permanent peace based on the mutual respect for both states involved; something that BiBi is not rooting for at all .

Ben , Thanks for the great article .

Any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. As Larry Summers said in 2002 when he was President of Harvard:

“But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”

Meanwhile, Israeli government have continued to allow the building of new Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands. But it is blatantly antisemitic to point this out, especially when doing so is likely to disrupt the peace process.

8. Anne O'Nimmus

@ Bob B
Last week, from a government minister, no less!

“Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said this week the demand that Israel freeze construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is anti-Semitic.”

But I love this musical description of the piece process – it’s brilliant!


9. Man on Clapham Omnibus

I always think it helps is you believe in irredentism , expansionism ,a master race and have a blank cheque from a world power.

Indeed, the problem with the peace process is that fundamentally Israel already has nearly all of what it wants. It has de facto control of the West Bank, without giving its inhabitants any real legal, property or voting rights. It has discovered that thanks to improving military technology it is able to contain any Palestinian attempts to resist this situation with violence, without much serious risk to its own citizens. Furthermore, the economic cost of this is largely covered by military aid.

There is absolutely nothing to be gained for Israel from a peace process besides getting rid of some irritating criticism from abroad – and even that has its uses in domestic politics.

Really the only thing Israel really wants, that is a Jewish democratic state including the West Bank (impossible since there are too many Palestinians with a natural right to citizenship by birthplace), the Palestinians are powerless to give even if they wanted to, unless Israel grants them passports…


Thanks for your message and your failure to answer the question.

11 Kodak well said

Bob B your sarcasm isn’t helpful, and Ben, quoting human rights watch, as some end ll, of unbiased, is rather a waste of your time,

“Bob B your sarcasm isn’t helpful, ”

Usually, by this stage in such debates someone has claimed that I’m therefore a friend of David Irving and a holocaust denier to prove that there is absolutely nothing wrong about destroying Palestinian homes on the West Bank in order to build more Israeli settlements – which constitutes a war crime. But who cares about that – apart from the Palestinians, of course?

But they haven’t Bob, maybe you should throw more chum out there

Meanwhile children in Israel are being fitted for gas masks in anticipation of attacks from Syria, but meh they are Zionist Settler Coloniast scum children full of racial supremacy and apartheid

16. Paul peter Smith

Israel hasn’t committed any atrocities against the Palestinians, the Israeli Defence Force always conducts thorough investigations into all such incidents and they’ve never found any evidence against them.
E.g. They recently announced that anyone who saw the footage of the terrible Israeli sniper having a dozen attempts at murdering that guy and his son in Jerusalem, were mistaken. We didnt see a man beg for his life while trying to shield his son from a pitiless, deliberate attack on a child. Phew thats a relief!
No doubt he would have grown up to throw rocks at tanks or launch fireworks at the strongest missle defence in the world, so better safe than sorry eh?

17. George King

As the Zionist liars hide their ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinians behind a bogus peace process this is how a real movement for a unified democratic Palestine could take place:


Peace In Palestine. For a unified, secular democratic Palestine in which Muslims, Jews, Christians and those of no faith can live in harmony and to which the refugees can return to new homes and jobs.

George, could you provide some evidence of the genocide of the Palestinians please.

19. Man on Clapham Omnibus

15. AlexC

That’s a bit harsh isn’t it?

20. George King

Yes Alex sorry of course. Where are my manners: Five million refugees, the ongoing illegal settling of the West Bank Bantustan and the ghettoisation of Gaza.

@MoCO, yeah, and off topic too, the perils of posting angry.
@George King, so no evidence of genocide then?

There is no peace process and there never was its all to distract people from the fact that Israel is stealing more Palestinian land,

not to worry though im sure America will draw another red line.

There is no peace process and there never was its all to to distract people from the fact the PA and Hamas continue to attempt to murder Jews,

not to worry though I’m sure Iran will draw another red line.

George King re Comment 17:

“Peace In Palestine. For a unified, secular democratic Palestine in which Muslims, Jews, Christians and those of no faith can live in harmony and to which the refugees can return to new homes and jobs.”


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