Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?

Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?

Phyllis Bennis: After Palestine applies to join UN organizations, Israel reneges on deal to release prisoners, leading talks back into where they started - a dead end -   April 9, 2014
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

the name says it all...real news - yusuf
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis, Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer. Her most recent book is Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.


Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority applied to join 15 UN institutions, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that Palestinians withdraw their applications after Israel failed to release another batch of Palestinian prisoners as a part of ongoing peace negotiations. Palestinian officials have threatened to join the International Criminal Court if the talks do not progress further. And U.S. officials are now scrambling to hold the talks together, as John Kerry reportedly offered the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

Now joining us to discuss all this is our guest, Phyllis Bennis. Phyllis is a fellow and the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She's also the author of the book Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.

Thanks for joining us, Phyllis.

So, Phyllis, as the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians seem to be really falling apart, can you just give us an assessment in terms of how everything is progressing related to construction of new settlements, prisoner swaps, and so on and so forth?

PHYLLIS BENNIS, FELLOW, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Essentially, everything is progressing as if there were no peace talks. These peace talks are sham peace talks. This is not about peace. This is a call for the Palestinians to surrender, and it's not happening the way the Israelis wanted it, so it's crumbling.

This was, as many of us said, something that might be termed the Einstein edition of the peace talks, based on the scientist's definition of being crazy--doing the same thing over and over again and thinking you're going to get a different result. These are the same peace talks, based on the same failed premises that we saw in the last 22 years of failed U.S. diplomacy. We're going into the 23rd year, and nothing has really changed. Settlement expansion continues. The prisoners remain. There's more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The siege of Gaza remains. So the notion that somehow things are getting better because they're talking simply is not the case.

DESVARIEUX: Why is the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard of such significance? Why was that even offered up?

BENNIS: Well, I think those two are very different questions. I don't think it's very significant. Jonathan Pollard is a convicted spy. Whether he gets released from prison early or not, frankly, has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian talks, it has nothing to do with Palestine. It's as if the Israelis are being tossed a bone in these talks that has nothing to do with Palestine. It won't benefit the Palestinians. It won't benefit anybody except Netanyahu's reputation for bringing home the spy that Israelis all love.

But it's an outrage that the administration is intervening in a judicial matter, the question of the punishment of a convicted spy who was sentenced to life imprisonment, and offering him up as a bone to toss to keep the Israelis in the talk. He has nothing to do with the Palestinians. And whether he stays in prison or goes out on parole or whatever has no significance whatsoever.

DESVARIEUX: What's your take on the Palestinian authority's role in the negotiations?

BENNIS: I think that they believed early on that they were going to get something in these negotiations. Maybe they believed only they would get the prisoners released, at least.

Now, keep in mind, Jessica, we're talking about only 104 Palestinian prisoners who were scheduled to be released, but many of them were longstanding prisoners from before the Oslo days. And the question of political prisoners in Palestine among Palestinians is a very, very crucial question. There is virtually not a single family in the occupied territories that doesn't have someone either in prison now or who has been in an Israeli prison. So the question of the prisoners is a very fundamental question of Palestinian rights.

And I think that the Palestinian leadership, Mahmoud Abbas and the others, believe that if they could at least get that concession out of Netanyahu, that it would somehow be worth it. As we know now, the Israelis, after agreeing to release the 104 prisoners, said, well, we'll only release them in four batches. They released the first three batches, but then they suddenly announced they were not going to release the last 25 or so prisoners that were due to be released about now. And the Palestinians, in response to that, not before, but in response to the announcement from Israel that they would not release the prisoners, that was the point at which the Palestinian Authority signed on to the 15 international treaties and treaty bodies, which they had promised not to do.

You know, it's a funny thing, when you think about it, the quid pro quo here. On the one hand, Israel was obligated to release prisoners for whom they are violating international law by holding them. The Geneva Conventions do not allow an occupying power to intern or to imprison part of the occupied population in their own country. This is illegal. So the agreement was that Israel was going to stop one tiny little bit of its violation of the Geneva conventions, and in return the Palestinians agreed that they would not do something that is fundamentally legal, which is to sign on to a bunch of human rights treaties that put the onus on them themselves.

So what they were signing on to was not the International Criminal Court, which they could use to try, to prosecute Israelis for war crimes. They signed on to the treaties involving the rights of the disabled, the rights of women, the rights of children, the Geneva Conventions themselves. All of these are treaties that obligate the Palestinians to abide by human rights. So it's a very good thing that everybody should be cheering when any government--or, in this case, it's not a government, but it's an authority--sign on to those treaties, those human rights treaties. And yet that was taken as an attack on Israel. And the United States' Samantha Power and others said that this was, you know, somehow an outrage that the Palestinians were doing this, that this was not helpful, calling it a unilateral act which is not helpful to the peace process, etc., when the alternative for the Israelis was a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, thank you so much for joining us.

BENNIS: Thank you.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com


Latest Stories

Behind the Music with TRNN's Stephen Janis
The Blind Spots in Alberta's Climate Change Plan
Vulture Capitalists Are the Real Winners of Argentina’s Elections
Eddie Conway Talks Indigenous People's Day and Political Prisoners
Indigenous Peoples' History is More Complicated Than a Holiday Myth
The Iraqi Pissing Match - John Kiriakou on RAI (4/10)
Turkey's Intentions Behind the Downing of a Russian Jet
Policing on Trial as Freddie Gray Case Set to Begin
Is America Powerless to Stop Pfizer Merger?
The Unbreakable Spirit of Gilmor Homes
My Reports on 1995 Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain Ignored by State Department - John Kiriakou on Reality Asserts Itself (3/10)
Wilkerson: The Hypocrisy of U.S. Syria Policy (1/2)
"Being a Founding White Father Ain't What It Used To Be:" Student Protests on College Campuses
Days of Revolt: Militarizing Education
Historic Win for the Right in Argentina's National Election
How I Joined the CIA - John Kiriakou on Reality Asserts Itself (2/10)
Sanders Defines his Social Democracy
MD Among Lowest Number of Hate Crimes in the Nation
Report: The Population of Women in Prison Has Tripled Since the '90s
Native American Genocide & Survival with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
History Will Judge America on Syrian Refugee Crisis As "Shameful"
I Believed America Could Do No Wrong - John Kiriakou, Former CIA Official, on Reality Asserts Itself (1/10)
N Don't Stop - Brook Park + TBB on Rooftop Live
The Black Panthers: A Revolution In Review
What's Fueling Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria?
Is Obama Walking Into COP21 With An Empty Hand?
Back to Square One, Obama Says Assad Must Go
Towson President Agrees to Students' Demands After Eight-Hour Occupation
The Pentagon and Bernie Sanders Agree: Terrorism Linked to Climate Change
"They Think They've Won"

RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting