Gideon Levy, one of the most prominent journalists in Israel, speaks to
Lia Tarachansky about the so
called “peace process” and Israel’s push for negotiations. Levy says the
reason Israel and the US are
pushing for negotiations is because negotiations give the illusion of
progress, while Israel does not plan
on implementing serious steps. While the chief Palestinian negotiator,
Saeb Erekat, said in a press
conference that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will push for UN recognition
of an independent
Palestinian state, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded
by saying Israel would react
with a unilateral move of its own. Today, Netanyahu suggested this may
entail Israel declaring that the
West Bank settler colonies will become part of Israel itself.
LIA TARACHANSKY (VOICEOVER), PRODUCER, TRNN: Gideon Levy is one of the most prominent journalists in Israel, writing a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz. In the second segment of our interview in Tel Aviv, Levy discusses the possibility of negotiations and the politics of the region.
GIDEON LEVY, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ NEWSPAPER: Listen, this part of the world is endangering the security of the world and the peace of the world more than any other region in the world, more than Afghanistan and more than Pakistan, because the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is feeding a lot of terror networks all over the worldï¿½as an excuse, but they can use it. This area is bleeding for so many years, and it’s time to put an end, because it is very, very dangerous. The more nuclear is stepping into this area, the more it endangers the entire world.
TARACHANSKY: At the general assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America last week, both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US [White House] chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reiterated their countries’ dedication to immediate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The PA, however, has taken on US President Obama’s position that ongoing land annexation for Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories must stop, saying negotiations cannot restart otherwise. However, Emanuel reiterated Israel’s line, urging the two parties to reengage in the so-called peace process regardless.
RAHM EMANUEL, US WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No one should allow the issue of settlements to distract from the overarching goal of a lasting peace between Israel, Palestinians, and the Arab world.
LEVY: There is no peace process. It’s a joke. There is no peace process. There are some games going on, a masquerade, but not a real peace process, because nobody has the intention, really, to implement major steps. Israel wants negotiations because when negotiations are on, the pressure on Israel is much smaller. And something is going on, and they are meeting once in two weeks, and then there is a big peace conference. Without paying any price, why not? You only gain. For Israel the negotiations are a win-win situation, because nobody intends to implement anything. And we saw it now for 16 years, ever since Oslo. So there will be negotiations, and there will be even, maybe, an agreement, another peace plan, but nobody does anything about it. This is the time to put an end to all negotiations, because there is no room for negotiations, because the solution is very clear to everybody. This is the terrible mistake that the Obama administration did or fall into this trap [sic].
TARACHANSKY: Rumors have been circulating in the media that the Palestinian Authority may request the UN Security Council to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.
SAEB EREKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: So there is a difference between a unilateral declaration of independence, which we will not do (and I think this happened in 1988), and a difference of seeking the international community to preserve the two-state solution by adopting a resolution to recognize the two states.
TARACHANSKY: Twenty years ago, the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat declared independence, but the declaration was not recognized by most of the world’s governments. In January, the Palestinian Authority also applied to the International Criminal Court to be added as a member state. If the court, which is independent of the UN, decides to include the PA, it will have to define the Palestinian state. Netanyahu and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman both said that the unilateral move by the Palestinian Authority to push for its state would be met with a unilateral move by Israel, but refused to explain what this might entail.
LEVY: I don’t know if it’s time to lose hope, but we are getting very close to it. The alternative to a two-state solution is the one-state solution, which is not a good solution for the Palestinians, mainly for the Palestinians, because there is a big gap between the two societies, and there will not be equality and not be justice. And therefore, at least in the first stage, the Palestinians deserve their own state. But I agree to what PA officials say, that maybe we missed the train, maybe it is too late. With almost half a million settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, I don’t see how you can go forwards. And maybe it’s still time. I mean, France had evacuated one million settlers in Algeria. Maybe Israel will be still able to evacuate half a million if Israel will understand that there is no other choice. I think the Palestinians right now are not a major player. I think the ball is in Israel’s hands, and therefore it’s less important what’s going on in Palestine. It’s not only Abbas, it’s in the division between Hamas and Fatah, between Gaza and the West Bankï¿½far of being ideal conditions for having negotiations and reaching an agreement. But we had once a very united Palestinian Authority with a very charismatic and powerful leader, Yasser Arafat, and nothing happened then as well.
TARACHANSKY: Meanwhile, the Goldstone Report that accuses Israel and the Palestinian Hamas of war crimes in the recent attack on Gaza passed the UN General Assembly with majority support. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to pass the report to its final step, the UN Security Council. If the body approves the report, it will be obliged to enforce its recommendations, which include the possibility of bringing leaders of both sides to trial at the International Criminal Court.
LEVY: No, I don’t think that all those initiatives like the Goldstone Report and others will make a major difference. Maybe one or two generals will be, apparently, arrested when they land somewhere, but I don’t think that this will bring the major change. It must be political.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.