The usual response to mention of the ‘peace process’ in Palestine is raised eyebrows or a smirk. People are sick of the international façade that takes place at their expense and when you look at the number of talks that occur without result and the number of agreements that get signed but whose conditions are never met, it’s no surprise.
The more experience I get of working in organisations where bureaucracy often takes centre stage, the more I observe the tricks that are used by the stubborn, the unknowledgeable, or the simply self-righteous to avoid compromise. Worryingly, even at a high level, it would seem that you can get far provided that you know how to avoid answering questions.
Which made me wonder if the ‘peace talks’ tend to go something like this:
Bill Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas sit sizing each other up from across a large mahogany table…
Bill Clinton: So, gentlemen, we’re here today to reach an agreement on a way forward to a two-state solution. We’ve all heard both sides’ conditions many-a-time but compromises will have to be made if peace is to be achieved.
Mahmoud Abbas: Well, how can any compromises be made whilst the building of that wall encroaches on our land, completely violating previous agreements?
Benjamin Netanyahu: Wall, wall, wall… What exactly do you mean by ‘wall’, Abbas? You see, one giant’s stool is another dwarf’s table.
MA: Well, the separation wall you are constructing, of course!
BN: Ah, but would you say that separation is a synonym of violation?
MA: Clearly not but…
BN: Aha! So there you go! You just said it yourself that the wall of separation is not a wall of violation.
MA: How… I certainly did not! And what about the settlements you’re supposed to have stopped building? They’re expanding faster than ever!
BN: Listen, Hamoode. If people want to build an extension on their house – have a nice conservatory to sit in on those dark wintry nights, or perhaps want a shed in which to store their bikes, who am I to stop them? You’re suggesting they leave their bikes outside in the rain? Why, how very crass of you.
MA: No, of course you can’t leave bikes outside to go rusty but… anyway, this is not about bikes!
BN: What you need to worry about is recognising Israel as a Jewish state.
MA: Perhaps if you would care to define ‘Jewish state’ for me, Ben, because, to be quite frank, I’m very confused by what it even means to be Jewish.
BN: What?! Are you hearing this bigotry, Billy?
BC: I… well… he does have a bit of a point about the Jewish state.
BN: Humph, and I have quite the point when it comes to the need for Palestinian demilitarisation.
MA: Oh, and I’m all for that too! Provided Israel also demilitarise.
BN: Are you insane!? How will we defend ourselves?
MA: From what will you be defending ourselves should we demilitarise? And, talking of which, I would appreciate, Bill, if you were to stop supplying Ben with billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry. He keeps killing our citizens with them and the hypocrisy is just a tad overbearing.
BC: Oh, I know, it’s awful isn’t it? In fact, I was saying the very same thing to Barack just last week.
BN: Well, one thing that has to be agreed upon is forgetting this ‘right to return’ malarkey.
MA: Because we all know forgetting rights to be your speciality…
BC: But Hamoode, habebe, there must be some leeway on this, surely?
MA: Will we still have the right to buy holiday homes?