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"Middle East Peace Process is a Scam"
Says Senior Jewish Leader, Henry Siegman

August 11, 2007

The entire Bush administration's so-called "peace conference" involving the Arab states, Israel and the Palestinians is a fraud, says Henry Siegman, in the current issue of the London Review of Books (August 16, 2007). Siegman, director of the U.S./Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), is a senior voice of the international Jewish community, and is known as the highest ranking Jewish member of the U.S. establishment. The article is called "Middle East Peace Process is a Scam."

Siegman demands that the U.S. and the European Union finally face up to the real impediments to peace among Israel and the Palestinians--that is, Israel's notion that the occupation of Palestinian territories, and the creation of "facts on the ground" to justify land grabs, can go on indefinitely. The problem isn't the failure of the Palestinians to renounce violence or to recognize the right of Israel to exist (which the PLO did, a "wrenching concession" for which they never received credit), Siegman writes, but rather "the failure of the international community to reject (other than in empty rhetoric) Israel's notion that the occupation and the creation of 'facts on the ground' can go on indefinitely, so long as there's no agreement acceptable to Israel." This is what has "defeated all previous peace initiatives and the efforts of all peace envoys."

Siegman lays out that Israel's interest in a peace process "has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon is 'to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people.'" He also notes that Dov Weisglas, chief of cabinet to then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, told Ha'aretz in a 2004 interview that the strategic goal of Sharon's diplomacy was to put the peace process and Palestinian statehood in "formaldehyde." This is a "fiendishly appropriate metaphor," Siegman says, because formaldehyde "uniquely prevents the deterioration of dead bodies and sometimes creates the illusion they are still alive."

Siegman concludes that what is required is that the U.N. Security Council adopt a resolution that affirms the following: 1. Changes to pre-1967 borders can only be made by agreement between the two parties. 2. The default setting for UN Resolution 242 is a return by Israeli forces to the pre-1967 border. 3. If the parties do not reach agreement within 12 months, the default setting will be invoked by the Security Council, which will then adopt its own terms for an end to the conflict and arrange for an international force to enter the occupied territories, help establish the rule of law.

Well-informed sources in Washington described this article as one of the most angry that Siegman has ever written. "He's had it with this administration," said one source, a Middle East expert.