January 26, 2012. One more date in a long string of blown deadlines for the pathetic Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" overseen by that bizarre hybrid of fading or faded superpowers and multilateral organizations known as the Quartet. No wonder the Obama Administration has washed its hands of the effort and happily delegated this futile exercise to Jordanian auspices. For the last several weeks in Amman, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have held sporadic preliminary talks about holding talks to talk about "permanent status" issues. Heady and inspiring stuff.
In case you're interested in keeping track of these faux negotiations, here's how we got to this point. After the United States scotched the effort of Palestine to become a member of the UN at this fall's General Assembly with its oh-so-subtle threats and blandishments, the Quartet once again dusted off its defibrillator to shock the moribund Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" back to life. On September 23, the Quartet issued a statement confidently predicting that renewed negotiations should conclude successfully "not longer than the end of 2012." Toward that end, Quartet Envoy Tony Blair shuttled out to the region for prep work on October 26, thereby kicking off a three-month period ending today during which time the Quartet "expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security."
Fat chance. Israel dragged its feet so badly it left scuff marks all over King Abdullah's nice marble palaces. According to an article in yesterday's edition of Ha'aretz, Israel refused to present any detailed proposals on borders, instead sticking to vague principles and focusing on its security demands. Unsurprisingly the talks broken down. Hmm...when have we heard this broken record before?
But isn't this, after all, the exact purpose of the so-called "peace process" from which Israel finds itself in a cushy situation? From these endless talks, Israel gets the double benefit of getting the international community off of its back by seeming to want peace while at the same time buying precious additional time to colonize more Palestinian land that is supposed to be the basis for a fanciful future Palestinian state.
Yet, hope springs eternal for the "peace process" optimists. EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton stated: "I still remain hopeful that with goodwill, they can continue to talk." And, of course, the failed January 26 deadline was actually no deadline at all because it was not “written in stone, but was there to give a sense of dynamic or momentum." For sure, things are looking up for wrapping up the "peace process" in 2012!