Hey Aisha!! I hope this doesn't sound insensitive or anything however I've been learning about the Arab-Israeli conflict in class and since I've stumbled across your blog I've been extremely interested in your content!! Is it okay if I ask for your opinion on the Arab-Israeli Peace Process(e.g. Camp David Accords, Madrid Peace Conference, Oslo Accords and the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Agreement)? How effective do you think these events were in establishing peace?
thank you so much <3
to put it very simply, these peace treaties by no means aim to establish peace, and the past decades have proven so. what these peace agreements do achieve, however, can be summed as follows;
cementing an apartheid system: reviewing the first twenty years alone of oslo, we see a massive growth of illegal settlements (from 160,000 at the time of signing to more than 650,000 in 2013), an apartheid system was cemented not only through checkpoints and permit systems, but also through dividing the west bank into areas a, b and c, the latter being over 61% of the west bank which israel had isolated under its full control to allow for more settlement expansion and eventually to annex the land to israel. moreover, we have also witnessed imposing a brutal siege on the gaza strip, as well as the continuation of resource theft and land confiscation and separation of communities through the building of the apartheid wall and continuation of putting palestinians under israeli military rule.
provide israel with a cover: while israel continues its systematic apartheid policies, it still enjoys full impunity and that is because these peace agreements have always worked as a shield for israel to hide behind and avoid accountability and continue its breaches of international law under the premise of “we’re working on it and we have peace negotiations to prove it”.
“only free men can negotiate”: clearly, the aim behind these “peace agreements” is anything but the establishment of peace. but even if we entertained the idea that it was, it would be naive for us to completely ignore the power dynamics between the parties involved as it is a clear case of oppressor vs the oppressed. negotiations only make sense when both sides are equal, otherwise they’re futile. it is inconceivable to negotiate colonial occupation and debate illegal activities like land theft or basic rights like the right to free movement.
force palestinian concession: if anything, these treaties and negotiations aim at reconciliation which in turn means undermining palestinian resistance and sacrifices. in fact these agreements do criminalise palestinian resistance and paint it as a form violence which the palestinian side (or egyptian or jordanian side) has to pledge to reject in order for the negotiations to commence. needless to say, this harms and obstructs any efforts towards justice.
normalising relations with israel: another thing they achieve is normalising and rationalising the occupation. they allow israel to continue its repression against palestinians without it being threatened or challenged. by normalising relations between these states and israel, they validate israeli colonialism and accept its occupation and crimes which in turn protects israel from any genuine decolonisation or accountability. there can be no resolution through establishing free-trade or “easing” some restrictions or border control agreements.
palestinian statehood: in relation to the point above, we need to always remember that neither one of these agreements promise palestinian statehood and they have no intention of recognising fundamental palestinian rights. in fact, then israeli prime minister yitzhak rabin declared upon the signing of the oslo accords that “we do not accept the Palestinian goal of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan. We believe there is a separate Palestinian entity short of a state.” and then again more recently, when the palestinian authority was pushing for recognition at the UN for example, israeli and US officials have deemed the PA’s attempts as harmful to the peace process. this shows how peace agreements only work to advance israeli narrative and all else, including palestinians’ self-determination, is off the table.
marginalising palestinians: let’s also not forget how these agreements are done at the expense of palestinians. while their rights are being gambled by higher-ups, the majority of palestinians (refugees, diaspora and those living inside isarel) are unrepresented and further isolated as more land is annexed and their rights annulled. as edward said put it, “It is perfectly in keeping with the colonial spirit of the peace process that Israel and the United States are at bottom delighted to give us symbols of sovereignty, such as a flag, while witholding real sovereignty, the right of return for all refugees, economic self-sufficiency, and relative independence. I have always felt that the meaning of Palestine is something more substantial than that.”
of course this is by no means inclusive of all the negative impacts of the “peace process” circus and there is much depth to it (such as the collapse of the palestinian market due to the US neo-liberal conceptions of the process) and i would also suggest reading edward said’s the end of the peace process.