Much ado about nothing

Having lived in Israel and Palestine for almost 20 years, having seen “peace talks” and “peace negotiations” and even “peace agreements” fall apart and make little or no difference on the ground, I tend to look at this next round of talks as much ado about nothing. We’ve seen it all before.

Janet Lahr Lewis

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has appointed Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, to return to the region as chief negotiator. Will it work this time?

  • Can Indyk achieve what he could not the last time he was here?
  • Can an American Jew be an unbiased negotiator for talks between Israel and Palestine?
  • Can Palestine realistically give up any more concessions and still hope to be viable?
  • Will Israel stop creating “facts on the ground” while it negotiates?


Formerly ‘illegal’ settlements

Just today [Aug. 5], Israel announced that it has approved the payment of subsidies to, and more importantly, recognition of additional Jewish settlements that it had previously considered “illegal.”

Jewish-only settlements built on land inside the West Bank are considered illegal by the 4th Geneva Conventions, the United Nations and even the U.S. State Dept. — although no U.S. administration has been brave enough to say that out loud since the days of Jimmie Carter.

No U.S. administration has been brave enough to say that out loud since the days of Jimmie Carter..

By recognizing these settlements, some of which are already large cities, Israel has in a matter of seconds created more “facts on the ground” with which it will try to manipulate into the next round of peace talks.

In addition to recognizing these formerly “illegal” settlements, the Israeli government is also approving the construction of tens of thousands of more housing units in areas that have formerly been small “outposts” or trailer parks, marking the location of a future permanent Jewish settlement as in the case of Givat Hamatos in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa.

I have lived here long enough to know that the results of negotiations will only mean more benefits for Israelis and even fewer human rights for Palestinians.

Land of miracles

I agree with Finian Cunningham in his recent article: “Unfortunately, we can say with near certainty that the end result will be stillborn. History tells us so.”

There is another history that we must consider, however; one that continues to give us hope despite the pessimism, despite the grinding away of dignity and human rights, despite the daily deaths and abuse. History has shown us that this is the land of miracles.

Consequently, we continue to pray that God will send another one that will bring not just peace, but truth, justice, reconciliation and healing to this ravaged land.

Editor's note: Janet Lahr Lewis is the Methodist Liaison in Palestine & Israel. She is a missionary with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

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