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The BBC reports:

The United States is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.

Yeah, why not? Despite the complexities of how and in what degree this is a classic loser move by Obama, I’m far more tempted to just jeer and hoot “LOSER!!!!” from the sidelines. At least that’s a little fun.

Juan Cole writes,

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestine Authority again on Monday broadly hinted that he may declare a Palestinian state unilaterally if the Israelis undermine direct negotiations by refusing to halt their colonization of the West Bank. The Palestine Authority feels as though it is negotiating for what is left of a slurpy with Israelis who have long straws in it and are sucking down the very thing over which they are pretending to negotiate. Abbas thinks that at the end of the talks, if they are conducted in this way, he’ll just be handed an empty paper cup with other people’s spit at the bottom of it.

The possible conclusions he sees are not much different from mine:

Likely, bad things will now happen, despite Obama’s perpetual optimism.. If the Likud-led government won’t negotiate into being a two-state solution, granting a Palestinian state in 22% of the League-of-Nations-defined Palestine, then only three possibilities remain.

1. Israeli colonization could proceed apace, reinforcing an Apartheid in which stateless Palestinians without rights precariously eke out a life under foreign military occupation, while being actively stolen from by a horde of Israeli squatters. While such an Apartheid situation is not stable, it could go on for decades before producing a real blow-up.

2. There could be, willy-nilly, a one-state solution. Apartheid could place so many boycotts and so much opprobrium on Israel that ultimately the welfare and livelihoods of ordinary Israelis would be badly affected. They could react by emigrating, or by voting citizenship for the Palestinians as a means of ending a growing international boycott (something that may only develop gradually over the next two decades).

3. The Palestinians could unilaterally declare a state. This step is being toyed with by Mahmoud Abbas. The plan was probably helped by the declarations during the past week on the part of Brazil and Argentina that they recognized the Palestinian state.

I’m very enthusiastic about a one-state solution. More and more as time goes by. If the Israeli objective is to maintain a Jewish state, then they should be jumping all over themselves to allow the Palestinians their own state and to make it as viable as possible so that it’s an attractive place for non-Jewish Palestinians to live.

But if you judge nations and societies based on how they act, rather than what they say – as we’re taught to do regarding people – then Israel’s objective is not the maintenance of a Jewish state. They want Palestinian land without the Palestinians on it, and if they must have the Palestinians too, they’ll oppress them because:

a) It’s hard to steal the land and resources of the empowered;

b) You don’t make people go away by being nice;

c) A large and growing number of Israelis really like being oppressors, so cruelty is its own reward.

So I say, fuck ’em. If a Jewish state isn’t what the Jewish Israelis want, then why give it to them? Have a single state then. Sure, in time, the apartheid will crumble as it must, and political power over all of Israel will rest in the hands of the Arab Palestinians. It’s as foreseeable as tomorrow. And why shouldn’t that be Israel’s tomorrow? Why must Israel remain Jewish, if it comes at the price of apartheid, oppression and war? I stand on the side of justice for people – whoever they may be – and the sooner that happens in Israel, the better.

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