Olmert’s Theatrics

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spelled out, last week, several proposals for peace with the Palestinians, saying that the Zionist state was extending a hand of peace to the Palestinian people.

“I am extending my hand in peace to our Palestinian neighbors in the hope that it will not be returned empty,” said Olmert, who was speaking at the grave of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, in Sde Boker in southern Israel, last week.

Olmert, who is known more for his spin theatrics and futile political maneuvering and less for his leadership and statesmanship, added that Israel would be willing to withdraw from “large amounts of territory,” release Palestinian prisoners and reduce the number of checkpoints and roadblocks that humiliate people in the West Bank.

In return for this “ great Zionist charity,” Olmert said he expected the Palestinian people to give up the paramount right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and villages from which they were expelled at gunpoint by Jewish gangs when Israel was created nearly sixty years ago.

Moreover, Olmert called on Palestinians to abandon armed resistance to the Israeli occupation army and reject the “uncompromising extremism of your terrorist organizations.”

Indeed, while Olmert’s speech can be looked at as constituting a certain departure from his characteristically bellicose tone, it is amply clear that it contained absolutely nothing new in actual substance. In fact, the speech seems to be nothing more than a mere reproduction and reassertion of Israel’s intransigent rejection of a true and just peace with the Palestinian people and its chronic insistence on maintaining the Jewish stranglehold over the occupied Palestinian land.

For observers with even a rudimentary knowledge of Israeli phraseology, the speech should be viewed as just another theatrical act of public relations aimed at misleading the international public opinion as well as rehabilitating Israel’s tarnished image, especially after the recent atrocities in Lebanon and Gaza.

Actually, Olmert is not even placing old wine in new bottles, as his “offers” are far more parsimonious and far less limited than the promises of the Oslo Accords.

More to the point, it is well known that all Israeli governments voiced a certain willingness to withdraw from “some of” (not all) the occupied territories, provided that the Palestinians give up large portions of their homeland, including al-Quds al Sharif ( East Jerusalem.)

Even manifestly racist Israeli prime ministers such as Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon had voiced such a willingness.

So, Olmert is merely reiterating the same old “willingness” which everyone knows is defined and motivated, not by a true desire for peace with the Palestinians, but rather by Israel’s gluttonous and covetous desire to arrogate as much Arab land as possible.

Indeed, a country that builds hundreds of racist colonies on the occupied territories and transfers hundreds of thousands of its citizens to live on land that belongs to other people doesn’t harbor a genuine desire for peace with her neighbors.

In truth, Olmert, like all duplicitous and dishonest politicians, doesn’t say what he truly means. That is why, a more authentic version of his speech would probably sound like the following..

“Dear Palestinian neighbors: The State of Israel will never withdraw from large parts of the West Bank. And we, under all circumstances, will retain control of the large Jewish-only settlements and, of course, Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.

“And we will not allow you, our dear Palestinian neighbors, to have a truly viable state in the West Bank, which means that you will have to make do with a number of scattered and geographically disconnected quasi- autonomous enclaves or Bantustans or townships. That is my understanding of President Bush’s vision of two states living side by side in peace, Israel and Palestine .

“And don’t forget, We will have to remain in control of the borders and all border- crossings connecting any prospective Palestinian entity with the outside world, because unfettered access and free movement from and to your areas pose a great danger to the security of Israel.!!

“ Besides, we will not accept any peace settlement based on the anachronistic UN resolutions 242 and 338, which are no longer relevant. Yes, our dear neighbors, let the past rest in peace, so let us turn a new page in our common history so that your children and ours will live in peace and prosperity.!!!

“And as to the right of return, just forget it, don’t evoke it any more, because we will never allow these hapless refugees to return home under any circumstances, because maintaining Israel as a purely Jewish state is more important than adhering to the rule of international law and according human rights to the goyem!

“Our dear neighbors, you will have to accept Israel ’s conditions and demands for peace, and if you don’t, you will have neither peace nor freedom, and we will continue to steal your land day and night before your eyes and will continue to torment and savage you and make your life an unending nightmare as we already have been doing. And I guess you understand this too well. Just remember Beit Hanun!

“ In brief, we in Israel are truly sincere about peace with you, our dear cousins. We long for peace with you just as much as we desire another piece of your/our ancient land. Therefore I call upon you to change your mindset and turn your swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Shalom, Salam, Peace. Thank you, thank you.”

Well, as a Palestinian, all I can say is that I hope and pray that Palestinian political leaders, especially President Mahmoud Abbas will not be duped and bamboozled by these theatrics. We have been deceived too much by Israel, and enough is enough.

Besides, we should always pay more attention to what Israel does rather than to what Israel says. After all, Israeli leaders lie as much as they breathe and they should never be trusted.

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Palestine [Issues]
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