Israelis trample on corpse of peaceby Ann Treneman

The Middle East

YOU HAD only to listen to the journalistic cliches to know this would be the last year of the Middle East "peace process".

In January, it had to be "put back on track". By spring, it had to be "resurrected". By autumn, it had to be "salvaged". By year's end, even the BBC World Service's correspondent in Jerusalem was at last forced to admit it was "dying".

Variously regarded as a railway train, a buried corpse, a sinking Titanic - anything rather than admit the truth - the Oslo Agreement was in reality dead the moment it was signed. The Wye Agreement, dutifully signed by Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat in October, was merely part of the wake.

When the Israeli Prime Minister formally declared Wye "suspended" just before Christmas, it was an acknowledgment that the game was up. There would be no more talks with the Palestinians - but of course, that didn't stop further Jewish settlement-building on Arab land, the continued confiscation of Palestinian identification papers and the continued destruction of Palestinian homes.

By the year's end the Palestine Liberation Organisation leader ruled over a garbage-tip Bantustan of slivered towns and refugee camps with the help of 11 secret police forces, prison torture, censorship and total disdain for his people's would-be democratic parliament.

The Middle East peace was supposed to have been founded on UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, which called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land in return for the security of all states (including Israel) in the region.

Oslo allowed Israel to renegotiate 242, to decide which bits of occupied land it might "give" to the Palestinians and which bits it would keep. The occupied West Bank was henceforth to be called "disputed", which meant the whole place was up for grabs. Which is why the Israelis started building a new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghoneim east of Jerusalem - now called by its Hebrew name of Har Homa - on the basis that Oslo didn't say they couldn't build more settlements on Arab land.

And which is why Mr Netanyahu's new Foreign Minister, fresh from securing the Wye Agreement, told the Jewish settlers in the West Bank to "seize every hilltop they can". Each Palestinian objection was treated as an attempt to destroy the "peace process". When Mr Arafat suspended peace talks because of the Jebel Abu Ghoneim/Har Homa settlement, he was accused of wanting to abrogate peace. When Palestinians protested violently against further settlements, they were told they were trying to kill peace.

When Mr Netanyahu declared Jerusalem the unified and eternal capital, he told the Palestinians they had no right to take away Israel's sovereign capital - even though the future of Jerusalem, like settlements and Palestinian refu-gees, was supposed to be part of the final status talks in the Oslo agreement next May.

But when Mr Arafat, sick and humiliated, scorned by increasing numbers of his own people, suggested he might declare a Palestinian state if there was no May settlement, the Israelis turned on him vengefully.

First, the Israelis said, the Palestine National Council had to renounce - for the second time - the clause in its charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. And only hours before it obediently did so, Israel produced more conditions: no more threats to declare a Palestinian state or violent protests against the peace accord.

Inevitably, the violent Palestinian Hamas movement, still demanding an Islamic state for all of Palestine, continued its war against Israel. "Terrorists," screamed the Israelis. When Jewish settlers shot down Palestinians they were called "extremists" or "zealots". Double standards have also been a foundation of the Oslo Agreement.

But the "peace process" is not about fairness or justice; it revolves around just how little the Palestinians will accept in return for being a client kingdom of Israel. The Wye Agreement - presided over by thefickle leadership of Bill Clinton - restated all the Oslo conditions that Mr Netanyahu and Mr Arafat had failed to meet but added a new pro-Israeli clause, which heaped the blame for all violence on to Palestinians.

Mr Arafat was enjoined to hunt down "terrorists", "terrorist cells" and the "terrorist structure" of "terror groups" - and he could forget the "terrorist" violence of Israeli settlers over whom there was to be no control - with the help of the CIA. Palestinian jails began to fill up again with "Islamists" and the PLO's torturers went back to work with the CIA's blessing.

Mr Clinton used the opportunity of "saving the peace" to embellish his own failed statesmanship, accepting almost all Israel's demands - even considering the release of an Israeli spy who had been paid to steal American military secrets - while rewarding Mr Arafat with a visit to Gaza.

For most of the year, the Palestinians burnt American flags. In December, they paused to fly the US flag over Gaza to greet President Clinton as he stepped on to the soil of "Palestine". But within four days - once they realised that the "friend" of Palestine was abandoning them again - the Palestinians burnt the American flag once more.

Even before Mr Clinton had left the Middle East, Mr Netanyahu refused to carry out further troop withdrawals that Israel had promised and then suspended the Wye Agreement altogether - no objections from the Americans, of course.

Unable any longer to balance his refusal to abide by the terms of the Oslo accord with the even more bellicose policies of extremists in his cabinet, Mr Netanyahu called an election, which will suspend all relations with the Palestinians for more than three months - an effective death notice for Oslo.

Syria, which saw through the facade of Oslo from the start, still sticks to Resolution 242 as a foundation of peace - and the return by Israel of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. And so does Lebanon, where Syrian- supported guerrillas from the Hizbollah movement continue to attack Israeli troops occupying the southern part of Lebanon - and whose withdrawal was supposed to have been completed in 1978 under the terms of UN Resolution 425.

Israel condemns these "terrorist attacks", demanding yet more conditions that do not appear in the UN resolution.

If Labour takes power in the April Israeli elections, say the optimists, maybe the "peace process" will be put back on track again. But the dead cannot be resurrected and by April, the explosion that all America's friends in the region - Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia - have warned of may well have come to pass.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engineer (Windows Server, Exchange Server)

    £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server / Infrastructure Engineer (Exchange, Windows, VMware)

    £32000 - £38000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Serv...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Virtualisation / Cloud Infrastructure Engineer (VMware, Cloud)

    £38000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Virt...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum