The experienced American diplomatist Chas W. Freeman, Jr, has issued a strong call for European and Arab states to work together to ensure speedy attainment of Israeli-Palestinian peace, arguing that “Only a peace process that is protected from Israel’s ability to manipulate American politics can succeed.”
Speaking Wednesday morning (September 1) to the staff of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Oslo, Freeman argued that, in their pursuit of a sustainable and final peace settlement, European and Arab states should be prepared to convene their own values-driven peace process outside the currently shackled UN system, if necessary.
At the core of this process should, he said, be an ultimatum that if the two parties can’t reach a peace settlement within a year, the world’s states would impose one: This would be either a call for recognition of a Palestinian state within all the Palestinian areas that lie beyond Israel’s 1967 borders– or, recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over all of Mandate Palestine and a requirement that it grant equal rights to all who are governed by Israel.
On October 1, my company Just World Books will be publishing Freeman’s first collection of writings on the Middle East, titled America’s Misadventures in the Middle East. The book contains much new material, including a detailed account of how he saw the strategy and diplomacy unfolding during the US-Saudi-led campaign to liberate Kuwait from its Iraqi occupiers back in 1991, when he was the U.S. ambassador in Saudi Arabia. It also contains several chapters that analyze the mis-steps Pres. G.W. Bush made– both when he ignored the challenge of pushing for a fair and sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and when he pushed the U.S. into the unjustified invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In his speech in Oslo, Freeman notes that many previous rounds of the US-led “peace process” between Israelis and Palestinians have proved to be only,
- diplomatic distractions [that] have served to obscure Israeli actions and evasions that were more often prejudicial to peace than helpful in achieving it. Behind all the blather, the rumble of bulldozers has never stopped… When the curtain goes up on the diplomatic show in Washington tomorrow, will the players put on a different skit? There are many reasons to doubt that they will.
One is that the Obama administration has engaged the same aging impresarios who staged all the previously failed “peace processes” to produce and direct this one with no agreed script.
During his long career in the US State Department Freeman led the negotiation that resulted in South Africa’s withdrawal of its troops from Namibia, and the holding of a democratic election in Namibia (South West Africa) that resulted in the Namibians finally attaining their long-held dream of national independence. (That complex peace diplomacy also resulted in Cuba’s withdrawal of its troops from Angola.)
In his address in Oslo Freeman called forthrightly for Hamas’s inclusion in some manner in the peace diplomacy, describing it (correctly) as “the party that won the democratically expressed mandate of the Palestinian people to represent them,” and noting that “there can be no peace without its buy-in.”
He concluded by asking Norway and its fellow Europeans to do four things to maximize the chances that this latest peace “process” might become an actual peace:
- 1. Get behind the Arab peace initiative…
2. Help create a Palestinian partner for peace. “Saudi Arabia has several times sought to create a Palestinian peace partner for Israel by bringing Fatah, Hamas, and other factions together. On each occasion, Israel, with U.S. support, has acted to preclude this. Active organization of non-American Western support for diplomacy aimed at restoring a unity government to the Palestinian Authority could make a big difference.”
3. Reaffirm and reinforce international law. “If ethnic cleansing, settlement activity, and the like are not just ‘unhelpful’ but illegal, the international community should find a way to say so, even if the UN Security Council cannot. Otherwise, the most valuable legacy of Atlantic civilization – its vision of the rule of law – will be lost. When one side to a dispute is routinely exempted from principles, all exempt themselves, and the law of the jungle prevails. The international community needs collectively to affirm that Israel, both as occupier and as regional military hegemon, is legally accountable internationally for its actions. If the UN General Assembly cannot ‘unite for peace’ to do what an incapacitated Security Council cannot, member states should not shrink from working in conference outside the UN framework.”
4. Set a deadline linked to an ultimatum. “Accept that the United States will frustrate any attempt by the UN Security Council to address the continuing impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. Organize a global conference outside the UN system to coordinate a decision to inform the parties to the dispute that if they cannot reach agreement in a year, one of two solutions will be imposed. Schedule a follow-up conference for a year later. The second conference would consider whether to recommend universal recognition of a Palestinian state in the area beyond Israel’s 1967 borders or recognition of Israel’s achievement of de jure as well as de facto sovereignty throughout Palestine (requiring Israel to grant all governed by it citizenship and equal rights at pain of international sanctions, boycott, and disinvestment). Either formula would force the parties to make a serious effort to strike a deal or to face the consequences of their recalcitrance. Either formula could be implemented directly by the states members of the international community.”
JWN readers can get more information about Freeman’s upcoming book, and about Just World Books’s other October 2010 title, “Gaza Mom” (the book), from Laila El-Haddad, when JWB’s website gets launched next week.
Watch this space for news on that! Meantime, you can follow Just World Books’s news on Twitter, here.