In all the rounds of negotiations that have taken place between Israel and Palestine, the Palestinians have always lost out to Israel. With a new round of peace talks beginning, brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry, Palestine is set to lose once again. Here's why.
The talks are taking place in Washington, with Kerry playing the role of mediator. The problem is, mediators are supposed to be independent. Washington gives overwhelming financial and military support to the Israelis and none to the Palestinians. Furthermore, Kerry himself has a considerably improper relationship with corporations profiting off Israel's aggressive posture towards Palestine.
Among Kerry's donors in last year's senate race was Lockheed Martin, the company that makes the F-16 fighter jets Israel uses to bomb Gaza. Lockheed Martin was also a major contributor to the Democratic National Committee in 2004, the year Kerry ran for president. Furthermore, the number one contributor to Kerry's campaign committee in recent years is Bain Capital (yes, that Bain Capital). The chairwoman of Bain & Company, Bain Capital's parent corporation, is Orit Gadeish, the daughter of an Israeli colonel and herself a former member of the Israeli intelligence apparatus. So it's safe to say John Kerry's number-one campaign contributor probably won't be thrilled if he lets the Palestinians win too much in the negotiations. Between Kerry's pro-Israel financiers, Obama's pandering to the Israel lobby, and Congress' near-unanimous support for "security cooperation" with Israel, the fact that the U.S. is the intermediary gives Israel a clear advantage in the negotiations right from the start.
A complete freeze on settlement building was a longstanding precondition for the Palestinian Authority to re-enter talks with Israel — a precondition that they've abandoned completely, with Israel set to build up to 1,000 new settlement housing units while the negotiations are taking place. And that's not even counting the ongoing construction of outpost settlements, which the Israeli government provides tacit support for, even if it considers them technically illegal. This map of Palestine's disappearing land gives a stark demonstration of why settlements are rapidly eliminating any possibility of a two-state solution. By entering talks without a settlement freeze in place, the Palestinian Authority has already lost its most important battle.
The problem was that the Palestinian Authority concealed their true position in the negotiations, telling the public one thing and then saying something completely different in the private negotiations. The reason they concealed their true negotiating tactics was obvious: they were bending over backwards to give away everything possible to the Israelis, which obviously wouldn't sit well with the Palestinian public. During the negotiations, the Palestinian side showed itself to be open to the idea of letting Israel annex 10% of the West Bank. At the urging of Israel and the U.S., they helped delay a UN vote on an investigation into Israel's war crimes in Gaza. And they were eager to, as Al-Jazeera put it, "sell short" Palestinian refugees trapped outside of Israel and the West Bank.
There's no reason to believe the PA has changed its stance on any of these issues in the intervening years, and there's no reason to hope these peace talks will be any more productive than the last ones. Although with the PA having shown itself completely willing to sell out the entire Palestinian public in exchange for some "cooperation" points from the U.S., it might be good news for the average Palestinian that the talks are doomed to fail.