Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are slated to begin next week. Do you know about “shotgun weddings”? It’s a term used in the South when a girl becomes pregnant and her father stands at the back of the groom with a shotgun and forces them to marry. In my mind, there is no clearer metaphor to describe the upcoming talks. The Palestinian Authority is pregnant with Israeli/Western money and influence and now you can hear the church bells a-ringing in the distance.
The major problem is that both parties – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are not interested in such an affair. Netanyahu barely holds onto a government and the Palestinian Authority lacks legitimacy among the people. The settlement freeze is coming to an end in the middle of September and it is questionable if it will be extended. The Israeli diplomatic corps are boycotting Netanyahu’s visit to Washington and Hamas is shrieking all over the news, which is happily reprinting their threats and objections. Things have settled in here for the last few years, technically speaking. There has been a slow creep to colonize, but no major outbreaks in violence. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority want to upset the current status quo and are scrambling for excuses to delay or cancel the direct talks.
Indeed, without American money so heavily entrenched in both sides, it’s hard to believe such talks would take place without the proverbial shotgun to the back. A lot of people play optimistic, but this is my opinion: these talks will lead to nothing but bad. They are illegitimate and unwanted, and both sides will do anything to avoid them, including commit acts of violence.
Israel is suddenly increasingly concerned about the newly trained Palestinian Authority, but why worry when they’ve so far just been used to bust rallies and protests against direct talks? If anything, the Palestinian Authority is finally playing ball… it’s the Israelis who will look for a way out. The Palestinians do not support the peace talks, but Hamas is locked away in their coastal enclave or in the depths of the presidential compound Yassir Arafat used to be trapped in. Israeli settlers continue to escalate their attacks on Palestinians, but the IDF stands by with guns and Shabak ready to thwart any major upsets. The real question is: will those with the guns be able to keep down those without?
Ramadan is coming to a close and the people of Palestine will loathe to wake up out of their groggy fasts to see themselves at the alter. As the settlement freeze comes to an end, there will be an increase I’ve never worried before about being here, but the conditions surrounding the direct talks are the first things I’ve felt actual concern about. How long can Ramallah keep the rest of Palestine asleep? How long will Netanyahu be able to hold onto his government before it dissolves under pressure from the extreme-right?
Good luck yall.