UNITED NATIONS – On the final day of a three month deadline set by the Quartet – Brussels, Washington, Moscow and the UN – for Israelis and Palestinians to resume bilateral peace talks, Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann convened an exclusive briefing with the UN Correspondents Association to unveil a grim message he will deliver to President Obama at the beginning of next week: the two-state solution is dead and you are to blame.
Mr. Seidemann, a legal expert on Palestinian-Israeli relations in Jerusalem, has spent the past twenty years lobbying senior-level officials in Washington, Paris, London, Moscow, Cairo and both halves of Jerusalem to broker a two-state compromise which would, if not cure the cancerous conflict eating away at Middle East relations, at least put it into remission.
Cause of Death
“A surge of settlement activity the likes of which we have not witnessed since the early 1970s,” Mr. Seidemann explained, has enabled me “to project with a fair degree of authority what the map of Jerusalem will look like in two years time.”
From that projection two “unprecedented” conclusions can be drawn, he said. First, “the map of Jerusalem will be so Balkanized geographically and demographically that a political division of the city will no longer be possible.”
Second, the White House is for the first time in history completely beholden to Israeli leadership. “During the last six months, my Prime Minister Netanyahu has said in word and in deed, ‘President Obama you have no leverage over me on this issue. I know and you know you will not engage me publicly and probably not privately on these issues until probably after the November elections. I am at liberty to act with impunity.”
The United States’ February 18, 2011 veto of “its own language” on a Security Council resolution condemning settlement activity, together with the defunding of UNESCO a day after Palestine achieved full statehood membership there, reflect Washington’s “colossal trend of self-marginalization” in the peace talks, he said.
Next week, Mr. Seidemann plans to tell President Obama in person that if he chooses to cow to Israeli pressure and ignore the settlements issue until after the November elections, “by the time you get back there may not be anything left to talk about.”
But “short of catastrophe,” he added, “there is not going to be any engagement from Washington until after the elections. And maybe then none.”
A War of Rebirth?
“What I have described here is a state of acute disequilibrium in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Seidemann said while calling attention to the brewing war next door in Syria. “Having two states of disequilibrium simultaneously creates pressure along the tectonic plates. These things correct themselves in one of two ways: either a new robust political paradigm – which is not in the cards over the next several months – or an armed conflict. I have a feeling that there is a war waiting to break out there to realign things. It just hasn’t decided where it will break out and over what.”
Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Ammar Awad (A general view of a Jewish settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim is seen near Jerusalem November 16, 2011. Israel said on Tuesday it will invite bids soon for constructing 814 homes in occupied land it considers part of Jerusalem, pursuing a decision to speed up building in settlements after Palestinians won full membership in the U.N. cultural agency).