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"The Real Theater of the Absurd"

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, left, listens as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the 66th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, Sep. 23, 2011.
AP Photo

"The Real Theater of the Absurd"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

September 26, 2011

Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the United Nations, in his speech there on September 23, as a "theater of the absurd" because of its anti-Israeli fixation.

But the real theater of the absurd is the spectacle of the two sides being exhorted by the international community to return to direct negotiations, when one of the parties keeps seizing lands that are supposed to be part of the territory of the other.

"Supposed" refers to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 that directed Israel to withdraw from territories occupied during the Six Day War of June 1967. The United Nations Security Council is the expression of the international community, despite the fact that it reflects the division of power that existed at the end of World War II.

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, under U.S. sponsorship, have so far produced nothing under the administration of Barack Obama. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' resort to the UN and for UN membership is a reflection of this fact. It is an attempt to get out from under the U.S. canopy and somehow inject more internationalization into the issue.

The reason these direct negotiations have been at a dead end is that the present Israeli government does not want a viable, independent Palestinian state alongside it. Under duress, and on one occasion only, Prime Minister Netanyahu pronounced himself in favor of a two-state solution. But it seems clear that he really doesn't want to see a viable Palestinian state. Nor do his right-wing allies in the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, whose leader is the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Mr. Netanyahu says he is ready to make "painful concessions" in direct negotiations. If this is so, why does he keep building settlements on land that is supposed to be going back to Arab rule according to UN Resolution 242? How long does Mr. Netanyahu plan to keep up this "theater of the absurd?"


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Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Cogan, Dr. Charles G. "The Real Theater of the Absurd." The Huffington Post, September 26, 2011.

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