‘Time is running out’: The peace process and the fierce urgency of never
“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”
Since the dawn of the peace process, serious men and women have warned that time was running out on a two state solution. If dramatic, urgent measures were not taken and painful compromises not made, the apocalypse would soon be upon us all. Though the peace processors rarely stated what the End of Days would look like, its form was always implied: The failure to establish a Palestinian state somewhere in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip would bring Israeli apartheid into the open, plunging the Jewish state into a crisis of legitimacy that would result in its rapid unraveling.
The transformation of an ethnically exclusivist Jewish state into a multi-ethnic confederation or democratic bi-national state is absolutely unacceptable to all parties involved in the peace process. That includes the Palestinian Authority, whose legitimacy rests on the notion that it will eventually become the steward of an autocratic Arab state with the consent of Israel and support from the US and EU. So as the facts on the ground render Palestinian statehood a fantasy, the peace processors must continually wind back the alarm clock on apartheid, indefinitely postponing the date with destiny to preserve the status quo and secure their paychecks.
Below, I have compiled news clippings dating back to 1981 that demonstrate the unusually fluid conception of time in the minds of the peace processors. Time may have run out long ago, but for them, it is never too late to negotiate.
The New York Times, December 31, 1981
PERCY SAYS TIME IS SHORT IN THE MIDEAST
Senator Charles H. Percy, ending a three-day visit to Israel, said today that ”time is running out” in the quest for Middle East peace and said Israel was endangering its ”special relationship” with the United States…
Senator Percy said, ”I will do my best to encourage Arab leaders to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace within defendable borders and to join in working toward peace for the entire region. Time is running out.”
The New York Times, April 22, 1982
FOREIGN AFFAIRS; THE TRAGEDY OF TIMING
[Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek] thinks a majority of Israelis would still accept a compromise with Palestinians, as they have accepted -however warily – the withdrawal from Egypt’s territory, in return for a promise of peace. But time is running out. Mr. Kollek quotes the founding Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, in retirement, telling a Palestinian several years after the 1967 war: ”You’d better hurry. The Israeli appetite will grow.”
Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 1984
YOUNG PALESTINIANS LOSE HEART AS ISRAELIS TIGHTEN GRIP ON AREAS
The two Palestinian mayors considered most moderate by many American observers say that time is running out in the Israeli-occupied territories.
”I told both Hussein and Arafat that time is running out,” said Mayor Freij. ”Every day that passes, Israel is consolidating its presence.”
Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1985
MUBARAK VISIT PUSHES MIDEAST TO CENTER STAGE
Egypt’s president is the first of three Mideast leaders to visit Washington for talks with President Reagan in the next few months. Egyptian officials warn that time is running out on peace efforts in the region.
The New York Times, October 19, 1985
PERES, PRAISING HUSSEIN, INVITES HIM TO TALK
”King Hussein expressed himself that time is running out,” the Prime Minister said. ”I would share this view, that we don’t have much time.”
The Times (London), October 23 1985
Peres peace offer denounced by coalition and Palestinians / Latest Middle East initiative from Israeli Premier
The Israeli Prime Minister, warning that time was running out, had proposed setting up a small team in the next 30 days to prepare for direct, unconditional negotiations to conclude a peace treaty between Israel and the Arab states as well as to resolve the Palestinian problem.
Christian Science Monitor, January 24, 1986
Peres signals urgency for progress in Mideast peace effort
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres is using his 10-day European tour to deliver a strong message to Jordan’s King Hussein: Time is running out for peace negotiations to begin between their nations…
Hussein has been saying for a year that time is running out for talks to start. For Peres, that prediction is becoming painfully real.
The New York Times, March 1, 1988
Israel’s Peace Marchers Struggle Against Occupation, and Apathy
The movement that has organized the march is called the Red Line, a reference to a line of patience and time that is running out. The group is only a few weeks old, and it seeks to marshal both Jewish and Arab sentiment.
The Guardian, February 24, 1990
Bush presses Israel to talk peace
Mr Baker was understood to have told [Moshe] Arens that time was running out for the peace process and that the US would await a formal response after Mr Arens reported back to his government.
The Jerusalem Post, May 6, 1992
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher warned Wednesday that “time is running short” in the Syrian-Israeli peace talks and the pace must pick up if success is to be achieved…
If the Palestinians continue hedging another two years, everything beyond the Green Line will have disappeared under a solid layer of concrete.
The Jerusalem Report, May 6, 1993
PERES’S GRAND DESIGN
[Shimon Peres] is afraid that if there’s no breakthrough at the coming ninth round of bilateral talks in Washington, the process might begin to unravel. “We have to move ahead quickly, not only because time is running out, but because hope is running out.”
The Age, August 4, 1993
US still pushing Palestinian self-rule
The pessimistic tone was reinforced by Palestinian predictions of continuing impasse and a warning by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr Shimon Peres, that “time is running out” for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, March 18, 1994
Rabin’s visit to USA: joint news conference with Clinton at White House
Rabin warns that time is running out for peace, and 1994 must be a year of “great decisions”
Sydney Morning Herald, February 8, 1995
PLO warns: now or never for peace
Mr Faisal Husseini, head of the Palestinian team at the peace talks and PLO representative in Jerusalem, told the Herald here time was running out to save the Israeli-Palestinian peace process…
“Several months, I think, and then the whole thing will blow up,” he said.
The Guardian, July 26, 1995
BEYOND THE POINT OF NO RETURN; But time is running out for the Palestinian peace negotiations
The Jerusalem Post, April 2, 1997
Peres calls for national unity government: ’97 decisive year for Israel
Peres renewed his call for a national unity government, saying time is running out for Israel to save the peace process.
The Hindu, October 21, 1998
BREAKTHROUGH UNLIKELY AT SUMMIT
Mr. Arafat and his delegation have been making the point that they are against any partial deals and that time was running out as per the Oslo Accords.
The Jerusalem Post, November 17, 1997
Albright to Israel: Time is running out
Warning that time is running out for the peace process, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright yesterday called on Israel to implement the interim agreements with the Palestinians.
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 2, 1996
King Husayn says “time is running out” for the peace process
Husayn stressed that the key to renewing the process is the evacuation of Hebron. “I received assurances from the Israeli prime minister that he is going to surprise me soon,” the monarch said. “I am still waiting for surprises.”
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 28, 1997
Levy-Netanyahu rift as foreign ministry warns of peace breakdown
[U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright] said, “We’re all concerned that time is petering out. There is a limited window of opportunity.”
Albright said she phoned Netanyahu on Tuesday morning to discuss her concern that time is running out.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, May 13, 1998
Netanyahu to meet Albright in latest Middle East peace bid
On Tuesday, Albright had warned Israel to negotiate because time was running out. She also rejected criticism of the U.S. pressure, saying the United States remained wholly committed to Israeli security.
The Jerusalem Post, July 15, 1998
Hussein: Time running out for peace
The Jordanian monarch told reporters that he had been “more optimistic” a month ago, after he had met Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
“But the time for the peace process is running out, and the window of opportunity is closing. It’s terrible to see everything we’ve built and created slipping away. Critical decisions must be made.”
Africa News, August 13, 1998
Arafat calls for anti-apartheid style pressure on Israel
Arafat said time was “running out” for talks on the final status of Palestine. Should agreement on the finalisation of the peace process with Israel not be reached by May 4 next year as required by the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians would declare a state in territory occupied by Israel in 1967.
Ha’aretz, July 23, 1999
GRABBING THE BULL BY ITS HORNS
[Ehud Barak] sent the message to our partners in the peace process that he feels that time is running out, and allayed the fears of the Washington administration that it was getting another edition of Bibi.
The Australian, August 30, 2000
Mubarak enlisted to break deadlock
Before a 90-minute meeting between the two leaders, Mr Mubarak warned time was running out to break the logjam in the peace process…
Adding to tensions, an aide to Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by Israeli public radio as saying: “In a few weeks we will know if the Palestinians want peace and are prepared to look at the compromise proposals on Jerusalem put forward by (US) President Bill Clinton at Camp David or if they are like crocodiles, which the more they eat the hungrier they are.”
September 7, 2000, UNITED NATIONS
Speaking at the opening of the UN’s Millennium Summit, [President Bill] Clinton warned there was ”not a moment to lose” in forging a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.
Courier Mail (Australia), September 11, 2000
Palestinian state delay likely
The United States, Israel and the Palestinians have said time is running out for a deal to end 52 years of conflict.
BBC Monitoring Middle East, January 18, 2001
Palestinian minister welcomes US Colin Powell’s remarks
[Nabil Amr, minister of parliamentary affairs] added: Time is running out quickly but that it is not the core issue. We are seeking peace that has an actual content and that can last on the long run, which calls for just solutions to the issues of the refugees, Jerusalem, land and water based on international legitimacy.
Birmingham Post, November 28, 2003
ISRAEL WILL HAVE TO MAKE CONCESSIONS, SAYS SHARON
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that Israel would be forced to make territorial concessions as part of future peace efforts, but also warned Palestinians that time was running out for them to reach a negotiated settlement.
The Guardian, January 24, 2004
Two state plan at risk, warns Arafat: Time running out for two state solution, says Arafat
The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has declared that “time is running out for the two-state solution” to the Middle East conflict – in an exclusive inter- view with the Guardian – because of the impact of Israel’s “security barrier” and settlement expansion on the viability of a future Palestinian state.
The Advertiser, March 10, 2004
Peace plan at crucial stage
“Today the Palestinian-Israeli conflict may be arriving at the rare positive turning point in the history of this long struggle,” [Palestinian Authority negotiator Ahmed] Qurie said in a lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Qurie said time was running out for the “two-state solution” of the road map to which he was committed.
Xinhua, May 17, 2004
Rice reaffirms two-state solution to Middle East conflicts
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Qurei in Jordan to “seize the opportunity” of Israel’s disengagement plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. “Time is running out on President George W. Bush’s pledge to create a Palestinian state in 2005,” Powell said.
The Statesman (India), May 27, 2005
BUSH PLEDGES AID TO ABBAS
‘We must end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it is too late,’ Mr Abbas declared during a highly symbolic visit by a top Palestinian official to the White House. ‘Time is becoming our greatest enemy,’ he said.
The Advertiser (Australia), October 7, 2008
Tzipi Livni has warned that time is running out for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, with extremists gaining strength as negotiations stumble.
The Times (London), August 25, 2009
Time is running out for peace, says Palestinian leader on eve of talks; Salam Fayyad tells James Hider of his plans for a de facto state to prompt Israel into action
The Jerusalem Post, September 27, 2009
Time is running out to make peace, Abbas tells UN
Abbas expressed “deep appreciation” for US President Barack Obama’s address to the UN two days earlier, which he said had “given much hope to our people.” Regardless, he said, “Time is running out, and the risks are becoming greater,” as the Palestinian people suffer “under the last occupation regime in the world.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2009
Solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict is Obama’s No. 1 priority, national security adviser says
[James Jones] stressed that all parties – Israelis, Palestinians and other Arab countries – must take action because time is running out
….For Israel, it’s existential — the only way Israel can remain both Jewish and democratic. So says its Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Time is running out.
The Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2010
UN’s Serry: Time running out for two-state solution
The Guardian (London), September 15, 2010
Why I doubt Netanyahu: Time is running out for the majority of Israelis who, like me, believe in a two-state solution.
BBC Monitoring Middle East, November 6, 2010
Though [Foreign Secretary William Hague] has only reiterated the fact that time was running out with the window of opportunity closing fast on the Israel-Palestinian peace deal, he did lay the onus on Israel.
The Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 2011
Time running out for Israel and peace talks; With the push for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations and with the Middle East in turmoil, time is no longer on the side of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The Guardian (London), May 23, 2011
Time is running out for a deal, Obama warns Israel
Obama said time was running out for Israel to reach a deal with the Palestinians. “Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.”
The New York Times, May 27, 2011
The Sorry State of the Peace Process: No plan to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the table
Negotiations will become even harder once the unity government with Hamas is formed and it gets closer to September. Time is running out.
The Nation, May 25, 2011
But as Obama made clear in his May 19 speech on the revolutions roiling the Arab world, which are inspiring fresh activism among Palestinians, time is running out on America’s ability to protect Israel from its own policies.
Ynet, April 17, 2013
Kerry: Time Running out for 2-state solution
NBC News, June 3, 2013
Sydney Morning Herald, November 9, 2013
”Israel says, ‘Oh, we feel safe today, we have a wall, we’re not in a day-to-day conflict, we’re doing pretty well economically,”’ Mr Kerry said.
“’Well, I’ve got news for you. Today’s status quo will not be tomorrow’s or next year’s.”