Jewish Right To Israel

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Kerry Claims Got Palestinians To Agree To Talk -- Brings Negotiations To Where They Were In 2009

Advice: Don’t read about the latest double-talk and impending supposed breakthroughs in the media. Look at underlying interests; not imaginative headlines.
Barry Rubin

In reaction to Kerry's apparent success in finally bringing Abbas to the bargaining table, Barry Rubin writes that Kerry Runs Around in Rings, noting that the Palestinian Authority has no intention of making peace with Israel and at best is just out to get whatever concessions it can pocket -- before blaming Israel for the inevitable failure of any peace talks. After all:
  • The PA doesn’t want to make peace since concessions will make it appear to be a traitor and bring a counter-offensive from Hamas.

  • Since the Palestinian Authority doesn’t even represent Gaza and has no prospect of doing so, the PA cannot make any binding commitment.

  • The battle for Syria next door would give the Palestinian Arabs a radical neighbor which would consider a peace agreement as null and void.
On the other hand, for Israel's part, there has been emphasis on one of the preconditions that Abbas has been demanding, namely the borders -- with Abbas insisting on using the 1949 Armistice line as actual borders.

This creates an unavoidable conflict of interest, as Rubin notes:
The PA demands and must demand that the [pre]1967 lines would be the state borders. BUT the United States on two occasions, in the George Bush administration and in later 2010—told Israel that it could keep “settlement blocs,” that is large settlements along the borders. It is thus impossible that Netanyahu would agree to accept the loss of that U.S. commitment.
Read the whole thing.

As it is, it is being reported that Palestinian officials say Kerry gave guarantees that 1967 borders are basis for new talks
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel only after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave him a letter guaranteeing that the basis of the negotiations will be Israel’s pre-1967 borders, two senior Palestinian officials said Saturday.
John Kerry with Abbas
John Kerry with Abbas: Just what did Kerry say to Abbas to get him to finally
agree to talks? Credit: Wiki Commons

The fact that the same article reports that Western officials have denied that the pre-1967 lines would be the basis of negotiations may give a hint to just how tenuous the Palestinian commitment to resuming talks actually is.

The failure of the Obama administration to make any progress in Israel-Palestinian talks -- if anything, it has taken a giant step backwards -- brings to mind the absurd claims made during a State Department conference back in November 2009:
QUESTION: Could you give us just a brief synopsis of the progress that Senator Mitchell has made in his months on the job?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think we have – we’ve gotten --

QUESTION: Yeah, maybe if the --

MR. KELLY: -- both sides to agree on this goal. We have gotten both sides --

QUESTION: Ian, they agreed on the goal years ago. I mean, that’s not --

MR. KELLY: Well, I think that we – this government --

QUESTION: You mean you got the Israel Government to say, yes, we’re willing to accept a Palestinian state? You got Netanyahu to say that, and that’s his big accomplishment?

MR. KELLY: That is an accomplishment.

QUESTION: But previous Israeli administration – previous Israeli governments had agreed to that already.

MR. KELLY: Okay, all right.

QUESTION: So in other words, the bottom line is that, in the list of accomplishments that Mitchell has come up with or established since he started, is zero.

MR. KELLY: I wouldn’t say zero.

QUESTION: Well, then what would you say it is?

MR. KELLY: Well, I would say that we’ve gotten both sides to commit to this goal. They have – we have – we’ve had a intensive round or rounds of negotiations, the President brought the two leaders together in New York. Look --

QUESTION: But wait, hold on. You haven’t had any intense --

MR. KELLY: Obviously --

QUESTION: There haven’t been any negotiations.

MR. KELLY: Obviously, we’re not even in the red zone yet, okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: I mean, we’re not – but it’s – we are less than a year into this Administration, and I think we’ve accomplished more over the last year than the previous administration did in eight years.

QUESTION: Well, I – really, because the previous administration actually had them sitting down talking to each other. You guys can’t even get that far.

MR. KELLY: All right.

QUESTION: I’ll drop it.

MR. KELLY: Give us a chance. Thank you, Matt. [emphasis added]
If in fact there is an agreement from Abbas to sit down with Netanyahu and talk peace, the Obama will have finally reached the point the State Department claimed for itself 4 years ago.

Back in May, Kerry claimed a similar breakthrough when he claimed members of the Arab League supported not only renewed talks but also the idea of land swaps. At the time Kerry declared he had made a major breakthrough in peace talks:
“I don’t think you can underestimate the significance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Arab Emirates, the Egyptians, the Jordanians and others coming to the table and saying, ‘We are prepared to make peace now in 2013.’ ”
As it turned out, if anything Kerry had vastly overestimated the accomplishment.

Now we will see if he is making the same mistake again.

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