Friday, June 28, 2013

Arlene Kushner on Expectations As John Kerry Visits Israel Again

From Arlene Kushner:
June 28, 2013

And Here We Go

Secretary of State Kerry is convinced that it's necessary to make progress with negotiations before September, when the UN convenes for the new season.  Otherwise, goes his reasoning, Abbas will go to the UN with more unilateral plans.
Well, sorry about that.  Israel cannot negotiate by herself, or concede what should not be conceded, to stop Abbas's UN shenanigans.
Earlier in June, Kerry addressed the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in Washington, and explained to his Jewish audience how serious the consequences would be if no deal were to be reached:
“Think about what could happen next door.  The Palestinian Authority has committed itself to a policy of nonviolence. … Up until recently, not one Israeli died from anything that happened from the West Bank until there was a settler killed about a month ago.

“But if that experiment is allowed to fail, ask yourselves: What will replace it? What will happen if the Palestinian economy implodes, if the Palestinian Security Forces dissolve, if the Palestinian Authority fails? … The failure of the moderate Palestinian leadership could very well invite the rise of the very thing that we want to avoid: the same extremism in the West Bank that we have seen in Gaza or from southern Lebanon."
Lest someone take Kerry at his word, I must respond to his seriously faulty arguments:
The PA has NOT committed itself to a policy of nonviolence.  Low scale terrorism -- in the form of such actions as lethal rock throwing -- takes place almost every day.  Such terrorism has been on the upswing for some time now.
While the IDF, acting nightly in PA areas, stops major terrorist acts from taking place -- arresting terrorists who are planning attacks, confiscating weapons, etc.  The case is precisely the opposite of what Kerry describes.  Were the IDF no long to operate in those areas because of an Israeli pullback, then we would see more terrorism.  It depends on our ability to act, not on PA good will.
What is more, the PA leadership is most decidedly NOT moderate.  That leadership celebrates jihadists as heroes, utilizes textbooks that do not recognize the legitimacy of Israel, and in Arabic actively promotes the notion that all of the land from the river to the sea belongs to them.  Moderate, my foot.
See Khaled Abu Toameh's "Palestinians: 'No Jews Allowed," on the issue of Palestinian Arab moderation.
As to the implosion of the economy -- what we are looking at here is enormous corruption among the leaders of the PA, a corruption that prevents a viable economy from developing and has generated a welfare mentality (the PA eternally supported by other nations).  Establishment of an independent Palestinian Arab state would not substantially change this, and its leaders would still have their hands out.
There has been a series of reports indicating that Abbas would be willing to meet Netanyahu just once, informally -- not in the framework of first negotiations, but without those pre-conditions, to discuss the negotiations.  It is believed -- and has been widely reported -- that he was planning to tell the world that he was willing, but that Netanyahu was not cooperative when they met.  From there, he would throw up his hands and take himself to the UN.

Read: Israel concerned Abbas will show up, then torpedo talks
It's not going to happen.  Netanyahu says he is willing (eager?? -- see more below) for real negotiations that lead somewhere but will not participate in one-time game playing.
And even Kerry has voiced suspicions about Abbas's intentions.
Kerry's first stop was Amman, where he met yesterday with King Abdullah.  I want to cut the king some slack, because I know he is playing a game that involves his self-preservation. And yet, I am mightily irked when I read that he told Kerry that Israel was the stumbling block.
But at least according to Barak Ravid of Haaretz, US pressure on the PA has increased considerably, as Kerry now says that the Obama administration sees Abbas as the recalcitrant party.

Read: Under pressure from Kerry, Abbas softens preconditions for peace talks
Kerry was here for a dinner meeting with Netanyahu last night, met for lunch with Abbas in Amman, and may return here after Shabbat.  There have been no official pronouncements as yet but Kerry is apparently planning a press conference Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat).
Netanyahu's statements -- that Israel does not want a "binational state," and that a peace agreement is necessary to avoid this, if required security can be achieved -- have left a lot of people scratching their heads in confusion with regard to his true position.  Is he serious, or still playing that game?

Read: PM: Israel doesn't want bi-national state, must ensure self-defense
There are analysts who see him as having genuinely moved left. But, at the very same time, protests from within the Likud party suggest movement right -- and even, as some see it, the possibility of a Likud split down the road.  There is, as well, the stance of Habayit Hayehudi head Naftali Bennett, that the two- state solution is dead, indicating a broader dissent within the coalition. The advent of Shabbat does not allow me to discuss this at length now. 
What is clear is that Netanyahu could not, by himself, control the outcome, in the highly unlikely event that negotiations proceeded -- his clout within his party has diminished.  But I suggest here that we cannot totally discount the possibility, however slight, that the prime minister, knowing full well that his government would not support an agreement that requires major relinquishment of land, feels emboldened in publicly embracing "peace negotiations."  
See an Israel Hayom interview of Aayan Hirsi Ali -- who has renounced the Islamic religion in which she was raised -- that touches on the question of peace negotiations (emphasis added):
"From the perspective of the Arab leaders, reaching a two-state solution is to betray God, the Koran, the hadith and the tradition of Islam.

"...Islam is an Orthopraxy, Islam has a goal. So if you are a true Muslim, you must fight for that goal. You can achieve a temporary peace or truce, but it is not ultimate, not everlasting. It is not just about the territory. Because the territory does not belong to the people; it belongs to God. So for a Palestinian leader -- even if he is secular, even an atheist -- to leave the negotiating room with the announcement of a two-state solution would mean that he would be killed the minute he walks out.

"...Europeans and Americans -- and I do not refer merely to the leadership, but to people in general -- when they have a problem, they think there must be some kind of compromise on the table. What they cannot accept is that one party would say 'the only rational outcome is our complete victory.' If you put aside the Israeli-Palestinian situation, you see components of this culture in the events in Syria, in Lebanon. You've seen it with Mubarak. There is a winner and there is a loser."
If only...if only Western leaders would remove their blinders and understand this reality.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
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