Friday, November 08, 2013

Arlene Kushner From November 6: Kerry's Middle East Peace Talks Falling Apart

From Arlene Kushner:
November 6, 2013

Did I Say a "Tangle"

"A Tangled Affair," actually.  Yesterday.  I've rethought this and decided "morass" might be a better term for what Israel is dealing with in her relations with the PA, and with the US.

This is one of those political sagas that is going to go on, and on, and on.  So, I'll attempt to be brief here, as I provide an update on some of the matters I touched upon yesterday.  Tomorrow there may be another story.

First, please note, Secretary of State Kerry is here and laid a wreath at Rabin Square (in commemoration of the 18 years since Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated). At the ceremony, he declared that he will stand by Israel "every step of the way."

Touches your heart, doesn't it?  No?  Maybe it gives you heartburn?


Kerry likely does not know that Rabin, who signed on to the Oslo Accords with considerable reluctance, made it clear before he died that he was not for a full Palestinian state, but something lesser, some sort of autonomy.  Those of you who saw the signing ceremony on the White House lawn on TV may remember Rabin's moment of hesitation - disgust, actually - before he girded himself to take Arafat's hand.


A report coming from Maariv indicates that the Obama administration is attempting to link Iran with the "peace talks."

It's not new.  This nonsense has been going on for some time.

What Maariv reports now is that, according to US sources, both Kerry and Obama have delivered the message to Netanyahu that if he makes "progress" on the "peace process," then "it will be easier for the US to support Israel's position."

Read: Report: Obama Linking 'Peace Talks,' Iran

In point of fact there is no linkage between the two issues, except insofar as Obama wishes to create one.  If maintaining strong sanctions on Iran is a good thing to do - for the sake of the US and the world, not as a favor to Israel, for heaven's sake - then it is a good thing to do whether Netanyahu makes "progress" in negotiations or not.

Yes, this is blackmail - in line with, but not as severe as what Caroline Glick suggested.  And yes, this might be a factor in Netanyahu's continued involvement in those "negotiations."

Would Kerry like to repeat that again, with a straight face - the business of being by Israel's side?


If there is any mitigating factor, it is that the US administration is reported by Maariv to be making efforts to avoid a confrontation with Israel.  I suggest this would not play well with Congress or large parts of the American electorate. This suggests a need for maximum strength and resilience from our side.  If the US is going to push just so hard, they need to encounter maximum resistance.
Yesterday I wrote that we need to implore Netanyahu to hold fast with regard to Israel's rights.  I want to reiterate this here, even more emphatically.  Please, let the prime minister hear from you.  Keep your message short, avoid speeches and history lessons - and be courteous.  Let him know that you truly do stand with him as he exhibits strength and stands up for Israel's rights. Tell him this is not the time for more concessions, which would be a disaster and serve only to weaken Israel. and also after pm) use both addresses


I'm picking up rumors, still, about US intentions to attempt to push a solution, with Kerry coming back here with his own version of a deal.  If Obama and company do intend to try this, I admit, it causes a certain unease and definitely has the potential to raise blood pressure.

But in the end I am confident that no "deal" can be reached - especially not a deal that is pushed down the parties' throats.  And I want to reassure my readers on this score.

The gaps are simply too great, and all the pushing in the world will not create a bridge that will hold.

Jerusalem is a prime example.  The Palestinian Arabs insist that Jerusalem must be their capital as well. But there is exceedingly strong feeling, within our nation and within our government, regarding Jerusalem undivided as Israel's eternal capital.  Even Yair Lapid, who tilts left and is for "two states," was quoted today by the JPost as opposing the division of Jerusalem.  Such a division, by the way, would by law require a national referendum and is not something that can be accomplished by Livni behind closed doors.

And then there is the issue of the Jordan Valley, which Netanyahu insists we must retain for security reasons.  He refuses to consider international troops, for very good reason.  There are reports that he wants to build a security fence along the Jordanian border in the Valley to prevent infiltration by terrorists from our east. (Remember, tens of thousands of Syrians are now in Jordan as refugees and who knows how many of these are jihadists.)

The PA is adamant that Israel cannot have it and cannot even station troops there.

See: "Israel-Palestinian talks: Why fate of Jordan Valley is key"


Please, also see Khaled Abu Toameh's latest on this issue of negotiations, "We do not trust the Americans" (emphasis added):
"As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embarks on a fresh mission to prevent the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Palestinian Authority [PA] appears to be doing its utmost to internationalize the conflict with Israel.

"The Palestinians want other international parties, especially the European Union, United Nations and Russia, to play a major role in the current U.S.-sponsored peace talks.

"...The PA's biggest fear is that Washington will try to impose a solution that would certainly fail to win the backing of most Palestinians and Arabs.

"A forced solution, Palestinians warn, would also severely undermine the credibility of the PA leadership, whose leaders would be accused by many Palestinians and Arabs of capitulating to American pressure and threats.

"...Kerry and his team are evidently unaware of the fact that neither Abbas, whose term of office expired several years ago, nor any other Palestinian leader is authorized to make real concessions to Israel.

"The last time the Americans tried to extract concessions from a Palestinian leader was in the year 2000, when President Bill Clinton dragged Yasser Arafat to Camp David and exerted heavy pressure on him to accept Ehud Barak's offer to hand over to the Palestinians most of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

"The result of the U.S. pressure was that Arafat ran away and within a few weeks Palestinians launched the Second Intifada against Israel; Abbas, in Arabic, has already threatened as much.

"Today, the PA is already facing growing criticism for agreeing to return to the negotiating table unconditionally three months ago. Palestinian leaders have justified their decision by arguing that Kerry forced them to drop their pre-conditions and resume the peace talks with Israel.

"'We want the Americans to be involved in the peace process,' said a senior aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. 'But the U.S. should focus its pressure on the Israelis and not on us. We want the Americans to force Israel to accept the two-state solution and dismantle all the illegal settlements.'

"Palestinian Authority officials say they are now convinced that the U.S. administration has no intention to force Israel to comply with all the demands of the Palestinian negotiators, including a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines..."
Read: Palestinians: We Do Not Trust The Americans

I have been writing consistently that Abbas cannot surrender any of the PA demands. He has neither the popular backing nor the political legitimacy to do so.  And - I say this with all seriousness - were he to attempt to surrender what he is not empowered to surrender he might risk his life.

It may well be that Kerry and his team are not aware that Abbas is not in a position to make concessions. But consider what breathtaking diplomatic incompetency this suggests.

And please understand that this scenario guarantees there will be no diplomatic resolution.


No resolution. But violence? Yes. That is exceedingly likely.  Abu Toameh, in his piece, above, referred to what Abbas has already said in Arabic.  It is this, described by Ruthie Blum:
"Until now, Abbas has been tight-lipped about the hush-hush two-state solution discussions in which his negotiating team is ostensibly invested. And though he has made an effort to come off as more moderate than his terrorist predecessor, Yasser Arafat, he occasionally lets his true ill intentions slip. On Monday, as always, he did this in Arabic. After all, he could not risk being too upfront with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday.

"What Abu Mazen [Abbas] told his cronies in the Fatah Revolutionary Committee was that the negotiations are significantly deadlocked. No surprise there. But the words to follow are noteworthy. 'The situation,' he said, 'is liable to be explosive.'

"According to Yehezkeli [Channel 10 Arab affairs commentator Zvi Yehezkeli], the phrase Abbas used in Arabic can also be interpreted as 'the situation is explosive.'

"Translations aside, Abbas was not merely being careless, linguistically or otherwise. He was effectually giving a green light for an eruption of violence against Israelis. This is something he has been doing indirectly, through the PA-controlled media. But saying it outright is unusual for him, since he always tries to remain above the fanatical fray by hiding behind his tailored suit and silk tie..." (Emphasis added)
Read: Netanyahu: PA's position unchanged since 1993

There were reports today of the PA insisting it was withdrawing from negotiations because Israel was not being forthcoming enough and was continuing to build:
"A senior Palestinian official, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP that the Palestinians would refuse to continue the talks as long as Jewish settlement on the West Bank proliferates.' The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations broke down during the session on Tuesday night,' the official said."
Read: Peace talks blow up after teams swap accusations

But the Arabs are masters at making threats that they don't follow through on.  If I had a shekel for every time Abbas said he was quitting, I'd be a rich woman.  My first thought on hearing this was that the threat was made with an eye towards Kerry, in the hopes something would be offered as an "inducement" to keep them negotiating.  Isn't that the way the Obama administration plays it?

Kerry was in Bethlehem today, where he met Abbas. And what do you know?  He announced "his intention to transfer $75 million to the Palestinian Authority in order to create new jobs, improve roads, schools and other infrastructure"?
"US officials said the aid is designed to boost Palestinian public support for faltering peace talks."
Read: As talks flounder, US to give $75 million more in aid to Palestinians

My guess is that they'll take the money even as they will retain their negative opinions about the "peace process."  They're not bought that easily. But Abbas will probably stay at the table.


And there's more, for Kerry also said:  "We consider now, and have always considered, the settlements to be illegitimate."  He's correct, this has been the US position -- it's not new.  But he states it now for Abbas's sake.

Read: Kerry: US Sees Jewish Judea and Samaria as 'Illegitimate'

My response:  Thank Heaven we've begun the Levy Report Campaign (which is just now revving up).  It makes Israel's rights in Judea and Samaria clear.

Note, even Kerry is careful not to say the "settlements" are "illegal." They're not.


There is something good that happened today. Avigdor Leiberman - who had had a trial because of charges of corruption brought against him - was acquitted unanimously of all charges today.

Credit: AP
PM Netanyahu had been saving the position of Foreign Minister for him, and now he can assume it.

What I like about Lieberman, aside from the fact that he moves towards the right, is his tendency to be straightforward and tell it like it is.  He doesn't play games.  He is considered "undiplomatic" because of this, but I find him a refreshing change and consider him a welcome addition to the government.
"Lieberman himself is not against a two-state solution in principle but believes it can't be achieved in this generation, with these Palestinian leaders, and within the current climate of upheaval in the Middle East. For the past few years, Lieberman has been leading a campaign against PA President Mahmoud Abbas..."  (Emphasis added)
Read: Lieberman acquittal makes Likud-Beytenu split more likely

The PA has already voiced displeasure at Lieberman's return to politics.


So much, so much, to examine and write about...


© 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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