Getting to “no” with the Palestinians
A few months ago, Secretary of State John Kerry allowed as to how he was worried about Israel’s future if it did not reach a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel’s Prime Minister has played along sending his emissaries to negotiate with Palestinian partners who don’t want to make a deal.
So this week, out of his deep seated concern for the Jewish State, the New York Times reported Wednesday that U.S., Stepping Up Role, Will Present West Bank Security Proposal to Israel:
The presentation is to be made to Mr. Netanyahu on Thursday by John R. Allen, the former American commander in Afghanistan and a retired Marine general who serves as an adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry on the Middle East peace talks. …
“It will include many details and specifics,” said a State Department official who asked not to be identified under diplomatic protocol established by the agency. “He will be presenting a piece of what will be a larger whole.” …
State Department officials described the security briefing as an “ongoing process” and not a finished product on which the United States was demanding a yes-or-no vote from the Israeli side.
The Optimistic Conservative reacts skeptically to this last quote:
Sure, because announcing it in advance will put no onus on Israel to respond in a yes-or-no-type manner. This formulation is like an addict pleading that he’s not using, he’s just snorting some coke.
Whether or not Israel agreed to the plan, the Palestinians made the matter moot (at first anyway.)
The Palestinian Authority rejected Kerry’s ideas for security arrangements under a possible future peace accord with Israel, a PA official said, according to Reuters. “The Palestinian side rejected them because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation,” according to the official, who refused to allow his name to be used.
However, in a later Reuters report, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat must have realized how damaging the truth would be.
But Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that report was “completely incorrect”. Erekat stressed Kerry had not presented a final proposal and that talks would continue.
Of course the first report wasn’t “completely incorrect.” Notice Erakat’s qualification that the proposal was not “final.” Implicitly, then, Erakat’s saying that the proposal made by Gen. Allen is unacceptable as it is. (For all we know he was also the anonymous official who rejected the proposal.)
According to a report cited by Israel Matzav, the United States has accepted Israel’s position about its security needs.
So, according to Reuters, how did Kerry deal with this setback? Did he say that he was worried about a future Palestinian state that wasn’t willing to compromise? Well, no.
Kerry said they had discussed “at great length issues of security in the region, security for the state of Israel, security for a future Palestine”.
“I think the interests are very similar, but there are questions of sovereignty, questions of respect and dignity which are obviously significant to the Palestinians, and for the Israelis very serious questions of security and also of longer-term issues of how we end this conflict once and for all,” he added.
Abbas did not join Kerry at the Ramallah media appearance.
Abbas snubbed Kerry at the press conference. Remarkable! Kerry tries to force a security plan on Israel and he can’t even get the Palestinians to cooperate! So what does the Secretary of State do? He doesn’t express his frustration with the Palestinians but offers phony platitudes about both sides having “interests” that “are very similar.”
In his column this week Thomas Friedman wrote:
On the Israeli-Palestinian front, Obama’s job is to make himself as annoying as possible to Netanyahu.
How exactly will American pressure on Israel help, when, as Jonathan Tobin writes, it isn’t Israel that needs nudging:
If the latest round of talks with the Palestinians promoted by the administration is stuck in neutral it is not because of Israel’s positions on settlements or Jerusalem but because, as most serious observers have long understood, for a variety of reasons (including the fact that Hamas rules Gaza) the PA leadership is simply incapable of making peace.
To summarize: The United States presented a security plan. Israel apparently accepted it. The Palestinians apparently rejected it. How long before Kerry is asking for some new concession from Israel?
Bonus Question: Reuters describes the post-disengagement situation like this:
Israel quit Gaza unilaterally in 2005, after which Hamas came to power there. The sides have repeatedly exchanged fire since.
“Repeatedly exchanged fire?” Really?
How about “Since Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas has built an arsenal and used it to threaten hundreds of thousands of residents of southern Israel; twice provoking wars?” Anyone out there have a better and more accurate sentence?