Why John Kerry’s ‘Deal to Revive Mideast Talks’ Will Fail

by Jul 22, 2013Foreign Policy0 comments

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Julyl 19, 2013 (Getty Images)

The Palestinian leadership may have been tempted by the Obama administration’s bait, and may be nibbling at the hook, but the Palestinian people will not tolerate the P.A. negotiating away their rights
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Julyl 19, 2013 (Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Julyl 19, 2013 (Getty Images)

FPJ — “Kerry Achieves Deal to Revive Mideast Talks”, the New York Times headline declared. The “deal” is that, if “everything goes as expected”, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat would join Israeli envoys Tzipi Livni and Isaac Molho in meeting with Kerry in Washington “within the next week or so.”

The Times makes clear that that what has been achieved is talk of talks, not the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on matters of substance related to a final settlement. Further down the page, the Times notes that Israel has refused to end its (illegal) settlement activity in the West Bank and Palestinians are unwilling to surrender the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland (from which they were ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces).

Nevertheless, the Times cites “some analysts” as saying that this agreement to talk about the possibility of talks “counts as progress”.

The opposite case could also be made.

The “major sticking points in the American-led effort”, the Times notes, “were Palestinian demands to base the negotiations on the borders before the 1967 war, and to freeze Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank”.

These are “sticking points” for the U.S. because the U.S. role in the so-called “peace process” is to essentially act as Israel’s advocate. The U.S. rejects the notion that the framework for negotiations should be based on rights and international law.

And that is why Kerry’s efforts will fail, because the Palestinians will not surrender their rights, as the U.S. and Israel have long demanded. Even if the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas might have it in mind, the people will not tolerate such an outcome. They understand that they now have legal recourse to institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Court of Justice (ICJ), since Palestine’s status at the U.N. has been upgraded to non-member observer state.

The Obama administration is trying to get the Palestinians to agree to return to the “peace process”, which is the means by which the U.S. and Israel have long blocked any implementation of the international consensus on a two-state solution, by baiting them with a “new framework” that is really just the same as the old framework.

The “new framework”, the Times reports, “would allow Washington to declare the 1967 prewar borders as the basis for talks—along with the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state”. Well, again, this is just the old framework, already declared by Obama a couple years ago, which was in turn just a reiteration of longstanding U.S. rejectionist policy going back numerous consecutive administrations.

The Times adds that the “new framework” would “allow Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas to distance themselves from those terms”, which also means nothing.

The Palestinians will still maintain that the pre-June ’67 lines (a.k.a. the ’49 armistice lines, or the “Green Line”) must serve as the basis for a final agreement on borders, in accordance with the international consensus on a two-state solution and U.N. Resolution 242 of November ’67, which called on Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied during the war in accordance with the principle of international law that it is inadmissible for states to acquire territory by means of war. Netanyahu will still reject that, insisting that the framework for talks should not be based on what either party is entitled to under international law, but what Israel wants.

And Netanyahu will still insist that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”, which in other words means that they must accede that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and unilateral declaration by the Zionists of the existence of the state of Israel on their soil were legitimate, as well as that they must surrender the internationally recognized right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland. And the Palestinians will still reject this Israeli demand.

So why would the Palestinians agree to talk with Kerry and the Israeli envoys about returning to talks? The Times offers a hint, quoting Ahmed Abbas, director for the Palestinian Authority planning ministry. “Financially, we are going to solve our problems,” he said. “We have to choose the best option among the evil ones.”

What does that mean? The Times doesn’t trouble itself to explain to its readers. But the U.S. has repeatedly threatened of eliminate aid to the Palestinian Authority, which is dependent upon it, and, as the Israeli Haaretz has pointed out before the latest “deal” was announced, Kerry has emphasized that “it is [Palestinian President] Abbas, rather than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is considered by the Obama administration to be the recalcitrant party that is impeding the American efforts. Kerry made it clear that if his efforts fail, he won’t hesitate to hold Abbas largely responsible.”

Since the announcement of the “new framework”, Haaretz assessed that “Kerry’s threat that Abbas would be blamed for the failure to renew the talks, leading to cuts in the U.S. funding of the P.A., seemed to convince Abbas”.

Haaretz also offered some insight into the Palestinian planning minster’s cryptic remarks about solving their problems financially and choosing the least evil option: “The only public promise Kerry made to the Palestinians had to do with funds to boost the Palestinian economy — a kind of Marshall Plan. As far as is known, the plan is largely based on ambitious development program presented to him by Dr. Mohammad Mustafa, head of the Palestine Investment Fund and a close associate of Abbas. The implementation, even of the plan’s initial stages, would expand and help boost members of the upper-middle class, including real-estate brokers, engineers, planners, contractors, merchants, financial advisers and employees of international consulting firms.”

In short, the U.S. has both threatened and bribed the Palestinian leadership in order to get them to agree to meet with the Israelis, an effort to resume the so-called “peace process” that the Obama administration will wish to trumpet as a political victory even though it would just mean a resumption of the process by which the U.S. has prevented the two-state solution from being implemented.

The Palestinian leadership may have been tempted by the Obama administration’s bait, and may be nibbling at the hook, but the Palestinian people will not tolerate the P.A. negotiating away their rights, and when (not if) this latest effort fails, there is a possibility and perhaps probability that the Palestinians will move towards seeking remedy via the ICC come the General Assembly session this fall.

Indeed, it seems likely that it is the fear of precisely that circumstance that has led the European Union recently to seek to distance itself legally from complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and illegal colonization of their soil by announcing guidelines that will require any Israeli entity seeking to do business with the E.U. to submit a declaration that is has no links to the occupied territories.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

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