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Kerry's Coup from Mediator to Antagonist

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By Nicola Nasser*

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to start his ninth trip of shuttle diplomacy between Palestinian and Israeli leaders on this December 11. However, the bridging "security arrangements," which he proposed less than a week earlier on his last trip, have backfired and are now snowballing into a major crisis with Palestinian negotiators who view Kerry's "ideas" as a coup turning the US top diplomat from a mediator into an antagonist.

Kerry's "ideas" had provoked a "real crisis" and "will drive Kerry's efforts to an impasse and to total failure," the secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yass er Abed Rabbo, said on this December 9.

Resumption of the peace talks and U.S. involvement in the negotiations with Israel were both on record Palestinian demands. Disappointed by the deadlocked negotiations and more by the way Kerry decided finally to get his country involved, the Palestinian presidency expectedly stands no w to regret both demands.

Kerry's shuttle diplomacy during his current trip seems more aimed at controlling the damage his "ideas -- proposal" caused than at facilitating the deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli bilateral talks.

On this December 6, Kerry said that (160) American security specialists and diplomats, headed by General John Allen, the former commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had drafted the "proposal," believing "that we can contribute ideas that could help both Israelis and Palestinians get to an agreement."

According to leaks published by mainstream Israeli media, including Israeli Channel 10 news, Haaretz, Maariv, Yedioth Ahronoth and DEBKAfile, as well as by the official Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, the U.S. "se curity arrangements" propose:

* Demilitarization of the future State of Palestine.

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* U.S. monitoring of its demilitarization.

* To put the border crossings into Jordan under joint Israeli-Palestinian control.

* Maintaining an Israeli military presence deployed along the western side of Jordan River after the establishment of a Palestinian state.

* Installing Israeli early-warning stations on the eastward slopes of the West Bank highlands.

* Postponement of arrangements for the final status of Gaza Strip, i.e. severing the strip from the status planned by Kerry's proposal for the West Bank.

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* All of the foregoing are on the background of the U.S. recognition of an understanding that the large Israeli illegal colonial settlements on the West Bank would be annexed to Israel, according to the letter sent by former U.S. President George W. Bush to the comatose former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in April 2004, to which the incumbent administration of President Barak Obama is still committed.

Kerry and his administration have obviously coordinated a political coup by the adoption of the Israeli preconditions for recognizing a Palestinian state almost to the letter, turning the Palestinian priorities upside down and changing the terms of reference for the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which Kerry succeeded to resume and sponsor late last July.

When he announced the resumption of talks on last July 29, Kerry declared that his goal would be to help the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a "final status agreement'" within nine months.

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

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