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Kerry's Coup from Mediator to Antagonist

By       Message Nicola Nasser       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Now, President Barack Obama, speaking at Brookings Institution's Saban Forum in Washington last Saturday, said  there would have to be a "transition process" and that the Palestinians wouldn't get "everything they want on day one" under an accord, which initially may exclude Gaza, and let the "contiguous Palestinian state," which he had previously promised, wait. The aim of the negotiations now is to reach a "framework that would not address every single detail," he added.

And now Kerry, on the same occasion, was speaking about a "basic framework" and establishing "guidelines" for "subsequent negotiations" for a "full-on peace treaty," i.e., in his game of words, another "road map."

Kerry moreover hinted that the negotiations might have to extend beyond the agreed-upon nine months, thus, from a Palestinian perspective, planning to buy Israel more time to create more colonial facts on the occupied Palestinian ground.

Kerry's "ideas" alienated the Palestinian "peace camp" and negotiators led by Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA) and leads the PLO, who have put "all their eggs in the U.S. basket" for the past two decades, let alone all the other PLO-member factions who are against the resumption of the negotiations with Israel for pragmatic reasons, but first of all because they did not trust the U.S. mediator; Kerry has just vindicated their worst fears. Non-member organizations like Hamas and al-Jihad oppose the negotiations as a matter of principle.

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On December 8, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to The Times of Israel three days later, met with the American consul general in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney, and formally rejected the proposal, saying that the Palestinian position was "unequivocal": no Israeli presence, though the Palestinians would tolerate a third-party military presence.

On the same day on the occasion of the first 1987 Palestinian Intifada against the 1967 Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories, the PLO Executive Committee in a statement said the Palestinian people will not accept Kerry's proposed plan, which the committee's secretary general Abed Rabbo described as "extremely vague" and "open-ended."

On the same day in Qatar, the PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, commenting on Kerry's proposals, said that the Palestinian leadership "perhaps" committed a "strategic mistake" by agreeing to the resumption of negotiations with Israel instead of seeking first the membership of international organizations to build on the UN General Assembly's recognition last year of Palestine as a non-member state.

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The former second-in-command in Erakat's negotiating team, Mohammad Shtayyeh, who resigned his mission recently because there was no "serious Israeli partner," called for replacing the U.S. sponsorship of the negotiations by an international one, on the lines of the Geneva conferences for Iran and Syria, because the U.S. sponsorship is "unbalanced."

Former negotiator Hassan Asfour wrote that Kerry's plan, which he described as a "conspiracy," would "liquidate the Palestine Question and end any hope for a Palestinian state," adding that its rejection is a "necessity and national duty" because it "violates the red national lines."

Member of the PLO executive committee and former Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmad Qurei' said Kerry's plan replaces the land-for-peace formula by a security-for-peace one as the basis for Palestinian-Israeli talks.

Abed Rabbo said last week in Ramallah that if the U.S. accepts that final borders are set according to what Israel determines are its security needs "all hell with break loose."

Kerry who on his last eighth trip warned Israelis of a Palestinian third Intifada seems himself laying the ground for one. His "ideas" clash head to head with the Palestinian repeated and plain rejection of long- or short-term interim or transitional arrangements based only on Israel's security.

He seems obsessed with Israel's security as "the top priority" for Washington, both in nuclear talks with Iran and peace talks with the Palestinians. In his press availability at Ben Gurion International Airport on December 6 he used the word "security" and "secure" twenty times in relation with Israel, but no words at all about the Israeli "occupation" and "settlements."

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U.S. commitment to Israel's security is "ironclad," "spans decades," "permanent," "paramount" and a "central issue" in the work of the United States for both final agreements with Iran and Palestinians, he said. President Obama last Saturday said that this commitment is "sacrosanct."

George Friedman of Stratfor on December 3 reported that "Israel's current strategic position is excellent" and "faces no existential threats." About "the possibility that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon," Friedman wrote: "One of the reasons Israel has not attempted an air strike, and one of the reasons the United States has refused to consider it, is that Iran's prospects for developing a nuclear weapon are still remote."

Despite objections to Kerry's "security arrangements" by the Israeli defense and foreign cabinet ministers, Moshe Ya'alon and Avigdor Lieberman, the chief Israeli negotiator and justice minister Tzipi Livni admitted that the proposed American security framework addresses a large part of Israel's security needs.

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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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