Thursday, November 07, 2013

Kerry and the talks

US Secty of State John Kerry has arrived in Israel again and immediately interjected himself into the so-called peace process. After meeting with PM Neanyahu and PA Pres Abbas, Kerry stated that he was sure the problems that have arisen in the negotiations could be overcome. What gives him such confidence?

Prior to the resumption of negotiations, apparently Kerry asked Abbas what confidence building measures Israel would have to take to get him back to the negotiating table. Two options were offered, a release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and a partial cessation of Israeli construction in the West Bank. He chose the former, and after some clarification of details, the Israeli Govt. announced that Palestinian prisoners would be released in four groups. So far two groups have been released. There was extensive opposition in Israel to these releases because most of the released prisoners had been tried and found guilty of murdering Israeli civilians in terrorist attacks.

It was at this time that in a routine manner the relevant housing department announced tenders for 1730 housing units in the West Bank. This was not in any way connected to the negotiations or to the top levels of the Israeli Govt. However, negative reactions occured amid the celebrations in the PA for the release of the prisoners. PA spokesmen have attacked Israel for continuing construction in the WB and it was reported that the PA representative to the talks, Saeb Erekat, threatened to resign, although this was later denied. Kerry is now asking what Israel must do to get Abbas not to stop the talks. And guess what, he wants Kerry to persuade Netanyahu to stop building on the WB.

This is the usual Palestinian blackmail. Give me a concession, I'll pocket that, and then ask for more. And if you don't give it to me I'll blame Israel for the impasse. This is certainly not the behavior of anyone who actually wants a peace agreement. There is now a movement in the PA saying "no negotiations while construction continues". Such demonstrations don't occur spontaneously in the PA, they are organized by Abbas in order to put pressure on Kerry to put pressure on Israel to make further concessions, just to keep the Palestinians at the table. It really is a farce.

This morning in the J. Post they reported that Abbas and the Palestinians are upset that Kerry is not applying enough pressure on Israel to force another building freeze. What makes Kerry confident that Netanyahu has no choice but to make the concessions he demands on behalf of the Palestinians? If only PM Netanyahu could say to him, "go to hell, if you want the Palestinians to negotiate, stop paying them bribes in the form of aid." That's the only form of currency they understand.


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