Sunday, December 08, 2013

Kerry's gift

County Kerry, Ireland, is the home of Killarney and the people who come from there are known to have the "gift of the gab" and can speak a wonderful blarney. Likewise US Secty of State John Kerry, who is currently visiting Israel, has a wonderful way with the words.

After leaving Israel last time he warned Israel that plans to build further housing in the West Bank could bring the peace negotiations with the Palestinians to an end and cause a third intifada. In other words, he adopted the Palestinian position of threatening Israel with violence unless it makes concessions. In fact, PM Netanyahu heeded his threats and put the building of large numbers of housing units on hold for the period of the negotiations, which is to the end of the nine-month agreed period. Note that Israel already agreed to the freeing of Palestinian prisoners in four groups to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table. The Palestinians also confirmed that they will adhere to the nine-month period, but since both the major Palestinian negotiators resigned, it is not clear how negotiations can continue.

This time when he arrived, Kerry was full of praise for PM Netanyahu and Israel and there were photos of them shaking hands and smiling and they had a three hour meeting that was called "constructive." Does that mean Kerry now adopted the Israeli position, or that he squeezed further concessions from Netanyahu. It is difficult to say. There are some who believe the rumors that there is a quid pro quo taking place, in other words Israel will make concessions to ensure that the Palestinians don't leave the talks, and the US will make concessions in relation to Iran and its nuclear ambitions. It might not be coincidental that the US and Israel announced a few days ago a planned major military exercise in six months, that happens to coincide with the end of the period of the interim deal with Iran and the beginning of talks for a final deal. Maybe this is a way of sending a message to Iran, cooperate of else. As I said, Kerry has a wonderful way with the words.

FM Avigdor Lieberman, newly released from court after being found innocent of all charges, gave his opinion on the situation in an interview. He said that he was grateful to the Americans for keeping contacts between Israel and the Palestinians, but that there was no chance of any peace agreement for two reasons. First there is no trust between the two sides and you can't have an agreement and peace without trust, and second you can't make peace only between leaders, there needs to be the involvement of the peoples in the peace agreement, and that simply cannot happen with the Palestinians (in Israel there is a law requiring a referendum on any agreement). Also quite eloquent for a Russian Israeli.


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