United States Secretary of State John Kerry began his follow-up to President Obama’s visit to the Middle East on Saturday by unveiling his great new hope for developing negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israeli leaders in order to solve the dilemmas and produce the long-sought two states for two peoples living in peace and security side-by-side. Secretary Kerry had been making grand praises for his mysterious new plan to restart the peace talks between Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership and Benyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli leadership. The current situation is as favorable as any in recent history for establishing a dialogue and possibly even making some headway towards settling the final status agreement from which a Palestinian state would become not only possible but a viable entity as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has appointed his Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to lead the Israeli negotiating team and take charge of all negotiations with the Palestinians. One would be hard pressed to find another politician or negotiator in Israel who would present a more lenient and accepting individual than Tzipi Livni as she has indicated she favors, among other things, release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli custody, a partial acceptance of Palestinian ‘right of return’ accepting some number of refugees into Israel, returning Israel to the pre-1967 War lines, the Green Line, with only mutually agreed land swaps making any necessary or desired changes, granting the Palestinians all of east Jerusalem as their capital including the entirety of the Old City, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall along with the plaza adjacent to it. One might be led to think that with Tzipi Livni leading the negotiations that there would be a peace treaty quickly as what more could Mahmoud Abbas demand that she would not comply with and grant?
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kerry began his initiative with a meeting in the Jordanian Capital of Amman with Mahmoud Abbas where they discussed what would be necessary to restart negotiations between Abbas and the Israeli negotiators. Kerry was reportedly told that Israel would necessarily have to freeze all building in the disputed areas which are expected to be returned to the Palestinians, accept the pre-1967 War lines as the start point in negotiations for borders with any changes requested by Israel subject to Palestinian acceptance or denial, and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. Kerry was soon armed with Palestinian President Abbas’s conditions, the very same conditions he initially made when President Obama attempted to bully Israel into complying with early in his first term which resulted eventually in a crushing end to the peace process as even after Israel froze building in the disputed areas Abbas refused to meet. That evening Secretary Kerry began his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu where he related the events and substance of the meeting with Abbas from earlier in the day. As the meeting continued they were joined by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu’s personal envoy Yitzhak Molcho and his national security adviser Yaakov Amidror so that the entire Israeli team could be brought into the process.
It has been reported that the Israelis were informed that in order to have Mahmoud Abbas return to the negotiations and stay from pressing charges against Israel in the international courts such as the ICC Israel would be required to begin the transfer of the lands within Area B from joint control to unilateral Palestinian control for civil and security responsibilities removing all Israeli influence and having these areas incorporated into Area A where Israelis are forbidden entry without Palestinian approval, and Israel would be required to release prisoners from Israeli custody though the exact numbers or suggested lists were not discussed. Secretary Kerry also relayed that Mahmoud Abbas had stressed that Israeli settlements endanger the peace process. Whether anything else was discussed with Netanyahu and his negotiating team has not been released though there have been rumors that Obama agreed to allow Israel to implement a silent construction freeze where no new building would be approved but there would be no official statement or recognition of such a freeze in construction. This sound very much like what was in existence under Minister of Defense Ehud Barak in the last Israeli government and one will need to wait and see if Netanyahu will have his new Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon or whoever else will be charged with approvals for building permits in Judea and Samaria also to refuse to sign off on any new building permits. As far as restarting the peace process we hold out little hope. Just a reminder to those who will revel in these supposedly new initiatives and the introduction of a path to renewed talks that we have seen these exact same demands from Abbas before the last time he refused to restart the peace process. Israel enforced a ten month building freeze during which Abbas made every effort to avoid talks until three weeks before the freeze was to end when he returned to negotiate the making of the building freeze permanent before he would take even an initial step towards talks. He will once again find reasons to protest and if his protests and complaints are not honored, Abbas will simply once again begin adding more and more precondition and requirements on the Israelis in order to avoid peace talks.
Secretary of State Kerry may actually believe he knows the secret formula that would lead to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. His making such a statement is only proof that he has not been paying attention to the situation all those years he has sat in the United States Senate. The one point that Secretary Kerry and all others need to understand is that Palestinian President Abbas cannot make a peace with Israel that leaves Israel as the Jewish State. As soon as Abbas would make an agreement to have a Palestinian state formed next to Israel instead of replacing Israel he would be a man marked for death. Just as happened in Gaza once the Israeli people and IDF were removed, Hamas will revolt and take over Judea and Samaria along with any parts of Jerusalem which were surrendered to Abbas for the Palestinian state and to make peace. Once Hamas had taken control of all the Palestinian lands they would try, convict and execute every single leading figure from the Palestinian Authority who had anything to do with forging the peace agreement or cooperating in any manner with the Israeli security and other personnel. They did the exact same thing in Gaza after their successful coup. With this as an eventual possibility which would follow any peace agreement which Abbas makes with Israel, even if it is only in Abbas’s head, he will refuse to even negotiate as there is always the fear that Israel might call his bluff and accept all of his preconditions. Abbas is a survivor and all of his actions are planned to keep him alive and he believes that any peace that does not erase the Jewishness of Israel or erase Israel altogether is a peace which will result in his death. It is this threat which drives Abbas and leaves to his final trump card, the demand that Israel would never acquiesce to. That final demand is for Israeli to agree to blanket acceptance for the ‘right of return’ of close to if not more than five million refugees into Israel with full citizenship and rights. Such an agreement would be the end of Israel as it now exists and that the next election would turn Israel into another Arab Muslim state as that is the intent and only truth Abbas will ever settle for as the peace he seeks. That is the only agreement that has even a remote chance of allowing Abbas to continue to live.
Unfortunately, there is a problem with this settlement as well. The current situation brings along with it a near endless amount of funds from Europe, the United States, the United Nations, the Arab world and sundry other institutions and organizations. These funds have made Mahmoud Abbas a very wealthy man who lives a life of comfort. Should the Palestinian state he supposedly seeks ever be established these funds would begin to dry up and eventually stop. With things the way they are, Abbas simply sobs and cries into the closest microphone with his regular old canard of the Jews are destroying our economy and woe are us under the Israeli occupation ending with we will cease to eat or even exist without many billions of Euros and Dollars immediately. And every time he does his song and dance routine the monies roll in from all over the world. The countries of the world scurry and hold emergency meetings to save the Palestinians and Abbas pockets his commission, say likely twelve percent or so. As long as the world is willing to pay the Palestinians to seek peace the Palestinians will complain and pretend to seek peace blaming everybody’s favorite scapegoats, the Jews, for denying the Palestinians a state of their own and refusing to meet the few minor preconditions, actually not preconditions but more obligations according to Abbas, thus denying the world a peaceful Middle East. Truth be told, if the world really desires peace between the Palestinians and Israelis then they are going to have to begin to pay for peace by promising funding only after peace has been made and the terrorism completely halted. Anything else will simply facilitate the endless continuation of the present situation guaranteeing absolutely no possibility for peace or change.
Beyond the Cusp