Beyond the Cusp

April 10, 2014

Israel Fault and Lack of Flexibility End Negotiations

The evidence keeps rolling in with one presumably credible source after another pointing the finger of blame on Israel over the latest failed peace initiatives. United States Secretary of State Kerry was probably one of the closest people to this last round of talks which he negotiated into place with promises from both the Israelis and the Palestinians that the negotiations would proceed for nine months and would likely end with a resultant peace by or before April 29, 2014. The initial agreement appeared to be one-sided though there were demands made of both sides. From Israel, Secretary Kerry gained the concession demanded by the Palestinians as their demand required for them to even consider entering negotiations with the Israelis. This concession consisted of the Israelis eventually releasing one-hundred-four terrorist prisoners who had been incarcerated since before the September 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords. These prisoners had been convicted of carrying out or planning terror attacks responsible for multiple fatalities and near countless injuries of which many caused permanent physical impairment as well as a wider amount of mental difficulties. Many of the terrorists to be released were serving at least one life sentence and a fair number more than one such sentence. These terrorists were to be released in four groups of twenty-six and each subsequent release was predicated on advancements achieved through the negotiations.

 

On the Palestinian side, Secretary Kerry managed to arrange for them to agree to meet the Israelis providing the terrorist prisoner releases could be arranged. It was at the outset of the negotiations that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the home of and for the Jewish People. From the start Palestinian Chairman Abbas refused to grant this demand exclaiming repeatedly that neither he, nor the Palestinian leadership nor the Arab World would ever recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish People. Chairman Abbas went further stating that it was impossible for a nation to be based upon a religious idea thusly the Jewish People could not be the basis for a nation anywhere on Earth. Despite his stating such, Abbas also held to the idea that any lands which would result in being under Palestinian control as a result of the negotiations would necessarily be cleansed of any Jewish population residing there. Another demand made by Chairman Abbas was that Israel would necessarily be forced to accept resettlement of as many as six-million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, in some cases four generations of family would have gained that right under the rules which are applied by UNRWA and are reserved only for the definition of refugee status for the Palestinians. Also from the outset of the negotiations, despite the Palestinians choosing to demand the terrorist prisoner releases and forgo a building freeze, Abbas and the other Palestinian leadership constantly demanded that Secretary Kerry pressure and force the Israelis into also enacting a building freeze. This request was even spoken of disapprovingly by Secretary Kerry though he eventually sided with the Palestinians on this issue making it an additional demand on the Israelis if the negotiations were to continue beyond the initial nine months. Secretary Kerry also sided with the Palestinians when he posited that it was unnecessary and foolish that the Israelis were demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish People. His reasoning was that it should be sufficient that the United States recognized Israel as being the state for the Jewish People and after all the Palestinians and even Arafat had recognized this fact though no actual quote was ever produced, let alone confirmed.

 

Despite there being imposed at the insistence of Secretary Kerry a gag order making the progress and machinations of the peace negotiations secret and not released to the press or public, there were almost constant little bits of information leaked by the Palestinian side. Often accompanying these leaked pieces of information were demands of the Israelis which either had not been discussed due to their improbability of being agreed upon or had been refused by the Israelis and the Palestinians believed they would gain the Israeli surrender by appealing to the world in general. When these tactics appeared to have been generally failing and with about ten weeks left before the April 29 deadline for the talks to have reached at the very least a framework agreement, the Palestinian negotiators staged a walkout of the talks declaring they were done with the intransigence of the Israelis. This denunciation was despite the fact that the Palestinian side has also refused to compromise on even a single item during the talks. After a big fuss was made publically, the Palestinians returned to the negotiations even more stridently defending against any need for them to offer any compromise on any subject. Meanwhile there were constant comments to the press and in general decrying the unfairness of the talks and how Secretary Kerry and his main staff were being used by Jewish forces within the United States government. Abbas was constantly noting that he and the Palestinian negotiators were remaining at the negotiating table solely to gain the release of the final twenty-six terrorist prisoners and were planning on “blowing-up” the negotiations immediately after receiving these final prisoner releases.

 

Also a little earlier than the start of the Palestinian threats to depart the talks Secretary Kerry lowered his expectations from reaching an actual peace agreement to establishing a framework and then extending the negotiations and using the framework as the guide in these additional negotiations. It was towards this end that the American team began negotiating with the Israelis in order to find some manner or path that would permit Israel to release hundreds, if not thousands, of additional terrorist prisoners including Marwan Barghouti, one of the worst of the worst terror planners who was responsible for some of the most horrific terror attacks in Israeli history. It was for these crimes that Mr. Barghouti was serving five life sentences. In addition to gaining the release of the additional terror prisoners the Palestinians were also demanding a complete and comprehensive Israeli building freeze by Israel. All the time that these demands were being issued, the Palestinians continued to threaten to walk away from the table and then recant and restate their remaining solely to attain the last twenty-six terrorists release before bolting. With there having been a complete lack of advancement resulting from the negotiations and the Palestinians continuously taking stands in complete opposition to every demand made by the Israelis while claiming that Israel was causing the talks to fail by making unreasonable demands and refusing to meet any of their obligations as were presented during the talks by the Palestinians. After weeks of threats and bluster from the Palestinians the final release date approached and the Palestinians added to their demand four additional prisoners released as well as the inclusion of Israeli Arabs who were incarcerated for terrorist crimes that caused an Israeli response to delay the final release and demand some return concession from the Palestinians due to the change in the Palestinian demands on the final releasing of terror prisoners. The Palestinians refused but the Israelis remained firm in their demand that the final release be totally renegotiated in order to accommodate the additional demands placed on this final Israeli concession warranting such a reexamination of the terms. This is what led the Palestinians to apply to fifteen United Nations and international treaties, conferences and agencies by the Palestinians as their first step to legitimacy through alternate means and without having to negotiate a settlement with the Israelis.

 

When Secretary of State Kerry appeared before the United States Senate committee he aimed the lion’s share of the blame for the talks failing on the Israelis though mentioning almost in passing that some of the actions by the Palestinians being unhelpful. But it was definitely the Israeli withholding the final release and their refusal to enact a building freeze as well as granting the terrorist prisoner releases and even announcing the request for tenders to build several hundred apartments within southern Jerusalem, building which the Palestinians had been informed were to be built before the negotiations commenced when they chose the terrorist releases over a building freeze. Of course the Palestinians felt that they should have been gifted a building freeze and did not understand why they should have to choose only one concession when there were so many concessions they desired to force from Israel. Obviously it was the fault of the Israelis by their demand that the Palestinians make at the least some compromise in return for the numerous compromises, concessions and allowances made by Israel, and not only during this session of talks but overall the negotiations for the past twenty-plus years. The Europeans also offered to assist getting the talks back on track and were implying that it was Israel’s responsibility to make concessions and agree to demands of the Palestinians in order to allow for their return to negotiations without losing face or standing. Of course the Arab League has completely backed the Palestinians and condemned Israel. What can be expected going forward will be the agencies, treaties and commissions which the Palestinians have applied will all agree to receive them and grant them full recognition of statehood. After they have pocketed these recognitions we can expect them to apply to another hundred or so followed by demanding recognition from the United Nations General Assembly and possibly seek membership by applying to the Security Council, especially if they can assure themselves that the United States will restrain from using their veto power. Whatever Israel does from now going forward is of little consequence as the initial stone had been skipped across the still waters and the ripples will only sell and become tsunamis with possibly horrendous consequences. Eventually the world will need to decide exactly how far they are willing to take Palestinian statehood. Will they be willing to intervene with troops and starting a war against Israel in order to retain the narrow strip of land coating the shores of the eastern Mediterranean? It is something we all should fear as such a war would not end well for anyone, least of all Israel.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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