Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Kerry's Success Worse for Palestinians than His
By Nicola Nasser
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 13, 2013
The critical issue of the ever expanding illegal Israeli
colonial settlements on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in the
West Bank (WB), which are peace killing in eastern Jerusalem in
particular, will make or break the newly resumed Palestinian – Israeli
On July 29, 2013, those negotiations were resumed in
Washington, D.C.; they are scheduled to begin in earnest in mid-August.
President Barak Obama hailed them as a “promising step forward.” However,
in view of more than twenty years of failed U.S. – sponsored peace making,
the new talks “promise” nothing more than being a new round of failure and
“conflict management,” in spite of Obama’s belief that “peace is both
possible and necessary.”
According to Albert Einstein, “doing the
same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is
“insanity,” but that is exactly what John
Kerry seems to have achieved after six tours of shuttle diplomacy in the
Middle East since he was sworn in as the U.S. Secretary of State.
Unless the issue of settlements is addressed in accordance with
international and humanitarian law as well as in compliance with the
resolutions of the United Nations, Kerry will be shooting himself in the
legs and his success in his peace mission would be worse than his failure.
The EU’s recent anti-settlement move highlighted this fact.
However, Kerry seems and sounds determined to pursue his mission on the
basis of contradictory terms of reference, laid down by the official
letter sent by the former U.S. president George W. Bush to former Israeli
premier Ariel Sharon in April 2004, whereby the United States pledged to
annex the major Jewish settlements to Israel, to redraw its borders
accordingly and to exclude the right of return of Palestinian refugees
from any agreement in the future on solving the Arab – Israeli conflict in
Top on the agenda of the resumed
negotiations are borders and security; Israel has never defined its
borders nor respected the borders set by the United Nations resolution No.
181 of 1947; in the name of security, it demands borders that compromise
the viability of any independent Palestinian state on the WB.
U.S. and Israeli perspectives, “the resumption of negotiations is seen as
an objective in itself,” in the words of Ghassan al-Khatib, the former
spokesman of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
David Ignatius on
August 2 described kerry’s efforts as a “mission impossible,” which if it
fails “this time, it will cost the parties dearly;” he described the
ensuing negotiations as “a kind of a benign trap, once the prey have been
lured inside, it’s difficult for them to escape without either
accomplishing .. peace or damaging themselves.”
Indeed in the long
run, success of the resumed negotiations warn of creating a political
environment that would give “legitimacy” to a new Israeli military assault
on the Gaza Strip to remove the “armed resistance” there to their outcome,
with the overt blessing of the U,S. sponsor of the negotiations and the
discreet blessing of the Arab “peace partners.”
expected failure of Kerry’s efforts could be worse than the failure of the
Camp David summit meeting in September 2000 of late Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and U.S. former
president Bill Clinton.
By sending his negotiators to Washington,
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is again compromising his personal
credibility, but worse still he risks a Palestinian implosion in the case
of success, but in case the negotiations fail he risks a Palestinian
explosion in rebellion against both his PA and the Israeli occupation.
Abbas has already antagonized his old allies among the members of the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) - including the Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is considered the third
influential Palestinian power after the two rivals of Fatah and Hamas -
who accuse him of reneging on their consensus not to resume negotiations
without a stop to the expansion of Israeli colonial settlements first.
National reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas will be put on hold
for at least the nine months which the negotiators set as the time frame
for their negotiations.
His decision put on hold as well any
Palestinian new attempt to join international organizations to build on
the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member state
in September 2012.
The new talks are merely “the beginning of the
beginning” of “a long process” in which “there is no guarantee” for
success, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
All this boils down to winning Israel more time to dictate whatever
borders it deems “secured,” by creating more facts on the OPT. For
Palestinians, this is a waste of time that makes their dream of a national
homeland in an independent state more remote. No surprise then the Israeli
premier Benjamin Netanyahu on July 27 saw in the resumption of
negotiations “a vital strategic interest of the state of Israel.”
Kerry’s personal success seems to have pressured Palestinians into being
fooled again into jumping to “final status” negotiations as the best way
to absolve Israel from honoring its commitments in compliance with the
“interim” accords it had signed with the PLO.
The Palestinian wide –spread opposition to the
resumption of talks is accusing Abbas of being a “believer” in peace who
is about to get “stung from the same hole twice,” in reference to the
bloody outcome of the U.S. – hosted Camp David summit in September 2000.
Then, the U.S. administration of Clinton pressured Arafat into “final
status” negotiations. Barak, then the Israeli prime minister, found in the
Camp David final status talks a golden pretext not to implement the third
stage of the Oslo accords, namely to withdraw the Israeli Occupation
Forces (IOF) from about 95% of the West Bank (WB) area and hand it over to
Linking the WB and Gaza by a “corridor” that allows free
movement of people and goods between them was another commitment that has
yet to be honored by Israel.
“Trying” and failing is better than
“doing nothing,” Kerry said, but the failure of the Camp David trilateral
summit led to the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising); ever since both
the failure and the uprising were additional pretexts for the successive
Israeli governments not to honor both commitments; moreover, both pretexts
were the justification they used to reoccupy militarily all the PA areas
and to coordinate with the U.S. the “removal” of Arafat and the “change”
of his regime.
The critical issue of the illegal Israeli colonial
settlements on the WB will make or break the new Kerry – sponsored talks.
On July 29, James M. Wall wrote: “Israel plays the peace process game not
to give away ill-gotten gains, but to protect them;” settlements come on
top of those “gains;” they were “gained” under the umbrella of the “peace
process,” with the tacit blessing of the well - intentioned Palestinian
negotiator who did not make their removal a precondition to the resumption
of peace talks right from the start.
The 2000 summit collapsed
because of the Israeli insistence on continued building of colonial
settlements, especially in eastern Jerusalem, which doomed to failure the
peace process launched in Madrid in 1991. Kerry’s resumed negotiations
opened while the settlement expansion continues unabated. Now Abbas seems
too late to rectify this grave mistake. No surprise the failure of the
negotiations seems inevitable and will only revive the Palestinian –
Israel’s 2013 Herzliya Assessment concluded:
“The status-quo in the Palestinian territories is not sustainable, and
definitely not durable… the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian
stalemate is untenable. It will lead to a Palestinian mass public uprising
with sporadic violence.”
Obama appealed to the negotiators to
“approach these talks in good faith,” but the Secretary General of the PLO
Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, questioned the “good faith” of the
U.S. and Israel who were “conferring about security” without the
Palestinians, as if it was “their bilateral security,” although security
is “a central and fundamental issue of ours and concerns our future as a
whole.” Abed Rabbo’s Israeli partner in the Geneva Initiative, former
cabinet minister Yossi Beilin, writing in The Jerusalem post on July 30,
questioned the “good faith” of Netanyahu who “has reneged on all that he
has said throughout his political career.”
Defying the bitter
experience of twenty – year old peace process and strong opposition at
home, Abbas seems voluntarily dragged into his last test of U.S.
credibility as the peace broker, which will make or break his political
career at the age of 76 years.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab
journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied