USA: a powerless peace broker

US dishonest broker

By Jamal Kanj

Palestinians and Israelis have met more than 20 times since July 2013 with little progress. Israel security issues dwarfed the final status negotiators while the Jews-only state continued to build, at an accelerated rate, Jewish colonies, undermining the very peace talks.

Fearing the collapse of the talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry amassed earlier this month a team of 160 American diplomats and security specialists, led by General John Allen, a former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, to draft a framework “that could help both Israelis and Palestinians get to an agreement”.

To be sure, President Barak Obama and Secretary Kerry are much more serious in pushing a peace agreement than any previous US administration. Nevertheless, they have proven equally powerless in overcoming Israel’s mercurial demands.

Goalposts in constant motion

Since Oslo, Palestinians have endorsed all of the US’s and Israel’s pre conditions, starting with UN Security Council Resolution 242, recognition of Israel and amending the Palestinian National Charter, but without any reciprocal recognition of their rights by Israel.

Today, Israel is requesting to prequalify previous Palestinian recognition of it, not just as a nation of people, but as an ethnocentric “Jewish state”. It is also demanding that any future peace agreement must codify its occupation of parts of the West Bank –the Jordan River valley – under a euphemism called “security arrangements”.

In the meantime, the American administration which promised that the current talks would focus on reaching a final status peace deal by April 2014 is already back-pedalling.

The US mediating team, led by Martin Indyk, an ex-member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has already championed Israel’s position, urging Palestinians to forgo a final settlement and settle instead for a “framework” interim agreement.

In a speech at the Zionist Saban Centre for Middle East Policy earlier in December, President Obama said the objective of the negotiations is to reach a “framework that would not address every single detail”. Referring to Palestinians, he added: “they don’t get everything that they want on day one”.

The US mediating team, led by Martin Indyk, an ex-member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has already championed Israel’s position, urging Palestinians to forgo a final settlement and settle instead for a “framework” interim agreement.

Information from Kerry’s mid-December meeting with the chairman of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, revealed that the US was on the verge of proposing an outline for an interim peace plan addressing “everything [Israel] wants” while pushing aside Palestinian sovereignty, the status of Jerusalem and the refugee question.

Fearing a repeat of the Camp David meeting in 2000 – when then US President Bill Clinton adopted the Israeli position – Abbas briefed a special meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the impending American peace plan. Abbas informed the gathering of the Palestinian refusal to enter into another interim understanding, a new racialist recognition of Israel or any proposal favouring extended an Israeli presence in any part of the West Bank or at the border with Jordan.

Paying for the interim agreement with Iran

Following the 5+1 agreement with Iran, the US is poised to appease Israel vis-à-vis its professed security concerns. Indeed, conflicting reports have surface in the past few days regarding the American’s position.

Interim Peace II is likely to quadruple the Jewish colonies and change the Palestinian Authority’s role from a coordinator to endorser of the Israeli occupation.

The Israeli army radio claimed the US plan would include provisions for an extended Israeli military presence in the Jordan River valley. Other reports, however, have pointed out that the postponement of Kerry’s trip – initially planned for the last week of December─ was to address strong Palestinian opposition, which see American, not Israeli, troops being deployed along the border with Jordan.

More than twenty years since the original Oslo interim accord, and 14 years since the failure of Camp David, the illegal Jewish settlers have more than doubled in the occupied West Bank.

Interim Peace II is likely to quadruple the Jewish colonies and change the Palestinian Authority’s role from a coordinator to endorser of the Israeli occupation.


A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper. The version here is published by permission of Jamal Kanj.

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